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WELCOME

Welcome to the new Park Watch website.  We hope that you will find the new format easier to read and to use. To facilitate navigating the website, there is a search feature and an index of topics.

In addition to the current postings, the new website includes ALL the postings from the old website beginning with January 2004.  With ten years of postings, the Park Watch website  presents a valuable perspective on a critical period in the Park Board’s history.

ABOUT PARK WATCH

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Heads-Up for the July 1, 2015 Park Board Meeting

Heads-Up for the July 1, 2015 Park Board Meeting

4:30 P.M.  CLOSED SESSION regarding Proposed Workers Compensation Settlements

5:00 P.M.  REGULAR BOARD MEETING.
The meeting will be held in the boardroom at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road, just north of Broadway Pizza.  Visitors to Park Board meetings can find at the back of the meeting room the agenda book with all the printed materials for the meeting

5:30 P.M.  OPEN TIME.
Speakers can call 612-230-6400 before 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting to sign up or they can sign up at the Board meeting prior to the start of “Open Time”

Listed below are some agenda items of interest:

–Awarding a Contract to Hoffman and McNamara Co., in the Amount of $99,741.00 for the Roberts Bird Sanctuary Tree and Shrub Restoration Project at Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park, O.P. No 8127 and Authorizing Administrative Use of a 10% Construction Contingency Up to $9,974 for Necessary Construction Change Orders that May Arise During Construction

–Approving an Extended Professional Services Agreement with TransPark Incorporated in the Amended Amount of $90,000 for the First Year, and $95,000.00 for the Second Year to Provide Parking Management Services for a Two (2) Year Period Beginning August 1, 2015 and Ending July 31, 2017

–Approving a Professional Services Agreement with Applied Ecological Services, Inc., for $130,126.91 to Provide Hybrid and Narrow-Leaved Cattail Control, Re- Establish Emergent Vegetation, and Plant an Upland Buffer at Loring Pond at Loring Park from July 1, 2015 to December 31, 2018

–Accepting with Conditions a Proposal from Graco, Inc., Directing Staff to Work with Graco, Inc. on Design Refinements and Further Definition of the Terms of a Ground Lease, and Authorizing Staff to Begin Framing a Development Agreement with Graco, Inc. for Development of Parcel ‘D’ of the Scherer Site

–Accepting the Financial Support Offered by the Minneapolis Public Schools for the Phillips Community Center Pool Facility in the Amount of $150,000 Per Year, through 2020, in Operating Funds and $1,750,000 in Capital
Funds in FY 2016 Contingent on Mutual Agreement on the Six Expectations Listed in the June 18, 2015 Minneapolis Public School Resolution

–Minnehaha Creek Community Feedback

–Affirming a Commitment to Create a Memorandum of Understanding with Minneapolis Public Schools Related for Scheduling, Programming, and Facilities

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on July 1, 2015 is at http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx .  Board meeting agendas and related information are posted on this web page two business days prior to meetings. Webcasts of MPRB regular board meetings are posted on the same web page two to five business days following each meeting and are available for viewing, along with webcasts for the previous two months.

Also of interest and now available to the commissioners and the public are the monthly reports that Superintendent Miller has initiated for construction permits and for Planning Department projects. The availability of these reports is one of the important changes instituted by Superintendent Miller. They are normally in the agenda packet for the first regular meeting of the month.

View Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board meetings live from 5-9 p.m. on the Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast Cable. You may also view live meetings online on the Channel 79 webpage: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/tv/79

Regular meetings are typically re-telecast on Channel 79 on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 5 p.m. Telecast schedules are subject to change.

The Park Board’s website is www.minneapolisparks.org   The phone number is 612-230-6400.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch
www.mplsparkwatch.org

Perspective on the Namesake of Lake Calhoun

The following commentary by Gary Brueggemann, dated June 26, 2015, was published on the Opinion Page of the Star Tribune

Perspective on the Namesake of Lake Calhoun

There really were two sides to John C. Calhoun — and one of them had a profound influence on this region.

Admittedly, having a lake here in the North Star State — and in the city where Hubert Humphrey launched his celebrated civil-rights crusade — named after an infamous defender of slavery and the old South is both ironic and odd. But as a Minnesota historian, I would like to offer my perspective on the proposed renaming of Lake Calhoun.

To continue reading, click on the Star Tribune link

http://www.startribune.com/counterpoint-perspective-on-the-namesake-of-lake-calhoun/309935671/

Campaign to Change Lake Calhoun’s Name Revived

The following article by Sarah McKenzie was published in the June 22, 2015 issue of the Southwest Journal and updated on June 23.

