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Posts about Parks and recreation

North Star bike fest secures funding

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: April 24, 2015 - 11:34 AM

The North Star Bicycle Festival announced Friday that it's a go for this year after lining up six new sponsors for its race series and open ride.

The festival said earlier that the 17th running of the bike racing series was threatened by a $60,000 funding gap, which spokeswoman Jean Freidl said has not yet entirely been closed. The event was formerly known as Nature Valley Grand Prix, but is in its second year under the new name.

The event, which said it attracts about 50,000 spectators, opens on June 13 with a ride with distances of 35, 65 and 100 miles that's open to the public. It will cover terrain around Prescott, Wis.

The professional racing events, part of US Cycling's national racing calendar, open June 17 with a time trial in St. Paul, followed on successive days by a road race in Cannon Fall, a criterium in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, a road rce in Menomonie, Wis., and a criterium featuring a hill climb in Stillwater.

More information is available at www.northstarbicyclefestival.com

Sheridan riverside park snares federal grant

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: April 21, 2015 - 2:20 PM

A $500,000 federal grant will jumpstart development of a park just north of the Broadway Avenue Bridge in northeast Minneapolis.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board was one of eight locales nationally to score Department of the Interior money in a new program that provides money to disadvantaged areas.

The money will help to develop the first park in the Sheridan neighborhood, which lies north of Broadway and stretches a dozen block inland from the Mississippi River. The Park Board already owns most of the site, which is tucked between the river and former Grain Belt complex.

The Park Board will match the federal money, meaning that $1 million will be available to create the park around a riverside veterans memorial dedicated last year.

A master plan for the area calls for the memorial, a large grassy open play field, a playground and a picnic area. A pedestrian path would run close to the river, and a bike path would run on the inland side of the park, as part of the East Bank Trail connecting Boom Island Park and NE Marshall Street. That trail is separately funded and is scheduled to open next year if a necessary easement can be obtained from Graco Minnesota Inc.

The $1 million will fund about half of the expected ultimate development cost for the park, according to park design officials.

“This is just one of the many in a string of parks we intend to have as you drive up the riverfront,” Park Board President Liz Wielinski, who represents the area, said Tuesday after the grant was announced.

The Sheridan park is one of  number envisioned in the 1999 Above The Falls master plan for redeveloping the city's upper riverfront.

Big changes urged for Cowles Conservatory

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: April 15, 2015 - 7:24 PM

The Cowles Conservatory of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden would lose its heat, its glass skirt, its current function and probably also its name under an advisory recommendation to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

The preferred option urged Tuesday evening by a study committee would keep glass in the building’s upper walls and roof, but remove it from the lower portion of the structure. That’s a compromise between greater sustainability and weather protection.

Regardless of whether you love or hate that idea, you’ll have less than 24 hours after the panel’s decision to react to the idea under an extraordinarily compressed time frame that puts the sculpture garden rehab plan before a Park Board committee for a public hearing at its meeting Wednesday evening.

Park officials chose to allow just one day for the public to absorb the latest recommendation in order to try to keep the overall $10.6 million project on track for a planned August construction start. The recommendation was the final piece in the citizen advisory committee’s five-meeting process of recommending how the garden renovation should proceed.

The main factor driving the conservatory decision is cost. The building brings in about $30,000 in rental income annually against an estimated $100,000 to heat and maintain it.

Eliminating heating will save on the expense side, and the group was told that selling warming and alcoholic beverages in the partially glassed building seasonally, plus rentals for weddings and other events, could boost the income side of the ledger.

The recommended option will cost an estimated $1.5 million, which fits within its allotment under the sculpture garden budget, which is already $600,000 over available funds.

The group rejected a different option that would have cost an estimated $400,000 more and heated only the central tower of the building, leaving its wings open. That would have cost more to operate.

It also rejected a more minimalist option that would have stripped the building of all of its glass, replacing it with some form of yet-to-be-defined covering for some protection from sun and precipitation.

The group was dubious about the weather worthiness of that proposal. Moreover, it was told that it that not removing all glass would be cheaper, leaving money that would allow restrooms and storage area to be moved to a new building. That would make the 60-foot square main hall more flexible.

The recommendation was made without full analysis of how well the various options will stand up to wind and the forces of cold and heat expanding and contracting an unheated building.

Olga Viso, director of the neighboring Walker Art Center, told the group that the structure’s capacity to bear the load of hanging art was even less than thought, and that an unheated building would be challenging for artwork.  But she said she’s discussed a potential lighted entrance installation with artists.

As for the building’s name, it will remain named after its Cowles family donors, but it will no longer serve as a botanical conservatory without heat.  Some members of the group suggested Cowles Pavilion as a more fitting appellation.

“It’s like Prince.  It will have a new name,” said panel chair Margaret Anderson Kelliher

City Council panel rejects Linden Hills height appeal

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: April 9, 2015 - 11:36 AM

A panel of Minneapolis City Council members Thursday nixed an appeal by some area residents against plans to build a 12,100-square-foot mixed office and retail building at a key intersection in the Linden Hills neighborhood.

The council's Zoning and Planning Committee unanimously denied the appeal brought by a group calling itself Residents Protecting the Shoreland Overlay. It claims to have attracted more than 100 signers for an online petition against the project.

The shoreland ordinance presents a set of additional zoning requirements for developments proposed within 1,000 feet of waters, in this case Lake Harriet.  The appealing residents argued that the proposed building's height of just over 50 feet violate the ordinance.

Nearby resident Kris Schweizer said the height approved by the Planning Commission under a conditional use permit sets a bad precedent for lakes area development.

But Council Member Lisa Goodman noted that the height limit in the zoning and shoreland ordinances of 2.5 stories or 35 feet, whichever is lower, applies only to what a property owner may build as a matter of right.  The council has the discretion to exceed that limit by attaching conditions to the development.

Much of the height that would exceed the ordinary limit is for mechanical systems, an elevator serving a rooftop deck for tenants and a staircase protrusion.

About half a dozen residents supported the appeal, some mentioning that their view of Harriet would be blocked. The project is being developed on land owned by Sebastian Joe's ice cream shop at the corner of W. 44th Street and Upton Avenue S.

Co-owner Michael Pellizzer said the business has considered numerous proposals and settled on one that would offer small retail specialty space, as well as small offices conducive to startup businesses. He said he delayed moving ahead until a Linden Hills zoning study was adopted.

Minneapolis snags healthiest city ranking

Posted by: Erin Golden Updated: April 6, 2015 - 12:01 PM

Access to parks, trails, lakes and other outdoor hot spots is one of the top reasons Minneapolis is the healthiest city in the country.

That's according to livability.com, which put Minneapolis at No. 1 on its 2015 "Healthiest Cities" list. The site also considered public health data and the number of medical providers in the city in making its rankings.

Among Minneapolis' high points: fewer than 14 percent of Hennepin County residents smoke, and 87 percent say they regularly participate in physical activities. Meanwhile, most Minneapolis residents get regular health care screenings and fewer than 11 percent are uninsured.

The site noted that 17 percent of the city is covered by the park system and made mention of the city's large downtown farmers market. In a separate list, livability.com ranked Minneapolis' core as one of the top 10 downtowns in the country. 

Above: Runners enjoy the trails at Lake Calhoun. Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler.

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