Lake Harriet Parkway closure extended

Visitors to Lake Harriet walk in the closed parkway road on April 19. The Park Board voted to spend up to $250,000 on the closures, which will likely last through June, to allow for more social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Andrew Hazzard

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has reversed course on plans to reopen Lake Harriet Parkway to vehicles and will keep the roads around the lake open to pedestrians for another week in an effort to provide more space for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The MPRB had been planning to reopen Lake Harriet Parkway to vehicles on April 20 at the request of local commissioner Brad Bourn (District 6), but the board announced April 19 the closure would be maintained until April 27.

Last week, Bourn said he wanted to reopen Lake Harriet Parkway to vehicles to allow people with limited mobility or who are autoimmune compromised to access the Chain of Lakes. The move drew criticism from area City Council Member Linea Palmisano (Ward 13) and others who wanted to keep the added pedestrian space in place. Over the weekend, signs were placed around the lake urging people to contact Bourn and ask for the vehicle closure to remain.

A sign on Lake Harriet Parkway urged residents to contact local MPRB commissioner Brad Bourn to ask for Lake Harriet Parkway closure to be extended. Photo by Andrew Hazzard

“President [Jono] Cowgill, Superintendent [Al] Bangoura and I are pleased to extend the Lake Harriet Parkway closure an additional week while we’re looking at ongoing strategies to provide access and safe spaces for the elderly, those with limited physical mobility and people with compromised autoimmune systems, who are all at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, to enjoy the Grand Rounds from the safety of their automobiles,” Bourn said in a press release.

The MPRB closed off the northbound lane of West Bde Maka Ska Parkway on April 20. Partial or complete parkway closures to vehicles are now in effect around the entire Chain of Lakes in Southwest Minneapolis. With the exception of Lake Harriet, those closures are planned to continue through Gov. Tim Walz’s executive stay-at-home order, which is scheduled to expire May 4.

Under the closures, cyclists should stay on bike paths, while runners and walkers should use the roadway or pedestrian paths, according to the MPRB.