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City working to secure state funds for Eden Wood Center
By Leah Shaffer, Eden Prairie News
July 5, 2007

The work to net state funds from next year's legislative session starts now. If local officials are successful, Camp Eden Wood could see an influx of state bonding funds to propel much needed upgrades to the facilities.

Eden Prairie and Friendship Ventures are working together to get involved with the state bonding bill process that starts this summer, noted City Manager Scott Neal.

“Hopefully, the end result of this is that we gain state bonding bill money to make different improvements at Camp Eden Wood, including improvements to their building facilities, renovations to the historic buildings at the site, get them access to the lake, and other improvements to their buildings and grounds out there,” he said.

Neal said Camp Eden Wood is a city park which has more benefits for people who live outside of Eden Prairie city limits.

“That’s our justification for trying to get the state involved in it,” he said.

The city leases the land for $1 year to Friendship Ventures, which operates Eden Wood as a camp for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Though Friendship Ventures has been operating the camp since 1995, it was originally established in 1925 as a camp for children exposed to tuberculosis. In 1999 it was named to the National Register of Historic Places. According to the Friendship Ventures Web site, about 450 people participate in the camp yearly.

Neal noted that Friendship Ventures has been making improvements to the camp, located off Highway 62 on Indian Chief Road, for about a decade.

Most recently, union volunteers from the Minneapolis Building and Construct Trades Council worked this past fall and spring to renovate the dormitory at the camp. While updates have been made, Neal noted that some of the facilities out there do not really meet the standards of what developmentally disabled people need for the camp experience they’re trying to provide.

“Friendship Ventures does the best it can,” he said. “Here, the opportunity is for us to build physical facilities that would make it much easier for them to meet their needs.”

Georgann Rumsey, Friendship Ventures president and CEO, said the effort is “to improve the facility so it is accessible to all individuals, those individuals with and without disabilities.”

Currently, she said they are in the renovation process with the dormitory.

“But there’s some other existing facilities out there that need either renovation and/or replacement,” she said.

She said their hope is that, through these efforts, they can renovate or replace those buildings as well as look at the overall access to the whole facility.

Neal said the council has approved a consulting contract to develop a new master plan for that park. The cost of the consulting contract is $40,000. They are using that master plan to build this proposal off of it, he said.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Jay Lotthammer, through the bonding bill process, they will be seeking $6,210,000 that would go to land acquisition, landscaping, design costs, construction of buildings and upgrades to buildings, utilities and the parking lot.

Neal noted that the legislative committee that makes recommendations will be receiving project requests from all over the state. When the session starts, there will be legislative hearings about what projects should be included and planners would likely testify at those hearings.

Even if they don’t get into next year’s bonding bill at least the city will have a project put together, so they can put it in the mill for 2010 bonding.

“We’re shooting for 2008,” he added.

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