Proposed Lake Minnetonka Scenic Byway Presented to City Officials Monday

Updated: 02/24/2014 7:20 AM By: Beth McDonough

Lake Minnetonka is scenic in the summer, attracting hoards of boaters. 

But many communities along the lake believe their town has so much more to offer year-round. That's why 14 towns:  Minnetonka Beach, Woodland, Tonka Bay, Minnetrista, Excelsior, Mound, Greenwood, Victoria, Spring Park, Minnetonka, Deephaven, Shorewood, Orono and Wayzata are considering creating a scenic byway. 

It would establish a route to tour the lake area, all 125 miles of shoreline.

Although the lake is only 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, driving around the large lake can take hours, "it involves various roadways around the lake, there isn't one continuous path around the lake," says Heidi Nelson of Wayzata.

Establishing a scenic byway connecting lakefront towns together, with signs directing visitors around the water to local attractions, could help lure more people. And that's the point, "this is a place people ought to pay attention to," according to Mayor Ken Willcox of Wayzata. He says Minnesotans know the lake, but not necessarily what each community along it has to offer. 

For instance, Wayzata, "it started out as a little village and little hamlet way back when, that's something to value, the key to our future is remembering our past," says Bridget Anderson.

Excelsior is known for its quaint character and soon a hotel. Mound is already a destination for boaters, it's eager to become a stopover for shoppers too. 

Randy Stanley lives and works along the lake. He's banking on a scenic byway to help attract customers to his new restaurant 6 Smith. "Having an urban feeling concept in the suburbs kind of validates to us that we didn't leave it all behind," Stanley said.

Critics worry that Wayzata could lose its small-town charm. To that, the Mayor Willcox responds, "we're pretty protective of that, our small town feel is very important to us, we don't want to lose that."

The plan will be presented to the 14 cities it would connect on Monday, Feb. 24. All 14 communities must give approval on the project along with a byway commission.

On Monday, city representatives will have a chance to ask questions about the project to help decide whether they want to participate. If passed, the scenic byway would be the 22nd one in the state.