After years of potholes, new pavement

Repaving brings Lake of the Isles restoration near end

KENWOOD — It’s been a long road.

The repaving of Lake of the Isles Parkway, scheduled to begin this month, had to wait nearly a decade until other portions of a years-long lake renovation were completed. Even then, it took a unique funding solution to get the job started.

Parkway users and nearby residents, who have for years complained about the tire-destroying potholes that litter the parkway, expressed relief that repaving would finally be completed.

“All these funds have been spent and all this effort has been put into restoring the park,” Pat Scott, a Kenwood resident, said. “But if it’s surrounded by the worst road in the city, what kind of message does that give?”

The repaving is the final phase of the Lake of the Isles restoration that began in 2001. At that time, the lakeshore was eroded by several seasons of heavy rains that also filled the lake with polluted storm water runoff.

The restoration effort began with shoreline stabilization and wetland improvements and went on from there. Most recently, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board forestry crews removed invasive species from the two islands that give the lake its name.

State bonding financed much of the work to restore parkland and mitigate flooding, but no state money was ever earmarked for parkway repaving.

In the meantime, the roadway got worse. Heavy equipment driven on the parkway during various phases of the restoration accelerated normal wear and tear, said City Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward).

Residents complained to Goodman, whose ward encompasses three of four neighborhoods adjacent to the lake. She experienced the problems, too.

“I got my dog in the summer of 2005, and I was going to the Lake of the Isles dog park every day, and so I had first-hand experience of using the roadway,” she said. “… The condition of the road was so dangerous that we had to do something.”

The solution involved an unusual use of Public Works parkway renovation funds. The city and Park Board negotiated to front-load three years of parkway spending, from this year through 2011, and complete the project early.

Parkway repaving began with bridge repair work in the fall and winter. Starting April 20, Public Works crews will remove the parkway surface and replace it in four phases, doing some minor curb and gutter repairs along the way.

The nearly $2.8 million project will be completed this fall, with the exception of a final seal coat to be applied next year.

No more funds will be available for parkway renovation until 2012. Still, many said it was worth it to see the project done.

One was Park Board President Tom Nordyke, who collaborated with Goodman and Mayor R.T. Rybak to push the project through.

“I’m going to be thrilled to have it done,” Nordyke said. “I come back that way from my office every day.”

Tree planting

Weeping willow, red maple, three varieties of oak and two types of disease-resistant elm are among more than 20 species of trees that will be planted around Lake of the Isles in April and May.

In all, 280 trees will go into the ground this spring.

A Lake of the Isles tree-planting plan was reviewed at a June 2007 public meeting in Kenwood. The approved plan was begun Arbor Day 2008.


Special assessments on parkway property owners will contribute about $400,000 to the repaving project, or about
14 percent of the total costs.

The assessments will show up on property tax bills beginning in 2010 and are payable over 10 years. The assessments range from about $400 to $9,000, depending on the size of the lot.

Assessments for city street improvements are levied and certified prior to completion of a project, but the process for parkway assessments is reversed. There will be a public hearing on assessments this fall, after parkway paving is completed.


Parkway reconstruction

Phase 1
Closed about six weeks
Suggested detour: 22nd Street «» Sheridan Avenue «» Burnham Road «» Dean Parkway
A portion of this phase, from Sheridan Avenue to Dean Parkway, will be filled with concrete rather than asphalt because of heavy bus usage.

Phase 2
Closed about three weeks
Suggested detour: Dean Parkway «» Lake Street

Phase 3

Closed about three to four weeks
Suggested detour: Lake Street «» Hennepin Avenue «» Franklin Avenue

Phase 4
Closed about three weeks
Suggested detour No. 1: Kenwood Parkway «» Franklin Avenue
Suggested detour No. 2: Kenwood Parkway «» 21st Street «» Penn Avenue «» Franklin Avenue

Wireless installations

Hinging on Park Board approval, Lake of the Isles also could see the installation this year of close to 20 nodes for the city’s wireless Internet network.

The football-sized boxes, which would be attached to existing poles, caused a furor late last year, when the Park Board received late notice that the city wanted their approval for wireless. Negotiations have been ongoing ever since, but the board appears to be leaning toward approval of the installations after Southwest residents spoke out in their favor.

The Park Board could vote on the issue as early as April 1, after this edition of the Southwest Journal went to press.