September 4, 2012 by Sarah M
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 Yamaha convention on Wirth Lake.
On Wednesday, the Park Board will discuss a resolution that would allow permits for snowmobiles, which would pave the way for an event this winter.
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.
Meet Minneapolis 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.
“We’re not interesting in advertising anyone’s product,” Erwin said. “What we’re interested in is promoting yet another sport that Minnesotans can do. We help promote cross-country skiing, but snowmobiling is an important Minnesota sport that we want to recognize and support.”