Parks update // No fountain at Calhoun south shore

Commissioners say ‘no thanks’ to artistic fountain at Calhoun

Given the choice of a framed view vs. an open view of the city skyline from the south shore of Lake Calhoun, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board opted for the latter.

Commissioners received a study report May 19 on the possibility of installing an artist-designed water fountain near the intersection of Calhoun and William Berry parkways, where the Park Board is currently renovating a parking lot. The 14-foot structure, a bright red curved arrow, would have been angled to frame Downtown’s skyscrapers.

It was the second proposed location for the water fountain, which as part of a larger citywide public arts plan originally would have been placed in Uptown. Because of budget cuts, the fountain lost its funding — until the city approached Park Board staff.

Intrigued by the idea, board staff suggested the south shore location and actually proposed a financing plan to the city’s Public Art Advisory Panel. The panel approved the plan, which meant the Park Board was free to move ahead if it wanted to.

But during the study session, the first time the elected board was involved with the project, commissioners appeared to
be unanimously concerned about the fountain’s design
and location.

“The scale of it, next to the water, just seems way too big,” Commissioner Scott Vreeland said. “It seems more urban.”

Commissioner Bob Fine noted reassurances the board made last year to the lake’s neighbors that nothing would be built at the site beyond a new parking lot.

“I really would frankly be surprised if people say this should go up,” Fine said.

After the discussion, General Manager Mike Schmidt said staff would pull the plug on the project.

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System grows by 14 acres on unanimous board vote

On a 9–0 vote, the Park Board approved purchasing most of a Mississippi River-bordering lumberyard long owned by the Scherer Bros. Lumber Company. The 14-acre site, which borders Boom Island and B.F. Nelson Park, adds to a string of land the board wants to redevelop into a Northeast destination park.

The purchased land ended up being somewhat smaller than originally proposed. Portions deemed non-essential for parks were cut out, Planning Director Judd Rietkerk said. That took the total price tag down to about $8 million.

The board already made a $400,000 earnest money down payment in December.

To cover the remaining cost, the board is receiving a $1.7 million grant from the Metropolitan Council. The Park Board also successfully lobbied the Legislature to allow the use of money commonly designated for parks and trails.

Several commissioners said they were shuddering at the price tag, but they also said the site’s potential trumped their hesitations. President John Erwin said it had been 30 years since the land was last up for sale.

“We really want this, and I’m glad we have this opportunity,” said Northeast Commissioner Liz Wielinski, who later voted with “a resounding yes.”

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Board seeks operator for Harriet concessions

The Park Board has issued a request for proposals to find a new concessions operator at Lake Harriet.

Whoever is chosen likely will run a business along the lines of what a citizen’s advisory committee earlier this year recommended for the site, which currently serves mostly basic concession foods. The committee supported an expansion of the menu at the site, as well as interior remodeling at the refectory to make the food changes possible.

An additional building is not expected to be part of any proposal.

The RFP is at http://bit.ly/cSi1JW, and applications are due July 9. The operator would be expected to have the business ready next April.

No changes in concessions are expected this summer.

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It’s toasty outside. Time for a movie.

The Park Board’s annual Movies in the Parks series is scheduled to kick off June 14 in Northeast. It makes its way to Southwest three days later, with a June 17 showing of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” at Lyndale Farmstead Park.

All showings are free and open to the public. There are no concrete start times — movies begin 15 minutes after sunset.

There will be more than 80 movies shown this summer, and every night will feature a different category: action and adventure on Mondays, classics on Tuesdays, new releases on Wednesdays, series on Thursdays, family films on Fridays and a variety on Saturdays.

For a complete schedule, plus information about the Park Board’s other summer series, Music in the Parks, go to mplsmusicandmovies.com.