August 7th, 2019 Based on a very generous donation offer from Jim Weber General Contracting of Stillwater, Lake Elmo City Council approved our request for permission to install a patio behind the building. It will be a beautiful place to enjoy nature.
June 1, 2019 Sunfish Lake Park Family Nature Day combined with first anniversary celebration of the Grand Opening of the nature center. A beautiful day, perhaps 200 visitors came to see over a dozen nature stations and other attractions.
May 21, 2019 “Spring for Nature” fundraising dinner at the Lake Elmo Inn event center, 140 attendees, very successful for first-year effort.
February official snowfall 39 inches… The birds are all visiting our feeders, because most of the natural seed sources are deeply covered
January 27-28 real snow and real winter return to Sunfish Lake Park
January 1- Happy New Year, we are beginning our eighth month of operations!
December 3rd – holiday decorating begins – happy holidays to all
November 10th Buckthorn Festival – six teams competed to remove buckthorn!
October 18th Becky Tenpas joins SMINC as the Jon Chasman Memorial Executive Director
October 13th More buckthorn removed
October 9th Front-page article in St. Paul Pioneer Press about our upcoming November 10th Buckthorn Festival – Bob Shaw calls it “Quirky” – we like that! Go to https://www.twincities.com/2018/10/09/buckthorn-croquet-new-lake-elmo-center-blends-nature-humor-community-service/
October 6th Jaime Cardinal arrives at birdhouse
September 10th Birdhouse Shed finished, watch for the arrival of the big birds!
September 8th Buckthorn Removal Saturday – two large piles were pulled out of the Park
August 29th was Connie’s Prairie Pioneer Tea Party – all teas and snacks were made from items the pioneers would have had in 1850 – home-grown plants, maple syrup, honey, milk, eggs
Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park adopted the park in the new Lake Elmo “Adopt-a-Park” program. Buckthorn removal started June 30 2018
June 2 2018 Grand Opening attended by at least 200 people – click on Media tab to see the videos of the dedication
June 1 2018 Clean up interior and exterior, hang available exhibit content, prepare for Grand Opening
May 30 2018 Electrical work complete, Air Conditioning operational, exterior doors in place.
May 29 2018 Plumbing completed
Working on Interior finishing and preliminary landscaping done
April 13 2018 siding completed, most of the electrical outlets are energized, interior finishing well underway
April 6 2018, drywall and interior painting done, siding installed on south and east sides
March 3 2018, metal roofing completed, interior inspections signed off, ready for drywall
February 15 2018, metal roofing nearly complete, interior work is progressing
December 15 2017, roof sheathing and felt installed, previous snowfall shoveled out
Thanksgiving 2017 – roof trusses installed and windows in place
The final concrete placement took place November 8th to complete the gable end walls
Concrete topping poured on mezzanine floor October 23rd
Mezzanine floor hollow core concrete planks installed October 16th
Water line brought to building, septic tanks and drain field installed
October 10th is the first anniversary of the founding of the Friends as a Minnesota Corporation.
The concrete slab for the main floor was poured Friday September 29th and Wednesday October 4th.
Construction began with excavation in early September, footings were poured on September 13th, foundation and first-floor walls were poured on September 20th.
September 10, 2017 – the Groundbreaking Celebration took place Sunday from 2-5 PM at the site, 10000 Stillwater Lane N, Lake Elmo MN 55042. After some short dedications, there was a Raptor Show with a hawk, an owl, a falcon and an eagle presented by Ian of The Raptor Center, and a Blandings Turtle was shown by Jessie of the Carpenter Nature Center. Visitors could dig for dinosaurs, walk the nature trail, get nature information, get gifts for the kids, tour the nature-mobile, see the building plans, and get free snacks and beverages donated by Lake Elmo Inn Event Center, Hagberg’s Country Market, Gorman’s Family Restaurant, and Caribou Coffee at Oakdale Village. See the news article at http://www.lillienews.com/articles/2017/09/19/ground-broken-new-lake-elmo-nature-center and at http://lillienews.com/content/gallery-ground-broken-new-lake-elmo-nature-center
Building Permit issued September 1, 2017
August 15, 2017 The Lake Elmo City Council approves the building plans as submitted for the building permit. There are a few technical details to be handled before the building permit can be issued.
July 31, 2017 The Minnesota Land Trust gives written approval of the project, ruling that the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center is an acceptable use as envisioned by the 2009 Conservation Easement.
July 4, 2017 The Friends’ bus was parked on the sidelines at the Lake Elmo Kids Parade, and we handed out flyers for the Nature Center.
June 28, 2017 At the Lake Elmo Library Summer Reading Program, the attendees were asked their opinion of what an “Interpretive Nature Center” would be, and were given materials to build their own nature center exhibits. Check out the picture under Week 3, June 28th at http://www.lakeelmopubliclibrary.org/?page_id=823 .
June 1, 2017 The Friends’ Bluebird Bus was transformed to a billboard, and taken to our presentations for the Jaycees and the Rotary. It will be our construction field office, then converted to a Nature-mobile.
May 14, 2017 Article in St. Paul Pioneer Press Local Section describes the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center. http://www.twincities.com/2017/05/12/lake-elmo-man-to-build-nature-center-as-memorial-to-late-wife/
April 18th, 2017 – The Lake Elmo City Council has voted 5-0 to approve a Lease Agreement with the Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park. The Friends is a non-profit organization founded for the purpose of establishing a nature center, and will build the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center on the leased acre of land just south of the parking lot in Sunfish Lake Park. The nature center will be contained in a building with a “footprint” of about 2000 square feet. The main purpose of the nature center is to be alive with programs and exhibits for people of all ages. These features will concentrate on local wildlife and plants, the ecology of the park, and the agricultural heritage of the City. This nature center will not compete with established centers of learning such as the Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center operated by the Science Museum of Minnesota or the Belwin Nature Center operated by the Belwin Conservancy, both of which specialize in serving large groups of students. Its size, and the scope of its programs, will be more suited to smaller school groups, preschool classes, and people with special needs, and it will mentor Citizen Science by encouraging a sense of wonder, and questions, and observations.
February 23, 2017 – Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park approved by Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3 non-profit organization, may accept tax-advantage donations. Awaiting banking/accounting setup before fundraising starts.
February 22, 2017 – Lake Elmo Parks Commission unanimously votes to accept updated Lease Agreement and recommend City Council approval!
Spring/Summer 2016 – Negotiations with new City Attorney Sarah Sonsalla result in a balanced agreement of September 2016
June 8, 2015- Presented to Lake Elmo Planning Commission, voted 7-0 that the proposal is consistent with Lake Elmo’s official 2030 Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan.
May 18, 2015 – Presented idea to Lake Elmo Parks Commission, voted 7-0 to encourage us to keep working on the project.
April 28, 2015 – Tony Manzara met with City planner Alyssa MacLeod to present idea for Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center– she was encouraging and supportive; a nature center in Sunfish Lake Park is “something we want to do”.
June 30, 2009 – Lake Elmo concludes a Conservation Easement for Sunfish Lake Park with the Minnesota Land Trust, envisioning a nature interpretive center in “Area 2” south of the parking lot (refer to copy of Conservation Easement via link on bottom of home page).