Parks notebook

Safety on the beach

Swimmers are having difficulty telling the difference between on- and off-duty lifeguards at city lakes. Lake Harriet, for example, doesn’t have a building for lifeguards to use during their breaks. Instead, many of them hang out on the beach and, to some visitors, it looks like they’re slacking off when they’re actually off-duty. Commissioners agreed that the lifeguards should climb off their chairs and wear T-shirts during their breaks to reduce confusion.

Charles tenBensel, a former Boy Scouts aquatics director, expressed concern about a lack of safety patrol on the lakes during the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Aug. 1 open time. “It makes me uncomfortable,” he said, recalling a day in June when he tried to go sailing and saw several boats struggling with the strong wind and no one around to help.

Although a safety patrol team was phased out of the Park Board’s budget, Superintendent Jon Gurban insists they’re taking steps to ensure safety on the lakes. In an Aug. 1 letter to the commissioners, he wrote that monitoring the lakes is a collaborative effort between lifeguards, police officers, fire fighters and Hennepin County Water Patrol. “Providing a water patrol is not a traditional park agency responsibility,” he wrote. “It was a luxury to have it when we did.”

Parade Stadium gets irrigation system

The Park Board approved the addition of an irrigation system to maintain the turf at Parade Stadium. The system adds $29,211 to the project, for a total of $1,292,173, which is still within the allotted budget.

At the Aug. 15 board meeting, commissioners will hold a public study session, detailing plans for the stadium.

Broken fountain in Lyndale Park

The Heffelfinger Fountain in Lyndale Park Rose Garden is clogged, broken and about to crack. The bronze statue is the oldest sculpture in the Minneapolis park system, originating from 19th century Italy. Pieces of the fountain have gone missing and cracks have been patched since its installation in 1947. The sculpture is unable to dispense water because its upper pipes are full of a thick, tar-like substance and removal will likely crack the marble basin.

According to Mary Maguire Lerman, environmental coordinator of Horticulture Programs for the Park Board, the fountain needs complete restoration. A bronze restorer recommended by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts estimated the total cost at $100,000, which includes removing the fountain, cleaning off corrosion, applying patina, replacing missing pieces and creating a new marble basin.

At the Park Board’s Aug. 1 study session, Maguire Lerman asked commissioners to consider incorporating the fountain restoration project into the 2008 budget.

“It would be ideal to have the restoration occur during the winter months of 2008,” she wrote in a statement passed out to the board, “so that it could be returned to its place of honor at the top of the rose garden during next season’s centennial.”

Lobbyist review

Park Board commissioners filled out a form evaluating their lobbyist team, Rice, Michels & Walther, LLP. Altogether, there were 56 tallies in the “outstanding” field, 22 tallies in “acceptable” and two tallies in “unacceptable.” The “unacceptable” tallies fell under “knowledge of relevant laws affecting client” and “quality of research and political analysis.”

Board members listed several comments about the lobbyists, most notably that there aren’t any Republicans on the team. “Do we need a Republican lobbyist?” one commissioner wrote anonymously.

“Just because democrats are in charge of the House [of Representatives], doesn’t mean they will be in the future,” Commissioner-at-Large Annie Young said when the matter opened for discussion. “I think it’s to our advantage to have representation from all of the

“The idea that somehow we’re only going to have lobbyists that are one persuasion or the other is pretty short-sighted,” added Commissioner Carol Kummer, who represents Southeast.

The board passed a motion to issue a vote of confidence in their legal team.

Your name on a park bench

In an effort to raise funds to spruce up the Lake Harriet Bandshell, People for Parks, a nonprofit group, is offering personalized benches or pavers.

For $150–$250 individuals or companies can purchase engraved pavers to replace the crushed limestone that faces the bandshell. Or, for $2,000-2,500 park supporters can adopt benches with or without engraving to be installed in the audience area. The benches will replace the old worn seats currently at the Bandshell.

For more information, e-mail

Reach Mary O’Regan at or