Hidden Beach's fate to be decided by Park Board this winter

Hidden Beach's fate to be decided by Park Board this winter
Hidden Beach photo by Nick Vlcek for City Pages

The special Kenwood Isles Area Association meeting that took place earlier this week didn't produce a resolution calling on the Minneapolis Park Board to take action on the problems neighborhood residents say plague Hidden Beach, but something along those lines will be coming soon, Kenwood neighborhood association chair Larry Moran tells us.

And when it does, the Park Board vows to consider it carefully before deciding what action to take in time to implement changes before next year's beach season.

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"We want to get community input," Anita Tabb, the park commissioner for the district including Cedar Lake, tells us. "Some members of the community don't want it totally open. Is that a controversial subject? Go out there and talk about it."

We asked Tabb if she's hearing the same things as Moran, who says problems with drugs, alcohol, property crimes, and shenanigans in general at Hidden Beach are worse this year than any time he can recall in recent memory.

"You know, I think it depends who you talk to," Tabb replies. "Some residents will say this stuff has been going on for a long time. Maybe we've had one or two really high-profile incidents [this year], but according to some people this is an issue that's been going on for about 40 years."

As for what options might be on the table for the Park Board, Tabb says, "I think everything."

"It seems to me there are two options," she says. "You either fully close it and let the underbrush totally grow, and make it so unpleasant to be there that people aren't going to be there. Who wants to lay on brushwood?"

With regard to the other option, Tabb says, "We could open it up, and I mean really open it up."

"We've walked the middle ground in the past," she continues. "We've wanted it still to be this idyllic hideaway, yet we don't want what might come with that and I don't think we can have it both ways. We either need to close it or open it up and take out all the underbrush, [which] might mean taking out trees, putting in parking, adding amenities that would draw people who have eyes on the park."

If the Park Board opts to clear bush from the site in hopes doing so will increase the sense that you can't get away with stuff at Hidden Beach and thereby deter illegal behavior, that "could happen in short order -- the next 10 months," Tabb says.

With regard to this week's meeting, Moran says the atmosphere among the 50 to 60 people in attendance was one of "intense frustration."

"I think one of the things people don't understand is why [Hidden Beach] is not being treated like any other beach in the city," he says. "There were no porta-potties there until end of May. People were using their own open-air latrine. Stuff like that has people pretty frustrated."

Though no resolution came up for a vote, Moran says, "We had a show of hands, and the people that were there are pretty evenly split between requesting closure for the rest of the summer and those that would prefer it closed after 6 [p.m.], so that people who want to use it during the day can use it during  theday."

"The arrest times [this year] have been mostly been in the day, but people that live up there say [cops] just don't make arrests at night," he continues.

Moran stood by what he told us during a conversation earlier in the week about this year being the worst he can recall in terms of problems at and around Hidden Beach.

"Most people [complaining] have been [living in the area] 15 to 30 years, so it's not new residents who are pissed off at this," he says. "There's a qualitative difference this year with what's going on there versus in the past."

As an example, Moran cites two recent incidents he's heard about -- one where someone allegedly displayed a gun at the beach, and another where a cop was punched by a suspect who was allegedly involved in a drug deal.

(For more, click to page two.)

"A cop was hit down there, 30 police cars showed up," Moran says. "That kind of stuff hasn't happened before."

(We asked Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder for more information about the alleged cop punching incident. "Without the case number or a date/time, I will be unable to locate it," he replied.)

Moran also says he's heard from Cedar Lake-area residents who have had their cars damaged by alleged drunk drivers trying to leave Hidden Beach.

Neighborhood concerns will be shared with Park Board officials during a meeting at the Kenwood Recreation Center at 6 p.m. on August 27, Moran says.

"I was hoping we'd see some [non-neighborhood] people last night," Moran says, referring to the meeting that took place earlier this week. "The [neighborhood] board is going to come up with a resolution based on what we heard last night. It's apparently going to be a request for a closure -- either temporary or full-time."

After that, it'll be up to the Park Board to either follow the Kenwood neighborhood's recommendation or to take their own approach in trying to quell some of the misbehavior at and around the place we once described as "the Twin Cities' most infamous party spot."

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.

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