Protecting a natural legacy

Eden Prairie / Minnetonka, Minnesota
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With a Mayor Jean Harris' thumbs-up, Parks Director Bob Lambert's recommendation to acquire the 4.4 acre detached woods parcel east of Indian Chief Road from Hennepin County was approved. The surprise action came near the end of the December 4, 2001 City Council meeting well after Jeff Strate and more than 60 other Friends of BIW had thanked Mayor Harris, Council Members and the City Staff for acquiring and saving the woods when all other options had fallen by the wayside. Strate, who witnessed the action on cable television at his home, rushed back to the City Council to again thank the Mayor and Parks Director at the conclusion of what turn out to be Mayor Harris' last council meeting.

The terms: The City would pay the $385,000 appraised value of the parcel plus interest over the period of the contract-for-deed. The City will re-sell the parcel for development in the future but will be able to more effectively protect its value as a wooded viewshed.

Nearly a year ago, as explained by Mr. Lambert in a 12/18/01 e-mail note to the FBIW, "The County requested authorization from the City to split this parcel from the "Woods" parcel and put it on the market as soon as possible. They haven't put a deadline on it but wanted to do it before the end of the year if possible."

Mr. Lambert also wrote that In order for the City to purchase a parcel any parcel of land for future development, it would have to have a public hearing and a tentative development plan and form a development district.

During a 12/13/01 Hennepin County Board General Government Committee discussion of the Birch Island Woods, County land management official Marcia Wilda, said that she had heard that the Eden Prairie was going to make an offer for the detached parcel. The Board seemed delighted with the news.

The wooded strip separates Indian Chief Road from Midwest Asphalt, Inc., an industrial recycler of road and highway pavement. In a memo prepared for a meeting with City and County officials on 01/11/01, the Friends of Birch Island Woods noted that an acre or more of the parcel had been encroached upon, possibly by Midwest Asphalt.

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