Pedestrian bridge on track for repairs
LYNNHURST — Fixing up the closed pedestrian bridge over Minnehaha Creek has been put on the fast track.
At a May 8 neighborhood meeting, City Council Member Betsy Hodges (13th Ward) brought with her the news that money had been found for a feasibility study, the first step in repairing the bridge.
The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board had closed the 230-foot, 78-year-old structure by Bryant Avenue in early April after neighborhood residents raised concerns about its stability. At an April 29 public information meeting, members of the city’s bridge department told about 50 neighborhood residents that repairing the structure would cost at least $200,000. It would be cheaper to simply take down the bridge: $20,000.
Park Commissioner Bob Fine said the neighborhood had made it clear they neither wanted to remove the bridge nor replace it with a new structure — they wanted to hang onto the current bridge’s historical value. “We’re basically looking at one option,” Fine said.
The Park Board, however, doesn’t have the money to pay for anything involving the bridge, he said. That didn’t stop them from looking into other avenues; by May 8, money was secured for a feasibility study.
Hodges said it would come from the city’s Public Works department, which she said is interested in having the bridge return to use before it replaces another nearby pedestrian bridge in 2010.
Where money will come from for the $200,000-plus repair is still up in the air. Hodges said one route that could be taken is to get the bridge a historical designation.
While planning their upcoming summer festival, association members said they’d like to make the bridge a central focus. “This can bring the neighborhood back together,” treasurer Leslie Schuman said.
Meanwhile, welders recently put up metal guards and detour signs at each end of the bridge to keep people off. It had been blocked off with plywood.
Revitalized Pershing Park tennis courts to open for use
FULTON — Just a year ago, playing tennis in Pershing Park was next to impossible. A state of dilapidation, common to most of the city’s public tennis courts, had taken over.
That’s a different story today, thanks to the combined efforts of the Park Board, tennis enthusiast Ellen Doll and an anonymous donor. By the end of this month, Pershing Park will open four new courts. That means no more cracks, no more unused park space.
The project came about after Doll’s efforts in Kenwood, where a grassroots campaign she organized revitalized that neighborhood’s tennis courts. She personally hosted fundraisers, got neighbors involved and completed a project she was personally passionate about.
But she didn’t want to stop in Kenwood. “We wanted to move on and help other neighborhoods have nice tennis courts, too,” Doll said.
Together with the Park Board and the nonprofit InnerCity Tennis, she identified courts that were used not only by the public, but also by schools and youth tennis teams. Raising money would have taken some time, she said, but then a very willing Southwest donor contacted her during the summer of 2007.
“It was just like the phone call you’re always waiting for,” Doll said.
Lakes District Manager Paul Hokeness said after the donor initially met with Doll, a group that included Hokeness, Park Board Commissioner Bob Fine and Doll discussed donation options. Pershing Park was the first project discussed, but the group was hoping to also rebuild courts in other parts of the city.
Fine said the donor was more than willing to help out. “He had the money,” he said.
Redoing the Pershing Park courts was combined with efforts at Webber Park, near Shingle Creek, and at Powderhorn Park. The donor covered half of the about $500,000 price tag.
Doll said she and the donor were confident they could raise the other half of the cost, so they fast-tracked the project.
Hokeness said the courts at Pershing Park should be ready for use as soon as the weather gets consistently warmer. Once that happens, they can be color-coded and have nets put up.
Unknown substance found in Lake Calhoun
WEST CALHOUN — Park Board phones were ringing off the hook April 29 when pedestrians along the western shore of Lake Calhoun reported seeing a milky, white
Dawn Sommers, a Park Board spokeswoman, said members of the city’s Regulatory Services Department were on the scene shortly after calls started coming in about the substance, which was found spreading about 200 yards from the shore near Ivy Lane. She said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was also notified.
Both groups are working to identify the substance, she said, a process that’s difficult because its consistency made it impossible to contain or extract samples from the water. “It’s a difference between Kool Aid in your water or olive oil,” Sommers said.
By April 30, the substance could no longer be seen in the lake. Its source remained unknown.