St. Paul can have its Peanuts kiddies. We get a major leaguer.
In a project similar to St. Paul’s “Peanuts on Parade,” which honored comics great and St. Paul native Charles Schultz by placing statues of his Peanuts characters throughout the Twin Cities, the Twins have announced plans to distribute up to 50 life-sized replicas of star catcher Joe Mauer throughout Downtown. The campaign is a combination fundraiser and publicity move, aiming to both benefit the Minnesota Twins Community Fund and to commemorate the team’s half-decade tenure in Minneapolis.
The first statue of the “Twins Around Town” series, as the project has been named, was unveiled April 16 outside the Downtown Target store, at 9th Street and Nicollet Mall. At a morning press event, Mayor R. T. Rybak was on hand to laud Mauer and the Twin’s community involvement. The star slugger himself also made an appearance, often struggling to speak over loud outbursts from a small gathering of fans.
Each Mauer statue, a 5-foot, 11-inch-tall polyurethane replica positioned in an action pose on a 9-inch base, represents a year in Twins history. A collage of newspaper articles, photographs, headlines and logos representing the chosen year covers each in a painted skin. The Target store chose the 1962 statue, commemorating the year that the first Target opened, in Roseville.
The statues are designed by Tivoli Too, the Mendota Heights-based design company that created the “Peanuts on Parade” replicas.
Sponsors pay $14,000 for a statue, which will stand at a designated spot Downtown throughout this year’s baseball season. For an additional buy-back fee of $3,000, the sponsor can keep the statue after the season ends.
Tivoli Too reports that 14 statues have already been ordered. The Star Tribune has reportedly requested a 1987 statue, commemorating the year the Twins won the World Series.
Aeon settles into new office, for now
An Elliot Park nonprofit that specializes in getting people into stable housing has finally found some stable housing of its own — at least in the short term. Aeon, an affordable housing developer responsible for more than 1,700 apartments and townhomes throughout Minneapolis, relocated to a new office this month, consolidating its core staff with its property management company for the first time in the organization’s history.
Aeon plans to stay in its new headquarters, at 822 S. 3rd St., for two to three years, as it continues to look for a permanent new home.
Since July 2001, Aeon has operated out of a small, formerly residential property at 1625 Park Ave. But two years ago, the nonprofit formed its own property management company, and the original location wasn’t large enough to accommodate the new staff. So Aeon began renting a second office, at 250 3rd Ave. N., in the Warehouse District.
“The long-range plan was always to combine the two offices,” said outgoing communications manager Amy Pfarr Walker, who left Aeon last month to accept a position at Washburn Center for Children. “But this space and opportunity came along in a quick manner.”
The new headquarters is in an office building currently owned by RS Eden, a supportive service provider. RS Eden provides services for Aeon’s Alliance Apartments, at 719 16th St. E., and will also staff the under-renovation Alliance Addition, scheduled to open in October. Walker said RS Eden ultimately plans to convert the building into supportive housing, but the project is still years away, and Aeon is happy to fill the space in the meantime.
Aeon still owns the property at 1625 Park Ave. Vice president Joanne Kosciolek said that the old office is currently being used as a “home hub” for maintenance staff, as well as a meet-up space for volunteers. The property is currently on the market to be sold or leased.
Bicycling magazine: Minneapolis tops for cycling
For once, Minneapolis comes out on top.
After routinely coming in second to Portland, Ore., in seemingly every survey, poll or ranking of bike-friendliness in the past few years, Minneapolis topped the magazine Bicycling’s annual “America’s Best Bike Cities” survey. The story appeared in the May issue of Bicycling, which hit newsstands in early April.
Minneapolis still lags Portland slightly in daily bike commutes to the workplace, but apparently we get bonus points for clearing snowdrifts on the way to the office.
The magazine did praise local riders’ cold-weather hardiness, but it also singled out the city for the diversity and camaraderie of its biking scene. Bicycling cheered Minneapolis’ growing bike infrastructure, including 127-plus miles of bikeways, the most bicycle parking per capita in the country and a bike-sharing network set to open this year.
Bicycling also noted approvingly that every MetroTransit bus and light rail train is outfitted with a bike rack.
To read the full story, non-subscribers need to pick up Bicycling on the newsstand; bicycling.com only offers a shorter best-of-Minneapolis piece.
Nicollet Island could get cherry trees from Japan
Minneapolis’ sister city Ibaraki, Japan, has a good will gift for Nicollet Island. But the Islanders aren’t sure if they can accept it.
This spring, sister city officials in Ibaraki offered to sponsor a small cherry tree plantation on Nicollet Island. The Japanese cherry blossom, or Sakura, is an important cultural tradition in Japan, frequently used as a symbol for mortality and Buddhist ideas of nonattachment.
Thirty trees, all of a special local variety developed by the University of Minnesota, were scheduled to be planted this spring, mostly on the southern end of the island surrounding the Bell of Two Friends. The bell, housed in a 10-foot-tall stone arch, was also donated by officials in Ibaraki. The cherry tree plan called for the removal of a large number of ash trees. According to Nicollet Island/East Bank Neighborhood Association’s (NIEBNA) Victor Grambsch, crews began removing ash trees in mid-April when concerns were raised about the fertility of the island’s soil. Since the Nicollet Island soil is notoriously shallow — Grambsch estimates that only 3 feet of soil covers the bedrock — it became uncertain as to whether the trees could survive at all.
So for now, Nicollet Island has put the removal of its ash trees on hold. A few “trial” trees will be planted in the coming weeks as an experiment. If the trees are able to tolerate the shallow soil, Grambsch says, the neighborhood will move forward with the installation of the rest of the plantation.