MPRB president defends Cedar Lake comments
Tom Nordyke, president of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, is miffed after a recent newspaper report on the use of lakefront land on the southeastern corner of Cedar Lake.
Nordyke lives in one of more than a dozen homes there whose backyards reach toward — or into — the lake. The catch is that some of the land closest to Cedar actually is property of the Park Board and thus public land.
Some of that parkland has been encroached since as early as 1938, when the Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners issued a “temporary permit” to several homeowners on Cedar Lake, allowing their various “plantings and structures” to encroach on park-owned property next to the lake. That permit had several conditions, including guaranteed public access and the right for the Park Board to reclaim the land “at the will and discretion of the Board by its furnishing 30 days’ written notice.”
A Minneapolis Star Tribune article quoted Nordyke as saying he didn’t know whether his lake frontage was parkland. What he meant, he later told the Southwest Journal, is that he doesn’t know where his exact property lines are.
“Everybody knows the Park Board owns the … land,” he said.
Today, the public access part of the agreement is tricky: Any hike on that stretch of land goes directly through what looks like private property, and it all but dead-ends at the Lake of Isles channel.
When asked about the land in 2002, Commissioner Bob Fine — then the Park Board’s president — said, “I always wondered why for this one lake in the city, you couldn’t go all the way around it.”
At least one resident near the lake has been asking that question for years. Ron Werner, a former Park Board employee, said he doesn’t understand why the board hasn’t staked its claim of the land. He cited a passage from a retrospective by legendary parks superintendent Theodore Wirth, who wrote that “Cedar Lake really should be a part of the park system … so as to bring the lake under park jurisdiction and render its entire surrounding shorelands available to the public.”
Nordyke said the issue isn’t as simple as the Park Board claiming the land and booting the private expansions. Some of the land, he said, wouldn’t be wide enough anyway to hold a trail.
The Park Board land along the stretch ranges in width from 20 feet to 80 feet, and those widths shrink when the water level rises.
“It may be difficult, if not impossible, to get a trail in there without an easement” from the private property owners, said Cliff Swenson, a former park planner, in 2002.
Nordyke lists on his Park Board web page that one of his main goals as commissioner and president is “to demand equity in the quality and access of our parks in every part of our city.” But he said that doesn’t necessarily mean all parks should be identical, that every lake in the system should have a surrounding parkway. What it means, he said, is that he wants to see a parks system that doesn’t favor one part of the city over another, that northern Minneapolis parks have as much quality and access as those in the southern part of the city.
Balancing “the distribution of premier park and recreation features across the city, giving priority to adding features to North and Northeast Minneapolis” is a goal listed in the Park Board’s comprehensive plan and Superintendent Jon Gurban said the board’s current focus is on expanding quality parks to Northeast, primarily through its Grand Rounds “Missing Link” project. It would be counterintuitive right now, he said, to put money toward extending a pathway in
“We know [some Cedar Lake residents] are encroaching,” Gurban said. “At some point in time, a project will appear, and they’ll have to remove their improvements.”
He couldn’t say when that would happen, but he doesn’t expect it anytime soon.
Registration opens for Minneapolis Bike Tour
Individuals and families can now sign up for the second annual Minneapolis Bike Tour, a 14- or 37-mile trip around the city. Motorized traffic will be kept away during the ride, as parkways and roads are closed off.
The short trip travels around the Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. The long one follows the entire Grand Rounds Byway System. Both begin and end at Parade Park.
Registration costs $35 for adults and $12 for children ages 6–17. The event is free for riders 5 years old and younger. Go to minneapolisbiketour.com.
Proceeds benefit the Foundation for Minneapolis Parks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public parks in the city.
The Sept. 14 event is limited to 8,000 entrants.
Pools, beaches open for the summer
All pools, water parks, wading pools and beaches operated by the Park Board are open for the summer.
Wading pools open daily at 9 a.m.; hours for water parks can be found at minneapolisparks.org.
The only pool currently closed is at Linden Hills Park, which is undergoing maintenance work.