PARKS NEWS

Park Board considers marina The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board plans to ask the State Legislature for $3 million to build a new 150- to 200-slip marina on the upper Mississippi River — in front of its new headquarters building, 2117 W. River Road N.

The marina is number two on the Park Board’s borrowing priority list — behind a $5 million request for continued Lake of the Isles restoration.

A marina may seem a frivolous expense at a time when the Park Board is closing beaches, reducing mowing and cutting other basic services. Commissioner John Erwin said marina funding would come from long-term borrowing and would not affect the annual operating budget. A key issue for moving ahead would be guaranteeing that the marina did not further drain park funds, he said.

The Park Board sees the downtown riverfront housing boom as providing potential marina clients, said Judd Rietkerk, assistant superintendent for planning. The Park Board has no marina drawings or market analysis as yet.

The board vote gave staff the go-ahead

to research the project, he said.

"We would like to see some progress on the upper river," Rietkerk said. The marina "would be a step of progress."

Commissioner Walt Dziedzic said a marina could add vitality to the upper river, such as the Stone Arch Bridge did below St. Anthony Falls.

The Park Board could lease extra space in its headquarters building to the marina operator for such things as boat sales, parts and service, Rietkerk said. "It’s like having the mechanic’s shop next to the gas station pumps," he said.

Rietkerk said he assumed the marina lease would parallel agreements the Park Board has with exclusive caterers at Nicollet Island and Columbia Golf Course. "If it is successful, we get some of the money," he said. "I don’t know how it will pencil out."

Marina slips should cost roughly $2,500 each to build, he said. So $3 million would build 100, leaving some money to pay for environmental engineering and testing. Private investment could bring the number of slips to 150-200, he said. — Scott Russell

Peace Games launched The park system anticipates 1,000 youth participants will attend the inaugural Peace Games event, a mix of sports, arts, music and food, bringing youth from different cultures together.

The event is set for a school release day, Thursday, Oct. 16, 1-4 p.m. at the Nicollet Island pavilion, said Norman Merrifield, assistant superintendent for recreation at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

The goal is to "bring people from different cultures together in a positive environment," he said. "It is not an anticrime program. It is pro-people, pro-youth, pro-community."

Participating organizations include the American Indian OIC, Arizona Bridge Project, Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council, Southeast Asian Community Council, Somali Women in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Education and What’s Up, a youth information hotline.

It is an effort to replicate a successful program in Indianapolis, Merrifield said. (See www.indypeacegames.com.)

Heidi Pope, program manager for children and youth programs, said the event targets youth 11-17, but all ages are welcome. The goal is to offer a wide range of cultural activities. The American Indian OIC will demonstrate lacrosse, while another agency may demonstrate kato, a Southeast Asian game similar to volleyball, wherein a rattan ball is kicked or head-butted over the net.

Other agencies will bring food, have art projects or dance and music demonstrations, she said. Events will be participatory.

The Park Board is looking for volunteers and other partnering organizations. Those interested should call Pope at 230-6474. — Scott Russell

New skateboard park in Armatage? Armatage Park is getting approximately $400,000 to upgrade its fields, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is inviting community members to comment on the improvements they would like to see — including the possibility of adding a skateboard park.

The first of three public meetings is set for Thursday, Sept. 25, 6:30 p.m. at the Armatage Recreation Center, 2500 W. 57th St.

"In addition to upgrading the athletic fields, the Park Board would like to explore the park’s potential for improving and developing other amenities, such as resurfacing the tennis courts, creating a skate park and improving the picnic area," the Park Board said in a news release.

Developing a new skateboard park is a priority for both the Park Board and Mayor R.T. Rybak, according to a news release.

For further information, call Cliff Swenson or Jill Andrews at 230-6400. — Scott Russell

Pee-wee P.C.: park sports team designations changed For those veterans of Minneapolis park league sports teams, it is a passing of an era — there are no more pee wee, cub or midget teams.

Mimi Kalb, manager of community services for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, said the teams are going to age divisions more commonly used in other communities: 10U (10 and under); 11U (11 and under); 12U (12 and under), and so on.

The pee wee, midget and cub designation "was an outdated system that didn’t speak the language of the rest of the sports," Kalb said.

The designation pee wee (9-10-year-olds), cub (11-12-year-olds) and midget (13-14-year-olds) complicated inter-city tournament play, Kalb said. If the tournament used single-age groupings, it could disqualify members of the Minneapolis Park Board teams.

One Park Board staffer added that the term "midget" was offensive. — Scott Russell

Parks continue terrorism insurance A sign of the times: The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is paying $10,200 this year for terrorism insurance, the second year it has carried the special coverage.

The federal government would pay 90 percent of terrorism losses, under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, said Rich Theis, the Park Board budget director. The insurance policy covers the remaining 10 percent.

To qualify for coverage under the act, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury has to certify the attack, which must result in at least $5 million in losses to all affected property owners, Theis said.

Prior to the purchase of a special line of terrorism insurance, the Board’s policy would only cover terrorism losses up to $100,000, Theis said. The premium is a 5 percent drop from 2002. — Scott Russell