Lake of the Isles renovation delayed

Late funding pushes back construction start

Lake of the Isles will be quiet most of this summer. Users of the lake and surrounding park might be dismayed by the peace, however, because the quiet is a silent signal that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has had to delay the extensive renovation begun in 2001.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the state Legislature has earmarked $3.2 million for the project, which will get construction crews on the job by late summer, says Project Manager Tim Brown.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board was shut out of funding for the Lake of the Isles project in last year's legislative session, prompting this year's construction delay.

Brown and his staff are working on plans for stabilization and naturalization of the shoreline around the north arm and west bay, including the shoreline on the east side from about West 26th Street going north and following around to Kenilworth Bridge.

The $3.2 million from the Legislature is good news, says Brown, but it won't cover all expenses for the project's unfinished parts, projected to cost $5 million. A May 24 press release from the offices of Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-60A) and Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-60) claims that the 2006 Capital Investment Bill fully funded the Lake of the Isles renovation project, even though by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's reckoning, the funding falls $1.8 million short.

&#8220I hate to disagree with that much political leverage,” Brown said wryly.

He said the $3.2 million will pay for all of the restoration work inside the park, but it won't cover the costs of fixing the parkway and Lake of the Isles bridges.

The Park Board will pursue alternative avenues of funding, Brown said, &#8220through the city's Public Works [Department], for example. They are currently doing most of our road repair and reconstruction, and we'll probably pursue that work through those channels. I'm sort of reluctant to say that publicly because we haven't gone there yet.”

He said the money from the Legislature &#8220fully funds the project with regard to the park inside of the parkway, between the parkway and the lake - that is everything that's a park issue: trails, benches, landscaping.

&#8220[This fall's work] is not going to be anything like the grading and razing of the park activity of the past two years when we closed down the parkway and we've had big trucks going in and out,” he said. &#8220The shoreline work will be much less equipment-intensive. It will be a much less visible kind of work that will be happening.”

In addition to the shoreline work, improvements needed to complete the renovation include reconstruction of pedestrian pathways, restoration of the islands and the south shoreline, rehabilitation of bridges, and repaving of Lake of the Isles Parkway.

Work on the project began during the summer of 2001 when the shoreline on the north side of Kenilworth Lagoon was stabilized and a new wetland/flood storage area was created east of the Off-Leash Dog Recreation Area on the south side of the lake.

Brown estimates that in a best-case scenario, the $10 million project could be finished by the end of 2007. He said it's probably more likely that the project will stretch into 2008, possibly to the end of that year.

&#8220Because we've never had all the funds guaranteed, the timeline [for completion] has been a little bit iffy,” he said.

You can get more information about the parks and the project at www.minneapolisparks.org.

Michael Metzger can be reached at mmetzger@mnpubs.com and 436-4369.