Campaign to Change Lake Calhoun’s Name Revived

Photo by Sarah McKenzie

In the wake of the shooting massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., a campaign to change the name of Lake Calhoun has been revived.

A petition is circulating at Change.org calling for the name change. The lake is named after John C. Calhoun, a South Carolina politician who was a staunch supporter of slavery. He was vice president from 1825-1832.

As of Tuesday morning, the petition had more than 2,100 signatures.

Mike Spangenberg of Minneapolis started the petition and wrote Calhoun’s “name and legacy should not be honored anywhere.”
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Cost Cutting for Southwest Light Rail Leans to Eden Prairie

The following article by Janet Moore, dated June 24, 2015, was published in the Star Tribune.

Cost Cutting for Southwest Light Rail Leans to Eden Prairie

Photo by Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune
In a June 18 letter to Met Council head Adam Duininck that was released to the media Wednesday, June 24, 2015, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said the city has already sacrificed enough, and the five stations in the city provide critical entry points for light rail disadvantaged riders.

In a June 18 letter to Met Council head Adam Duininck that was released to the media Wednesday, June 24, 2015, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said the city has already sacrificed enough, and the five stations in the city provide critical entry points for light rail disadvantaged riders.

No consensus yet found to reach $341 million in savings as July 8 vote nears. Minneapolis officials say city has yielded enough.

Various ways to trim $341 million from the Southwest light-rail project’s burgeoning budget were bandied about Wednesday, and while no decisions were made, an advisory committee appears to be leaning toward a solution that hits Eden Prairie the hardest.
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Review of Where We Stand Today

Review of Where We Stand Today

Here are three videos regarding SWLRT that were posted on the Issues List on June 22, 2015 by Bob Carney and posted here with his permission.

From: bobcarneyjr@msn.com
Subject: [Mpls] Three video interviews on SWLRT – review of where we stand today
To: mpls@forums.e-democracy.org
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2015 08:55:34 +1200

 

The first is from the August 27th Minneapolis City Council Transportation Committee, when they approved recommending to the full Council approval of Municipal Consent for SWLRT. I talked with the Chair, Kevin Reich – subsequently a Citizen’s organization has hired top (and very expensive) lawyers to challenge this in Court. The section with Reich starts at 2:30 – I got to him a little ahead of another journalist, Eric Roper, who had to wait, there seems to be some amusement that Reich would talk to me first, but he did.

 

Committee Considers Light Rail Cuts

The following article by Dylan Thomas was published in the June 18, 2015 issue of the Southwest Journal.

Committee Considers Light Rail Cuts

Cities debate options for cutting $341 million
Photo by Dylan Thomas

Met Council Chair Adam Duininck, second from left, said Southwest light rail cost savings must be balanced against ridership impacts.

The five cities along the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line began to home in
Wednesday on the cuts it will take to reduce the project’s budget by roughly $341 million.

Local officials serving on the Corridor Management Committee are attempting to spread the pain, but it’s also becoming clear a shorter line is a cheaper line. Eden Prairie, at the western end of the 16-mile transit corridor, is likely to lose one or more stations as the current $2-billion estimated cost is pulled back to a target of about $1.65 million.

Cutting the project short in Eden Prairie “certainly has to be a part of the equation as we go through this exercise,” Jim Alexander, director of design and engineering for SWLRT, told the committee as project staff presented several cost-cutting scenarios Wednesday. The committee is expected to present a list of recommended project changes to the Metropolitan Council for a vote in early July.
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Concerns About Hazardous Materials in Light Rail Corridor Raised

The following article by Dylan Thomas was published in the June 19, 2015 edition of the Southwest Journal.

Concerns About Hazardous Materials in Light Rail Corridor Raised

Questions come up at third public hearing on a SWLRT environmental report.


Photo by Dylan Thomas

Sarai Brenner testified about her concerns with freight rail running through the Kenilworth Corridor.

 

Neighbors of the Kenilworth Corridor aired concerns about tanker trains hauling hazardous material alongside the Southwest Light Rail line both during and after construction at a public hearing at Dunwoody College of Technology Thursday evening.

A panel of Metropolitan Council members heard from several residents who said they lived within the “blast zone,” the area within one-quarter mile of the freight rail tracks where homes and people are most at risk should a train derail and explode. The phrase pops up often in the national debate over moving crude oil by rail, and although the trains that run the Kenilworth don’t haul crude, they do regularly transport ethanol past homes, a school and parkland.

“Frankly, we’re pretty freaked out about it,” Shawn Smith, a Kenwood resident, said.
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Neighborhood Parks Facing Budget Crunch

The following article by Eric Best was published in the June 15, 2015 edition of the Southwest Journal and updated on June 22.  See end of article for meeting dates.

