Planning for reshaping of lakes Harriet and Calhoun continued Tuesday night with sparser attendance by the appointees given the job of advising the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board on the future of the two lakes.
But perhaps the biggest new idea was taken off the table.
That was the concept of creating a land bridge over the intersection of Richfield Road and William Berry Parkway, just south of Lake Calhoun, to relieve what can sometimes be a congested confluence of motor vehicles, pedestrians and bikers. The idea of a seamless bridge of parkland over that junction appeared on a drawing last month but the citizen advisory committee didn't get to it in that meeting.
Assistant Park Superintendent Michael Schroeder said Wednesday that he thinks there are more cost-effective ways to improve the intersection.
Last month’s discussion focused entirely on ideas for the Calhoun lakeshore. This month’s session meeting focused more on Harriet, plus the Berry parkway area that connects the two lakes, and Calhoun’s east shore.
There are two mockups for each area, one focused more on ecological improvements affecting lake quality and wildlife habitat, and the other promoting recreational use of the shores. Some ideas appear only on one version but others appear on both
Fewer than 60 percent of the panel’s 26 remaining members attended the discussion. Park planners have scheduled an open house to collect public reaction to their ideas on Dec. 1 at the Park Board’s headquarters, 2117 W. River Road. Based on that feedback and discussion at the advisory panel’s last two meetings, planners will recommend a preferred plan and a set of recommendations on Jan. 12.
Here’s a synopsis of Wednesday’s planner ideas and some reaction by area:
Harriet bandshell: The biggest new idea was to build a new lake edge behind the bandshell that could project into the lake and allow people to get closer to the water level.
One idea would reroute all bike traffic much farther away from the bandshell to loop north of the current picnic area. That idea is intended to reduce bike-pedestrian congestion but requires a long uphill pedal. The hillside north of the bandshell would provide extra seating
Another proposal would improve the west entrance to the nearby bird sanctuary. Another is to expand parking, partly by adding parking bays on the lake side of the parkway east of the bandshell, an idea that drew mixed reaction. One idea would eliminate the small roundabout at W. 42nd Street, creating a stormwater site or a resting area, and install a two-way road between the main parking lot and W. 42nd..
East Calhoun: The big new idea here was trying to handle congestion at Richfield Road and W. 36th with a roundabout.
Another idea is to expanding the oak savanna on the hillside south of the refectory by adding more trees closer to the lake. Planners previously proposed extending the Harriet trolley along the parkway to Lake Street, converting six blocks of the east parkway to one-way traffic. But the advisory committee seems to prefer a more flexible vehicle serving the larger lakes area and keeping the parkway bi-directional.
The east shore of Calhoun is one of several areas along the two lakes where planners are advancing the concept of a boardwalk extending out over the lake, as at the North Side’s Wirth Lake. They see it as integrated with stormwater ponds that would allow runoff to be filtered before it hits the lake, perhaps screening out trash as well.
Berry parkway: One major idea here would simply be to redo traffic signals where Richfield Road and the parkway intersect. One proposal discussed would stop motor vehicles in all directions simultaneously so that people could walk any direction across the junction, including diagonally.
Another idea would daylight more of the watercourse that shuttles water from Calhoun to Harriet. Grassy areas that are more resilient when flooded also were proposed, but one version would create a large playfield.
One choice offered by planners was to move the nearby archery range to another park or to improve it. Another recreational change would route a new two-way bike path on the southeast side of Richfield Road to connect Berry and W. 36th.
Park officials are adamant that they want to keep a maintenance shed at the lakes for operational reasons. But they said they’re open to moving the one along Richfield Road to another site, possibly northwest Calhoun, as part of a larger facility. or combining adding bathrooms or interpretive space to the current site.
The Berry area is also pegged for more interpretive areas. One idea would create ceremonial space either near the Calhoun edge or on a hill overlooking the intersection. Another recommends interpretive areas for geologic history, archeological sites or native history at various sites in the area.
East Harriet: The big idea here is to remove the lower parkway, as was done decades ago on the lake’s south end, or to downgrade it to a more rustic seasonal track.
A neighborhood rep said people he’s talked to oppose closing the road, which floods frequently, and the idea was controversial 20 years ago in the last round of lakes planning. Removing the road would allow the area to revert to its wetland origins, according to planners. The neighborhood association has not taken a position on the proosed road removal.
There are also ideas for substituting water-pervious hard surfaces on the paths, and making it easier to access the lower area from the upper road by foot
Lyndale Park: The big idea here is to extend the park’s gardens all the way to the lakeshore, either as formal gardens or more ecologically oriented gardens.
Another option presented would be to convert W. 42nd Street and Roseway Road to one-way traffic, essentially creating a loop around existing gardens. That would allow parking bays on the garden side of each road. Some of the space freed on Roseway, a major foot and bike access route to Harriet from the east, would be converted to a two-way set of bike lanes.
Another idea would create a footpath that curls to the top of the hill at Lyndale Park to take advantage of its vista.