The Cedar-Isles Master Plan Needs Your Voice!

Over the past few years the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board has been developing and formalizing a series of master plans for the parks under their purview. When visiting any number of parks you can find a sign letting you know that “This Park is being Planned!” that will have some links to resources for further project information. Master plans aren’t necessarily filled with prescriptive details, and they don’t provide firm timelines or funding schemes but they are powerful documents for the long term vision of the parks. When the Park Board is evaluating park improvements, these master plans can provide guidance on the kinds of features and amenities that gain priority for certain parks and the communities they serve.

Two parks in the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes are currently undergoing the master plan development process — Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles — and I was able to attend a recent open house to find out more about the Park Board’s current preferred concept design. The open house was held outdoors at the trail entry near Euclid Avenue. It consisted mostly of a kiosk with different maps of the preferred concept that demonstrated different themes: amenities, traffic circulation, water quality/land use improvements. The open house was staffed by some supremely helpful Park Board employees who both answered questions and took feedback and comments — many of which were transferred to sticky notes and placed on the displays. They also provided snacks. Who doesn’t love snacks?

Amenities Map of the Current Preferred Concept

I’ve lived in the area for a long time and have been keeping track of the plan development process since it was announced in 2019 — so naturally I had a lot of questions for the open house staff. I found the initial draft plans for the parks to be interesting and ambitious — and provided feedback as best I could for my thoughts on them.

The current preferred concept is much more scaled back. The proposed Isles boardwalk is gone, all proposed permanent structures have been eliminated, any inkling of a possible parkway vehicle traffic closure — permanent or temporary — has been removed and the proposed two-direction bikeway around Isles has been reduced to a couple of sections. When I asked about these changes in the design, the response was simply that the changes reflect the input they have received so far. The most vocal group of residents giving input does not want new structures, they do not want picnic pavilions, and they do not want music or classroom venues. There were also some concerns that a full expansion of the bike trail to allow two-way traffic could narrow the parkway, eliminate some street parking, and lead to tree loss. I will say that some input being given that day — and not just by me — was that permanent, improved, year-round restroom facilities are something that the park users want and need. 

The open house staff were great about answering questions and taking the many comments from my wife and me, but they did have one ask of us — get some more feedback. Both Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles are regional parks, and they are positioned in such a way that neighbors from all over the city and visitors to the city should be drawn to them. They are already relatively accessible via public transit but will be even more so when the Green Line extension is complete. The shape of this project should not be limited by the input received from those of us who happen to live nearby — this plan should be shaped by all of us.

What kind of amenities would make these parks more inviting to you? Things like permanent restrooms, picnic pavilions or activity hubs seem like natural choices to me — but they are receiving opposition from a relatively narrow slice of potential park visitors.

The window for public comment is closing, but there is still time to let your voice be heard. Taking the Cedar-Isles Master Plan Survey is probably the best and easiest way to give your input, but you can also visit the project page for more details and contact info for the project leads. Also, you should absolutely contact the park board and let them know what priorities you have for an inclusive, sustainable future for these parks.

10 thoughts on “The Cedar-Isles Master Plan Needs Your Voice!

  1. Pingback: The Cedar-Isles Master Plan Needs Your Voice! - - BeatzzShopp Beats

  2. Carin K Peterson

    Absolutely NO to two way bike lanes on Lake of the Isles!
    This threatens the width of a drive-able Parkway (keeping the lake accessible to all, including seniors and the other abled!)
    It is a threat to our treasured trees. We can ill afford the loss of any more trees in the city with so many lost to the Emerald Ash problem.
    And finally, yet another threat to parking!
    We need the little parking that exists around the lake, especially (again- equity at stake!) for those with limited mobility! Perhaps we can get around to see SOME of the lake but not if we must also travel blocks to get TO the lake!

    And all so that fully able bodied people are able to bike both ways around the lake?

    How does this meet the goals of equity?
    Of equal access to all of our beautiful amenities?
    It does not.
    In fact, it does the opposite.

    We are, once again, being held hostage by a small but vocal MINORITY of bike enthusiasts who wish to have bike lanes EVERYWHERE regardless of how much others are inconvenienced. .

    I apologize for the rant
    But I am growing weary of thisfight… for real equity!!
    I am mobility challenged.
    My brother an avid cyclist who completely agrees with me

    So you see
    Compromise IS entirely possible!

    Thank you

  3. Mary Pattock

    The author doesn’t seem to know that “permanent” restroom facilities do not operate year round — they are 3-season only. PortaPotties are usable year-round.

