Parks update // Recommendations coming on future of Lake Harriet concessions

The citizens’ advisory committee investigating the future of concessions at Lake Harriet is a meeting away from sharing its views with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The group’s members are expected to get together just one more time, at 7 p.m. Sept. 24.

Goals for the meeting include:
— Deciding whether to expand food options and, if yes, how the concessions would be laid out.
— Approving final recommendations to the board.
— Choosing who will present to the board.

One suggestion that’s unlikely to be made is for the Park Board to build a new concessions building.

Parks staff earlier this year proposed putting a seafood restaurant inside the Lake Harriet refectory while moving popcorn and hot dog sales to a building that would be constructed nearby. General Manager Don Siggelkow said there would be no way that the refectory, in its current condition, could house both a restaurant and concessions.

But at their Sept. 3 meeting, several committee members said there just doesn’t appear to be much support for a new building.

“We could cause a very large shift in what is now a beautiful park,” member Joel Chechik said.

Others disliked the Park Board’s earlier proposed location for the new building, atop a flowerbed near the band shell.

“Is there a world where anybody here wants to put a building on a tulip bed?” committee member Bruce Manning said, while others shook their heads.

The group requested Park Board staff do more research on what’s possible at the current building. Results from that work should influence whatever recommendations are made.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be at the Linden Hills Recreation Center, 3100 W. 43rd St.

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Park Board gets ball rolling on sustainability efforts

Two Park Board commissioners have been appointed to a sustainability work group to ramp up the system’s sustainability efforts.

Commissioners Scott Vreeland and Annie Young will help develop recommendations for putting together a five-year plan for sustainability goals and measures and establishing a sustainability-friendly Park Board structure. They also will develop a statement naming sustainability as a top priority.

Their work will be the direct result of a report received in May from sustainability consulting firm GreenMark. That document contained a slew of ideas, including suggestions that the board specifically seek public-private partnerships with green-focused organizations, that it create a zero-waste policy for all events in the parks and that it set itself up as Minneapolis’ central hub for environmental efforts. Vreeland and Young are expected to help prioritize those suggestions.

Since May, a Park Board task force made up of several departments’ staff representatives has begun meeting to get the ball rolling on sustainability. Staff also has begun looking into options for powering the Park Board with alternative energy sources.