What do you want to see Wayzata’s lakefront look like?
Would an amphitheater be a good fit? How about more municipal docks and improved access to Lake Minnetonka? Do you like the idea of a boardwalk or the renovation of historical buildings such as the old railroad depot?
The city council wants to know, and on Tuesday selected a firm out of St. Paul to take the lead in gathering community input and drafting potential lakefront enhancement initiatives.
This week’s selection of the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation to identify possible projects, calculate cost estimates and explore funding formulas represents the most recent development in a process that began several years ago. Councilmen Andrew Mullin and Tom Tanner have spearheaded the crafting of a long-term lakefront management plan for Wayzata and say the city will lean heavily on input provided by community members and local businesses.
“Right now, this will not be a design in the sense of designing a physical structure, but incorporating feedback and suggestions into a 10-year plan for the city,” Tanner said of the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation’s task. “We want to engage the community and get their thoughts and ideas. We want to bring people together and have people say what they want in this community.”
Councilman Mullin added that gathering community input and incorporating it into a long-range vision would be the “secret sauce” in differentiating the latest lakeshore management plan from those previously attempted.
“This isn’t the first try at this,” Mullin said of the city’s interest in sharpening a vision for Wayzata’s municipal lakefront. “The missing ingredient in the past has been community engagement, and that’s what we’re focused on incorporating this time.”
Mullin stressed that any initiative or initiatives launched by Wayzata would also involve neighbors and regional partners such as the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Hennepin County, MET Council, Three Rivers Park District and Department of Natural Resources—as well as neighboring Lake Minnetonka communities.
Another of those partners will be BNSF.
An average of six BNSF freight trains pass through the heart of downtown Wayzata each day on a rail laid long ago, and most lakefront improvement projects would require a green light from BNSF.
Tanner said dealing with the railroad bed that runs parallel to Lake Minnetonka would be the “big component” in any long-range plan and figuring out how to address the variety of potential difficulties would be a central cog in any draft.
Councilman Mullin said preliminary conversations with BNSF representatives has been decidedly positive and that he was optimistic the railroad would be a willing and cooperative partner in planning the future of Wayzata’s lakefront.
Mullin went on to stress that any lakefront redevelopment must be built on four distinct pillars—environmental, historical, financial and safety.
At the recommendation of a 10-member Lakefront Improvement Task Force that examined how to maximize use of Lake Minnetonka’s shoreline areas, the city set aside $100,000 earlier this year in already-scheduled Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenue to pay a firm to aid in crafting a lakefront management plan.
“At the end of the process, 18 months or two years, we can have an idea of what the future of Wayzata might look like,” Mayor Ken Wilcox said.