Category Archives: Minneapolis Park and Recreation

Stinson Conservancy Seeks Planting Volunteers

Though passersby speeding up and down Stinson Parkway (the number and their speed seems to increase each day) may scarcely notice, the joggers, dog walkers and stroller pushers of Windom and Audubon Park take time to relish the beauty of the magnificent boulevard that joins the neighborhoods..

This spring more than ever we have reveled in the abundant color of the azaleas, the daffodils and other perennials planted last fall by members of the Stinson Conservancy. Conservancy members continue to work with a consultant to create a final design for the Boulevard.

As planting season reaches its peak Conservancy members are asking for some help.  Specifically they invite gardeners of every skill, age and proclivity to join them on Wednesday June 13, (rain date June 14), 6:00-9:00  on the median at 2200 Stinson, and/or Monday, June 25, (rain date June 27) on the median at 2700 Stinson, 6:00-9:00 p.m.  Come equipped with shovel, hand tools and gloves, plus a vision of the blooms that will come from the plants provided with funds from generous donors and from a participant in the Park Board Stewardship Program who had an abundance of plants to share.

The Stinson Conservancy is an organization of neighbors, friends and gardeners who share the goal to preserve and enrich the parkway.  Stinson Parkway is one visible link in the National Scenic Byway known as the Grand Rounds, a route covering over fifty miles through green space; the Grand Rounds was created and is maintained by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Membership in the Conservancy is open to all who care about this neighborhood treasure.  To join the Conservancy or to provide financial support email the Conservancy or send a note/contribution to Stinson Parkway Conservancy
2243 Roosevelt Street Northeast
, Minneapolis, MN  55418.

A Digital Tour of the City’s Tree Canopy

Now that the leaves are (mostly) raked, bagged or mulched it’s a good time to reflect on the “tree canopy” that is so essential this community’s character, beauty, property values and air quality.  The mapping study of the Minneapolis tree canopy, now available online, offers an intriguing tool for studying the tree canopy of the city, your neighborhood, industrial areas.  Though the study is really designed for planners, including neighborhoods, to target resources, the tool is simple for the curious as well as the serious user.  The full study is posted online.


The study that created the mapping tool was conducted by the University of Minnesota Remote Sensing and Geogspatial Analysis Laboratory for the city of Minneapolis.  The statistics are fascinating in and of themselves.  For example, in Minneapolis 979,000 trees cover 32% of the city.  The majority of Minneapolis trees are green ash (14.4%), Sugar maple (13.3%), Norway maple (11.8%), littleleaf linden (10.4%) and the American elm (9.9%)  Who know!


Because urban trees are such an important resource, the city’s tree canopy is tracked as part of the annual Minneapolis Sustainability Indicators.  That website has a whole section on Mapping the Canopy.  The City and Park and Rec work together to maintain a healthy urban forest.


The City of Minneapolis includes links to further research on all of this and much more, including a very helpful listing of resources on the care and upkeep of urban trees – everything you ever wanted to know about planting, pruning, watering, dealing with insects and diseases including the Emerald Ash Borer.  One key link is to the Forestry Division of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.


Though I freely admit that I got only as far as the interactive map that alone offered a visual and understandable overview of the canopy for the total non-arborist.  Manipulating the map was far more informative – and more fun – than gathering the fall manifestation of those beautiful trees.  The map made me realize anew just what an important resource this “tree canopy” is, even when the boughs are bare.  Truth to tell, a snow laden tree in winter is a beautiful sight to contemplate – and then there is that first fragile green of spring….I can see it now.

All Politics Are Local – In Windom Park at least

An historic 111 Windom Park residents braved the chill to show up on the monthly meeting of Windom Park Citizens in Action on Tuesday, October 18. Judging from the early exodus of several newbies one might conclude that the draw was a hotly-contested neighborhood vote on a proposed liquor store at Stinson Marketplace, in space recently vacated by Rosacker’s.. A proposal to oppose the liquor store initiative went down to defeat in what seemed to many a confusing vote.

When the dust settled the remaining residents grappled with a wide range of major issues affecting Northeast in general, Windom Park in particular. One that received short schrift at this meeting was the issue of revamping/closing the I35 exit ramp at Johnson/Stinson/New Brighton Boulevard. That discussion was deferred till public discussion sponsored by Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis and MnDot. That discussion is October 25, 5-7 p.m. at the Northeast Recreation Center, 1615 Pierce Street NE.

Much more time was spent in exploration of the proposals relating to riverfront development. That discussion, led by Representative Diane Loeffler, covered a wide range of options and issues including environmental, fiscal and development implications. Loefler pointed out the input periods on a wide range of proposals is brief and that the time to learn and to act is immediate. Action on multiple fronts has profound implications for development of the neighborhoods East of the river, including Windom Park. The issue deserves and demands far deeper research and opportunities for resident participation.

The annual meeting of Windom Park Citizens in Action is set for November 15, 7:00 p.m. at Pillsbury School, 2251 Hayes Street NE. One item on the agenda for that meeting is election of Board of Directors.

