NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Clean-up parks on Earth Day, join Friends of Lake Hiawatha


Looking for some way to celebrate Earth Day locally?

The MPRB Earth Day Clean-Up has become the largest community service project in Minneapolis and takes place at nearly 40 clean-up sites throughout the city.

Head over to Sibley Park on Saturday, April 26 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. All interested volunteers should meet at Sibley Rec Center to pick up bags and select a route for the clean-up. Refreshments provided to all volunteers.

Or, go to Hiawatha Park and join the newly formed Friends of Lake Hiawatha for a clean-up from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Standish Ericsson Neighborhood Association volunteers will have all of the bags, gloves, and tools you need to help out at the Lake Hiawatha Rec Center, outside, next to the lake. Enjoy donuts and coffee, and share your ideas for future upgrades to the park after the clean-up.

Do you have a canoe and gear? Saturday would be a great day to launch it on the lake and get to some of the hard-to-reach clean-up locations.

To find a detailed list of other Minneapolis clean-up sites, and more information, visit

Friends of Lake Hiawatha forming
An informal meeting was held on Wednesday night, April 16 to learn about what residents envision for Lake Hiawatha, which was once known as Rice Lake. Also discussed was an Adopt-a-Storm-Drain program and the potential for a spring/summer workshop on rain gardens.

The Minneapolis Park & Rec Board is creating its first Master Plan for Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park. Early improvements to Nokomis–Hiawatha will be in three areas: improving non-golf-course park areas, playground upgrades, and trails and shorelines.

Recently elected SENA Board President Chris Lautenschlager is driving the Friends of Lake Hiawatha (FOLH) forward. In the latest edition of the SENA News, he wrote:

“Despite being in its early months, I envision two main components of FOLH. First, there will be community outreach: FOLH will work within our neighborhoods to explore how residents can take meaningful steps to improve the lake’s water quality. Stormwater runoff has a significant impact on the health of the water (the storm drains on your corner lead directly into either Lake Hiawatha or Minnehaha Creek), and anything to prevent noxious agents from entering stormwater runoff is a simple improvement. Reducing that runoff by promoting the installation of rain gardens or rain barrels is an example of an approach that FOLH might take.

“The second component is, dare I say, a more exciting aspect to what FOLH will work on over the next couple of years. Although not commonly regarded as such, Lake Hiawatha is actually included in what is officially known as the Nokomis–Hiawatha Regional Park. This year, the park board will begin creating its first master plan for this community asset. Unlike most other master plans—which often take years of research, coordination, and elusive dollars—this plan will follow an aggressive schedule based on dedicated funding that must be spent by June 2015 and June 2016. Early improvements to Nokomis–Hiawatha will be in three areas: improving non-golf-course park areas, playground upgrades, and trails and shorelines.

“FOLH, along with SENA, will work to actively solicit community input and energy toward the park board’s efforts. A Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will convene this spring. Although the number of official members will be limited, everyone is welcome to participate in the input process at community meetings and open houses. If you want meaningful, sustained improvements to Lake Hiawatha—the most commonly cited reason for our living in this area—I strongly encourage you to be part of this master planning process.

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