A year from now, far north Minneapolis will have something other parts of the city have long boasted of: namely, a beach.
State, county and local officials Wednesday broke ground on a $6 million transformation of Webber Park that will feature a sand beach alongside a naturally filtered swimming pool, as well as a new bathhouse that will double as a warming house for skaters in the winter.
"Other parts of the city have lakes and beaches," said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner Jon Olson, who represents the North Side. "They bring activity and affluence. North Minneapolis has to provide amenities to keep people here, and also to attract people. It's about equity."
The pond will replace a mucky, trash-strewn wetland that has been seeping away since its bottom was punctured by trees toppled by the May 2011 tornado. The new one will incorporate a design popular in Europe, using plants in an adjacent "regeneration pond" instead of chemicals to filter the water.
It will feature a granite-slope entry, a lap pool, a wading pool and a 13-foot deep diving hole beneath a 10-foot tall diving cliff.
A new parking lot is also part of the project.
Designer Rainer Grafinger, who attended the groundbreaking, said he would return from Munich for the grand opening, scheduled for August 2014. He promised that he and local officials would "jump together into the water."