Additional information at or

Lighting the Parkway

Picture of two men working on installing wiring on the boulevard

Stinson Parkway Work Crew Installing Wiring for Streetlights

Walkers and gawkers want to know – What’s happening on Stinson?  The heavy equipment, the incessant noise, the flock of city employees digging up the boulevard – worth a check.  And so I did.

It’s a good story of progress and collaboration.  The workmen who are Minneapolis city employees are working to improve the street lighting system, not only on Stinson but throughout the 61 miles of parkway that shape the city.  They will string new safer wiring underground, then construct new foundations for each of the street lights.  Safety is the first concern since the wires they are replacing are 30-40 years old and showing the inevitable results of an aging infrastructure.

The Park Board didn’t have the heavy duty equipment, especially the borer, that the job required so, though the parkway system is under the control of Park and Recs, the City is doing the work.

The challenge is to get the job on Stinson done before the ground freezes.  We can only hope that the weather cooperates – we know the workers are going full speed, even if it doesn’t always appear that way.  When I talked with the workers this morning they were probing in a small hole they had dug in what seemed to be an arbitrary spot.  Turns out they were actually trying to locate the gas line into a house along the Parkway, a line they had to find before they could get into serious digging.  They were not, one workman assured me, merely “playing in the mud.”

Though progress may be noisy, messy, and confusing to the gawker, the interruption is a small price to pay for a safe lighted Parkway that serves neighbors and commuters especially through the dark days of winter.

Deming Heights – a Northeast Minneapolis hidden treasure

Looking for some autumn fun?  Try packing camera and maybe a snatch of buttery Scandinavian treats for a climb up Norwegian Hill.  It’s in beautiful Northeast Minneapolis, on St. Anthony Parkway near Fillmore in the peaceful and shaded depths of Deming Heights Park, a ten acre jewel of the Grand Rounds system.  You’ll be viewing Minneapolis from one of the several vantage points purported to be the city’s highest peak, 963 feet above sea level.  There are, of course, rival claims, including one that Waite Park School at 1800 34th Avenue rests at the pinnacle of the city; other locals aver that Johnson Street NE and 34th Avenue tops Norwegian Hill by a good ten feet!

No mind, on a clear day the legendary Norwegian Hill  offers a fine opportunity to see forever.  Though one can only surmise the origins of the name of this locally famous pinnacle everyone in Northeast seems to know just where it is and why it’s worth the trip.

The origins of Deming Heights Park are easier to trace.  Portius C. Deming, for whom the park is named, was a park commissioner in the last years of the 19th Century and again from 1909-1919..  When the land for St. Anthony Parkway, including today’s Deming Heights, was acquired in 1913 the park was first known as Grandview Park.  It appears that Commissioner Deming thought the name aptly described the panorama.  Apt as that name may have been, the elegant wooded area was re-named to honor the commissioner himself when he died in 1930.

The recognition reflects Commissioner Deming’s commitment to the development of the city, particularly his persistent support of the North and Northeast sections of the Grand Rounds.  Capturing the vision of the commissioners and the genius of landscape architect Horace Cleveland with the informed support of community leaders Charles Loring and William Folwell the Grand Rounds thrive today as a hallmark of the City of Lakes.

Suffice to say, Portius Deming deserves the naming honor conferred on him.  Construction of the Grand Rounds is a story of vision, yes, but also of intense politics, bartering, badgering, public/private sector negotiation, finances, land acquisition/donation, weather, equipment and more. This snippet from the definitive history of the parkway areas of Minneapolis offers a glimpse of the day-to-day business with which Deming and his fellow commissioners grappled.

Through the relocation of University Avenue, the State Highway Department has brought about a very satisfactory grade separation with the avenue passing underneath the boulevard. On September 25, 1924, the various commercial clubs of Southeast and Northeast Minneapolis staged a gals parade and dedication exercises at Columbia Park, marking the formal opening of St. Anthony Boulevard.

The entire St. Anthony Boulevard project, exclusive of the Armour Tract, was financed as follows:  3/9 city bonds, 2/9 city-wide assessments, and  4.9 benefited district assessment.  Many favorable conditions during the construction period, such as available equipment, reduced cost of material, etc, made it possible not only to keep the total expenditure well within the estimates, but permitted the purchase of additional lots east of the parkway intersection at Central Avenue and at Deming Heights, which has greatly enhanced those sections of the Parkway

*It’s a story the depths of which I have yet not plumbed though it remains a goal for future posts to tell more of the story of the vision of Horace Cleveland and of the Commissioners that shaped the seven parkways that comprise today’s Grand Rounds.

Stinson Park Conservancy Volunteers Beautify and Boost the Northeast Link of the Grand Rounds

The story of the Stinson Parkway Conservancy is one of beauty – elegant flowering trees, carefully tended gardens of azaleas, daffodils and roses, and committed neighbors.  The neighbors share not only the love of beauty but the vision to imagine a reborn Parkway, the artistic sense to plan just the right colors and layouts to fit the space, the persistence to persevere against all odds, and the strength to haul hundreds of gallons of water to the arid median whose access to the pipes that once carried water to the median strip have fallen to rust and ultimate cut-off.

