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American Society of Landscape Architects


April 2004 Issue

Gaining Ground
A homeowner springs for removing a dead-end street, and the neighborhood gains parkland.

By Frank Edgerton Martin

Gaining Ground
Photo by Chris Faust

Minneapolis is not generally known as a city of canals, yet the city's park system, laid out by H. W. S. Cleveland, is graced by a chain of lakes linked by several hidden waterways. In the winter, these canals and lagoons are favored by ice skaters and hockey players who like to skate out to islands that have elegant city mansions as their backdrops. One of the most-wooded connections is the Kenilworth Canal, which links the sinuous Lake of the Isles with Cedar Lake. At Kenilworth's eastern entrance, just before the canal plunges into a wooded isthmus, a small house lay unnoticed for years, the only house on a dead-end city street. Tucked up against a working rail line, the 1930s residence was relatively small and new compared with other more-elegant houses in the neighborhood.

In the 1990s, the rail line was converted to a bike and walking trail, attracting visitors who parked on the dead-end street and used the lone house's driveway as a turnaround. Then, with the help of Close Landscape Architecture, the house's owner replaced the road with a gravel footpath linking the bike trail and the neighborhood. Not only did the owner remove the road at his own expense, but together with Robert Close, ASLA, and Jean Garbarini, ASLA, he endured numerous public meetings for permission to do so. The result is an improved public space and expansion of parkland and the owner's grounds; the long-standing separation between the house and canal is now gone, replaced by a garden fence, a seating wall, and hardy perennials.


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