Isles warming house undergoing refresh

The Lake of the Isles warming house received a fresh coat of paint earlier in November, thanks to several neighborhood groups.

The East Isles Residents Association is leading a short-term effort to improve the warming house at Lake of the Isles.

The association’s board voted to spend $25,000 of it Neighborhood Revitalization Program funds to paint the warming house and replace its roof and windows. A contractor painted the warming house earlier in November, though the window and roof replacement haven’t happened yet.

Mike Erlandson, who chairs EIRA’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program Committee, said the board’s decision came after more than a year of discussion, adding that the warming house needed the maintenance.

“It’s not received a lot of attention over the years,” he said.

The warming house is property of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which transports it to and from the lake each year. Park Board staff estimate it has been used since the late ’80s, said Dawn Sommers, the Park Board’s director of communications and marketing.

Transporting the warming house is tough on its structural integrity, Sommers said in an email, adding that it will continue to degrade.

“The roof is shot,” she said, noting the neighborhood association’s plan to replace it with a metal roof. “If not repaired, it would be leaking and start to ruin the structure.”

Sommers estimated the new roof would help the structure survive for three to five years.

The Park Board has met with citizens from multiple neighborhood groups about raising funds for a new warming house, Sommers said. She said the East Isles project is a short-term initiative and that a larger group is raising funds for design and construction of a new building.

Erlandson said he doesn’t think his association’s work would prevent the Park Board from building a new warming house, a concern voiced at a community meeting about the project earlier in November.

The current refresh project will cost about $28,000, he said. The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association has contributed $1,000, and some private parties are also considering donating, Erlandson said.

He added that the East Isles board has also talked about cleaning up elements outside of the warming house, such as the gas tank and portable bathroom. They hope the Park Board can do maintenance on the inside of the structure, too, he said.