Community notebook: Park(ing)

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September 28, 2009 // UPDATED 9:34 am - September 28, 2009
By: Amanda Kushner
Amanda Kushner

Downtown-wide

Putting the park in parking

Click here for a slideshow about PARK(ing) Day.

The creative agency space150 moved its North Loop office to the street on Sept. 18 for PARK(ing) Day — an annual event held in cities throughout the world to call attention to the need for green space in urban areas.

For the event, space150 hauled company furniture outside, left it in a metered parking space covered in sod and then spent the day working on laptops outside their office above Moose & Sadie’s, 212 3rd Ave. N.

Near the space150 park, MCAD students played leapfrog in their green space. And a group of friends played guitar around a fake campfire at another spot.

Participant Jacob Wascalus called the event “an exercise in public awareness.”

“I really like the idea of transforming a public space into something that is more useful for a lot of people rather than a single car,” said the urban planning graduate student.

He questioned the purpose of the publicly owned space and emphasized that it would be awesome to have spots around the city converted to public parks.

This year Solutions Twin Cities, an organization behind several creative events, decided to organize the Sept. 18 event, and about a dozen parks popped up in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Solutions Twin Cities founders Colin Kloecker and Troy Gallas said what they like about the event is that it emphasizes the importance of common space.

“One group of people for one hour, one day out of the year can transform the whole city into a totally new kind of surprising place,” Kloecker said.

Four parks were present in the Warehouse District, and people passing by asked about the event, stopped to enjoy the parks and helped to plug meters. One person that worked in a nearby building thought their dog Houma would enjoy the park, so he drove home and brought Houma to Wascalus’ park.

Dan Elias couldn’t find sod, but decided to set up a campsite, and he is optimistic that the event will be even bigger next year.

“The hope is that next year with all of these people watching they will want to do one, and we can line the streets, and no one will be able to park Downtown,” he said.

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Warehouse District

Hennepin and 1st switch to two-ways starts mid-October

The conversion of Hennepin and 1st avenues will begin the weekend of Oct. 10–11, weather permitting.

With the conversion it will be easier to navigate around Downtown with less around the block trips. A public meeting will explain the changes affecting drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. The meetings will be at 5 p.m. on Oct. 5 in City Hall room 319, 350 S. 5th St.

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North Loop

First of three murals installed at Target Field

Three murals with themes of transit, baseball and sustainability will be added to the northeast exterior of Target Field.

The first mural, “Transit Then and Now,” which details the past and future of transit with the Twin Cities abstractly in the background, will be completed the week of Sept. 28, said artist Craig David. The mural has an old passenger locomotive and a light right on the opposite ends with larger than life people in the center.

The second mural, “The Story of Minnesota Baseball,” depicts the history of Minnesota baseball.

David said the key players in the mural are prolific pitcher Chief Charlie Bender, the first native-born Minnesotan to be inducted into the hall of fame, and Toni Stone, a black woman born in
St. Paul who played professionally in the ’40s and ’50s. It will also include a portrayal of Lexington and Nicollet parks. The second mural will be up by Nov. 15, David said.

The sustainability mural, “The Rebirth of Sustainability,” focuses on clean water including recreation and wind power. It will be up by Feb. 1.

The transit and baseball murals are each 30 feet by 8 feet, and the sustainability mural is 24 feet by 8 feet. David said as a native Minnesotan he’s honored to be working on this job.

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Krueger switches to citywide effort

Luther Krueger, formerly a community crime prevention analyst for the Minneapolis Police Department’s 1st Precinct, has moved to the SICM Division.

The administration wanted to have more analysis of crime prevention efforts to see if resources are allocated to the best effect for reducing and preventing crime, he said. Krueger also keeps the community engaged in his new role.

Krueger is reviewing rental-license conduct notices and monitoring neighborhood-policing plans. These plans are a partnership between the Minneapolis Police Department and the neighborhoods, so part of Krueger’s job is to help neighborhoods understand what they can do on their own and with this partnership, he said.

An example is a neighborhood can set up a walking crime watch group. While the group may not look for criminals they can look for the atmosphere that may make criminals more comfortable.

Also there will be a campaign over the next year to reach out to community members that are in crime hot spots and make sure blocks in these areas are organized, which will help crime go down, he said.

Krueger makes sure communities are aware of resources available to them in working with crime prevention specialists who will work directly with neighborhoods. He is also documenting and analyzing efforts to make sure everyone is working to the top of their ability, he said.  

Reach Amanda Kushner at akushner@mnpubs.com.