Minnetonka Lake Access Secured (MN)

Minnetonka, MN, 11/16/01 – Today, the Trust for Public Land and the Department of Natural Resources announced the acquisition and conversion to public use of a private marina in Grays Bay on Lake Minnetonka, near the headwaters of Minnehaha Creek. The results of this effort will ultimately provide better public access to the lake for boaters and anglers, more environmentally sound site management, and the redevelopment of two nearby public sites used for Minnehaha Creek canoe access, fishing, and picnicking. A community process involving the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club and the city of Minnetonka will design the future access site incorporating state-of-the-art conservation methods.

Diversifying and improving public access to Lake Minnetonka has been a high priority of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and local leaders for nearly 20 years. Gray’s Bay Resort and Marina, a private business located on 5 acres next to the new Gray’s Bay Bridge, was identified as the prime site for a public access. City and state officials acted to ensure that this opportunity was not lost to private development.

“It has been a shared goal by legislators, local residents and policy makers to provide quality public access to Lake Minnetonka,” adds Susan Schmidt, Minnesota State Director for the Trust for Public Land. “TPL is pleased to be able to help make this 20 year-old vision happen.”

After an early attempt to acquire the land failed, the DNR approached TPL to work with the landowners to secure the site. TPL negotiated an agreement to purchase the property and allow the state time to identify the necessary funding. TPL worked with the Minnesota Legislature and the Governor’s office to secure and structure the funding through legislative appropriations as recommended in 2000 and 2001 by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCMR). The Minnesota Legislature provided $6.85 million towards acquisition and development.

“This project has been evolving for many years. It’s very exciting to see it finally becoming a reality,” said Martha Reger, Area Trails and Waterways Supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Through the hard work and dedicated efforts of the governmental agencies and the local citizenry, the public will enjoy a very high quality, public water access facility on one of the State’s premier lakes for years to come.”

TPL entered into an agreement with the landowner in the autumn of 2000 and acquired the land in October 2001. The Minnesota DNR purchased the land from TPL and is working with the city of Minnetonka, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club, and the design firm of Brauer and Associates to create the new public access that is sensitive to local concerns regarding traffic, pollution and aesthetics. The site is intended to serve as a demonstration of natural shoreline restoration and natural water filtration.

“This is a win-win situation for the public at large and for our local residents,” commented Minnetonka city attorney Desyl Peterson, who helped facilitate a task force of citizen and agency representatives who studied and recommended the proposed improvements. “The project will provide high quality public recreational facilities while alleviating long-standing traffic and aesthetic issues in the neighborhoods.”

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to improve the quality of life in our communities and to protect our natural and historic resources for future generations. Nationwide, the Trust for Public Land has helped conserve more than a million acres valued at over $2 billion. In Minnesota, the Trust for Public Land has helped protect more than 21,000 acres of land. Recent highlights include expansion of Stearns County Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, Minnesota’s newest Scientific and Natural Area; assisting the city of Grand Marais protect their historic Harbor Park; and the protection of sensitive lands in the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota. Support for Grays Bay was provided in part by The McKnight Foundation, a charitable foundation that seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. For more information, visit the website at www.tpl.org