Parks update // Lake Harriet concessions

Awaiting report, committee investigating concessions at Harriet cancels meeting

The citizens’ committee investigating the future of concessions at Lake Harriet canceled its Sept. 24 meeting and won’t meet until sometime this month.

Committee Chairman Matt Perry said the group wanted to wait for results from an ongoing study of what could be changed about the current concessions building to handle more food options. Several committee members previously expressed interest in adding to the mostly popcorn and hot dogs menu but with the caveat that they were wary of constructing a new building to do so.

The group is expecting marked-up floor plans of the refectory building, cost estimates and predictions on how the concession stand’s customer base would be affected by a change in the menu. The study is expected to be completed around Oct. 5.

“Having that information is really important to us,” Perry said.

The group’s next meeting will be its sixth and, most likely, its last. Committee members are expected to decide whether to recommend expanding food options near the lake and, if yes, how the concessions would be laid out; to approve final recommendations; and to decide who would present those recommendations to the Park Board.

Possible dates for the meeting, which will be open to the public, include Oct. 8 and Oct. 12, Perry said. Go to southwestjournal.com for updates.

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Sans referendum, Park Board refocuses to oppose taxation board changes

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board was mostly mum at its first meeting following a judge’s ruling that a referendum to give it more financial control would be unconstitutional.

Just one commissioner referenced Hennepin County District Judge Cara Lee Neville’s Sept. 10 ruling, which eliminated any chance for the Park Board to gain more independence before year’s end. President Tom Nordyke said the future of the referendum is in the hands of the citizens’ group, Citizens for Independent Parks, that’s expected to appeal the ruling.

In the meantime, he said, the Park Board would probably reiterate its support of efforts to have people vote against any changes to the Board of Estimate and Taxation. A referendum that will appear before voters in November will ask whether to replace the board’s current membership — two independently elected officers, the City Council president, a council member, the mayor and a Park Board commissioner — with the full council.

Proponents of the referendum say the changes would increase efficiency in the city. The Park Board worries it would give the council too much control over the Park Board’s finances.

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Yes, it’s getting colder, but there still are some reasons to go outside

The Park Board’s naturalists are offering a couple of outdoor programs to celebrate fall’s arrival.

First is a bird-watching excursion. Minneapolis plays host to thousands of birds every year as they travel through on their fall migration. From 7–9 a.m. Oct. 24, people are invited to come explore the Bassett’s Creek, Bryn Mawr neighborhood portion of Theodore Wirth Park. The cost is $6 per person. Meet at the Bryn Mawr Meadows parking lot off of Morgan Avenue South.

Another option is a canoeing excursion on the Chain of Lakes, during which participants ages 10 and older will learn about the lakes and their wildlife. The paddle is scheduled for 1–3 p.m. Oct. 25 and costs $6 per person. Canoes, life jackets and paddles are provided. Meet at the northeast corner of Tin Fish at Lake Calhoun. Participants are asked to sign up early — just 12 can take part — and to bring water.

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Park Board’s travels almost over

The Park Board’s road trip ends this month.

The board has held its first meetings of the month at different neighborhood centers much of this year, away from its usual meeting location on West River Road. Aside from the variety of sites, quality of acoustics and levels of air conditioning, each meeting was unique in that they were accompanied by listening sessions for citizens to give feedback on parks-related issues.

The board’s last off-site meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 7 at Pearl Park, 414 E. Diamond Lake Road. Every remaining meeting in 2009 will be held at Park Board headquarters, 2117 W. River Road.

All board meetings are open to the public.