    I’m surprised that, since he says he says he’s followed this project, he doesn’t mention that the main problem with Cedar Lake is that it is on the brink of dying. It is already classified as eutrophic — at the point at which oxygen is so low that its plants and fishes are dying. And since Cedar feeds Isles, which feeds Bde Maka Ska, the others will gradually become eutrophic, too. So…If this 20-30 year plan doesn’t address that problem, we will have dead and stinking cesspools instead of lakes in a few years. This is why so many people have opposed all the construction of all the proposed hardscape (wider paths, permanent buildings, etc.), which will worsen runoff into the lakes, and have tried to focus the MPRB on keeping the lakes swimmable, fishable, and healthy.

  4. Ruth Usem

    I want to “echo” Mary Pattock’s letter in favor of equity for our parks and Lakes – – our natural treasures.
    Trees need to be nurtured not removed. We want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy our Lakes and parks at any one time.
    As far as I know our bikes allow one person per bicycle or motorcycle. Cars allow up to four people to enjoy both each other’s observations of what they see and experience as well as those who may be disabled, unable to bike or motorcycle to our Lakes and Parks but want to be able to enjoy these wonderful places. Buildings and other structures close to Twin Lakes and Cedar Lake have contributed – out of proportion- to toxic runoff and ultimately the death of Twin Lakes and threaten to do the same to Cedar Lake. The number of bicycle riders and motorcyclists come nowhere close to the number of people who can see and enjoy the same by car. Save our trees, limit hard structures, keep our roadways and keep our trees and Lakes clear and usable.

  5. Susan Lenfestey

    My opposition to the original proposal — which included boardwalks, pavilions, classrooms, permanent toilet facilities — was based in part on the fact that these all require maintenance and the MPRB is strapped to maintain what they already have.
    As for permanent toilets, they require infrastructure and daily cleaning. And once they are in place, that’s that. Non-permanent toilets can be swapped out as needed, used in four seasons, and made more attractive with screening and landscaping. They have a very light footprint. I don’t know why this is even a bone of contention.
    The first priority of this plan should be the restoration of the water quality of Cedar Lake, and the protection and preservation of the natural habitat, particularly surrounding much of Cedar Lake. This Preferred Park Concept is a good start at doing that, and does away with the earlier proposed permanent structures and paved pathways.
    I commend the park board staff and the CAC who made that happen, and encourage them to stick with this aptly named Preferred Park concept.

  6. Carin K Peterson

    Once more I feel.compelled to weigh in.
    After reading the well reasoned, we’ll thought out and supported by fact • responses above I must urge MPRB to please ~ listen?

    And please do not be pressured by the last minute antics of a small but vocal group who bring forward stale ideas that have been cycled carefully through the CAC process and came up short.
    Bringing them up again ~ late, with little notice (2 days before presenting them to the 7/29/22 CAC meeting?) Is this even allowed per MPRB-CAC rules?
    Even if so ~ this is very shady. How many people might be caught unaware and out of town.
    Or was that the intention all along?
    Very shady indeed.

    Please, find these late additions out of order.

    We certainly find them to be environmentally and equitably wrong for our lakes and bad for our communities

    1. Zak Yudhishthu

      Your argument seems to be that putting car infrastructure in this plan is a foremost priority. That really clashes with an avowed goal to environmentalism! Cars are really, really bad for the environment. We have to start thinking about something beyond this car-first system we live in. How’s the bus access to cedar lake? How can we make that better so that the disabled are able to take greener transportation without needing cars, which take up massive amounts of space via parking and roadways while polluting all along the way?

      And, as always, remember what groups of people are least likely to have cars:

      1. Carin K Peterson

        The parkways were designed so that all may have access, including cars. Add electric charging stations to bring them into the next Generation. But our reality is that folks still need cars.
        And people still need them to access our natural resources.
        Backing up traffic by putting bike lanes on every major corridor is not going to help us reach climate targets either.
        But thats an argument for a different day in another forum.
        For now, parkways work when all have equal access.
        Bikes do not need more room.
        That’s my point.
        And no matter how shady the introduction it doesn’t change that message of equity.

        1. zyudhishthu

          I wouldn’t agree that “bikes do not need more room,” as is evidenced by the fact that the path is only wide enough for one-way cyclist traffic.

          I also think that the backing up traffic argument is not very convincing. The point is not to endlessly accommodate cars above all else — it’s to work hard to build a better world in which people don’t need to use cars that are loud, accident-prone, polluting, and space-taking.

          This master plan is a wonderful opportunity to imagine a better world, and you can help us create it! Reducing car trips by making other options better is a win for all.

          1. Carin K Peterson

            You can imagine a better world but must also be pragmatic and.recognize the realities of the world in which you actually live. Build for a better world but do not leave behind vast numbers of the population who cannot follow YOUR path at YOUR pace. Or see the world as you do.
            Make room for disagreement and compromise

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