E-DEMOCRACY | Park Board, police tape keeps public from Nicollet Island Park Pavilion, deck, trails and park land on Aquatennial fireworks night—again

Chris Steller Date: Jul 21Once again, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is barring people who come to the central riverfront to watch Aquatennial fireworks from a public park facility: the Nicollet Island Park Pavilion, its parking lot and its patio. This time, police tape is strung all around the pavilion area, keeping people off parkland, off trails, and off the popular deck with benches and picnic tables at the island’s south tip—prime viewing spots on public land reserved for a private party. Ordinarily, even when private events spill out of the pavilion, the path along the riverbank, including the deck area, remains open to the public. All this violates specific contract language reserving the pavilion for the public on Aquatennial fireworks night: “Until further notice, the MPRB hereby perpetually reserves December 30, December 31, January 1, July 4, the last Saturday of Aquatennial in July, and three additional date to be determined by the MPRB each year for events sponsored by MPRB” (from page 2, “CATERING AGREEMENT for NICOLLET ISLAND PAVILION BETWEEN MINNEAPOLIS PARK AND RECREATION BOARD AND MINTAHOE HOSPITALITY GROUP,” dated Oct. 20, 2004). I posted about this problem to Mpls-Issues in 2010: http://tinyurl.com/c5pqts4 That year there was no police tape, but a park police officer guarding the private event told me that—despite thousands of people in the area for Aquatennial fireworks—the public couldn’t use the pavilion’s toilets and would have to go ask at bars and restaurants on Main Street.What it is about its own contracts guaranteeing citizens and taxpayers a mere eight days of access per year to the Nicollet Island Park Pavilion—including Aquatennial fireworks night—that the park board still doesn’t understand?  Liz Wielinski Date: Jul 21Due to the concerns brought forward by Chris Steller I went to the trouble of contacting the MPRB lead staff at home to see what this was all about.  According to both our permitting staff, our acting superintendent and the park police this area is roped off because it is the fall out area for the fireworks being shot off of the 3rd AV Bridge. Any event goers at the Pavilion are to remain either in the tent or the building during the fireworks show for safety purposes.  This was not closing off the island to the general public in favor of people renting the pavilion. As to the MPRB having access to the building for events at the pavilion on the specific holidays listed, we working on it.  Many events were discontinued by the MPRB during the years when the state cut LGA.  I was not on the board at that time.  This year the MPRB brought back park board sponsored events for the 4th of July.  There were activities for families, a concert and a movie in the park, as well as the fireworks. Constituents of mine on the island were excited to see activity there again for the 4th.  I can only hope that as we work to rebuild more programming in the parks that soon we will need to have the pavilion for all of the days we have listed in the contract. Hope everyone had a great Aquatenniel!  Liz Wielinski Columbia Park VP and Commissioner District 1 ( including Nicollet Island) Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Chris Steller Date: July 22Thank you, Commissioner Wielinski. Continue Reading

E-DEMOCRACY | Is it hot enough for you? What’s Open, What’s Closed in Minneapolis Parks When Heat Index Reaches 105

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) offers nearly 100 places to stay cool as temperatures soar. The park system has 12 beaches, 65 wading pools, two water parks, and 18 recreation centers with air conditioning. With the heat index surpassing 105 degrees Monday afternoon, recreation centers without air conditioning have been closed and their programs have been canceled. As heat indexes are expected to continue to exceed 100 degrees this week, recreation centers and programs will be monitored on a daily basis and will be closed or canceled, if needed, for public safety.Listed below is information about various facilities, programs and events that may be impacted by the heat, as well as tips to stay safe during hot days.For beach, pool and water park locations and information, visit the Water Recreation page online at www.minneapolisparks.org.Recreation Centers The park system has 18 recreation centers with air conditioning. For the public’s safety and per its policy, the Park Board closes and cancels programming at 29 recreation centers when the heat index reaches 105 degrees.  Recreation Centers with Air Conditioning (* denotes recreation center open July 4): East Phillips*, Farview*, Folwell, Kenwood*, Longfellow*, Lynnhurst*, North Commons, Phillips*, Powderhorn*, WINDOM NE*, BOTTINEAU, NORTHEAST, Elliot, Matthews, Windom South, Lake Hiawatha, Loring, and Webber*. Recreation Centers without Air Conditioning (** denotes recreation center open July 4): Armatage, AUDUBON, Brackett, Bryant Square, Central, Corcoran, Creekview, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.**, Fuller, Harrison, Hiawatha School, Keewaydin, Kenny, Linden Hills**, LOGAN**, LUXTON, Lyndale Farmstead, McRae, Morris, Nokomis**, Painter, Pearl**, Peavey, Pershing, Sibley, Stewart, WAITE, Whittier** and VAN CLEVE**.Rec Plus Childcare The Park Board’s Rec Plus childcare program at 14 recreation centers is expected to continue the week of July 2 with site hours modified as needed and activities moved as needed to buildings or field trip locations that are air conditioned. Continue Reading