On Wednesday, Sept. 7 the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and the Loppet Foundation confirmed a shared commitment to world-class outdoor recreation and programming at Theodore Wirth Regional Park. MPRB Commissioners approved three agreements that facilitate the construction, donation, lease and operation of a new outdoor recreation hub in Wirth Park. The agreements will also guide enhanced coordination between the two organizations to provide superior programming and outdoor experiences for underserved Minneapolis residents and park users than either organization could deliver independently.
Soon the Loppet Foundation will break ground on The Trailhead (formerly called Wirth Welcome and Adventure Center), a 14,000-square-foot building that will serve as a jumping-off point to year-round outdoor activities such as mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, trail running and hiking. The Trailhead will function as a place for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, experience levels and backgrounds to come together and enjoy the outdoors in the MPRB’s largest park.
“Theodore Wirth, one of the visionaries responsible for the development of our incredible park system, espoused that parks are for the people,” said MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller. “The Trailhead embodies his vision by creating a space for people to gather and enjoy the tremendous trails and natural resources Theodore Wirth Regional Park offers. We are grateful for the Loppet Foundation’s expertise and commitment to this project and these agreements, which truly embraces the strengths of both organizations.”
The MPRB and the Loppet Foundation have worked together for years to provide maintenance and programming at Wirth Park. Starting this winter, that successful relationship will be expanded. The Loppet Foundation will oversee snowmaking and mountain bike trail maintenance at Wirth and cross-country ski trail maintenance across the Minneapolis park system. The MPRB will remain in charge of golf operations, maintenance, and programming, with the exception that the Loppet provides customer service staff inside The Trailhead, which will replace the par 3 clubhouse.
The new arrangement will free up 10 full-time MPRB staff positions currently assigned to Wirth golf maintenance to improve winter maintenance across the entire Minneapolis park system. No MPRB positions will be eliminated; in fact, one additional full-time parkkeeper position will be requested in the MPRB Superintendent’s 2017 budget proposal as a result of savings achieved through these agreements.
An interior view of The Trailhead
The Trailhead will feature a large central space and a café where people can gather with their friends and families as they come to enjoy the park. The large gathering space will also be available for events. A bike and ski shop will offer park users equipment to purchase or rent as well as supplies for their outdoor adventures. With a strength and conditioning room as well as locker rooms and public restrooms, The Trailhead will serve as a health club of sorts where the equipment is the natural world. The building will also house the offices of the Loppet Foundation.
The Loppet Foundation will offer cross-country ski and mountain bike lessons as well as equipment rental. The Trailhead project also includes the creation of a skills learning area that will be used for instruction and a staging area for cross-country ski and mountain bike events. Other site improvements include additional parking and an outdoor patio, and the project will add approximately four miles of mountain bike event trails and increase snowmaking capabilities.
“We are so fortunate to live in a city where we can explore the outdoors with a view of the skyline,” said John Munger, executive director of the Loppet Foundation. “The Trailhead will offer the Minneapolis-area community a space where people from different ethnic and economic backgrounds can come together to enjoy the outdoors whether they are just starting out or are long-time outdoor enthusiasts. We are thankful to the MPRB for this chance to share our passion for outdoor adventures in a bigger way.”
The three agreements outline an innovative, long-term relationship to provide world-class, year-round recreational programming in the MPRB’s largest park. The Donation Agreement establishes a path for the Loppet to construct The Trailhead building 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 Foundation will donate the building to the MPRB.
The Operation Agreement outlines a framework where the Loppet operates The Trailhead with the MPRB’s support and the Lease Agreement defines a relationship where the MPRB leases The Trailhead to the Loppet Foundation. Please read the Aug. 4 news release for more detailed information on the respective agreements.
About the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Loppet Foundation
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has protected, maintained, improved and expanded the unique natural resources, parkland and recreation opportunities at Theodore Wirth Regional Park for more than a century. 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 Regional Park. In 2016, the MPRB and Loppet expanded this robust, successful relationship with the beginning of construction on The Trailhead, a new outdoor recreation hub in the park, and new agreements that will help provide programming and outdoor experiences superior to what either party could deliver independently.