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April 11, 2011
By: Journal staff
Journal staff

Nice Ride stations return to the streets

Spring has truly arrived when the color green begins to appear around the city. While winter has held the grass at bay for far longer than anyone would like, Nice Ride’s iconic green bicycles can once again been seen on the streets around Minneapolis.

The Nice Ride bicycle rental stations will return to the 65 locations where they debuted last year, with some small adjustments based around road construction projects such as the Central Corridor Light Rail. Nice Ride has also added eight stations in North Minneapolis and will continue adding stations over the next few months. Nice Ride expects to have over 100 stations in Minneapolis and St. Paul by early summer.

For a limited time, Nice Ride is offering up one-year unlimited use packages for $40, $20 off last year’s price.

— Jeremy Zoss


Developer looking at building apartments near Grain Belt Brewery

SHERIDAN — A St. Paul-based housing developer would like to construct market-rate apartments next to the old Grain Belt office building at 1215 Marshall St.  

The developer is also interested in rehabbing the empty Grain Belt building for a commercial use, perhaps office space.

Project Partner Elizabeth Flannery said the details of the project could change, but staff are envisioning about 170 units spread between a couple of three-story buildings on the site. They would also like to incorporate green space that provides a pedestrian connection linking Main and Marshall streets.

“There is a really nice view from Main Street looking toward the Grain Belt,” Flannery said. “We’d like to highlight that.”

The city will solicit development proposals for the site in May, and Everwood plans to submit its plans at that time. The company expected to discuss the pitch with the Sheridan Neighborhood Organization in late March.

“We have some thoughts we’d like to get before the neighborhood so we can talk to them about the concept and density,” Flannery said.

— Michelle Bruch


Green business conference returns to Downtown

CITY CENTER —  Mayor R.T. Rybak will deliver the keynote address at the third annual Greening Your Business Conference on April 14. Presented by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce at City Center, the conference will feature several workshops on sustainable business practices, an exhibit hall of green businesses and products, and two energy innovation sessions.

Mayor Rybak will speak on the region’s progress in developing a green economy, as well as the challenges still ahead. All-access passes for the day-long conference are $75, with admission to the exhibit hall available for $15. The energy innovation sessions are free and open to the public.

— Jeremy Zoss


More electronic parking meters added throughout city

Carrying a pocketful of quarters to secure a parking spot Downtown is becoming less and less necessary. Last fall, Minneapolis introduced 46 “smart” parking meters that accept both cash and credit cards, and 36 additional electronic meters were added in March. Another 150 are expected to arrive by the end of summer.

As the old parking meters are removed, they are replaced with numbered parking space signs. Drivers use these numbers to pay the electronic stations, each of which covers one side of a city block. Commuters can use credit or debit cards to pay the meters, as well as bills and coins. Since the electronic meters are connected via municipal Wi-Fi, drivers can use any smart meter in the city to add time to a parking space.

The smart meters are solar powered, can automatically display rate changes and even tell drivers not to pay during free parking periods and warn of tow-away zones. By the end of the year, more than 2,400 parking spaces will use the new meters, and the smart meter expansion will continue through 2012.

— Jeremy Zoss


Shubert Theater renamed for arts patrons

HENNEPIN AVENUE — When the Shubert Theater reopens its doors after over a decade of renovations, it will be under a different name. The 100-year old playhouse has been renamed to honor Katherine and Robert Goodale, arts patrons who were amongst the first to respond when nonprofit organization Artspace Projects launched it capital campaign for the dance center.

Along with the Hennepin Center for the Arts and a new atrium that connects the two, the renamed Goodale Theater comprises a campus now known as the Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts. Named after dancers and arts patrons Sage and John Cowles, the Cowles Center will house 20 or more nonprofits, two dance schools, affordable rehearsal space and one of the only Twin Cities stages designed specifically for dance.

The 500-seat Goodale Theater features a sloped main floor and a single balcony, both designed so that no seat is further than 65 feet from the front of the stage. It also features a fly loft for quick scenery changes and a stage floor created with dancers in mind. The Goodales were surprised and honored to learn that the “dancer-centric” space would carry their name. “We’re just happy to see that they’ll have a place to perform that will allow them to do their best work,” Robert Goodale said in a statement.

— Jeremy Zoss


Nye’s legend Ruth Adams dies

EAST HENNEPIN — Nye’s Polonaise Room lost the famous voice of the “Barking Dog Polka” on March 18, when accordionist Ruth Adams died of cancer.

Adams survived a stroke and successfully beat back cancer four times to continue playing at Nye’s with the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band, a steady gig that lasted for 36 years.

“That was all she cared about, was getting back up on stage,” said Sonya Tormoen, the producer of a documentary about the polka band. “Really, music kept her alive.”

Adams grew up listening to Benny Goodman, and she learned to play the accordion at age 14. As soon as she learned to play a piece of music, she never needed to look at the sheet music again. She spent 40 years working in a laundromat, and she first sat in with the Nye’s house band in 1975, thinking that the gigs would last only a couple of weeks.

During the documentary production, Tormoen asked Adams how she would like to be remembered. She said: “I hope they say all good things about me. I hope they say that I was a good person. Probably miss me.”

— Michelle Bruch


Sheridan Neighborhood Organization seeking essays on peace for new park

SHERIDAN — Ten essays will be emblazoned in stone at Northeast’s newest park set for construction this summer — but the essays have yet to be chosen.

The Sheridan Neighborhood Organization is looking for submissions on the topic of peace, and board members are scouring local schools and the Open Book building to find contributors.

“Often, peace is written about poetically,” said Jenny Fortman, a neighborhood advocate who has spent years working toward the park’s development. “My vision is something more down-to-earth.”

