City Hall update // Wirth Park plan includes more off-road biking, ski center

Share this:
June 18, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter

A citizen group tasked with planning renovations for Theodore Wirth Park has come up with a $20 million plan that includes more mountain biking trails, a winter sports center and an extended snowmaking cross-country trail. 


The plan will be up for a public hearing at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Headquarters at 6:30 p.m. June 20. 


The bulk of the changes will come on the north side of the park, where the plan calls for a $4 million “Welcome Center” that would house a clubhouse for the par 3 course and a winter recreation meeting and event center. 


Cross country trails would be added to the area around the par 3 course and a dog park would be built near the chipping green. 


The plan also calls for 1.6 miles of mountain biking trails through the woods just west of the Theodore Wirth Parkway and south of Glenwood Avenue. New shelters would be built near Wirth Lake. 


The Park Board, when it eventually adopts a plan later this summer, will be tasked with balancing the desires to keep the park natural and quiet with desires for more trails. Plus, golfers are concerned about plans to shorten one hole on the 18-hole course and potentially moving the first hole on the par 3 course. 


The Park Board plans to fund the project through a mixture of state money, Legacy Amendment dollars, Metropolitan Council grants and from its own budget. Because of expanded trails and a new restaurant in the chalet, the Park Board expects annual revenue at the park to increase from $1 million a year to $1.7 million a year after 10 years.


Smaller parts of the plan call for improvements to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, a relocated tubing hill to what is now the 17th hole, more ski trail lighting, better snowmaking equipment and building rehabilitation. 


For more information on the project, visit




Ordinance change would allow more outdoor events at bars


Ben Smith opened Glaciers Cafe in the Longfellow neighborhood in the fall of 2008 after he and the property owner built a beautiful outdoor patio at his Lake and Minnehaha location. 


Within a month, the recession hit and Smith struggled. He looked for ways to keep his business afloat. He wanted to do a summer music series where every Friday night he would have a musician or a band playing on his patio. 


But city ordinance only allows restaurants to host outdoor entertainment for four events every year, not enough to get him through June, July and August. So he contacted Council Member Gary Schiff’s office, and now the City Council is considering expanding the ordinance to allow for outdoor events 12 days every year. 


“How can you have a regular Friday night event and only have four events a year? It can’t be done,” he said, showing a reporter a picture of the work he had done to his patio. 


The ordinance change would also give bars eight more days every year to “expand their premises,” or, in other words, have events in their parking lots. 


Bars still need to get city staff to sign off on permits for their events. 


The ordinance change narrowly made it through the city’s regulatory committee after a June 4 public hearing, as some council members raised concerns that notices of the public hearing were sent out on Memorial Day weekend and didn’t give neighbors enough time to respond. 


Council Member Meg Tuthill (Ward 10) asked that the city increase its event notification policy. Tuthill, who represents Uptown, said neighbors would like to be given warning of a bar event so that they can plan accordingly for parking and noise. 


For Smith, the new ordinance would be a welcome change. He has to close his cafe in May to revamp the menu and change the restaurant’s name to Mosaic. He plans to open again this month. 


Reach Nick at