Young skier falls through lagoon ice

Nine-year-old is fine, but questions remain about warm storm water pouring from a storm water outlet

A view from January of the open water in the lagoon between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles. Credit: File photo

EAST ISLES — Leslie Hale says her 9-year-old son is fine after falling through thin ice Monday on the lagoon between Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun.

But questions still remain for Hale and others about the lagoon, where warm water pouring from a storm water outlet prevented the channel from freezing over entirely this winter. A report on the source of the water was not delivered to the city as expected in February, but should be available later this month, said Brianna Patsch of Ward 10 City Council Member Meg Tuthill’s office.

Tuthill has said she believes the water is coming from beneath 1800 Lake on Calhoun, a nearby luxury apartment building that was granted a city permit to discharge water into the storm sewer system. (Click here to read the Jan. 21 Southwest Journal story on the lagoon ice.)

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board installed new barricades around the open water today and was planning to add additional signage about the dangerous ice conditions in the lagoon, said Park Board spokesperson Robin Smothers.

Hale, who lives in Linden Hills, said she was cross-country skiing Monday evening with her son, Cooper Camp, a third-grader at Lake Country School, when he went through the ice. The two started in Theodore Wirth Park and were making their way to Uptown on the freshly fallen snow.

“In years past, we were always used to being able to ski through that area,” Hale said. “It all happened very quick, but it totally took me by surprise to see open water there, especially at a time when the skating rinks (on the lakes) are still open.”

Hale and her son were far from the only skiers on the lakes that evening. She and Camp had crossed paths with friends on Lake of the Isles and paused in the lagoon to let them catch up.

“He was on snow, but it must have been in that area where the ice was thinner,” she said. “It was snowing all day, and there was new snow covering what must have been thin ice.”

Hale said Camp went through the ice up to his neck. He was able to pull himself out of the water, and a friend of Hale’s rushed him to a nearby café to warm up.

Luckily, Hale said, she was skiing with dry clothes in a backpack, and Camp was able to change while she skied back to retrieve her vehicle.

“It ended up fine for us, but I could see how it could not have ended up fine,” she said.

Tuthill and others have raised concerns about temperature pollution from the warm storm water flowing into the lagoon. For Hale, the hole in the lagoon ice is a threat to a unique Minneapolis amenity: its ski-able Chain of Lakes.

“We shouldn’t be restricted to not using part of that lagoon in the winter,” she said.

Tuthill’s aide, Patsch, said others have called the Ward 10 office expressing similar concerns.