With golfers, cross-country skiers, mountain bikers, tubers and snowboarders all jostling for space at Wirth Park, Minneapolis park officials will share two alternatives for better separating competing uses.
The design concepts will be offered at open houses Saturday and Feb. 3. They’ll highlight a new sports welcome center that’s planned at Wirth, plus a redesign of what park officials are calling an “adventure center,” a complex designed to better accommodate various users.
The proposals include space for a mountain biking stadium, a ski stadium, and tubing and snowboarding hills, plus parking and two redesigned golf holes.
The work represents the first step toward carrying out the multiple proposals for renovating Wirth included in the master plan that’s still awaiting a public hearing and approval by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
The welcome center will have a cafe, meeting spots and lockers and will be a place for buying course passes. It will also include an office for the Loppet Foundation, a nonprofit organization that runs an annual winter sports festival based at Wirth and elsewhere in Minneapolis, along with other sporting events.
The foundation is a major player in the new complex. By midsummer, it must raise an additional $800,000 of the $3 million target set in its agreement with the Park Board for the $6 million complex.
The Park Board can’t use Metropolitan Council funding that it has been awarded to pay for planning the new facilities until the council approves the proposed master plan. So the foundation is spending up to $150,000 for early design work. The Park Board plans to eventually offset that contribution when it builds the center, according to project manager Adam Arvidson.
The first open house where design alternatives will be shared is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. It will be held in the main tent at the City of Lakes Loppet Village, a temporary complex for the City of Lakes Loppet erected at Calhoun Executive Center on the northwest side of Lake Calhoun. A second viewing will be on Feb. 3 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Park Board headquarters, 2117 W. River Road.
Earlier discussions caused some frustration among golfers who felt the changes to better handle mountain bikers and skiers were edging them out, especially citing plans to redesign the 17th and 18th holes of the Wirth course to accommodate those uses.
Golf use of Wirth has been sinking since 2000, and it has the lowest demand compared with other city courses. A consultant last year urged the Park Board to consider adding a driving range, eliminating a nine-hole par-3 course and reconfiguring the back nine holes of its 18-hole course. The consultant found the course too challenging and hampered by poor conditions and increasing maintenance needs.