Friends of Way Park Meeting Minutes
February 15, 2017, 7:30 pm
Members present: Anne Berry (Chair), Mary Emery (Treasurer), Peder Jothen, Michelle Martin, Mary Poole, Ed Smith
1. Anne described the Living Legend Award Ceremony for Judy Swanson. The stage was set with pieces of art that Judy had designed for things like Christmas Fest at St. Olaf, the Bridge Chamber Music Festival, Way Park, etc. The speakers described the award and nomination process, and then they described Judy and her contributions to Northfield. Dan Dimick’s remarks included a description of Judy’s efforts for Way Park, and hearing about her motivations and what she was able to accomplish was inspiring. Northfield’s poet laureate had written a poem for the occasion and it’s imagery centered on the hospital, the babies born there, the people treated there, and the idea that people today walk through that space and remember – that’s where my son was born (for example). It was a good reminder that we are carrying on a mission that she and others began when the hospital moved.
2. The discussion that followed was focused on the south end. Mary talked about the idea of the amphitheater as the healing garden or something, to make it more meaningful, more inviting. It’s not fulfilling its intended purpose. It’s barren and doesn’t get used. Talk turned to why it doesn’t get used as a stage/audience – no stage, no electricity, no shade (at the times when Books & Stars or the Vintage Bands are there). The group talked about trying to get someone to perform, both so that the amphitheater would get some use and so that we could get feedback from the groups about what would make it more appealing. Michelle suggested offering a grant ($100 for costumes and lemonade) to any group that wants to put on a show. Peder will ask the Counterfactuals if they would want to play there, why or why not, what would they need. Anne will ask Doug Bratland. Someone (Mary? Ed) suggested looking at other amphitheaters to see how they are landscaped and how they are used.
The other project at the south end that was discussed was memorializing the hospital. Peder noted that many new families don’t know that the park is the former site of the hospital, so any memorial should be done in such a way that it offers something to them. Ed described a clever memorial he had seen that appeared to show a space in its current and former shape at the same time. Anne committed to making a poster for the kiosk at that end that described the history and asked for help with an image that could show before and after. Ed also described the “home plate” that is right in the middle of Camp Snoopy at MOA to commemorate the location of the former ?? stadium. Anne suggested using stones flush with the ground to mark the footprint of the hospital.
A tentative plan was made to try to meet with Judy Swanson at the south end and talk to her about our ideas and how they mesh with the ideas of the original group, and then to talk to the city people about what type of changes would be possible (since maintenance must be minimal).
3. The picnic table project is somewhat clearer and more easily accomplished. The group talked about the sidewalk (“closing the loop,” finishing the path between the playground area and First Street) and about a larger area for more picnic tables. Many ideas were exchanged and Mary agreed to make a drawing that incorporates some of what was discussed so that we have something to look at and discuss at our next meeting.
4. Anne told the group about a conversation with Leif Knecht, in which he asked if we had a need for a tree. He and a group of friends would like to plant a tree in honor of a friend who recently passed away and who used to play in the park. Alternatively, they would like to place a plaque near one of the trees he already planted. The group decided that if he wants to move quickly, he
should just go with the plaque. The trees that the park “needs,” that are in the master tree plan, are along the east and west edges of the south side, and not really the kind that you would dedicate to someone. There is a desire for a climbing tree at some point.
5. Anne informed the group that Andrea Een is interested in doing a benefit concert for us. Everyone agreed that her offer is one we should accept, but once there is something to fundraise for.
6. Discussion of upcoming events was brief. Mary and Michelle will talk about that at our next meeting.
7. Anne described an idea that the Girl Scout troop has to create a backpack that can be checked out from the library with kid-friendly information about pollinators and another that will incorporate use of the musical plaza.
8. We did not talk about or approve the minutes. This can be point one on our next meeting agenda. Next meeting: March 15 at 7:30 pm.