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Midtown Farmers Market at a critical and challenging crossroad

Posted on 25 June 2018 by calvin

It isn’t often that a figure of speech is true both figuratively and literally, but this is one of those times. The Midtown Farmers Market, which sits at the crossroad of E. Lake St. and Hiawatha Ave., is in a time of transition—and where that transition will lead is not yet known.

The venerable community gathering space has sat adjacent to the Hi-Lake LRT Station for the last 15 years. Originally located on the Lake St. side of the property, it was shuttled to the back in 2015 when construction began on a building that now houses Hennepin County Human Services.

“Our current location is less visible and less accessible than the original one,” said Market Manager Mallory Forseth. “For the last couple of years, customers have had to deal with major construction issues. Attendance for last year’s market season was down 20% from our peak year in 2014. We want people to know that we’re still here, even though we may not be visible from Lake St. We need the support of the neighborhood to keep our market going strong.”

Forseth continued, “There are other big changes ahead,” Forseth “We’ve recently learned that we’ll have to find a temporary location for 2019 and 2020, while the 1.4-acre public plaza meant to house us, and many other neighborhood functions, is built. The Corcoran Neighborhood Organization (which is the Midtown Farmers Market parent group) is looking, but hasn’t yet found a suitable neighborhood site for the market to relocate to.”

Photo right: The proposal for the new public plaza would reduce the number of vendor stalls from 65 to 42. Market administrators say this number is inadequate to provide the variety of goods that customers have grown accustomed to. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

According to Forseth, the process of working with Hennepin County on the plaza design has been frustrating. The operational requirements of the market are basic, but requests for public restrooms, storage for market supplies, and a sufficient number of vendor stalls have not been accommodated in the current plan. Without them, Forseth said, “I don’t see how we can continue to operate in this space. We feel we are at an impasse.”

Market supporters believe it should be clear [to Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin and City Council Representative Alondra Cano] that the benefits of keeping the Midtown Farmers Market in Midtown are worth those accommodations.

Also, the proposal for the new public plaza would reduce the number of vendor stalls from 65 to 42. Market administrators say this is inadequate to provide the variety of goods that customers have grown accustomed to.

According to Forseth, “We’re located at a very busy transit hub. From a transportation standpoint, that makes us one of the most accessible farmers market in Minneapolis—and we have the potential to grow that even more. When all of the construction is complete, there will be a total of 500 units of housing divided between the various buildings here. This is an enormous opportunity!”

“With Hennepin County Human Services being on-site,” she added, “we saw our EBT and SNAP Food Program sales go up by 25%. We’re able to offer a food match for customers participating in either of these Hennepin County assistance programs. When they enter the market and stop at our table, they can purchase $10 worth of tokens, and we’ll match their purchase with an additional $10 worth of ‘market bucks.’ This is a step in the right direction for access and equity, having fresh, healthy food right here in the neighborhood for people with limited income.”

“In addition to healthy food,” Forseth said, “the Midtown Farmers Market offers free fitness classes, live music, kids’ activities, family games, and plants for the garden.”

“The Hi-Lake Intersection has been neglected by both Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis for a long time,” Forseth said. “Reasonable accommodation for the Midtown Farmers Market in the public plaza design would give officials and politicians a chance to make good on some of their many promises.”

Image left: Market Manager Mallory Forseth said, “What makes this market so great is the sense of community celebration that comes from bringing healthy food to the middle of South Minneapolis twice a week, six months out of the year.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The Corcoran Neighborhood Association will be distributing information at the market over the next few weeks to educate customers on the issues it is facing. A neighborhood forum is in the planning stages for July 26, 5-7pm. Place yet to be determined. To learn more, go to and subscribe to their newsletter. Community input will be sought as the discussion continues.

Forseth concluded, “We would also value input regarding the lower level retail spaces of the buildings being constructed. The Midtown Farmers Market is a food business incubator. If the market finds a way to stay in this location, what about designing in a commercial kitchen where vendors could make or bake their products? There are many ways that retail might be implemented to support and complement market offerings, as well. With big picture thinking, this transit-oriented development project has the potential to be an amazing opportunity for the whole community.”

“In the meantime,” Forseth said, “neighbors can support us by shopping here.”

Market hours are Saturdays 8am-1pm, and Tuesdays 3-7pm. Cars can enter the Midtown Farmers Market on 31st St. and 23rd Ave. Bike racks are located near the LRT Station. Bus and train stops are at Lake St. and Hiawatha Ave.

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Nokomis writer Lorna Landvik’s novel becoming a short film

Posted on 25 June 2018 by calvin

Lights, Camera… Oh My Stars!

It was all action on a Nokomis block as novelist Lorna Landvik’s home was transformed to a movie set for one evening in June. Her front porch was used for a scene in a short film being created from her novel, “Oh My Stars.” (Image right submitted)

Neighbors gathered as equipment was hauled out of a large truck and erected on Landvik’s lawn and across the street. Young Ellie Hugener said she was excited to see “all the cool stuff to set up.” For Linda Skoglund, it was “a little touch of Hollywood in South Minneapolis.”

It’s something Landvik remembers from her days living in Los Angeles: big trucks pulling up to film locations.

Giving her characters life on the big screen is a dream coming true for Landvik. A couple of her novels (she has written 11) were once optioned—“Patty Jane’s House of Curl” and “Your Oasis on Flame Lake”—but neither went anywhere. At book readings, people would ask

“When’s it gonna be a movie”? to which Landvik would jokingly reply, “Surely someone has a cinema connection”?
And one day someone did.

That connection was Director/Producer Cynthia Uhrich, who soon met with Landvik and the idea for “Oh My Stars” the movie was hatched. It would be a short film, a “proof of concept” that would sing the possibilities of a full-length feature but also stand on its own as a 10-minute movie.

