Anoka tweaks Woodbury House parking

The Anoka City Council has agreed to make a change to additional parking planned for the Woodbury House.

The city will spend $99,000 to add a paved lot with 19 stalls on the west side of the property along Ferry Street. This is an increase of $3,000 from a previous plan that also would have required the removal of 13 trees from the property. The new plan shifts the parking closer to Ferry Street and will require additional removal of the stone walkway along the entrance drive.

The new option will have a less steep grade and the handicap designated stalls are closer to the Woodbury House. It will also widen the access for two-way traffic at the existing gate.

The South Ferry Street property is being leased by The Mad Hatter Tea Room and Restaurant, which relocated from its longtime
downtown location this spring.

After reviewing the parking lot original design, City Manager Tim Cruikshank said staff questioned, “Is this the right spot for this? Is there a different spot we could put it to impact the property less and the trees in particular?”

Along with upgrades to the parking lot on the former Carpenter’s Hall site, this spring the city had also agreed to add the extra parking at the base of the Woodbury House property.

Those upgrades have been made and 57 stalls are available in the parking lot across the street. But just more than a month since opening, Mad Hatter owner Liz Koch said the additional parking is definitely needed.

She said she has been juggling vehicles as customers park on the grass on the property, something that is not allowed in the city of Anoka.

Koch said she prefers the new plan and also encouraged the council to move forward with the addition of nine more parking spots that would require the removal of three trees.

“Whenever we thought about additional parking from the beginning that’s kind of how I imagined it to be,” Koch said. While she said she is not a fan of removing trees, these particular three are not the nicest trees on the property.

The council supported the shift in the parking plan because of the ability to both save trees and the new plan will require less dirt fill to level the parking lot.

In a discussion with the council, Koch also asked if the city would consider installing a dock on the Rum River, so customers could access the Woodbury House by boat.

While the city supports the idea of having public docks available, Mayor Phil Rice questioned whether it would be the city’s place to pay for a dock to provide access to a private business. Other city-owned docks include slips for lease.

“I don’t know how we pull that off without providing a great advantage to you,” Rice told Koch.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]

  • Pat Walker

    This hundred grand and the price of the Carpenters hall and lot must put parking for this restaurant at about half a million dollars. Only with “other peoples money” does this make sense.