Parks update // Harriet concession

Committee needs more time to determine Harriet concession’s future

Halfway through its work schedule, a citizens’ advisory committee tasked with making recommendations on the future of the Lake Harriet concession says it needs more time. That likely means no change at the concession next year.

At the group’s second meeting of a planned four, members spent almost all of their two hours discussing an item that had been budgeted for 30 minutes: How to get input from stakeholders.

With that still undecided, committee member Sarah Harris questioned how feedback could be appropriately analyzed and used to form recommendations by mid-July, the committee’s original deadline. Others agreed.

“I don’t want to make a second career out of going to these meetings, but … I’d rather do it right,” member John Finlayson said.

Doing it right, the group decided by meeting’s end, will mean doing as much up-front planning and analysis as possible before making any recommendations, committee Chairman Matt Perry said, which will be a time-consuming process.

It also means, most likely, no changes at the concession next year, said Don Siggelkow, the Park Board’s general manager. Part of the reason the group’s deadline was mid-July was that requests for proposals could be sent out in August, which would make a spring opening possible.

Perry said he wasn’t sure if a total of five meetings would be enough or whether it would have to be six. Either way, Siggelkow said the cost of the committee process could go up. More meetings would mean more hours paying for a facilitator, something Siggelkow said he’d originally expected to cost no more than $10,000. A survey process could also increase the amount.

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Contractor bidding to open for Calhoun parking lot

Park Board staff is expected to open contractor bidding later this month for the makeover of the south-shore parking lot on Lake Calhoun.

The about $350,000 project, which will be funded by the Metropolitan Council, would upgrade what currently is a lot in poor condition, project manager Andrea Weber has said. In an e-mail, Weber said the width of the parking lot is awkward and striping is fading away. Stormwater also currently flows directly into Lake Calhoun.

The project would increase the number of parking spots, Weber said, to 50 from a current maximum of about 42, depending on how people park. Rain gardens will be added to mitigate runoff, while new lighting will be installed for safety.

Several trees already have been removed at the site. Construction is slated to begin in late August.

Meanwhile, some Southwest residents continue to be upset at the way the project has moved ahead without commissioners’ review. Staff has upheld that it’s categorized as a maintenance project and therefore doesn’t need public input or Park Board approval, something echoed by Commissioner Bob Fine, whose district includes Lake Calhoun’s south shore.

In an April letter, 10 residents — including Park Board candidate Anita Tabb — from seven different neighborhoods said that this is really a capital improvement project and that, by Park Board guidelines, it requires the creation of a citizen’s advisory committee.

Fine brushed off the suggestion, saying he didn’t consider the letter representative of what most citizens think. He noted that some of the signers were members of the watchdog group Park Watch, with which he has had a strained relationship.

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Pools, beaches open for the summer

Grab your swimsuit: It’s get-wet season in Minneapolis.

If all went according to plan, all neighborhood pools in the city were opened by June 13, after this edition of the Southwest Journal went to press. The same goes for lifeguard-watched beaches. Lifeguards are expected to be on duty at most beaches from noon to 8 p.m. seven days a week.