Don’t Take The Parks For Granted

July 5, 2011

My family and I took a bike ride over the Fourth of July weekend. We left our home in southwest Minneapolis and headed around Lake Harriet, caught the bike trail along Minnehaha Creek and rode all the way to Minnehaha Falls for a lovely picnic.

All along our ride, we saw thousands of people enjoying the beautiful, green scenery, the rushing water and the exercise provided by biking, walking, running and rollerblading. When we arrived at the park, we took the stairs below the falls that were built during the Depression by federal Works Progress Administration workers.

I thought, as I have so often over the years, how fortunate we are that previous generations of Minneapolis leaders had the wisdom to set aside public parkland of such beauty and in such quantity. You can see the difference if you ever canoe down the creek. As you pass through Edina, the creek banks are all private land — the only people who have easy access to the creek are those who can buy a house on it.

As you pass Xerxes Avenue, which marks the boundary with Minneapolis, the creek suddenly transforms into the centerpiece of a generous greenway that everyone can enjoy.

Imagine if Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet were ringed by private homes, shutting out everyone from the lakes save the several hundred families whose homes adjoin them.

The next time you enjoy the Minneapolis park system, appreciate it — and remember that it could have turned out differently.