Open space preservation

Minnetonka voters approved a $15 million bond referendum to renew our city’s parks and preserve open space.

The city of Minnetonka has long been committed to open space preservation, and half of the referendum is dedicated for this purpose. However, rapidly escalating land values require careful leverage of these newly available funds.

Accordingly, the park board and city council prioritized about 50 areas throughout the community for possible preservation. The rankings were based on such factors as sensitive environmental features, buffers for neighborhoods, high visibility, size and linkage to other open areas.

Preservation strategies were developed for each of these areas, ranging from the negotiation of easements to outright purchase. Conservation development agreements are being negotiated for some properties to preserve as many of the natural features of the land as possible. Often a property owner will dedicate a conservation easement that prohibits future development activity.

These techniques were used to successfully preserve about 18 acres of a 28-acre site at the Clarion Hills Development. The Stone Trace Development was also successful in preserving 4.5 acres of this 8.93-acre site.

In addition to the acquisition of easements, other conservation techniques continue to promote the quality of the environment. These include smaller road widths, which allow more open space and less impervious surface and rain gardens or infiltration systems to treat the storm water run off and promote better water quality.

In other cases, the city is actively pursuing acquisition. These properties are generally smaller and along Minnehaha Creek or near the city’s larger community parks, like Big Willow, Meadow, Purgatory and Lone Lake.

In late 2002 and early 2003, the city successfully purchased four properties at or below their appraised values, and all within the Minnehaha Creek preserve. One property is near Big Willow Park and two other properties are adjacent to other properties the city already owns. Eventually, the homes will be removed and the land converted to natural areas. Where feasible, trail access through the properties will be created.

Or contact Assistant City Manager Geralyn Barone at 952. 939.8216 or gbarone@eminnetonka.com.