Wayzata hears updates on Lake Effect, parking ramp
Published September 29, 2016 at 8:00 am
Project planners provided updates at Sept. 20 city council meeting

The status reports of two major city projects – the Wayzata Lake Effect and the Mill Street Parking Ramp – were provided to residents and the city council during the Sept. 20 Wayzata City Council meeting.

Mary deLaittre, the city’s consultant for the Lake Effect, spoke at the meeting as part of a regular report to the city. She said phase one is in the process of wrapping up for the organizational development for the Lake Effect Conservancy, an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit meant to serve as an advocate for the project and work to seek private funding dollars from individuals, foundations and corporations.

“We have begun fundraising in earnest,” deLaittre said. “We are putting together the strategy for fundraising and have already begun cultivating individual major donor prospects as well as looking into foundations and corporations.”

The role of the conservancy, deLaittre said, will also include working with the city to cultivate public funding. The city’s role in fundraising will focus on public funds through local agencies like Three Rivers Park District, Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County, as well as state and federal funding.

deLaittre added that the paperwork to secure 501(c)3 status for the conservancy has been submitted and that the website for the conservancy, LakeEffectConservancy.org, had been launched.

Planning for phase two in 2017, deLaittre said, involves budget planning and strategic hires, including the recently posted position of executive director for the Lake Effect Conservancy.

The nine-month process of completing an environmental assessment worksheet has also begun, deLaittre said. The assessment is meant to determine if the proposed Lake Effect work will have significant environmental impacts and if there are ways to avoid or minimize potential impacts. The assessment will include a public open house and review by local, state and federal agencies.

In August, the city council approved an implementation plan for the Lake Effect Signature Project, which further defined the project’s initial scope:

• The lake edge – Ecological restoration of the lake edge and construction of a boardwalk from the Wayzata Depot to a new site called the Eco Park, which would include wetland restoration and renovation of the Section Foreman House into a community center. This segment would also include safety upgrades at the two current railroad crossings.

• Pop-up park – If the city approves plans to build the Mill Street Parking Ramp, the city’s public parking lot near the Broadway docks would be converted into a temporary pop-up park. The ultimate design of the urban park would be based on how the community decides to utilize the public space.

• Lake Street – Road, curb and sidewalk construction to allow for better pedestrian and bicycle accessibility and a protected bike path connecting to the Dakota Trail.

Mill Street Parking Ramp

Also provided at the council meeting was an update on the city’s Mill Street Parking Ramp project. Project manager Nate Pearson, director at The TEGRA Group, addressed the council and residents to provide an update on the ramp’s design and next steps.

In July, the city council accepted the parking structure’s schematic design report, which was created by HGA Architects through meetings with the project steering committee.

The city will go out for bid for a 387-stall grade-plus-one level ramp with design alternates, including a design with a partial roof. Pearson said the city could expect to receive bid documents from HGA on Sept. 30 in order to be reviewed and then posted Oct. 4.

On or around Oct. 21, Pearson said, is when the bids will be due from contractors. He said a recommendation of a contractor would likely come to the council the following week.

Wayzata City Manager Jeffrey Dahl said he is planning to include a call for a public hearing for bond sale on the city council’s meeting agenda for Nov. 1, before a bond sale could be awarded in late December.

According to a financial study from the city’s consultant, the city would be able to finance approximately $7.68 million for the ramp using tax increment financing from the Promenade of Wayzata TIF district. An additional $1.68 million is also available in cash on hand through fund transfers, capital improvement plan and existing TIF districts, equaling a total of $9.36 million.

“All of our projections show that the tax increment that’s generated from the Presbyterian Homes project, more specifically The Landing (hotel) development, will pay for the entire base ramp,” the city manager said in response to a request from Mayor Ken Willcox to clarify whether the cost of the parking ramp will drive up property taxes.

According to cost estimates in the financial study, a ramp with a roof would come at an estimated cost of $10.29 million, which is approximately $930,000 more than a ramp without a roof.

Dahl said that if the city decides to build the parking ramp with a roof, alternative financing would have to be approved, which could have an impact on the general tax base.

“The roof component, which we don’t know how much that’s going to cost, would have to be paid for by an alternate revenue source, which we haven’t determined yet, but we’re exploring that in more detail now,” Dahl said.

Also included in the process is a zoning ordinance amendment, which was approved by the council at the meeting, to include public parking structures as a permitted use in the institutional zoning district.

Design review for the ramp is another step the city is working toward completing. The parking ramp design was reviewed by the planning commission Sept. 19, but the commission came to a 2-2 split vote. Jeff Thomson, the city’s director of planning and building, said design review for the ramp will be brought back before the commission at its next meeting.

If plans and bids are approved, construction could begin in November with a goal to complete the ramp around Memorial Day 2017.

Contact Jason Jenkins at jason.jenkins@ecm-inc.com