Parks update: Lake Harriet playgrounds

Lake Harriet playgrounds set for $1 million makeover

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board approved a design plan for a $1 million renovation to the playgrounds at William Berry Park and Beard’s Plaisance near Lake Harriet.

The money comes from the Park and Trails Fund of Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. The project will go out for bids in early summer and construction is scheduled to begin in July and end next spring.

The design of the new playgrounds is the result of recommendations formulated by a non-appointed citizens advisory committee that met four times over the winter.

The playgrounds — both near Lake Harriet — were built in the early 1970s and no longer meet federal and state standards for accessibility and safety, according to a Park Board report.

The William Berry playground, on the north side of the lake, will have multiple slides, climbing nets, monkey bars, a bridge, swings, hammocks and small mounds.

Beard’s Plaisance will get a swing set facing the lake, a tower structure overlooking the lake and a smaller play structure with a slide.

———

Park Board delays Crown Hydro vote again, but details gain clarity  

Crown Hydro will have to wait until May 18 to find out if the Park Board will allow the company to install hydroelectric turbines above St. Anthony Falls.

The Board voted 6-3 to postpone a decision on a letter of intent that would have set the framework for a contract with Crown Hydro.

At-large Commissioner Annie Young and others said that because they didn’t receive the letter until the afternoon of the May 4 board meeting, they wanted more time to review the document’s details.

New Park Superintendent Jayne Miller drafted the letter
of intent after meeting with Crown Hydro.

Provisions of the letter include:

— Crown Hydro paying the Park Board $500,000 up front and at least $100,000 a year.

— Crown Hydro would have to close off the turbines if the flow over the St. Anthony spillway ever dipped below 2,000 cubic feet per second during “prime viewing periods.”

— The facility would have to operate at a not-yet determined noise and vibration level.

— Crown Hydro would have to install one or more electric car charging stations above the facility — a request made by the Park Board.

The meeting brought out a couple dozen neighbors of the falls, who wore “Save the Falls” stickers and testified that the benefit of the 3.2 megawatt facility did not outweigh the risk of ruining a cultural landmark in Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, two bills that would force the Park Board to give Crown Hydro authorization for the project are moving through the Minnesota Legislature (H.F. 1440 and S.F. 1191).

A few House and Senate committees have given the bills public hearings and the legislation could go to full vote before the Legislature adjourns on May 23.

Those bills originally had eight DFL sponsors, but six of those legislators have removed their support and two dozen Republicans remain as authors.

———

Garage sale on a tennis court?

While bargain hunters explore the Linden Hills neighborhood garage sales on May 14, a group of fundraisers hope to lure some of the scavengers to the Linden Hills Park tennis courts.

They’ll have donated goods available for purchase at the price the shopper names. All proceeds will go to a fund the group set up in order to raise $200,000 to rebuild the aging courts.

The tennis courts, which are used by Southwest High School, are chipped and cracked due to poor soil beneath the playing surface. Several Southwest residents began raising funds in January.  

For mote information on the fundraising efforts, visit the “Linden Hills Tennis Courts” Facebook page.