Last week we went to grab an ice cream cone in Mound. I got to thinking about a piece the Mound mayor published in the newsletter last month about the possible development in the area east of the ice cream shop. It was nice to have a public space easily accessible to enjoy our cones and see others doing the same. It would be a real shame to lose that area as public space.
We’ve seen other cities like Wayzata and Excelsior take public areas along the lake and turn them over to developers, only to lose the community areas forever. I really don’t like the idea of that happening in Mound.
I’ll preface this by saying that if you know which strings to pull, anything can happen…
Here’s what I would do. First the whole “Port of Mound” is a great concept that needs to be expanded into a comprehensive, small town “town square” kind of area everyone can enjoy. More importantly, in that capacity, it can be cultivated into a commerce generating public space that will draw more people into Mound and help fill those empty store fronts.
Start with dredging a waterway from the current Mound public docks, around the edge of Lost Lake, past the Surfside restaurant, and back out to the bridge, making a navigable loop. Secondly, add a Duluth's Canal Park-style, boardwalk/dock along the new waterway that people can enjoy. Look to the Gray's Bay causeway as another example. In the area that currently has the picnic tables and sculptures, add a small public garden with some cobble stone paths, beautiful flowers, vintage-style street lamps and a fountain. In another corner of the area, build a small band shell where local, live entertainment can happen on a weekly basis. St. Cloud has had good success with this concept in a venue they call Summertime by George as it happens in the city’s center around Lake George. To promote the farmers market, it would be fun to construct a semi-permanent structure that looks somewhat like the Seattle fish market — "Port of Mound" signage for example — for the vendors to use, or possibly rent, spaces for the day, week or season. This structure could double as a large picnic/meeting shelter/staging area for trail events on days the farmers market is not operating.
If there is space, in addition to the new canal and entertainment attractions, construct or contract out to an amusement company to provide some amusement park rides. Not a full-blown Valley Fair kind of affair, but more like the family oriented State Fair kidway. Maybe with a bigger Ferris wheel for adults to enjoy.
It is important to put ample consideration into relinquishing public space to the private sector. Once it’s gone, we’ll never get it back. So those of you who have been entrusted to make good decisions for the community, please be sure it serves the interests of everyone and not just the interests of short-term financial gain for some.
Enchanted Island, Mound