Summer’s half over, but beachgoers can finally swim and sunbathe at the revamped south beach on Minneapolis’ Cedar Lake.
The quiet park kept its wide, clean sandy beach, but gained a restroom, widened bike and pedestrian paths, a foot-wash station and a seating plaza off the Cedar Lake Parkway Trail.
Sun-tanned and soaking wet, several children and adults walking out of the water on Monday evening gave the $834,000 makeover a thumb’s up, saying the beach was clean and smooth.
“It’s a great beach with a really pretty sunset,” said Andrea Larson. But she misses the grass and the shade that comes with it, which is temporarily closed off.
Bathers on Monday had to find cover from the warm sun near the new toilet building, or at the edge of the sand near some mature trees.
The swimming spot was much less crowded than Pointe Beach and East Cedar Beach, the other two on the lake that often draw a louder crowd. On Monday, the new beach drew more families with young children who were playing with a toy speedboat, playing in the sand or floating on large plastic tubes.
“This is so much quieter” than other beaches, Mary Daschner said about what has drawn her and her family to the little spot on Cedar Lake every summer for nearly 20 years.
But the upgrades could bring more attention and visitors to her haven. Years ago, the Minneapolis Park Board removed the lifeguard because too few people used the beach, Daschner said.
“It’s very much a neighborhood lake with less traffic than others,” she said. “But maybe they should bring the lifeguard in the future if more people use it.”
Located just off the corner of Burnham Road and Cedar Lake Avenue, the popular spot sits along the Cedar Lake Regional Trail and is just a few feet from the Kenilworth Trail that angles northeast into downtown Minneapolis.
The beach opened quietly in late June after construction started in November, but residents celebrated the grand opening with music and activities for children on Monday.
The major upgrade has been years in the making.
Park Board commissioners approved the plan after nearly a year of meetings and deliberation. The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association paid $40,000 in Neighborhood Revitalization Program funds to prepare plans and construction estimates.
Then, in 2017 the board accepted an anonymous donation of $409,000 to help pay for the project, contingent upon the inclusion of toilets — a need for many swimmers, bikers and runners who use the nearby trails and paths.