Neighborhood Parks Facing Budget Crunch

Community meetings in southwest Minneapolis will give people a chance to weigh in on future
of city’s parks.

Photo by: Ellen Schmidt

Bryant Square Park is just one of many neighborhoods parks with aging facilities. It needs new
field lighting and an athletic field.

 

The city’s 157 neighborhood parks are in financial trouble.

The Park Board has identified a funding gap of $140 million to meet the maintenance needs of the city’s parks system.

About 80 percent or $111 million of the gap is with neighborhood parks. By 2020, the board estimates that number would grow by $46 million if funding levels remain consistent.
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Heads-Up for the June 22, 2015 Special Park Board Meeting

Heads-Up for the June 22, 2015 Special Park Board Meeting

4:00 P.M.  CLOSED SESSION  Discussion regarding Graco pending condemnation matter

The meeting will be held in the boardroom at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road, just north of Broadway Pizza.  Visitors to Park Board meetings can find at the back of the meeting room the agenda book with all the printed materials for the meeting.  This meeting will not be televised, but it will be recorded.

FOLLOWING CLOSED SESSION
Action Items to be Voted on

–Resolution Accepting a Trail Easement from Graco, Inc. for a Trail Along Property Owned by Graco, as Part of the East Bank Trail in Above the Falls Regional Park

–Resolution Granting a Deed Restriction on Parcel D of Scherer Bros Property to Exclude Residential Use, and Supporting Vacation of 10Th St. NE, West of Sibley Street

–Resolution Permitting General and Special Counsel to Dismiss Condemnation Action Regarding Graco Trail Easement Upon Receipt and Filing of Easement Acceptable to the Board

–Resolution Directing Superintendent to Requisition and Obtain Necessary Funds in the Amount of $622,300 for the Purchase of the Graco, Inc. Easement

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on June 22, 2015 is at http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx .  Board meeting agendas and related information are posted on this web page two business days prior to meetings. Webcasts of MPRB regular board meetings are posted on the same web page two to five business days following each meeting and are available for viewing, along with webcasts for the previous two months.

 Also of interest and now available to the commissioners and the public are the monthly reports that Superintendent Miller has initiated for construction permits and for Planning Department projects. The availability of these reports is one of the important changes instituted by Superintendent Miller. They are normally in the agenda packet for the first regular meeting of the month.

 View Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board meetings live from 5-9 p.m. on the Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast Cable. You may also view live meetings online on the Channel 79 webpage: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/tv/79

Regular meetings are typically re-telecast on Channel 79 on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 5 p.m. Telecast schedules are subject to change.

The Park Board’s website is www.minneapolisparks.org   The phone number is 612-230-6400.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch
www.mplsparkwatch.org

Minneapolis Park Board Seeks Funding To Keep City Parks Clean

The following story was reported by Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield on WCCO-TV on June 16, 2015.  Click on the highlighted link for the video.

Minneapolis Park Board Seeks Funding To Keep City Parks Clean
(credit: CBS)

It’s one of Minneapolis’s biggest sources of pride: The No. 1-ranked park system. But things are changing in 157 of those parks, and not for the better.

The president of the parks board says it’s all about funding. The big city parks like Lake Calhoun or Minnehaha Falls get state funds because they bring in tourists.  But the smaller, neighborhood parks have to rely on general funds from the city. The Minneapolis Park Board says they need $14 million to keep up those smaller parks. This year, they got $5 million.

For 5-year old Evan and his sitter, Bryant Square neighborhood Park is pitch perfect.

“I kind of like the smaller parks because you don’t have as many people there and you can do as much as you want,” sitter Chris Denton said.
And parks are as much a part of Minneapolis as a June shiver.

But smaller parks like Bryant Square and Logan in northeast Minneapolis are facing some dark days, according to Minneapolis Park Board President Liz Wielinski. She says the neighborhood parks aren’t in danger, but could be close.

“I wouldn’t say they are right now but I think over the next few years we’re going to have to start making some serious choices about what we can keep open and what we can’t,” Wielinski said.

The president of the park board says unlike the larger parks, the smaller ones rely on city funding and this year they are about $10 million short of what they need for up-keep.

“What you’ll see is a ball field will all the sudden just be grass or a pool will not be fixed, it will be covered over,” Wielinski said.

She says they’ve also had to cut corners on the basketball courts, and tennis courts too.

Spending what money they have on safety sensitive areas like pools and playgrounds.  She’s hoping Minneapolis residents will vote on a referendum and pitch in.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“If you don’t re-invest in your parks, they don’t become No. 1, they don’t stay No. 1,” Wielinski said.

The Park Board wants to get input from residents on which aspects of the park are their favorite and talk about how to save them.