As mentioned previously, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board held a design charrette and invited the community to provide insight into the future of the north side of Lake Calhoun and south side of Lake of the Isles. Today, MPRB uploaded files from the charrette and they’re quite provocative.
Documents include a variety of background studies and concepts by the project team along with the public input and comments. Visit the MPRB project page to first view the files, but below are some of my take a ways:
New connections between the lakes
Numerous public comments and the project team noticed that the connections between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles are less than ideal and that busy, wide Lake Street is less than ideal. For that, the concepts show various pedestrian/bike bridges or land bridges over Lake Street to better connect the lakes. One concept even includes a second channel between the lakes.
Better connecting Lake users with the Lake
Can you imagine walking along a board walk along the north edge of Lake Calhoun with a new Venetian-style pedestrian bridge over the channel leading to the refectory? Or what about a boardwalk through the channel itself? The concepts were heavy in ideas for bringing lake users closer to the lake, whether board walks or docks.
New park facilities
The concepts include ideas to create a new park pavilion or visitor center on the north or west side of the lake, potentially with a new yacht club on the west side of the lake. A reconfigured roadway and park area near Lake Calhoun Center on the NW corner of the lake could rework the way people move and experience the West Calhoun connection to Lake Calhoun.
In reviewing the comments participants made, there was a range of opinion in the input and in the response to the concepts. One participant referenced that we don’t need more people coming to the lake because it is already highly used and that it would lead to more traffic. Others advocated for specific improvements, whether mitigating Lake Street or making things safer. I wasn’t in attendance, but one participant I spoke with said it was highly engaging and the concepts were out of the box impressive.
The charrette concepts are just concepts. They are not plans. The Park Board will use these to form the basis of future design discussions and will use the input to help establish a vision and priorities for a more detailed future planning effort. With funds allocated for improvements to the Chain of Lakes in the 2015-2016 budget cycle, I believe we will see additional planning sometime in 2013. It is possible that the MPRB will not allocate any of the funds set aside for the Chain of Lakes for this area, but given that they took the time to look at this area, some amount of the budget allocation ($3.7 million) will lead to improvements here.
I will post later about my vision for Lake Calhoun and how concerns over Lake Calhoun being “loved to death” is no reason to deny improvements from this regionally-significant park. Again, I encourage you to review the concepts, as it will get your mind thinking about these and other ways we can improve our much-loved lake.