The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and Loppet Foundation have spent months collaborating on three tentative agreements regarding the Wirth Adventure and Welcome Center (AWC) building and sitework donation, operation and lease. The agreements were approved by the MPRB Administration & Finance Committee on Aug. 3; next they will be considered by the full Board of Commissioners.
Located in Theodore Wirth Regional Park, the Wirth AWC includes a new building, trail development and infrastructure enhancements focused on cross-country skiing, par 3 golf support, hiking, off-road cycling, snowboarding and snow tubing. The Loppet Foundation is proposing to name the 14,000-square-foot building The Trailhead. It will replace the small par 3 clubhouse and the historic Wirth Chalet will continue to serve the 18-hole golf course and host large group events. The proposed project will also add roughly four miles of mountain bike event trails with a learning area and increase snowmaking capabilities.
“Theodore Wirth Regional Park is such a special natural resource for Minneapolis park users to enjoy amidst a dense urban setting,” said MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller. “The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the many youth and families who use Wirth Park are fortunate to benefit from the Loppet Foundation’s expertise and commitment to providing world-class programming and recreational opportunities.”
The Loppet Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to create a shared passion for year-round outdoor adventure in the Minneapolis area, focusing on underserved youth and families. The Loppet Foundation has partnered with the MPRB since its start in 2002, anchoring its work in Theodore Wirth Park.
“The public-private partnership between the Loppet Foundation and the MPRB leverages our respective strengths and creates opportunities for area residents to get outside and active in the heart of the city,” said John Munger, the executive director of the Loppet Foundation. “We are excited to see The Trailhead come to fruition.”
The three agreements outline an innovative, long-term relationship to provide world-class, year-round recreational programming in the MPRB’s largest park.
Three new agreements will help to deliver programming in Theodore Wirth Regional Park superior to what either the Loppet or the MPRB could provide independently
The Donation Agreement (Resolution 2016-249) establishes a path for the Loppet to construct the AWC building and related utilities according to the schematic design approved by the MPRB on August 19, 2015 after months of community engagement and a formal public hearing. Upon completion, the Loppet will donate the building to the MPRB.
The Operation Agreement (Resolution 2016-250) outlines a framework where the Loppet acts as the primary operator of the AWC, with the MPRB supporting the Loppet’s operations. Salient points include:
The lease agreement (Resolution 2016-251) defines a relationship where the MPRB leases the AWC to the Loppet Foundation for an annual lump sum payment, a percentage of the non-profit organization’s net income and contributions to a fund dedicated toward long-term care of the building. Salient points include:
A rendering of the interior of the Wirth AWC
The AWC will occupy the existing location of holes #17 and #18 at Wirth Golf Course. Resolution 2016-253 amends an existing design contract for work involving the construction of the AWC and Resolution 2016-252 awards a new construction contract for construction of the golf course improvements.
Changes to the 18-hole golf course are designed to improve safety and disentangle summer and winter sports, reducing conflicts among the numerous recreational opportunities in the area.
If the agreements are approved by the full Board of Commissioners, the Loppet would initiate construction of the AWC building and utilities as soon as practicable. Assuming commencement of construction in late August, the Loppet Foundation anticipates completion of the building in early 2017.
The MPRB would award a contract for construction of the golf course site improvements (assuming bids are within the established budget) in early September and basic site work supporting the AWC operation would be targeted for completion by the end of the 2016 construction season. Remaining work would be completed in spring 2017.