E-DEMOCRACY | Lake Hiawatha Master Plan and improvements


Kyle Werremeyer posted at 9:54pm, May 16

SENA neighbors – little did you know that Lake Hiawatha is part of something bigger!

Our little lake is technically part of the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park and the whole park is getting a once over and a new long term 20 year master plan. These improvements and long term plannings are well overdue as the last major master plan for the Nokomis Hiawatha Region Park was written in 1934. Yes, 1934. Go to this link for much more information


Chris Lautenschlager and I have been appointed to the Community Advisory Committee for this project. As we move forward over the next year plus I’d like to report back to the community as Chris and I advocate (and agitate) for Lake Hiawatha specifically and the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park generally. Please rest assured that Chris and I are dedicated to ensuring that Lake Hiawatha will not remain forgotten in this project.

The first meeting was May 15th and was a combination of introductions, project overviews, and project brainstorming/ideating and didn’t touch too much on Lake Hiawatha. That was, however, as designed; Phase One is concentrating on some playground issues at Lake Nokomis.

As the project moves forward we will have more opportunities to influence how the project benefits Lake Hiawatha. Based on prior community feedback, Chris and I have already made clear to the group that a conversation is demanded in regards to a paved path that connects Minnehaha Parkways trails and paths to the paths at Lake Hiawatha Park, perhaps running up Longfellow Ave to 43rd St, then from 43rd St to the tennis courts at 26th Ave S. Or perhaps an over-water path from the entrance of Minnehaha Creek and Lake Hiawatha, up the west side of the lake, to meet up with Lake Hiawatha Park by the baseball diamond. Chris and I are committed to seeing the Master Plan include ideas, strategies and proposals to link pedestrians and bikers around Lake Hiawatha in a way that meets the needs of our local community. This is Job #1.

There are unfortunately some areas that could be difficult to impact. For instance we have been told explicitly that this is not about the golf course so don’t even bring it up. Also, it may be hard to change traffic patterns and traffic signage as those require the City and the County to be involved .

Other areas are easy to impact, like adding playground equipment, pavilions, grilling stations, picnic tables, sports courts, walking and biking trails, and other park-esque improvements. There will also be significant opportunities to improve the shoreline of Lake Hiawatha, maybe making it more natural through plantings and removing the beach, or making it more accessible and visible by trimming certain plantings and improving the beach.

If you have any ideas about what you would like to see, you have two options. Following the link, you can email Adam Arvidson. Adam is the MPRB Project Manager for this Master Plan and he would welcome and include all suggestions in his conversations with the group. More interesting may be posting your ideas in this thread so that the entire community can see and perhaps debate what “we” are all looking for in Lake Hiawatha and the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park.

I encourage you to spread the word far and wide. Chris and I are loud, but there are a lot of Lake Nokomis supporters in the group and the money is limited. Lend your voice so that our community is properly represented in the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan and we can put together a community vision for our little lake.

We need big ideas and little ideas, and the more that we can bring to the meetings, the better. I’ll start:

Simply and realistically, I’d like to see some sand volleyball courts on the corner of 44th St and 28th Ave and improvements made to the horseshoe pits at Lake Hiawatha Park. I’d also like to see a concerted effort to put planting along the golf course shoreline for a more natural look. If I had big dreams, how about a small concert pavilion over by the beach for lazy Friday evening summer concerts, with the lake as a backdrop?

Amy Hoover posted at 10:20pm, May 16

I’d just like to see a way to walk/run/bike all the way around Lake Hiawatha. I’m not fond of the way it is now, making Hiawatha seem like an after thought or a place you simply pass by on one side on your way to someplace else.

Tesha Christensen Pettit posted at 10:39pm, May 16

As folks consider what would be cool to add, I hope we don’t lose the great playground we have now. One of the things I like most about our playground is I can watch the older one on the older equipment and the younger one on the younger equipment at the same time. There have been way too many playgrounds redone throughout the city that place the older kid equipment too far away from the younger kid equipment. A parent can’t be in both places at once! The way the playground at Lake Hiawatha Park is set up is perfect.

We also really like the equipment that is there right now. We do go around to other places in the city to check out the cool, new stuff, but we always come back to Lake Hiawatha and other parks (like Hiawatha School) with the bright red equipment because it is fun. The kids love it.

Chris Lautenschlager posted at 2:07am, May 18

Thanks for the great post, Kyle. Sorry that I was slow to post any information following the meeting, I’m finishing a different project this week, but will have more time moving forward.

I’m entirely in agreement with the ideas mentioned by Kyle. While the project leaders and all of the CAC members are fully aware that this is one regional park (made up of two relatively different areas, Nokomis and Hiawatha), I do harbor a slight fear that without a concerted effort, the default focus may be placed on Lake Nokomis.

I didn’t too strongly emphasize this point at our first meeting — Kyle was able to speak to it effectively enough, and I didn’t want to belabor it.

As for the mission of this first meeting, most of it was to emphasize what the entire, somewhat complicated process this Master Planning process is going to be over the next 2 years, solicit some general ideas about what works and what doesn’t, and to discuss the relatively obscure Triangle Park near East 54th and Bloomington Ave (this is a very specific project that needs to be immediately dealt with, based on a funding source).

While I am dedicated to working on the entire Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional park, I’ll keep my comments limited to the Lake Hiawatha area, for the purposes that Kyle outlined above.

1. I would frankly be surprised if there would be any changes to the playground at Lake Hiawatha. In my experience — and based on conversations at this meeting — this playground is so universally liked that I cannot imagine something significant changing here.

