By Nick Halter
It's been 10 years since snowmobiles were allowed to operate
in Minneapolis, but the Park Board is now
considering allowing them back into the city for a Yamaha convention on Wirth Lake.
The Park Board has drafted a resolution that would allow
permits for snowmobiles, which would pave the way for an event this
Exactly what that event would be is still unclear. Park
Board President John Erwin says he doesn't have all the details, but believes
it would be more akin to a show with demonstrations than to a race.
spokeswoman Kristen Montag confirmed the group was in discussions for a
snowmobile convention, but declined to identify the organization or company.
She said a contract with the organization was dependent upon the Park Board
allowing snowmobiles back into the city.
Park Board Spokeswoman Dawn Sommers confirmed that Yamaha
was the company eying a Minneapolis
lake for its convention.
Erwin said the Park Board is steering the event toward Wirth Lake
because, unlike other city lakes, it's got a buffer zone to prevent snowmobile
noise from leaking into neighborhoods. He said he would not support any event
allowing snowmobiles onto the Wirth
Park's cross country
trails. He also wouldn't support any event that wasn't held on a weekend and
during daytime hours.
"We're talking about just the lake and the area right around
it, but not the park, because the park is going to be used for other things,"
Erwin said. "So we're picking a place where there wouldn't be someone else
using the area."
In 2002, the Park Board eliminated snowmobile permitting.
Erwin said there were issues with noise as well as with having ice fishing and
snowmobiling on the same, relatively small city lakes. Wirth, it should be
noted, is not an ice fishing lake.
Erwin said the Park Board could also consider Lake Nokomis,
but he said he would want to hear from the neighborhood before moving forward
with any plans for a snowmobile event at that lake.
A Park Board memo says the event would be a national
convention and provide a $1 million economic impact to the city of Minneapolis.