Minneapolis Bike, Walk, and Roll Plan Meeting Tonight

Just saw this on the Longfellow River Gorge mailing list. The way people are using the Minneapolis Parks is changing (or has already changed) so it’s worth bringing in some up to date perspectives on how to construct usable trails and facilities for how people use the system now and in the future.

For example, rollerblading was nothing 30 years ago. Not people expect trails to be wide and smooth enough to skate safely. Then there’s the choice of surface for running trails debate. Yadda yadda.

Park Board Public Meetings on Bike, Walk, and Roll Plan
Thursday, February 19, 6:30 p.m., Brackett Park, 2728 39th Ave S

The Minneapolis Park Board will hold public meetings in February to gather citizen input for the Bike, Walk, and Roll Activity Plan for Minneapolis parks. The plan will set programming and infrastructure guidelines for biking, in-line skating, walking, mountain biking, hiking, running, and BMX riding in Minneapolis parks. For more information, and for dates and locations of the other public meetings, call 612-230-6400, or visit www.minneapolisparks.org.

Check it out if you can.

Keep the Minneapolis Park Board Separate from the City Council

Minneapolis Ward 12 City Council Member, Sandy Colvin-Roy mentions is a recent newsletter that a proposed change the the Minneapolis City Charter could lead to the folding of the park board into the city council.

Sandy explains the issue:

Proposed Charter Changes; Park Board at Risk

Three changes to the Minneapolis City Charter have been proposed. Our city is a national leader on many fronts with the current form of government, notably the excellence of our parks, but some on the Council and in the media are suggesting that the system is too messy.

I have a strong reaction to the suggestion that we eliminate the elected Park Board: No. I do not want the same people who are charged with economic development to also be charged with preserving public access to our permanent natural resources – even if I am one of those people. I do not want anyone to feel forced to choose between more tax base and the precious open space that makes our city so special.

I agree. The park board and city council have competing interests.

Sandy is soliciting feedback from constituents on this issue. She can be reached at:

612-673-2212
or sandra.colvin.roy@ci.minneapolis.mn.us

A vote is scheduled for Friday, so jump on this if it’s a topic you’re passionate about.

Thoughts on the Minneapolis Park Board Comprehensive Plan

The Minneapolis Park Board is working on a “Comprehensive Plan” that will shape
the direction of park developments, trails, trees & landscaping, rec
centers, and more for the next 13 years. That’s kind of a big deal.
So get your butt to a meeting where you can weigh in on the direction
Minneapolis parks are heading.

A lot has changed in how people use the parks, exercise, and socialize outside
since the last time the MPB took a step back to evaluate such behaviors. For
example, check out the following stats from the draft
Comprehensive Plan:

Demographic shifts The number of households with
individuals living alone has increased from 27.6% in 1960 to 40% in 2000.
During the same time period, the number of households with children has
declined from 34.8 % to 25% of households. The city has also become more
diverse and home to an increasing number of foreign-born residents.

Recreation trends Adults, especially Baby Boomers,
are staying active longer. Young adults raised on youth athletics are seeking
to maintain active lifestyles. In addition, interest in non-traditional and
self-directed recreation is rising.

Health trends Nationally, research shows
obesity and related health concerns are rising along with health care costs.
Parks and recreation play an important role in supporting the active
lifestyles that can reduce health concerns and bolster preventative care.

Those are some fairly significant changes. How should the Minneapolis Park Board
adjust their priorities in order best serve Minneapolis residents and visitors?

In my opinion, the three changes listed above point toward a large increase in
trail use. People are participating in more individual sports like running,
walking, rollerblading, and biking, and joining less organized sports like
softball, hockey, or football. Soccer may be an exception to this based on it’s
increase popularity as a high school sport and the popularity of the sport among
new immigrants to Minneapolis. And Lacrosse is a growing sport at the high
school level.

The draft report recognizes this:

Interest in traditional sports, including
baseball, softball, golf, and football, is declining while interest in
non-traditional sports such as skateboarding, mountain biking, disc golf,
lacrosse, and cricket is increasing.

In my opinion, we need more trails, and probably a few less outdoor ice rinks.

As I look at the trail situation I see trails that are not being maintained on a
regular enough basis to be usable for some forms of recreation. For example,
West River Road’s trails should not have been allowed to fall into the disrepair
they’re in today (and will be in for at least 3 more years based on their
planned improvement schedule).

It’s good to see the improvements to the Above the Falls area of the river, with
newly build or improved parks, especially along the West side of the river. I’m
glad to see that there is a plan to deal with the disconnect along the East side
of the Mississippi River trail between the U of MN and St. Anthony Main. And the
Northeast part of the Grand Rounds is receiving attention as well:

Minneapolis Future Parkland and Facility Study Areas and Adopted Plans

That leaves a few significant holes, but greatly improves upon where we are
today.

Trails also need to be rethought as they’re being used for a wider variety of
recreational activities. Walkers, Runners, recreational rollerbladers,
speedskating rollerbladers, recreational bikers, racing bikers, and roller
skiers don’t mix. There needs to be at least two unique trails for pedestrians
and wheeled travelers, but should probably be three with one for over 12 MPH and
one for under. Or, the wheel specific trails need to be significantly wider
(probably twice as wide as they are today) to make passing safer. The Midtown
Greenway is a good example of this.

What’s important to you in the parks? Do you think the MPB is on the right track here? Do you think they’ll pay attention to this report once it’s finalized?

Gold Medal Park Update

The Deets has been fielding a lot of questions from readers about the status of Gold Medal Park next to the Guthrie Theater.

In my effort to figure out what’s up, I did some Googling, and dug deep into the Minneapolis Park Board’s website to figure out what’s going on. Surely an opening ceremony must be in the works. And there was no mention of the park among the list of parks on the Park Board website.

As The Other Mike pointed out on our run across the Stone Arch Bridge the other day, the geese have already moved in.

A quick email conversation with a park board member helped explain things a bit: the reason there is no open date on the park board website is because it isn’t a park board owned park. Apparently, it’s entirely private.

That’s news to me. I was under the impression that the park board received donation from William McGuire, CEO of UnitedHealth to the tune of $500,000 per year for 10 years to cover the development and maintenance costs. I also remember hearing that the park was going to be called the McGuire park, but that may have been before he resigned on short notice last fall.

So, does anyone have any information about when this will actually open? The people building the StoneBridge condos across 2nd Ave would probably like to see an open park rather than fencing across the street.

Will a private goose control company come in before the park opens? A division of Blackwater security, perhaps?