Shoreline or swamp: A passionate opinion


On Thursday, Nov. 30, about 40 people filled a room at the Nokomis Community Center to learn more about the proposed Lake Nokomis Shoreline Enhancements project. The meeting was hosted by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and representatives from the contractors selected to do the work.

For the most part the room was filled with people who are concerned—Concerned that the water level at Lake Nokomis never goes down—Concerned that past shoreline projects on the west side of the lake sit neglected—Concerned that we have lost acres of lawn that were once used for recreation—Concerned that trees surrounding the lake are dying—Concerned that our property values sink while water levels rise—Concerned that the livability of our amazing neighborhood is compromised.

So the plan—there is $440,000 from an Outdoor Heritage Fund grant that is burning a hole in the Park Board’s pockets. The money must be spent by 2020, so clearly we must act now, in 2018, or see this money disappear. The money will be used primarily along the north and east side of the lake, which includes about 4,800 feet of shoreline. The goals are to address issues such as areas of eroding shoreline, narrow or absent natural lakeshore buffer, and poor water quality. The potential solutions for the shoreline include rip rap, toe wood, coir log with live stakes, minor grading and soil lifts. The proposed buffer solutions are diverse native plantings and an expanded natural buffer. The project would not touch the WPA walls or the beaches. Sounds like a lot of money and a lot of the shore, right? Well, the money won’t be enough to tackle all 4,800 feet that need work so things will have to be done in phases. And there isn’t enough money or a plan to manage the maintenance of what is done to preserve the shoreline—whether it be planting bulrush or other native grasses. It left some of us wondering—what exactly is the goal of this shoreline work if it doesn’t handle everything or have a plan for maintenance? And if nothing is going to be done to resolve the disappearing beach on the east side?

From my previous work on this issue and past correspondence it was clear that the Park Board’s best solution to water levels is still simply planting more native grasses with deeper root systems. During the meeting Matt Musich, husband of our Park Board Commissioner Steffanie Musich, interrupted everyone who spoke up with a question about the water level. He yelled that it was a meeting about shoreline, not water levels, and asked that the facilitators do a better job of managing attendees. He chided the crowd that he had received little response to The Friends of Lake Nokomis’ outreach to create a crew of volunteers to manage the maintenance of the shoreline.

There are things that need to be done to protect and preserve the Lake Nokomis shoreline, but it seems short-sighted and a waste of money and time to do anything before the water level issue is resolved. I would have felt better if there was a strong plan, with funding, to maintain and manage the shoreline improvements and look at the ongoing threat of high water levels, but since that was not clearly defined it truly seems like the Minneapolis Park Board is about to just sprinkle $440,000 of cash along the northeastern edge of Lake Nokomis.

PHOTO CAPTION: The water table is reaching up to the gas pipe.

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