The Stinson Parkway Conservancy is a charitable organization and has filed with the State of Minnesota and the IRS.  To date the annual receipts of the Conservancy do not meet the minimum threshold set to require 501(c) (3) nonprofit status.  Contributions are  tax deductible to the extent of the law.

The Stinson Parkway Conservancy has adopted by-laws and selected a board of community members headed by Lois Kelly, a long-time Windom Park resident and community activist.  It was Lois who took action when she and others saw a need to create a Stinson Parkway deserving of its prestigious standing as part of the National Scenic Byway of the City’s Grand Rounds system.  The political and financial history of Stinson Parkway is a story for another day; the fact is it has suffered from neglect over the years.

Stinson Parkway is that .7 mile part of the Grand Rounds that connects St. Anthony Parkway with a unfulfilled vision, a section  of the 50 mile Grand Rounds system that has yet to be.  The South end of Stinson Parkway, at the crossroads with New Brighton Boulevard, offers a gracious welcome to a quiet residential community that includes the Windom Park and Audubon Park neighborhoods.  That same gateway swings out of the neighborhood into the industrial strip of Stinson that once housed some of the City’s largest industrial giants, including Honeywell Aerospace in the more recent past.

Stinson Parkway, and all of the Grand Rounds system, is under the purview of Minneapolis Park and Recreation which has long planted and maintained the brilliantly colored flowering trees that line the Parkway.  Conservancy volunteers complement the trees with flowers and shrubs often contributed by local business and other organizations.  Just this month the last of the flowering beds, including renovation of the gateway garden, were completed.

The Stinson Parkway Conservancy welcomes visitors to the gardens and is happy to share information with to who may be interested in the project to maintain and enhance the Parkway and the Northeast neighborhood it serves.  Contact, find the Conservancy on the web at or call 612 781 9936. Contributions to the Conservancy should be directed to Stinson Parkway Conservancy, c/o 2243 Roosevelt Street Northeast, Minneapolis, Minnesota  55418.

Most important, find time to explore Stinson Parkway and all of the magnificent parkways that shape and enhance Minneapolis as the renowned Grand Rounds, one of the nation’s premiere Scenic Byways.

Photos from the Conservancy:

Three volunteers planting trees on Stinson Parkway


A map:








Stinson Parkway Photo by David Erickson:

Northeasters Cool Off at Gatherings toTalk Business, Bike Trails and the Riverfront

In the next couple of weeks two priority items appear in close proximity on the public agenda in Northeast Minneapolis.  In addition, the Board of Directors of Windom Park Citizens in Action will hold an important meeting in the neighborhood.

So, dig under the heaps of swimwear and the accoutrement of Summer – the end (of summer) is in sight, time to get down to BUSINESS!  Ease in with some cool topics discussed in cool environs that will make you forget the heat!

The Windom Park Citizens in Action (WPCIA) Board of Directors will meet Tuesday,July 26, 7:00 p.m. at the association’s office, 2314 Lowry Avenue Northeast.  The meeting is open to all; Board members invite community members to get the season off to a good start by participating in this and the following gatherings:

RiverFIRST is the sole topic on the agenda on Thursday, July 28, 7 p.m. at the Bottineau Park building, 2000 2nd Street NE.  The gathering is actually a community meeting in which attendees will participate in a visioning process for the upper riverfront in Northeast/North Minneapolis.  The session is sponsored by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.  Because the residents of the City of Lakes does share the Mississippi with the Saintly City those who are concerned might want to peruse a recent report from an 18-month planning study for the Great River Park.  This is St. Paul’s initiative to increase accessibility to St. Paul’s seventeen miles of Mississippi riverfront property.  The complete plan is available on the web (

Come early for a slot on the bike rack for the East Side Bike Summit.  It’s Monday, August 1, 6-7 p.m. at the Ritz Theater, 345 1113th Avenue NE (just East of University)  City and County staff assigned to develop bike trains on the East will be on hand to report ad to listen.  The agenda includes these developments/plans:

ü     18th Avenue NE, Phase 2-Monroe Street NE to the Quarry Shopping Center – should there be a tunnel under the railroad tracks?

ü     Central Avenue – 37th Avenue NE to the Mississippi – Update

ü     East Hennepin and 1st Avenue NE bike lane study – Update

ü     5th Avenue NE to Broadway, Broadway to Lowry – Idea of using empty railroad tracks from Scherer Brothers lumber site as future North/South bike trail

ü     Marshall/Main Street bike lane – Update

ü     1st Avenue NE to Broadway, Broadway to Lowry, idea of using empty railroad tracks from Scherer Bros. umber site as future north/south bike trail.

Questions? Contact Michael Rainville 612 378 0431