Parks notebook

Legislative bus tour

On Jan. 9, officials from Hennepin County, Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) co-hosted a bus tour for members of the state legislative Capital Investment Finance Division Committee. The all-day excursion took committee members around the city, checking out sites of projects in need of state bonding.

The Park Board gave tours of the Grand Rounds, Father Hennepin Bluffs Park, East Phillips Community Center and regional park activity areas, and a presentation on potential fitness additions to recreation centers at Martin Luther King, Creekview, and Powderhorn parks. Legislators were particularly interested in the fitness centers because health — especially childhood obesity — is one of the state’s top issues.

In Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s 2008 capital budget recommendations, which was released on Jan. 15, none of the projects on the tour received funding. The Park Board plans to host a legislative breakfast on Feb. 8 at the Nicollet Island Inn and a reception on Feb. 19 at Lexington Restaurant in St. Paul to get feedback from the lawmakers on all MPRB

Northeast Commissioner Walt Dziedzic mused that legislators might not be excited about Park Board projects because they don’t realize that the MPRB is an independent board.

Park Board legislative agenda

The Park Board’s legal team, Rice, Michels & Walther, presented a draft of their 2008 legislative agenda at the board’s Jan. 9 meeting. Among several goals, the firm plans to fight to increase the amount of local government aid awarded to the board; attempt to get state bonding funds for various projects; support a constitutional amendment to dedicate a portion of the state’s sales tax to environmental and cultural heritage programs; encourage the city to help implement park dedication fees; seek state funding to help combat invasive tree species; and determine if proceeds from the sale of land around the I-35W bridge collapse site should go to the Park Board or the state Finance Department.

City of Lakes Loppet

The annual City of Lake Loppet, in which thousands of cross-country skiers race on paths throughout Minneapolis, will take place Feb. 2–3. Participants can pre-register for one or more of nine races at or sign up on the day of the event.

Much of the Loppet will take place in Southwest. For example, on Feb. 2 at 2 p.m, the American Family Skijor Loppet will have folks gliding around Lake Calhoun before finishing in Uptown. An hour later, the Rossignol Junior Loppet takes skiers around Lake of the Isles. And from 2–3:45 p.m., residents can attend the Minnesota Youth Ski League SuperCarnival on the Midtown Greenway, parallel to the West 29th Street Mall. Then at 6:30 p.m., the Caribou Coffee Luminary Loppet will begin with an ice pyramid and 800 luminaries lining the Mall, some of which are 8 feet tall.

The Loppet also offers races designed for kids under 12, high school students and families. The biggest urban race starts at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 3 at Theodore Wirth Park, taking skiers on a 33-kilometer jaunt through the woods and across the lakes with a grand finish in Uptown.

Sailboat buoy, canoe rack applications

On Feb. 1, the MPRB will begin taking applications for sailboat buoy and canoe rack permits to be used on the lakes.

Buoy passes are issued through a public drawing on April 15 at Lynnhurst Community Recreation Center, 1345 W. Minnehaha Parkway, with the drawing for Lake Harriet permits starting at 6:30 p.m., Lake Calhoun at 7:30 p.m. and Lake Nokomis at 8 p.m. Applications must be turned in by 12 a.m. on April 14 to be considered. Permits cost $400 for Minneapolis residents.

Canoe racks are issued on a priority basis, with those who rented spots the previous years eligible for renewal before new application are reviewed. Seasonal rates are $150, and yearlong rentals cost $200.

The Park Board doesn’t allow gas-powered vehicles on the lake, and all boaters are required to have a current Minnesota Watercraft License from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The waiting period for licenses, which can be acquired at the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St., is three to four weeks.

Minnehaha Parkway to close for eight weeks

At the end of January, Minnehaha Parkway under the I-35W overpass will close for up to eight weeks for bridge pier construction as part of the Crosstown Reconstruction. The closure will likely stretch from Stevens Avenue to 2nd Avenue with detour signs directing drivers to use the Diamond Lake Road Bridge instead. Steve Barrett, resident engineer working on reconstruction, recommends using Lyndale Avenue to get to Diamond Lake Road rather than Nicollet Avenue because of heavy traffic.

Crews will be drilling and pile driving in the area around the bridge, and a makeshift pathway along the south wall will remain open to pedestrians. Neighbors can expect substaintial noise due to the pile driving beginning in mid-February and lasting throughout the winter, even after the parkway reopens.

Contact Mary O’Regan at [email protected] or 436-5088.