The June 21 storm may have scattered its damage more than the May, 2011 North Side tornado but the tree loss appears to be higher.
That's the assessment of Ralph Sievert, forestry director for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. He's estimating about 3,000 trees were lost in the public realm, which includes boulevards and parks, compared to 2,600 in the tornado. But the tornado created a more visually striking loss because damage was concentrated in strips.
Park Board tree crews are looking forward to only their third day off in the three weeks since the storm hit. That comes Sunday. They got July 4 and one other Sunday off. Sievert said 51 park employees are involved in the storm cleanup.
Meanwhile the nonprofit foundation supporting parks is dedicating the profits from its Sept. 8 5K race at Lake Harriet toward replanting tres in parks and boulevards. People for Parks hopes to raise at least $7,00, according to spokeswoman Felicity Britton.
More information about the race is available at www.peopleforparks.net .
One way to rile a Minneapolitan is to mess with his or her supply of free wood chips from the Park Board for mulching around the yard and garden.
The chips distributed at a dozen sites around the city have been regarded as a payoff for paying property taxes for parks.
So this year, people such as Bill Kahn of Prospect Park noticed when the chips were down. Turns out they were right, owing to a change in how the Park Board processes pruned and storm-downed trees. And park officials this week remedied the situation in response to rising complaints.
"I feel like it is the old story of less service for more revenue," Kahn complained.
By Friday, four sites should get an initial 100 cubic yards of chips, a supply that park officials say they'll replenish through Aug. 2.
A major reason for the reduced supply of chips is that the Park Board has changed how it chips waste from normal tree pruning. In the past, eight crews began pruning trees in the winter, and brush was fed into portable chippers. Then the crews shiftied in the spring to planting trees, shifting in the summer to removal of elms with Dutch elm disease.
That normally meant two surges of chips for residents. But this year the Park Board cut back to three chipper crews, and shifted most chipping to Koda Energy, which rents park land at Fort Snelling for $125,000 and keeps the chips to burn in its Shakopee waste-to-energy plant. Koda is a partnership of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Rahr Malting Co.
Forestry Director Ralph Sievert said the shift was made to lessen worker injuries and improve efficiency. The smaller chippers cause more injuries from workers feeding branches, while Koda's mammoth chippers are larger and require fewer people. Moreover, centralizing the chipping means that workers can focus on pruning while tree limbs are hauled by trucks with pincer claws to Koda's chipper. Except for the lease payment, no money changes hands for the chipping, he said. But the arrangement is expected to save the Park Board $400,000 annually from reduced injury costs and running fewer crews.
When the storm hit, residents expected to see chips at the usual dump sites scattered through the city. But with the chips headed for Shakopee, that wasn't happening. Park officials had to ask Koda to donate chips to avert a PR problem.
The upside is that because ash wood was mixed with other woods in the storm, all the wood had to be ground to Minnesota Department of Agriculture specs to avert the spread of emerald ash borer. So the newly available chips should be of more uniformity than the ragged pieces that often show up at chip dumps in the city.
Where are the chips headed? They'll be stockpiled at Armatage Park parking lot in the 5700 block of Russell Avenue S., Lake Nokomis parking lot on Nokomis Parkway between E. 50th Street and 22nd Av. S., a Marshall Terrace site near Randolph Street NE and 30th Av. NE, and Folwell Park's parking lot near Dowling and Knox Avenues N.
(Photo: Park workers prune trees after a May snowstorm. File photo by Jeff Wheeler)
Wood chips from trees that came down during the June 21 storm have been ground down to wood chips and are now available free to Minneapolis residents.
The chips will be at four locations by the end of the week through Aug. 2:
Folwell Park parking lot: From the intersection of Dowling Av. N. and Knox. Av. N., the park entrance is east of Knox Av. N. The chips will be in the northwest corner of the lot.
Marshall Terrace neighborhood: The chips will be on the north side of 30th Av. NE just west of Randolph St. NE along the road in a community garden just east of Marshall St. NE
Lake Nokomis parking lot: The lot is off of Lake Nokomis Pkwy between 50th St. E and 22nd Av.. S on the north side of Lake Nokomis. The chips will be in a lakeside parking lot.
Armatage Park parking lot: The lot is on the east side of the 5700 block of Russell Av. S; the chips will be at the south end of the lot near the Dumpster.
Minneapolis Park and Rec said the chips will be available on a first come, first serve basis to Minneapolis residents only.
For more information, go to this Park and Rec page.