Photo left: Director/Producer Cynthia Uhrich (left) and Author Lorna Landvik on set for “Oh My Stars.” (Photo by Jill Boogren)

The story, which takes place during the Great Depression, is of young Violet Mathers, whose arm is amputated after an accident. Facing bullying by her peers and mistreatment at home, Violet decides to travel to California and take her own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. She is waylaid, however, and meets musicians Kjel and Austin, who restore her spirit and sense of belonging through music and friendship.

“It’s about people who don’t think they have people in their corner. Then they find them,” said Landvik. The characters transform, defeating huge obstacles—adjusting after having an arm amputated, trying to live as a black man in America (Austin is black), letting go of bitterness, finding comfort and forging on. A perfect movie, Landvik thinks, for these divisive times.

“It’s about finding ways to get along,” she said. “Who doesn’t benefit when we all get along?”

It’s also a type of movie that Landvik says just isn’t being made right now, but one that she as an audience member wants to see. “I think the movie [will] be many things, including a real palliative.”

From page to screen
The film is being made possible by a kickstarter on GiveMN, with donations tax deductible through Uhrich’s nonprofit production company In the Moment Films. Its mission statement, to provide employment opportunities for women both in front of and behind the camera, is appealing to both of the women at the helm of the film.

“Especially exciting for me, is that not only are we going to have a lot of women crew (we’ve hired I believe 13 women on this production),” says Uhrich in a promotional video that is posted on their GiveMN page. “Also… our leading lady, we see her [played by two different actors] as an elderly lady and a young girl, and she’s a great protagonist.”

Photo left: Filmmakers converge as the crew prepares the set for a scene in the film of Lorna Landvik’s celebrated novel “Oh My Stars” (Photo by Jill Boogren)

Producing any film presents challenges, but this is especially so when one is set in another time.

“It’s expensive. It’s not like we can just run outside and grab footage,” Uhrich explains. “We have to be very, very particular with all of the details. The props have to be right. The wardrobe has to be right. The music has to be right.” While on set, Landvik spoke of the details involved in scouting for a vintage truck and costumes from the period and finding a perfect Depression-era home.

And regardless of whether the film is a short or full-length feature, a wide range of equipment is required. For the porch scene, lights, gels, and filters of various sizes were placed just so to invoke the right mood and tone, which in this case was Kjel and Austin sitting on a front porch in the evening, making music by candlelight and shooting the breeze.

They also have to cover salaries and hauling equipment (and people) to various locations. Another couple of scenes were set right up the street at Roosevelt High School, where Landvik is an alumnus. (Another point of synergy: she discovered that the librarian’s grandparents graduated from Roosevelt in 1937, the year the story takes place.)

Other film locations include a factory in northeast Minneapolis, a couple of private homes, the stage of the Black Dog music cafe in St. Paul, the countryside near New Prague, and a 1930s home in Arkansaw, WI.

Landvik, who wrote the screenplay for the film, has enjoyed being along for the ride. She’s been on set and sat in on auditions. Though an actor herself, she’s been out of that process for a while.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said, adding that her three main principles—Violet, Kjel, and Austin—are emotionally spot on. “They’re so fun to watch.”

Full circle
To film a scene on her porch is to come full circle for Landvik; it was exactly here, while rocking in a chair, that her novel’s characters first presented themselves.

Violet came first. Landvik knew she was from Kentucky, that there would be a terrible accident, and that the bulk of the story would take place during the Great Depression.

Kjel came next. “With this odd Nordic name, I knew he had the charisma and looks and musicality of pre-Elvis Elvis,” said Landvik.

Then Austin came. An African American man in a story set in the 1930s… how was that going to be? “The fun of it is, I [was] going to find out.”

The title came later, which to Landvik reflects Kjel’s exuberance and love of the world. “He loves being in this world.”

“Oh my stars” is also an expression her mom, Ollie, used all the time. Breaking with her usual writing approach (she keeps her stories-in-progress close to the vest), Landvik talked with her mom “so much” with this book. Her parents had grown up in the Depression. Her mom had made all of Landvik’s clothes, including her Barbie’s clothes, which she hated as a kid. “I wanted store bought.”

But when her mom, who Landvik said never needed a pattern and would have loved to have been a designer, made her a tulip dress that she loved and then made her friend the very same one, Landvik became a “real pill.”

Sadly, her mom passed away before the novel was published. Some time afterward, Landvik learned from an aunt sharing old letters that in their childhood games they went by names they made up for themselves. Her mom’s invented name? Violet.

Filming for the movie is now complete, and the team is moving into post-production (editing and sound) with hopes for a wrap by the end of summer. Completion will depend on the success of the kickstarter, which is about halfway toward its goal.

In the online video, Uhrich tells would-be contributors they’ll be part of a project that’s “pretty exciting.”

“[Lorna]’s a Minnesota treasure,” she said. “She’s one of our local celebrities.”

More information can be found on the “Oh My Stars Movie” Facebook page and GiveMN fundraising page.

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Lake + Minnehaha Open Streets scheduled July 22

Posted on 25 June 2018 by calvin

Shut the traffic down…

People choose to experience it in different ways.

Whether biking, strolling or rolling, Lake Street and Minnehaha Open Streets will offer visitors a chance to explore the many offerings of this part of Minneapolis without any vehicle traffic on Sun., July 22, from 11am to 5pm.

Starting in the Lyndale neighborhood in 2011, the event has grown to include seven neighborhoods in Minneapolis, opening their streets to pedestrian traffic on different weekends throughout the summer.

“But the idea is much older than that,” said Maria Wardoku (photo right by Jan Willms), president of the board of Our Streets, formerly the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, which hosts Open Streets each year. The event began in Bogota, Colombia, in 1974 and is called “Cyclovia” in Spanish-speaking countries. That translates to “cycleway.”

