Parks update // Park Board looks at changes to Calhoun-Isles connection

The area in between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles is jumbled, says Bruce Chamberlain, the Minneapolis Park Board’s assistant superintendent of planning.

Weaved trails have bicyclists and pedestrians crossing paths. Boats launch right next to Tin Fish, where customers line up for fish tacos. The Calhoun Yacht Club has over grown its small building. Plus, the two lakes have very little interaction. 

“If you’re standing at one lake, you have no idea another lake is a short distance away,” Chamberlain said. 

The Park Board is planning a design charrette for October in order to get feedback from the community on how the Park Board should redesign the area. 

One large topic for the charrette, Chamberlain said, will be what to do with the land just east of the Calhoun Beach Club. That property is currently being used for a constructing staging ground for a new sewer line, but developers have shown interest in building housing there. Chamberlain said it would be wise for the Park Board to get out ahead of future development, so that any project will also celebrate parkland. 

Chamberlain said it would likely be a few years before any work would begin. The Park Board has budgeted $700,000 in 2015 and $3 million in 2016 for the Chain of Lakes. 

The Park Board will hold a site walk on Oct. 6.

A visioning session will be held the evening of Oct. 9 and an open house will take place on the morning of Oct. 13. Exact times and places have yet to be determined. Check the next issue of the Southwest Journal for more information. You can also visit minneapolisparks.org for information on events. 

Snowmobiles back in the city? Maybe for one weekend

It’s been 10 years since snowmobiles were allowed to operate in Minneapolis, but the Park Board is now considering allowing them back into the city for Yamaha convention on Wirth Lake. 

The Park Board has drafted resolution that would allow permits for snowmobiles, which would pave the way for an event this winter. 

Exactly what that event would be is still unclear. Park Board President John Erwin says he doesn’t have all the details, but believes it would be more akin to a show with demonstrations than to a race. 

Meet Minneapolis spokeswoman Kristen Montag confirmed the group was in discussions for a snowmobile convention, but declined to identify the organization or company. She said a contract with the organization was dependent upon the Park Board allowing snowmobiles back into the city.   

Park Board Spokeswoman Dawn Sommers confirmed that Yamaha was the company eying a Minneapolis lake for its convention.

Erwin said the Park Board is steering the event toward Wirth Lake because, unlike other city lakes, it has a buffer zone to prevent snowmobile noise from leaking into neighborhoods. He said he would not support any event allowing snowmobiles onto the Wirth Park’s cross country trails. He also wouldn’t support any event that wasn’t held on a weekend and during daytime hours.  

“We’re talking about just the lake and the area right around it, but not the park, because the park is going to be used for other things,” Erwin said. “So we’re picking a place where there wouldn’t be someone else using the area.”

In 2002, the Park Board eliminated snowmobile permitting. Erwin said there were issues with noise as well as with having ice fishing and snowmobiling on the same, relatively small city lakes. Wirth, it should be noted, is not an ice fishing lake. 

Erwin said the Park Board could also consider Lake Nokomis, but he said he would want to hear from the neighborhood before moving forward.

A Park Board memo says the event would be a national convention and provide a $1 million economic impact to the city of Minneapolis.

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.