CIVIC BEAT // Scherer Brothers site gets $1 million for cleanup

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August 29, 2011
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter
Hennepin County awarded the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board a $1 million grant to clean up the Scherer Brothers Lumber Company site just north of Boom Island.

The Park Board bought the land in 2010 and has hopes of developing a park along the river and perhaps opening up the land to the east for private development.

But the Park Board first needs to demolish the buildings on the property and dig up about 2 feet worth of soil contaminated with petroleum and heavy metals.

The $1 million grant was funneled from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to Hennepin County and finally to the Park Board.

The Park Board says it expects to have the cleanup work done this winter.

A design team is working on a plan for the site that envisions a kayak park and other forms of recreation. The project would be the first phase of the RiverFIRST plan — a vision for a 5.5-mile stretch of the riverfront from the Stone Arch Bridge to the city’s northern border.

The Park Board’s Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative is overseeing the riverfront revitalization efforts. For more details, go to minneapolisriverfrontdevelopmentintiative.com.

Parade Parkway set for reconstruction on existing footprint

Many people call it Parade Parkway. Others aren’t sure what to call it, so they say it’s what Emerson Avenue would be if it continued north. Google’s map refers to it as Stadium Parkway. The official city maps have it named Parade Stadium Drive.  

On Aug. 17, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board decided that, whatever you call the roughly 1,500-foot stretch of road that runs through Parade Park, it’s time to fix it. Park Board staff says the road’s pavement is well beyond its lifetime and certain places are at a “point of failure.”

The idea to rebuild the road is not a new one; for two years the topic has been discussed, and last year the Park Board set aside $400,000 in its 2011 capital program for Parade Parkway.

Park Board staff had prepared two options for reconstructing the road. The first was to essentially build the road exactly where the existing road sits. A second option would have moved it slightly east, relocating some parking stalls and improving storm water runoff.  

But a few days before the Park Board was set to hold a public meeting to discuss the options, Park Board commissioners got into a heated debate about the decaying pavement.

Commissioner Bob Fine proposed that a third option be considered: That the Park Board move the road dramatically and have it run in between the baseball field and the soccer field.

Commissioner Jon Olson doubted the merits of spending money on a road that he said is more of an access into a park than a thoroughfare. He raised the idea of instead investing the money into installing air conditioners in about a dozen Minneapolis recreation centers that don’t have them and closed for a couple weeks this summer when temperatures soared.

But the contingent of commissioners John Erwin, Anita Tabb, Brad Bourn and Liz Wielinski said the debate had gone on too long and decided it was time to move forward with the first option — to keep the road where it has always been at a price tag of $350,000 to $400,000 (the other option would have cost $881,000).

They passed a motion to take that option to an Aug. 22 public meeting and gather input on the project, with the understanding that the road’s placement would not change.

According to traffic counts conducted in late spring by engineer Stonebrook Engineering, about 4,500 vehicles use the road every day.

Erwin’s motion also included a direction for Park Board to explore the idea of demolishing the parking lot between the two fields and making it into green space.