The Lake and Minnehaha Open Streets will run from Chicago to Minnehaha Ave. and then from Lake down Minnehaha to Minnehaha Regional Park, just south of 46th St.

“Businesses are invited to come out onto the street and participate,” Wardoku said. “There are different options for how they can partner with Open Streets. We want to encourage businesses who are on the street or close to it to be a part of the event.”

Wardoku explained that each of the seven Open Streets is unique. “Every year is also different because different partners come out,” she added. She said this year there will be a Midtown-Phillips zone at Lake and 15th Ave., hosted by the Midtown-Phillips Association. “There are going to be stages featuring musicians from the area, a soccer team participating, and Heart of the Beast Theater, among others,” she noted. She mentioned one business along the way will be hosting its grand opening. “It’s an ideal day for people to launch their businesses,” she said. “Where else can you connect with 10,000 people, who mostly live in the area?”

Open Streets is scheduled to happen, rain or shine. “There are certain safety issues we would follow—for example, if there is lightning—but we have had good luck with the weather in the past,” Wardoku said. “One year there were a lot of storms during the summer, but every Open Streets day was nice.”

The first year the event was scheduled in Minneapolis at Lyndale, it attracted a crowd of 5,000. “Last year we had a little longer route in that neighborhood, and 45,000 people came,” Wardoku said. She said E. Lake and Minnehaha is definitely a strong draw for Open Streets also, and 18,500 were in attendance last year. “We have volunteers counting each year,” she added, “and about 101,000 came to all of our Open Streets in 2017.”

A lot of work goes into the planning for Open Streets, according to Wardoku. “We have some down time in the fall and early winter, but most of the year we are focused on engaging businesses on the street and organizations,” she said. So many people are involved in each Open Streets, and keeping the logistics straight can be a big job.

The event is very family-friendly, appealing to all different ages and different cultures.
“We survey the businesses who participate every year,” Wardoku said, “and we got 90 percent of them saying it was a positive experience.

For E. Lake and Minnehaha, 95 percent of businesses said they would recommend it. I think people get a lot of value out of it.”

There are seven to ten staff members working on Open Streets, along with some interns in the summer. “Mostly, it is volunteers,” Wardoku said. “It can take 100 volunteers to put on a good event.”

She said Open Streets has had great sponsors, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Metro Transit, and the City of Minneapolis.

Businesses can participate in a tiered system. “You can come in as a basic business and have a spot on the street,” Wardoku explained, “for the lowest cost.” She said there are approximately 200 different vendors, and maps are printed out to help people follow the route.

“Businesses participating at a higher level are highlighted on the map,” she said.

Considering the most challenging aspect of putting on Open Streets, Wardoku said it all depends on the role one is playing. “The person recruiting volunteers might say that is the hardest; the person getting sponsors might say that is the most challenging part. We are always looking at funding and long-term larger sponsors. It really helps to have some city-wide sponsors that can provide the foundation we have to work from.”

Wardoku said she loves to ride her bike from one end of Open Streets to the other and engage along the way. “Some people like to walk the whole route, pulling their kids in a wagon. But if they are limited for time, they will look at that map and hit certain high spots.”

“One of the joys of Open Streets is that it’s closing down a main thoroughfare for a long stretch, and it’s fun to ride or walk from beginning to end and not worry about traffic for that whole time. You really see things you don’t normally because of the speed you are going. Even streets I have been down a hundred times before, I have missed little details. At Open Streets, you appreciate the neighborhood at a different level, and everyone is in a good mood.”

See more about the 2018 Lake + Minnehaha Open Streets here and here.

(Front page slider image by Margie O’Loughlin)

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Citizens worry sewer project will decrease flow to Coldwater Spring

Posted on 25 June 2018 by calvin

Replacing 90-year-old sewer tunnel under Minnehaha Creek that is in danger of leaking sewage into groundwater

Will a sewer tunnel project in south Minneapolis affect how much water flows at Coldwater Spring?

Some people are worried that it will, and this has prompted the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) to revise its original plan for the regional sewer interceptor tunnel. Yet some Coldwater Spring supporters don’t think the risk has been eliminated.

Photo rightt: Nobody knows where Coldwater’s source waters come from. Tom Holtzleiter of Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition is pushing local government agencies to pinpoint the exact location of that fracture that feeds water towards the spring. “More and more projects are going to come up, and they’re going to need to know where that line is,” stated Holtzleiter. “So far they’ve gotten lucky and not hit it. But sooner or later they’re going to run across it.” (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Tom Holtzleiter has been active in working to preserve Coldwater Spring for the past 20 years. A current resident of Bloomington, Holtzleiter grew up playing at Coldwater Spring. When the Highway 55/62 interchange was redone in 2002, Holtzleiter led a group, the Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition, which pushed for the installation of an 8-acre liner to isolate the road from the nearby spring.

Coldwater Spring, located on the southern end of Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, is considered sacred by some Minnesota tribes and has been home to people for 10,000 years. Dubbed the birthplace of Minnesota, it was the first place European settlers lived when Fort Snelling was being built in 1820. As recently as 1976, Coldwater was an emergency drinking water supply for south Minneapolis when the city’s water supply was “putrid with algae,” according to

Managed since 2010 by the National Park Service as part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Coldwater is the last natural spring of size in Hennepin County.

Sewer line failing
The existing regional sanitary sewer tunnel about 40 feet under Minnehaha Creek near 3901 Minnehaha Pkwy. E. is deteriorated and in danger of leaking wastewater (sewage) into the groundwater in the future.

This sewer pipe has served the city of Minneapolis and MCES since the mid-1930s, but it now needs some attention, according to Tim O’Donnell of MCES.

