Some diehard Prince fans say they're concerned that the opening of Paisley Park as a museum next week could cut them off from a beloved connection with the pop icon.
A rezoning application with the city of Chanhassen went before the Planning Commission on Sept. 20, and it's scheduled to go before the city council on Monday — just three days before the museum hosts its first paying visitors.
It's one brief detail in particular on the application that has fans worried. A city report on the application refers to a fence — opaque and perhaps as much as 8 feet high, according to discussion at the Chanhassen planning commission.
"The intention of the operator is to install a new perimeter fence. The fence may be opaque and will limit visibility of the building," reads the rezoning report. "In addition, it will discourage things from being attached on the fence. The fence will be required to follow the city fencing ordinances."
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David Beckwith, a spokesman for Paisley Park, said "there are currently no plans to build a fence" around Prince's studio and home, notwithstanding the rezoning language. Bremer Trust, the special administrator appointed to handle Prince's estate, said there wasn't anyone immediately available to comment on the prospect.
But fans have started an online petition, urging Paisley Park not to put up a fence — even if there are currently no plans for one. <
Nicole Moore, one of the organizers of the effort and a member of the "RaiNboW ChiLdreN" Facebook group for Prince fans, says she's going to Chanhassen to ask the city council to address the matter. She says she wants some assurance that fans like her will be able to continue to lay eyes on what is, for now, the only physical remnant of Prince, since the family is keeping private the final disposition of his remains.
Moore, who grew up in Minnesota and lives in St. Cloud, says the chainlink fence along Paisley Park's parking lot has become something of a touchstone for fans.
"He doesn't have a place where we can go to mourn or grieve, or leave anything for him, other than the fence," Moore says. "It's kind of huge. Many people that I'm friends with have mailed things from overseas to be placed there. We've done that, just so that people feel like they have a piece of themselves left at Paisley Park."
Folks in Chanhassen are equivocal about the idea themselves.
There was quite a bit of back and forth about the fence at the Chanhassen planning commission meeting. Reasons for the fence included preventing people from stopping on Audubon Road or nearby Highway 5 to walk up to the fence. Many have done so, to pay their respects or leave a memento.
The meeting minutes say that's already drawn complaints about the stuff accumulating (before Paisley Park staff removed it) and even coming loose and blowing around the neighborhood. But one neighbor said a fence was no more appropriate around Paisley Park than around the Minneapolis Institute of Art or the Walker Art Center. Others worried whether a fence would be kept up or eventually become an eyesore.
The Chanhassen City Council is scheduled to consider the rezoning application at a special council meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday.