September 12, 2012 Planning Commission Minutes

Commissioners and staff were assembled at the Thor Thompson playground equipment. Items discussed:
• Some repairs need to be made to existing equipment. Clamp couplings on the individual swings move and should be stationary. What moves should be the swing hangers.
• Plastic spacers/separators between the wood curved climbing apparatus need to be repaired. Some of the spacers are gone and the wood sections slide together.
• Maybe the focus of the park doesn't always have to be on just kids.
• A walking path surrounding the perimeter of the park might be nice for adult fitness.
• Maybe a path that directs park users from Sunset Drive to the park.
• Commissioners didn't realize any immediate safety concerns between the new BB court and the timbers edging the playground area. They felt the timbers could be removed and the playground area made smaller or, the ground could be graded to form a slope even with the top of the timbers.
• Commissioners feel there is a lot of life left in the playground equipment and it maybe can be added to instead of replacing.

Baseball Field:
• Agree that a path should be made from the pitcher's mound to home plate as it is proving difficult to grow grass in that area. Ag-lime should be installed.
• Regarding shading the bleachers, it's discussed that shade trees probably won't work due to the established drain fields and the overhead lines.
• Some suggested building shade canopies over the bleachers.
• Others felt providing shade shouldn't be a priority - it's part of baseball and spectators can always set up their own chairs and umbrellas for shade.
• Suggested that a perimeter of rock should be installed along the cement apron that supports the back fence behind the catcher. There are a couple of low spots that remain muddy and it's probably better to just put rock there instead of trying to grow grass.
• Some thoughts given to a dynamic scoreboard and using some of the funds that were given to the park by Mrs. Thompson ($1,000) in memory of her husband.

Grassy Area of Park:
• Some think a covered picnic pavilion might be a nice addition in the area of the old BB court. It might encourage families or groups to use the park more.

Tennis Courts:
• Lighting is discussed for the tennis courts. Could be metered with users paying for the lighting.
• Lighting the BB court is also discussed.
• Decided there is not enough use to warrant it and don't want to upset the neighboring properties.

Sippel said there is still concern about the low-lying area on the south side of the park that backs up to the residential properties. He said it does flood in the spring and remains wet. This should be considered when discussing changes to that particular area as some minor correction such as drain tile leading to the holding pond will be needed.

It is suggested to think of items that could be done now and things that could be built upon in the future. Mason suggests when thinking about upgrading the playground equipment, bright colors should be chosen. He thinks the playground equipment located at the park in Navarre is a good example.

Wilkes Park: Some think it's a waste. It's poorly located, no one knows about it, it's not very accessible, think it might be a good idea to just sell it and focus energies on Thor.

Tolsma explained there could be a combination of funds from line items in the budget and the PIR fund. He said there has been $5,000 budgeted for 2012 and another $2,000 for new equipment. It is suggested to do some of the smaller things with the line item budget and the bigger items from the PIR fund.

Additional comments from Commissioner Struck in absentia: She has found Moundite George Linkert's blog at particularly interesting as it fosters discussions about what makes a city a place that is people friendly. She also referred to the website at LinkedIn Siemens Sustainable Cities group to see some global discussions on cities.

Struck also wonders about the parking area on the west end of Northern Avenue, south side of the road across from the LMCC. She thinks it's not too attractive and doesn't look safe. She thinks it needs to be maintained better and beautified in some way although she acknowledges it may be Hennepin County HCRRA property.