“The long-term environmental risks are too great to do nothing,” stated O’Donnell.

Photo left: A sewer tunnel project near 3901 Minnehaha Parkway E. may affect the flow of water at Coldwater Spring, but the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) is working to minimize the impact. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The regional sanitary sewer collects wastewater via local sanitary sewers from South Minneapolis (south of approximately E, 42nd St.) and about one-third of Edina. MCES conveys the wastewater through additional regional sanitary sewers through Minneapolis and St. Paul to the Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant (Metro Plant) located about three miles southeast of downtown St. Paul.

Plan changed to avoid dewatering
Originally, MCES planned to replace the existing, damaged regional sanitary sewer with a new deep sewer tunnel. That would have required dewatering of the limestone bedrock—that is, temporarily lowering the groundwater level in the limestone layer by pumping it out.

Recognizing that this had the potential of impacting groundwater flow to Coldwater Spring, which is located approximately 1.5 miles southeast of the sewer tunnel, MDES decided to rehabilitate the existing tunnel instead, which will not require dewatering.

However, this will still involve drilling up to three ventilation shafts into the limestone bedrock.
According to O’Donnell, the shafts will allow fresh air to be transferred into the deep tunnel system for workers’ safety.

“These ventilation shafts are necessary to meet strict OSHA requirements for working in underground, confined spaces,” he said. “The shafts will be encased in steel and grouted in place, which will allow groundwater to flow around them without affecting the flow to Coldwater Spring.”

However, Hotzleiter isn’t so sure. He’s worried that any drilling through the limestone into the sandstone beneath will break the seal. It’s possible that if this happens, water will flow towards the Mississippi River another way, and the flow at Coldwater will trickle away to nothing.

There has also been some disagreement about how much water has flowed through Coldwater in the past, and how much is going through now.

There is a monitoring point on the southern wetland but not one on the spring reservoir north of it, so the data only shows part of the complete picture, pointed out Holtzleiter.

MDES received a mix of comments at the May 22 public hearing and in writing. “People appreciate that MCES had re-evaluated the alternatives and found an alternative that would not impact the groundwater flow to Coldwater Spring,” stated O’Donnell. “Others were concerned with temporary park and trail access impacts during construction and some tree loss. And the Friends of Coldwater and its followers, and some members of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community are opposed to MCES installing two or three ventilation shafts from the ground surface down to the regional sanitary sewer pipe that will be rehabilitated.”

The National Park Service, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, the city of Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) support the revised project.

Where is the fracture line?
Nobody knows where Coldwater’s source waters come from. The consensus is that about two-thirds of the groundwater flows to the spring through basal Platteville limestone to the north and west. Beneath this 20 feet of limestone is 70 feet of sandstone. Much of the water flowing into Coldwater moves along a fracture line, but the exact location of that fracture has never been determined. Engineers have guessed that it is near where the sewer tunnel work is planned, but it could be 20 feet away or right at the project site.

Holtzleiter is pushing local government agencies to pinpoint the exact location of that fracture.

“More and more projects are going to come up, and they’re going to need to know where that line is,” stated Holtzleiter. “So far they’ve gotten lucky and not hit it. But sooner or later they’re going to run across it.”

He pointed out that the budget of this current project is $31 million, and believes a concurrent study of the fracture line would be a “drop in the bucket” comparatively.

Construction begins next year
MDES is working to finalize the project design and will then select a contractor. Construction will take place between spring 2019 to fall 2021.

Bike/walking trails and streets may be affected during this project, but MCES is working with the city of Minneapolis and the MPRB to minimize potential disruptions.

MDES will also work with the National Park Service to increase their monitoring of water flows into Coldwater Spring during the construction project.
“In the unlikely event that there are changes to these water flows during our construction project, we will know that quickly and will make any necessary modifications to our construction,” stated O’Donnell.

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Residents favor one-span curved bridge design at S. 28th Ave.

Posted on 25 June 2018 by calvin

Design will offer better sightlines of the creek for trail users traveling under the bridge

Local residents are helping decide what the new S. 28th Ave. bridge will look like over Minnehaha Creek.

The feedback gathered during a public meeting on May 30 was that neighbors want to see a curved façade design with enhanced concrete cutouts.

People also prefer a design without a pillar separating the trail from the creek. This will provide better sight lines to the creek for trail users, and replicate the existing historic structure. Plus, a one-span bridge will have less impact on the park during construction.

Photo right: When the new bridge is completed in 2019, trail users will cross under the busy S. 28th Ave. roadway along Minnehaha Creek. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

There was a discussion about railings, but this element will be determined further along in the design process. However, the bridge railings used at the Burnham Road Bridge near Lake of the Isles were well received by historians. The original railings on the bridge were concrete but will be replaced with metal ones.

While the existing bridge is an arch, the new one has to be square to accommodate the trail underneath the roadway and the house to the south, explained City Bridge Engineer Jack Yuzna.

Top priority to move trail beneath the road
Moving the trail beneath the busy S. 28th Ave. bridge is a top priority of users. This intersection was highlighted in the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Master Plan, and a trail crossing below the bridge ranked as the second most important priority for the entire park.

Citizens at a May 9 open house on the project reiterated the danger of crossing S. 28th Ave. as it is now with a skewed trail alignment.

This trail is a component of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway that has been nominated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, and so the bridge needs to complement the historic setting as well as the natural setting, pointed out Yuzna.
“It’s a community amenity,” stated Yunza.

The original bridge was constructed in 1904 when vehicles and pedestrians shared the roadway. The arch has a clear span of 25 feet and rise of 7 feet. In the 1920s, the iron railing from the Franklin Ave. bridge was installed on the 28th Ave. bridge and sidewalks were added by cantilevering 3.5 feet beyond the bridge’s spandrel walls.

Photo left: While the new bridge will take up the same space as the old one, the configuration will be different. The driving lanes on the new bridge will be more narrow while the sidewalks will be wider. (Graphic submitted)

The existing structure has narrow sidewalks of 4.5 feet wide. In the new design, there will be 10 feet on each side to make it more comfortable for pedestrians and easier to remove snow. Approaching the bridge there will be eight-foot sidewalks with 6 feet of green space between the sidewalk and the street.

When the new bridge is constructed, the street lanes will be narrowed to make a shorter crossing for pedestrians, explained Public Works employee Patty Day.

Lanes are currently 22 feet and will be 16 feet in the future. The bridge will remain 56 feet wide.

There will also be new ADA-compliant crossings at E. 47th St.

Bridge will be out for six months in 2019
While the work is underway, S. 28th Ave. will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians for about six months. Residents didn’t favor using Nokomis Ave. as a detour route, so S. 34th Ave. will be the designated route for vehicles. This will be coordinated with the 34th Ave. reconstruction project from E. Minnehaha Pkwy. to E. 58th St., as well as Metro Transit.

Trail users will be directed up a block to E. 46th St.

The 28th bridge work is expected to begin in April 2019 and be finished in November 2019.

During that time, the disruption to flora and fauna will be minimized.

“The engineering team is working closely with the neighbors immediately impacted by the project and have made adjustments based on that feedback,” said Day. “Engineers are also working closely with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to ensure that the design of the pedestrian and bike trail is consistent with the long-range plan for the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park.”

The proposed layout will be shared next with the Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Pedestrian Advisory Committee. It will then be brought before the Transportation and Public Works Committee of City Council in July 2018.

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28th Ave. will be closed for bridge replacement next year

Posted on 28 May 2018 by calvin

Photo above: This image from 1904 shows the 28th Ave. bridge over Minnehaha Creek shortly after it was built. Vehicles and pedestrians shared the roadway. (Photo submitted)

The project includes moving the multi-use trail underneath the busy roadway

When the bridge over Minnehaha Creek is replaced next year, 28th Ave. will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians for about six months.

Once the work is complete, pedestrians and bikers will cross underneath the busy roadway.

Construction is expected to begin in April 2019 and be finished in November 2019.

Photo right: Resident Michael McMurghie (left) and dog Huckleberry chat with City Bridge Engineer Jack Yuzna on Wed., May 9 during an open house on the proposed project. McMurghie expressed safety concerns about the current trail crossing the busy roadway. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Right now, users of the multi-use Regional Park trail cross 28th at a skewed alignment at a crosswalk. This intersection was highlighted in the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Master Plan, and a trail crossing below the bridge ranked as the second most important priority for the entire park.

“It’s dangerous for people going over all the time,” stated resident Michael McMurghie on May 9 during an open house on the proposed project.

As he’s collected comments on this project, City Bridge Engineer Jack Yuzna has repeatedly heard from people that they want the trail to cross 28th under the bridge.

Data on accidents at the trail crossing show they’ve primarily been vehicles rear-ending each other, or sideswiping another while passing. A few vehicles have run off the road.

Bridge built in 1904
In addition to providing a grade-separated trail crossing under 28th Ave. S. for non-motorized users, the purpose of this project is to provide a structurally-sound crossing over Minnehaha Creek for motorized and non-motorized users.

This trail is a component of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway that has been nominated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, and so the bridge needs to complement the historical setting as well as the natural setting.

The original bridge was constructed in 1904. The arch has a clear span of 25 feet and rise of 7 feet. Vehicles and pedestrians shared the roadway. In the 1920s, the iron railing from the Franklin bridge was installed on the 28th bridge, and sidewalks were added by cantilevering 3.5 feet beyond the bridge’s spandrel walls.

The existing structure has narrow sidewalks of 4.5 ft wide. In the new design, there will be at least 10 feet on each side to make it more comfortable for pedestrians and easier to remove snow.

The clearance needs to be at least 9.5 ft to place the trail under the bridge. A separated trail for bikes and pedestrians is planned.

Community input
Planners are asking for community input on the design of the project. “It’s a community amenity,” acknowledged Yunza.

Photo left: This renderings shows one of the design options for the new bridge and trail crossing along Minnehaha Creek at 28th Ave. (Illustrations submitted)

To accommodate a trail under the bridge, the new design can’t be an arch like it is now, explained Yunza. Doing that would require more space from the yard next door. However, design elements can be incorporated that could make the square shape look more like an arch.

Planners are also seeking input on the type of railing that will be used. Current safety regulations require a concrete railing for crash protection, but that could be topped by a steel one to look like it does now.

Photo left: This renderings shows another of the design options for the new bridge and trail crossing along Minnehaha Creek at 28th Ave. (Illustrations submitted)

Originally slated for 2017, the project was delayed because of the time it took to obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The city applied for the permit in 2015.

While the exact detour route has not yet been determined, planners are coordinating it with the 34th Ave. reconstruction project as well as Metro Transit.

After the Messenger went to press, a public meeting was held May 30 on the project.

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After 43 years, Reidy’s Market changes hands to new owner

Posted on 28 May 2018 by calvin

Cherie and Terry Reidy turned over their grocery store keys to a new owner on May 15, after doing business in Longfellow for 43 years. The Highland Park residents have owned Reidy’s Market since 1975.

The couple was just starting out when they bought the corner grocery at 3904 E. 42nd Ave. all those years ago. It was their second business venture; the first was a gas station convenience store that they co-owned briefly on the east side of St. Paul.

“This corner market had once been a full-service grocery store,” Terry said. “The original wooden walk-in freezer, dairy case, and produce case were still in the basement. The previous owner operated a meat counter for his customers and, when we got here, there were two other butcher shops still doing business in the neighborhood.”

Photo right: Terry and Cherie Reidy co-owned Reidy’s Market for more than four decades. Terry said, “The reason we were here for this long is because this is a great neighborhood, full of hard-working folks who have been a pleasure to know and an honor to serve.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The story of Reidy’s Market parallels the story of every neighborhood grocery store amidst changing times. Before the early-1970’s, people did most of their grocery shopping in these small stores. Supermarkets hadn’t caught on, car travel was more of a luxury, and the majority of women weren’t working outside the home yet.

At 4,500 square feet, Reidy’s Market was twice the size of most convenience stores. “We called ourselves a superette,” Cherie said, “which was a word from the 70’s that you don’t hear anymore. Over the years, we’ve continued to do things in a way that might be considered ‘old-fashioned.’ For instance, right up until we sold—we delivered weekly groceries to a home-bound woman in the neighborhood. She’s someone we’ve known for more than a decade, and she’s blind. When she needed something that we didn’t stock, Terry would pick it up for her when he was out and about. Our general attitude has always been to try and be helpful.”

The Reidys contributed to the community in many other ways. Every year for the last 15 years, they gave grocery bags to Howe and Hiawatha School students to decorate for Earth Day. By the time the actual Earth Day rolled around, those bags were brought back to the store by a parent volunteer and used for bagging customers’ groceries.

During the December holiday season, Cherie put out a barrel in the store and made a tradition of collecting Toys for Tots. “The last couple of years,” Terry said, “we received 60-70 donations for kids.”

He continued, “We figured out that if we hired the local Boy Scout troop to deliver our sales flyers for $100/month, that was $1,200 that they could use for their camping trips every year.

Part of what makes it possible to stay in business for 43 years is having dependable help. Cherie said, “Clare Ludden was our store manager for 41 years. We couldn’t have done it without her. Both Terry and I have eight brothers and sisters, and many of them have worked here at one time or another. Only one of my siblings passed up the opportunity. Reidy’s Market has really been family-owned and operated.”

So what now? “We’re not 30 anymore,” Terry said. “That’s why we finally sold the store. Cherie is planning to retire, but me? I’d like to get a part-time job somewhere. I do have a little bit of experience in the grocery business, after all.”

Cherie said, “We had lots of people come in and say, ‘We’re sorry to see you go,’ or ‘We’ve rescinded your purchase agreement.’” To thank their loyal customers, Reidy’s Market held a Customer Appreciation Day on May 12. Three days later, the name of the market was slightly changed to Reidy’s Food Store.

The store continues to operate under new ownership.


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Tapestry Folkdance Center plans a 35th-anniversary celebration

Posted on 28 May 2018 by calvin

In Longfellow for the last 19 years

Tapestry Folkdance Center is a non-profit venue located in the Longfellow neighborhood. Founded in 1983, Tapestry inhabited a series of rental spaces for 16 years, existing variously in Dinkytown, on the West Bank of the University Campus, and deep in South Minneapolis at the Sabathani Community Center. Its first permanent home, 3748 Minnehaha Ave., was purchased in 1999 and, just a few months ago, the organization paid off their mortgage.

Photo right: A Contra dance is held most Saturday nights at Tapestry. On Sat., June 15, experienced and new dancers are welcome to hit the dance floor as part of the 35th birthday weekend celebration. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

To celebrate that achievement, along with the occasion of their 35th-anniversary celebration, Tapestry is throwing a four-day-long party on June 14-17. Check the website at for last minute details, but the schedule is likely to be:

Thurs., June 14
• 7-8:30pm—Bollywood Dance is a stylized freestyle dance form based on India’s Bollywood films. It is energetic, lyrical, and aerobic, modeled on classical and folk dance, and influenced by Western hip-hop.

Fri., June 15
• 7:30-11pm—International folk dance teaches ethnic dances from around the world including Eastern Europe, Greece, Israel, Turkey, Armenia, Scandinavia, Brittany, East Asia and a little English Country.

Sat., June 16
• 9am and 10am—Zumba is an exhilarating dance fitness class for all ages and levels. It combines Latin and international rhythms in a one hour class of fun dancing with a party-like atmosphere. Ditch the workout and join the Zumba party, with instructor Sadie Jelinek.
• 12-3pm—Dance demonstrations will include Morris dance, a form of English folk dance based on rhythmic stepping. Dancers wear bell pads on their shins; sticks, swords and handkerchiefs may also be used by the dancers. Ballroom or Latin style dance including the foxtrot, cha-cha, salsa, waltz, American tango, west coast swing, east coast swing and/or the rumba.
• 1-3pm—Articulture will be offering art activities for kids in the parking lot if weather permits; indoors if it does not.
• 3-5pm—Family folk dance (ages 3+). The family folk dance tradition focuses on simple, easy-to-learn dances that everyone can enjoy. A caller teaches dances from the British Isles and America, including group circle and line dances, and dance games with singing.
• 5:30-6:30pm—Soup/Bread/Bars with speakers and a special program. City officials have been invited to attend.
• 7:30-11pm—Contra Dance with live music by Contratopia and caller David Kirschner. Based on New England barn dancing, a caller leads dancers through movements done in a line with a partner (you don’t need to bring a one). Live music is played from different traditions including old time, Irish, Cajun, and French Canadian.

Sun., June 17
• 9am—Zumba.
• 11am-1pm—Dance Church is a non-denominational movement inspired gathering with free dance for all ages.
• 4:30-6pm—The “Mostly” Waltz Afternoon. The waltz is one of the world’s most popular couple dances. It is both accessible for beginners and challenging for experienced dancers. The variety of live waltz music is both beautiful and diverse.
• 7-9pm—English Country Dances are elegant social dances from the 17th and 18th centuries, danced to recorded baroque music and led by a teacher.

Costs for dances held throughout the weekend will be the same as Tapestry’s usual admission charges; remember to wear low heel, comfortable shoes with clean bottoms (to protect the dance floor). There will be no charge for any of the demonstrations.

Photo left: Family folk dancers will demonstrate simple line and circle dances on Saturday afternoon, June 15th, at Tapestry Folkdance Center. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Event organizer, Lydia McAnerney, said,”The members of Tapestry hope that this long weekend will serve as a time of reunion for people who danced here over the years and fell away for one reason or another. It’ll be a great chance to come back and see old friends. On the other hand, we actively seek and welcome new dancers! Tapestry loves being part of the Longfellow Community. Come and see what’s happening right here in the neighborhood and if you’ve never tried folk dancing before—so much the better. These styles of dancing are accessible across the whole spectrum of age and ability.”

Inside the warm brick façade of Tapestry Folkdance Center, there are different dance and movement gatherings every night of the week. Take advantage of the 35th anniversary party weekend to see what keeps people lacing up their dance shoes year after year.

“There’s just something about the music and the movement,” said longtime dancer John Orrison. “From the first time I stepped onto the dance floor more than 30 years ago, it wasn’t like anything I’d ever done before. I loved folk dancing back then, and I still do.”

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Longfellow resident plants more than 10,000 seedlings and tubers

Posted on 28 May 2018 by calvin

Molly Gaeckle might be the only Longfellow resident for whom spring came early.

When her neighbors were shoveling out from 15 inches of snow, Gaeckle, 30, was watering and misting some 10,000 seedlings in the basement of her home in the 3800 block of 42nd Ave.

Photo right: Molly Gaeckle harvests snapdragons from her garden plot. The wire over the top encourages straight stem growth. (Photo by Tom Schmidt)

Those seedlings, which Gaeckle planted in late February, will eventually be moved to an 8,000 square-foot outdoor plot a block away from Gaeckle’s home. In time, they’ll become the bouquets she sells to subscribers to Northerly Flora, her community supported agriculture (CSA) flower program.

Gaeckle, who has lived in Longfellow for three years, became interested in food and agriculture when she traveled to New Zealand, Germany, Argentina and Chile during and after college.

“My parents actually laugh knowing that I am doing this now because growing up, they had a big flower and vegetable garden and I would have a lot of teenage angst because they’d make me do chores,” Gaeckle said with a laugh.

Photo left: Molly Gaeckle holds an armload of China Aster she gathered from her plot in the 3900 block of 42nd Ave. S. (Photo by Tom Schmidt)

Gaeckle, who was a horticulture minor at the University of Minnesota, thought vegetables might not work for a novice grower in an urban setting, so she looked to flowers instead.

“People are on board for local food, and now, there’s growing demand for local flowers,” she said. “I thought it was something I could do myself and on a small scale. In this area, there aren’t many flower growers, so I thought it was a niche I could get into.”

Gaeckle estimates she grows 40 distinct varieties of flowers. All but lisianthus, a delicate variety she ordered in seedling form, and dahlias, which are planted directly as a bulb-like tuber, begin in her basement.

“We can’t grow some of the things they grow in California, but really it’s surprising how much we can grow, and that’s been amazing for me to learn,” Gaeckle said.

Photo right: Molly Gaeckle estimates she’s growing about 40 different kinds of flowers, mostly annuals, for Northerly Flora, her community supported agriculture program. (Photo by Tom Schmidt)

This year, Northerly Flora sold out with 70 subscribers. Last year, it had 40.

Karina Hill is in her second year as a subscriber to the Northerly Flora. “I love flowers, and I would love to be able to grow lots of flowers in my own yard and cut my own fresh bouquets, but I am not quite there yet,” she said.

“(Molly) grows a really wide variety of flowers, and the fact that they are locally grown is very important to me.”

Jess Hopeman, another second-year Northerly Flora client, called her weekly bouquet “an infusion of happy.”
“I love anything that can be local, and this ended up being the best thing I did for myself last year, bar none,” she said.

Gaeckle has expanded Northerly Flora to include a satellite plot in Seward, which will bring her growing space up to a total of about a quarter of an acre. She’s also selling flowers on Tuesday nights at the Mill City Farmer’s Market. She does occasional events—including her own Sept. 22 wedding—but isn’t sure how much a focus they will be in the future.

“What I want is to build a sustainable business,” she said. “I want to feel proud of what I’m doing, and I want it to make a positive impact on people. What that looks like, I don’t know, but I’m excited to see where it goes.”
And yes, even after all the work she puts into Northerly Flora, she still likes flowers.

“I keep liking them more and more as I learn more about them,” she said.

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Hiawatha Golf Course CAC members seek clarification from MPRB

Posted on 28 May 2018 by calvin

Majority of committee members want all options on the table—not just reduced pumping scenarios

The Hiawatha Golf Course Community Advisory Committee (CAC) wants to be able to explore all uses at the golf course for the future, including maintaining the current level of pumping.

At the CAC meeting on April 30, members voted 9-6 to bring this issue back to the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) of Commissioners. The vote was done by a show of hands at the end of a meeting that went over an hour past the advertised end time.

The exact motion was as follows: The Hiawatha Golf Course Community Advisory Committee is requesting the Board of Commissioners to respectfully clarify the existing Resolution 2017-243 to include the exploration of all uses related to a reduced pumping scenario and for all uses related to a circumstance that would perpetuate the current pumping situation.

“Some members of the CAC felt the language provided by the MPRB was vague or contradictory to what they were being told verbally,” explained CAC Chair David Kaplan via email. “So the interest was to get clarification from the MPRB or DNR on the pumping question once and for all.”

Photo right: Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board staff member Deb Pilger answers questions about the permit at Lake Hiawatha Golf Course that is issued by the DNR for irrigation. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

While the title of the MPRB resolution calls for a reduced pumping scenario, the rest of the resolution seems to indicate that an 18-hole golf course might fit within the scope of the project, pointed out CAC member Kathryn Kelly, appointed by an at-large commissioner. She pushed for a clarification on the CAC charge at both the Mar. 30 and the Apr. 30 meetings.

The golf course is currently pumping 242 million gallons of water each year in a circular fashion to keep water from flooding the course, although it only has a permit through the Minnesota DNR for 36.5 million for irrigation.

Discussion about options
The 18-member CAC includes Kaplan, Kelly, Anne Painter, Chakra Sankaraiah, Craig Nichols, Damon LeFlore, Duane Whittaker, Joan Soholt, Matt Hilgart, Nathan Shepherd, Roxanne Stuhr, Sean Connaughty, Sean Keir, Sheila Terryll, Tara Olds, Teresa Engstrom, Tim Clemens, and William Means.

Some CAC members felt that that the charge from the MPRB was too vague because it didn’t reference the Scenario B figure (from planning in 2017) that would reduce pumping by 70%. Therefore, members could look at a plan to reduce pumping by 1 liter, and it would be in accordance with the resolution, explained Kaplan.

“Others felt the issue had been addressed, and the CAC was not the right body to review or question the science and engineering previously looked at by the MPRB and staff—that the intent of the MPRB was clear last fall to reduce pumping to the lower level, even if the language was poorly constructed,” said Kaplan.

“I don’t know what I want this space to be, but I want the options open,” stated CAC member Matt Hilgart, who was appointed by the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association.

Photo left: Resident Monica McNaughton pointed out, “We don’t know the answers to many questions.” She questioned why planning was being done when the full scope of the problem isn’t understood. “These are people’s lives we’re affecting,” McNaughton stated. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Fellow CAC member Nicols, the Northrop School parent representative, also expressed his desire to consider all options. He pointed out, “It’s a completely different park board” now due to the November election as compared to last August when the motion was passed.

“My opinion has, and always has been, that we need to review the use of the parcel for its fundamental intended purpose—as an Administrative FEMA Flood Plain used to protect homes in the neighborhood and downriver. This is a role it serves,” said Kaplan. “Once that is addressed, then, and only then, do we look at what recreational activity can or should go on the space.”

Public comment taken at MPRB meetings
The MPRB of Commissioners is expected to address the issue at its June 8 meeting, although that agenda won’t be finalized until June 1.

All board meetings offer open time, starting at 5:30 p.m., for the public to voice comments directly to the commissioners.

The next CAC meeting, initially scheduled for May 30, has been postponed until the MPRB Commissioners have addressed the issue.

Firm to be hired
In the meantime, MPRB staff is negotiating a professional services agreement with the Barr Engineering/Berger Partnership design team.

This team will assist in creating a master plan for the golf course property.

An action will go before the Board of Commissioners in June for approval of the consulting contract.

MPRB Project Manager Tyler Pederson pointed out that the CAC is moving from a water management alternative to a master plan. A water management alternative provides a narrow focus that looks at water resources and is a starting point to figure out what is feasible. A master planning lens looks at the big picture, explained Pederson.

Through the process, a set of clear concept plans will be created and assessed, and CAC members will select the preferred one.

DNR permit for five years
MPRB is also applying for a temporary permit from the DNR to pump additional water from the golf course. This permit must be re-evaluated each year, and will only be extended for up to five years, stated MPRB Assistant Superintendent of Planning Services Michael Schroeder.

“They’re allowing us to continue pumping until we come up with a different way,” he stated.

During these five years, the MPRB will make annual reports and investigate the integrity of the earthen berm along the lakeshore.

The Minnesota DNR manages 16,000 permits for pumping water in the state, as any entity pumping more than 10,000 gallons a day or 1 million gallons a year needs a permit.

The highest active permit is 235,000 million gallons per year by a nuclear power plant. The highest golf courses permitted to pump over 150 million gallons per year (MGY) for irrigation are Lutsen, Bunker Hills, and Pebble Creek. Generally, the uses that pump between 220 and 300 MGY are construction dewatering, mining, municipal water supply, pollution contaminant, agriculture, power generation and petroleum, chemical and metal processing.

Opinions, comments shared
During the Apr. 30 meeting, time was taken to listen to questions and comments from commissioners, as well as meeting attendees.

CAC member Connaughty, appointed by the Friends of Lake Hiawatha, questioned whether trash mitigation at the stormwater sewer pipe that drains into Lake Hiawatha is being delayed for five years while the MPRB creates a master plan for the golf course property.

Connaughty pointed out that a five-year delay will mean that an additional 10,000 pounds of trash will enter the lake.

CAC member Soholt, appointed by the Hale Page Diamond Lake Community Association, wondered where all the water is coming from that is filling Lake Hiawatha and neighboring areas. “What will happen to the floodplain if we fill that up with more water?” Soholt asked.

Stuhr, appointed by the Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association, pointed out that neighboring homes affect the area water issues. “Each of our personal watersheds is contributing to the larger watershed,” she said. “So what we do on our own properties has an effect not only on our own home but on our neighbor’s.” She requested more information on water quality issues.

Resident Monica McNaughton pointed out, “We don’t know the answers to many questions.” She questioned why planning was being done when the full scope of the problem isn’t understood. “These are people’s lives we’re affecting,” McNaughton stated.

MPRB staff took notes on each question and comment, and will return with an FAQ sheet that addresses the issues raised.

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