2. The issue of the golf course is a bit ambiguous, but I’ll try to tackle it again — at least with the hope that I won’t further complicated this issue: In terms of the funding and the mission of this Master Planning Process

– Fixing existing issues of this golf course are not included in this process. – The future of the golf course (in its 18 hole entirety), is not up for discussion – There is money for working on shorelines and trails for this entire regional park. These could be used at both Nokomis and Hiawatha. I think its entirely possible that we could justifiably argue that there should be work done on a pathway around the entire lake. I think there already exists a general consensus among the attendees of the first meeting that this is the case

3. I definitely believe that much, much more can be done at Hiawatha than simply build a walking/biking path (see Kyle’s ideas above). Yet we should also consider really reworking the existing bike/pedestrian paths at Hiawatha, a better canoe launch, doing something permanently “good” about the beach at Hiawatha — would the community support a concession type service at Hiawatha.

This is our main community asset in this area, and this is really the only time in this generation where we are going to have such a bright planning spotlight shone on this park. We can always use a picnic table here and an extra garbage can there, but this is our opportunity to THINK REALLY BIG about this lake (and, of course, Nokomis as well).

I would certainly hope that there would be more crossings along the Parkway and a reworking of the foot/bike bridge that crosses Minnehaha Creek…the one that has more than a few blind spots for anyone who crosses it.

I know that Kyle provided the project page link above, so I’ll emphasize the upcoming meetings.

First, our next meeting in on May 29th at the Lake Nokomis Community Center. There were well over 30 community members present at our first meeting, and they each had a powerful voice on the ideas tossed around. The second meeting, unless I’m sadly mistaken, is bound to be the same.

Second, there will be two Open Houses in this first year of this process: June 12th and August 14th. They will both be at Lake Nokomis Community Center. You are welcome to come in at anytime between 6:30 and 8:30 pm and weigh in on some ideas that are being bandied about. This is not a formal meeting, but an opportunity to informally meet with project leaders and MPRB staff, and most likely, some current CAC members like Kyle or I.

Sam Eberhart posted at 9:51pm, May 18

Thanks to those involved in contributing their ideas and efforts to improving our parks and neighborhoods. I love what I have heard so far!

I do support a buffer of native plantings around the lake (Hiawatha )to filter toxins from the fertilizers sprayed on the golf course, and definitely second recommendations to make a walk-way around the entire lake available to the public. It seems that if golf balls landing on 43rd where we are walking are acceptable, a fair balance would be to allow walkers along the the side of the lake/golf course.

Also, how about a few bocce ball courts along 43rd and 20th? They aren’t very big, rather inexpensive to make, and can be a great way to bring community together. With the installation of the new rain gardens, bocce courts could encourage greater utilization of the space.

I do have some concerns that the discussion surrounding the golf course has been immediately stifled. Given the recent findings about declining public golf course revenue matched with a decade-long annual decline in those who play golf (according to the National Golf Foundation), there should be a conversation about how best to utilize the space. After all, the park board’s chief mission should be to make available the greatest amount of public space to the widest array of the public. It is at least worth discussing whether or not this space does that. I know this earns the ire of some, but we should be fair game.

Thanks again!

Kyle Werremeyer posted at 4:11pm, May 19

Thanks for all the ideas, please keep them coming.

To clarify in regards to the golf course, it’s not that the golf course is not under review on how to best move forward, it is only that this review is not part of this Nokomis-Hiawatha Master Plan. There is a separate MPRB golf course review project by Golf Convergence that addresses Hiawatha Golf Course and its future, and this separate project solicited public input as part of the final recommendations. Search “minneapolis park board golf convergence” for the PDF of the recommendations – they are very interesting and generally complimentary of Hiawatha Golf Course. I had heard once that the golf course doesn’t use fertilizers or perhaps only uses organic fertilizers, and I’ll ask the Park Board for an update. Regardless of the type or lack of fertilizer, and more natural lake shore will help improve water quality in Lake Hiawatha.

However considering the importance of understanding the golf course and how it interacts with Lake Hiawatha and Lake Hiawatha Park, Chris and I will push for further clarification of how the CAC can be involved in charting the golf course direction. As Chris and I lead conversations with the CAC we will be sure to leverage the shoreline improvement and the trails aspect of the Nokomis-Hiawatha project to make sure the golf course doesn’t go unremarked.

For the rain garden at 43rd St and 20th Ave S, there is many opportunities for potential improvement. Bocce ball, horseshoes, maybe a pavilion or some grilling stations. However there is a very real desire to keep the space open as green space so we will explore a happy medium. I wonder as well if we can officially name the park at 43rd St and 20th Ave S and get one of those brown signs that the park board uses to show parkland.

For our treasured Lake Hiawatha Park playground, have no concerns. The park is safe through any improvements and maybe even can receive some upgrades. Indeed and considering the success of the park at Lake Hiawatha, it’s being used a potential template for the Triangle Park. Lake Hiawatha Park was done right and the Park Board knows so…..

Matt Steele posted at 12:02am, May 20

I realize there are an abundance of tennis courts along the Parkway corridor, but I was wondering why the ones along Longfellow near the golf club house were removed a few years ago. They were the closest walk from my house, and were quite convenient. I assume it was because the pavement was in tough shape and it was too expensive to rehabilitate. But that was a bummer.

One comment I’d make is with regard to bike storage. The current bike racks are not designed to facilitate locking – they’re the old style designed to hold the front of a wheel, with no points to secure with a U lock unless you’re on the side. And sometimes it’s even more difficult if the racks are pushed right up to a structure or other obstruction. Modern bike storage should be a priority, and hopefully within the next year or two.

E-Democracy forum posts are republished under license by Creative Commons with Attribution. There were 11 posts on this topic as of May 21, 2014. See entire discussion thread here.