Serious discussion on a new Webber Library underway, public meetings set for April 15, May 10

Plans to build a new Webber Park Library are moving ahead and it couldn’t be too soon. There was a celebration for the opening of the temporary Webber Library on Lyndale and 42nd on March 11, and the old library is scheduled to be torn down in April. In a show of good faith to move this project forward Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins and county staff from library and property services held a meeting at Folwell Park on Saturday March 8. It was the first of a series of meetings intended to collect information regarding our community’s needs in a library.

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Webber Library now open at temporary North Minneapolis site

People in our community have been through many ups and downs regarding the little Webber Library; commencing with the cutting of hours at the start of this century, hitting the low-point with the one year closure from December 2006 until January 2008, and then the final closure this past July. If the one year closure was its nadir, the January 2008 reopening, with the announced $15 million capital plan for a new library was its zenith.

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Webber Library will remain closed

The fall issue of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library highlighted the importance of putting books into the hands of students from low-income households. They cited a study published in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, which showed that low-income students who had access to books during the summer did not experience the proverbial “summer slide.” Indeed, their reading scores were raised by 24.15 points, while their peers who did not have access to books experienced a -9.77 point slide in their scores. Counter this data with the responsibility we have as a society to address the appalling achievement gap in education and the knowledge that many of the children in our own community live in poverty, and the value of having our public libraries open for all people, especially the children of our community becomes paramount.Webber Park Library remains closed as of this writing. The structural damage has not been repaired and three possible outcomes were presented at a public meeting held by Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins at Folwell Park on September 30. Options included repairing the existing structure, utilizing trailers to provide interim library services or rent retail space within proximity of the current library. Continue Reading

OPINION | Delay on the Webber Park pool difficult for the community

I think Lucy Van Pelt’s personality must have been extremely compelling. How else can one explain the behavior of Charlie Brown? Self-confident and knowledgeable, Lucy attracted Charlie Brown into her version of friendship. She played on his baseball team, offered him deprecating versions of psychiatric help and was always willing to offer up the pigskin. Lucy Van Pelt – holding the football and promising to let Charlie Brown kick it. Continue Reading

A new future for Webber Park Pool

During the summer of 2011 it was difficult to look at the empty Webber Park Pool without feeling sad. It was a stark reminder of the blow our community took from the tornado that passed through in May of the same year. The pool had been slated to close before the tornado came through, but if there had been any glimmer of hope that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) would commit to investing in its opening one more time, the tornado hammered in the final nail of closure. In addition, the tornado took down virtually every tree surrounding the pool, leaving the cement hole as a skeletal reminder to those who would have loved to see it filled with water. With the demolition of the pool this summer there has been a passing of an era. Continue Reading

Webber Park master plan is underway

I recently took a chance on the ice of the shallow pond in Webber Park and it held. I did this in anticipation of skating on the pond in the near and cold weeks of January. But to my disappointment I was informed by a park employee that the Webber Pond would not be flooded this winter, the warming house would not be brought in, and it was another blow to my sense of fairness for our community. Skating on the pond, on cold and clear winter nights, with Orion sparkling in the evening sky, is truly one of the delights of winter, and like the pool, it also will be gone in 2012. A simple delight that makes life in a cold winter special; even great. Continue Reading