It takes some loyalty for alumni of a school to stick together more than 30 years after its closing but grads of Central High School will be gathering in August to mark the centennial of the last incarnation of the demolished school.
Central school had the oldest lineage of any Minneapolis high school when it was shuttered in 1982, along with West and Marshall-University high schools.
The Collegiate Gothic-style building (above) that stood for 69 years on 4th Avenue S. at E. 34th Street opened in 1913. It got its name because it replaced a school of the same name that actually was central —located in downtown Minneapolis.
The school that became Central was organized in 1860, and classes originally met in the Winslow House on the St. Anthony side of the river, a site that’s now home to townhouses at the end of the Central Avenue Bridge. The high school got its own downtown building (right) in 1878 on 11th street, after squatting in two other locations, including a school located where City Hall now sits.
An impressive list of talent graduated from Central, from musician Prince to broadcaster Eric Sevareid. Some of the school’s other notables include Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, actress Ann Sothern , Yankee catcher John Blanchard, Gov. Orville Freeman, columnist Cedric Adams, Lakers coach John Kundla, actor Eddie Albert, jazz keyboardist Bobby Lyle, sportswriter and broadcaster Halsey Hall, sculptor Paul Granlund, real estate developer and manager Archie Givens, ballpark beer vendor Walter E. McNeil (below), Judge Pamela Alexander, and Metropolitan Community College President Earl Bowman. That college held its first classes on Central’s fourth floor.
There certainly was demand for Central’s added capacity, rated at 1600 students, as the city rapidly expanded southward. With South located where the Little Earth housing project now sits, and West where the Uptown Y is now located, Central was the school farthest in the vanguard of population growth. By 10 years after the school’s opening, enrollment hit 3,539, or almost 300 more than the state’s current biggest high school in Wayzata. There was talk of double shifts but the opening of Washburn and Roosevelt in the 1920s relieved that pressure.
By the 1960s, enrollment fell below 1,200. By the baby bust of the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was clear that the city’s high schools were overbuilt, and Central was one of three chosen for closing, The school’s age and the cost to remodel it worked against it, and it fell to the wrecking ball. The stadium next door was converted to housing. The only remnant is the gym built next door, which was built in 1976. Green Central Community School now occupies the site.
That’s a history that alumni continue to celebrate. The centennial reunion will be held on Aug. 10 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the gym. There will be a social hour followed by a short program. Among the scheduled speakers is Joyce Jackson, the last of 11 Central principals. More information is available at http://www.mplschs.org/index.asp or by calling 612-866-0282
This could have been a story about how the Minneapolis School District was prevented from demolishing one of its shuttered schools and wound up better than a million dollars richer.
Instead, the school board this week got a $1.175 million offer for Shingle Creek school, and said no thanks.
That leaves the district with a school at 5034 Oliver Av. N. that it doesn’t want, and would have to pay an estimated $280,000 to demolish.
What was the board thinking when it turned down the offer on a lopsided vote?
Board member Kim Ellison said she was concerned that the staff-recommended sale to Charter School Property Solutions could open the door to a poor-quality charter school moving in. The Nevada-based developer acts as the middleman for charter or private schools seeking a facility to buy or build, according to its web site.
“I need to have a high-performing school,” Ellison said afterward. She said she’s also working with the neighborhood group to set up a meeting, as it requested. That part of the normal process got skipped because the developer put a deadline of last Tuesday’s meeting on its offer. Normally, the board receives a recommendation at one meeting and votes at the next.
The neighborhood group of the same name has opposed demolition of the school. Last year, the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission voted to deny a demolition permit for the school. That was overturned in a district appeal to the City Council, but that was stayed for six months during which the district was to market the school. That’s what produced the offer.
The one-story school is 55 years old, and is without ductwork that was removed along with asbestos after the school closed in 2007. It’s the sole example in the Mill City of a 1950s design concept in which clusters of classrooms were linked by enclosed walkways. It’s also the city’s first example of a school location chosen collaboratively with park officials to take advantage of a nearby park. The school also played a role in desegregating schools in the late 1960s, when it received the largest shifts of black students.
The city marketed the building without success several years ago. “I was surprised to see an offer emerged at that price,” Mark Bollinger, the district’s chief administrative officer, said. But the spurned buyer put a deadline on its offer because of the lead time needed to move a school there by the time school starts. Larry Rieder, its president, predicted in an e-mail that the school will remain empty for another year.
“No school is going to buy the property in mid-year. We like the property and may take another run at it next year,” he wrote. That assumes that it’s still standing, of course.
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