Gnarled trees, ghoulish lights darken 'Avenue of Arts'

  • Article by: BARBARA FLANAGAN
  • Updated: February 5, 2006 - 6:26 PM

The Flanagan Memo -- Re: The Green Scene on 3rd Avenue; tall, short or shorter buildings, plus, more books.

The Flanagan Memo -- Re: The Green Scene on 3rd Avenue; tall, short or shorter buildings, plus, more books.

Park legacy

What I didn't know about the late Theodore Wirth until recently is that he tried to build parks and playgrounds in Minneapolis within six blocks of every child. Did he succeed? Can anybody out there count and tell us?

Wirth, a landscape architect, spent most of his career as the city's park superintendent. Our "best parks in the nation" designation is the result. Is our current Park Board aware of this? Let's hope.

Planters are the pits

Reader David Wells wonders about the condition of the planters on 3rd Avenue S. in downtown Minneapolis, and with good reason. They are the winter pits.

"Supposedly, 3rd Avenue is the 'Avenue of the Arts,' he said. "But they are the dreariest, most unimaginative things for a street that is to connect with beauty."

What happened? The Avenue of the Arts was conceived by the previous administration, but I remember Mayor R.T. Rybak saying during his first campaign that he was going to continue the artistic approach to our streets and neighborhoods. In some cases he has. But the cruel fact is that money for the arts is scarce.

Wells, however, notes that with our long winter season, "one would think there would be some winter interest by people, including business folks, to the plantings." Some small gnarled trees, he points out, have "ghoulish blue lights on them." And he thinks the lights further diminish those trees.

There is great potential, he said. Just look at Chicago's Michigan Avenue and, in summer, the downtowns of St. Paul and Des Moines (good grief, that's my hometown).

The city, not the Park Board, is responsible for 3rd Avenue, so who's in charge?

On the ballpark bandwagon

In Minneapolis, a city that many consider one of the nation's cleanest, there is trash on the streets. Star Tribune staff writer Linda Mack cites Hennepin Avenue as among the worst offenders. How does that happen?

Mack also won me over in her first-of-the-year commentary Jan. 8 by asking for a Twins ballpark on the Rapid Park site north of Target Center. As she points out, parking exists along with future transit connections and a skyline view. "It's a site that is hard to beat," she says.

Hear, hear!

Skyscraper scuffle

This appears to be the year of new skyscrapers in Minneapolis, but not without a rumble.

My preference for buildings of eight to 10 floors has raised some criticism. David Fields, community development coordinator of the Elliot Park Neighborhood, e-mailed me, saying:

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