In the Saturday Nov. 19 StarTribune: Edina to convert wood-burning park fireplaces to gas
Not all council members were convinced the change is necessary. While Joni Bennett said the change is aimed not at homeowners but to make a healthful change at one of the top three spots visited in the city, Ann Swenson bridled at converting the outside fireplace. "When you’re stuck indoors [with smoke] it’s an entirely different situation than when you’re outside," she said. Mary Brindle said park managers told her no one complained about smoke. She worried that the park ambience could change. "The atmosphere and mood [the fireplaces] create is part of the reason people go there," she said. "I would not be in favor of switching it."
Mayor Jim Hovland said he enjoyed the smell of a wood-burning fireplace but said it was disingenuous for the council to deny a restaurant’s recent application for a wood-burning fireplace while it continues to burn wood in the park. "I make no judgment whatsoever about fire pits on private property and fireplaces indoors," he said. "But I think we have had our level of awareness raised about the danger … and I think we should contemplate doing something that’s in the interest of public health at these three locations."
With a council member absent and a split vote looming, the council agreed 3-1 to convert the indoor fireplaces to natural gas.
At the Council’s September 20 joint session with the Energy & Environment Commission, the Council discussed the proposed conversion of the wood burning fireplaces to natural gas at Centennial Lakes Park.
I have discussed this proposed with staff. Staff have discussed it with members of the public who frequent the facility and with customers who have rented the facility and used the fireplaces. Staff encountered what they would describe as a moderate amount of disappointment at the proposal among customers who use the fireplaces. However, the proposed conversion would not prevent or discourage their future use of the facility. The cost of converting the three fireplaces is minimal. The plumbing to accommodate a gas fireplace is currently in place. The EEC recommends the conversion. If the Council wishes this conversion to happen, I will cause it to happen.
Video clip of Scott Neal’s report and Council discussion of the issue: