Parks update // Concessions recommendation

Unofficial concessions recommendation: Revamp, don’t build

Feeling comfortable that the Lake Harriet refectory could be remodeled to handle an expanded menu, the citizens’ advisory committee deciding the future of concessions there is expected to officially recommend against building another structure.

While an official report isn’t due until mid-November, the group’s members have been openly leaning against construction of a new facility since hearing widespread worries from community members. Those opinions seemed to be iced at the group’s Oct. 12 meeting — its sixth — where a presentation of new conceptual drawings showed that a remodeling of the current concessions building could work.

The drawings — which committee members were careful to say were nothing more than concepts, not an actual plan — show the refectory’s atrium being replaced with additional kitchen space. What currently are the atrium’s entrances would become vendor windows. Freezer space would double in size. Square footage for concessions operations would increase by about 600 square feet.

In short, the drawings showed that a new building would not be needed to support both a new menu and concessions staples such as popcorn and ice cream at Lake Harriet.

That conclusion, combined with a presentation on the projected income a new vendor could produce — a presentation that showed the refectory’s revenue increasing by as much as $330,000 over five years — led committee members to unanimously back a recommendation for a new menu minus a new structure.

Next up is putting that into writing. A small task force of the committee will tackle that, while also touching on ongoing concerns of waiting times, the smell of grease and the sustainability of a new vendor. The full committee will meet one more time, sometime during the week of Nov. 2, before a presentation is made to the Park Board’s planning committee on Nov. 18.

Board General Manager Don Siggelkow said that if the recommendations come in as they look now and that if the board’s commissioners were to act upon them immediately, the requests for proposals process would probably take through July or August. No changes to concessions are expected next summer.

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