The engraved markers will be placed in Sheridan Memorial Park, which is set for construction this summer behind the Grain Belt studios along the river. Essays can be 200–250 words, and the deadline for submissions is May 16. A jury will select the winners by mid-June, and the memorial’s grand opening is slated for Sept. 11, 2011.

— Michelle Bruch


Growing fruit and helping the hungry

If you grow apple, pear or plum trees on your property, or would like to, now may be a good time to learn more about the Fruits of the City program.

Run by The Minnesota Project, a St. Paul-based nonprofit, the program has two components: increasing the number of fruit trees grown on public and private property in the metro area through its educational efforts, including an upcoming class at Bachman’s Lyndale Avenue store; and harvesting excess fruit from trees across the metro area, which it then donates to local food shelves.

That second project component — harvesting and donating fruit — is set for a major expansion this summer, said Heidi Coe, Fruits of the City program coordinator.

Coe set a goal of donating 36,000 pounds of fruit, or about 6,500 “family servings,” to area food shelves this summer. Considering Fruits of the City donated about 39,000 pounds of fruit in 2009 and 2010 combined, Coe has set the bar pretty high.

What’s driving the expansion?

“The need [for food shelf donations], and just the fact that it can be done,” Coe said. “There are a lot of fruit trees in the Minneapolis area.”

She’ll need a lot of help to reach that goal. Having recruited about 170 volunteers over the past two years, Coe aims to boost that number to 200 this summer.

Volunteer positions include neighborhood coordinators, who keep track of ripening backyard fruit trees in their areas and schedule visits from gleaners during harvest season, which typically runs August through October. Gleaners work in teams to collect ripe fruit and deliver it to area food shelves.

“It’s just a good community-building service, a positive for all those involved,” Coe said.

It’s a win-win for the tree owners, who get to keep all the fruit they want and know the extra is going to a good cause. Gleaners even pick up fallen fruit from yards for compost.

Fruits of the City also arranges for gleaners to visit area orchards. After collecting fruit from four orchards in 2009 and 2010, Coe his year planned to hit six orchards with her volunteers.

A healthy program requires a strong base of participating tree owners, which is where Fruits of the City’s educational efforts come in.

“We want to increase people’s knowledge [of] the fact that they can grow here,” Coe said.

The program is sponsoring seminar on growing fruit trees 6 p.m.–7:30 p.m. at Bachman’s Heritage Room, 6010 Lyndale Ave. S. The event is free, but a $20 donation is encouraged.

Scheduled to teach the class was landscape gardener Jeffrey Johnson of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. A woody plants specialist, Johnson maintains the arboretum’s tree and shrub collections.

The class will cover a variety of topics, including site selection, soil preparation and the maintenance of fruit trees.

Go to The Minnesota Project website ( to register for the class. Access the Fruits of the City page by clicking on the “Local Food” tab.

To register as a volunteer gleaner or neighborhood coordinator, or to get your backyard fruit tree on Fruits of the City’s list, email or contact Coe by phone at 651-789-3321.

— Dylan Thomas


Repair work begins on Metrodome roof

DOWNTOWN EAST — As cranes hoisted ironworkers up toward the sagging Metrodome roof, Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission head Ted Mondale told a gathering of reporters, “We’re going to be ready to play football this fall.”

March 23 marked the first day of repair work on the damaged roof, which collapsed during a snowstorm on Dec. 12, 2010.
Hand-picked union laborers from Ironworkers Local 512 will work 10-hour days, six days a week to have the new roof installed by Aug. 1. The workforce will start at around 20, but will grow to as many as 100 workers when the labor hits full tilt this summer.

“We’ve got a deadline to hit,” union rep Charlie Roberts said. “Rest assured we’ll have this thing buckled down.”

Workers will start by replacing the three diamond-shaped panels in the center of the roof that first tore during the initial collapse. Each of the diamond-shaped panels is about 40 square feet in area — about 1/1,000 of the total surface of the 10-acre, fabric roof.

Birdair, the New York-based engineering firm heading up the project, will be responsible for disposing of the damaged panels.

Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson said that the team is working with the NFL to have their first preseason games, scheduled for late August, be away games, so as to leave as much time to prep the Metrodome as possible.

— Gregory J. Scott


Rain barrel offer returns

The Recycling Association of Minnesota is once again offering its spring sale on rain barrels and compost bins.

To pre-order a bin or barrel, go to and select one of seven dates and locations to retrieve the purchase. The closest pick-up location to Southwest is St. Paul’s Rock Tenn Paper Mill, 2250 Wabash Ave., where bins and barrels will be available 9 a.m.–3 p.m. the weekend of April 30–May 1.

Rain barrels come in two styles, the 54-gallon Rain Catcher and the 55-gallon Systern, both $69. The Earth Machine compost bin has a capacity of 10 cubic feet, and runs $55.

Pictures of all three, as well as information on other pick-up location dates and times, are on the Recycling Association of Minnesota’s website.

— Dylan Thomas


People Incorporated open first of its kind mental health center

DOWNTOWN — After raising nearly $2 million in funds, People Incorporated Mental Health Services has opened the Huss Center for Recovery in the restored Crosby Mansion on Park Avenue. The center is paired with the Stark Mental Health Clinic in the mansion’s carriage house, and is the first facility in Minnesota to focus on treating adults with chemical dependency issues caused by underlying mental illness.

Mental illness is a common cause of substance abuse problems, and yet most treatment options focus on the two conditions separately. The Huss Center uses a model called “harm reduction” rather than the traditional Twelve Step approach, which has been found less successful in people with underlying mental illnesses.

People Incorporated has been treating individuals in the Metro area since 1969 and operates over 40 mental illness-related programs. The organization expects the Huss Center for Recovery and Stark Mental Health Clinic to treat a combined 400 individuals annually.

— Jeremy Zoss