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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.


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SW LRT to be discussed on KFAI on Friday, November 21

This Friday at 9 am, on KFAI 90.3 FM, George Puzak, Mary Pattock & Susu Jeffrey will be guests on the radio show Catalyst: Politics and Culture.

George will represent Lakes & Parks Alliance.
Mary will represent LRT-Done Right.
Susu Jeffrey will address water issues.


Website: www.lakesandparks.com
Website: www.kenilworthpreservationgroup.com

Heads-Up for the November 19, 2014 Park Board Meeting

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.

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.”

6:30 P.M.  PUBLIC HEARING — Accepting the Non-Appointed CAC Recommendations for Mississippi East Bank Trail.  Individuals wishing to speak can sign up at the Hearing.

PUBLIC COMMENT during the regular meeting on the Superintendent’s Recommended 2015 Budget; also 2015 Budget Discussion

Listed below are some agenda items of interest:

–Accepting the Non-Appointed Citizen Advisory Committee Recommendations and Approving Concept Plans for Columbia Park Picnic Shelter Rehabilitation

–Accepting the Non-Appointed Citizen Advisory Committee Recommendations and Approving Concept Plans for Hi-View Park Wading Pool Improvements

–Accepting the Non-Appointed Citizen Advisory Committee Recommendations to Approve the Concept Plan for Stevens Square Park Playground Improvements

–2015 Budget Discussion

–Authorizing the Formation and Charge of an Appointed Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the South Service Area Master Plan

–Receiving and Filing the Financial Status Report of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as of the Third Quarter, 2014

–Authorizing the Superintendent to Execute a Preliminary Memorandum of understanding with the City of Minneapolis for a Promise Zone Initiative Application, Contingent on Board Approval of the Final Memorandum of Understanding if the City is Awarded A Promise Zone Designation

–Authorizing a Professional Services Agreement with Brierley Associates for Engineering Services Related to the Feasibility and Prudence of Kenilworth Channel Crossing Alternatives in the Amount Up to $245,500

–Accepting the Non-appointed Citizen Advisory Committee Recommendations and Approving the Concept Plan for the Mississippi East Bank Trail

–Authorizing the Formation and Charge of an Appointed Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for Bossen Field Park Master Plan Development

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on November 19, 2014 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 http://www.minneapolisparks.org. The phone number is 612-230-6400.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

Minneapolis Picks Architecture Finalists for Stadium-Area Park

The following article by Sam Black was published in the November 6, 2014 issue of the 
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.

Minneapolis Picks Architecture Finalists for Stadium-Area Park


Downtown East City Day

A 2013 rendering of the Downtown East development when its completed. The Commons park in the center of the site was previously known as The Yard.

Three landscape architect-led teams have been named finalists by the city of Minneapolis to design the new two-block long park called the Commons near the new Vikings stadium.

The 4.2-acre site is bordered by Park Avenue, 4th and 5th Streets, and a proposed building on 5th Avenue South. Last month, 14 companies submitted proposals to the city.

The three finalists are:

  • The Olin Studio, Philadelphia and Snow Kreilich Architects, based in Minneapolis
  • Hargreaves Associates, San Francisco, Damon Farber Associates, Minneapolis and VJAA, Minneapolis
  • WORKSHOP Ken Smith, New York and Perkins + Will, Minneapolis

The three teams will be interviewed by a review panel that is made up of representatives of groups surrounding the project. The Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development plans to pick a team by mid-November and seek a formal selection by the City Council before the end of this year.

In October, Minneapolis business leaders formed Greening Downtown Minneapolis, a nonprofit that will oversee the park. The Minneapolis Park Board had initially considered running it.



The following item is from the November 6 meeting of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association meeting.

Crown Hydro Resolution Passed. A resolution opposing the Crown Hydro project passed and will be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and our elected officials at the City, State and Federal government. Here are the links to the resolution and to the supporting letter.

Download the resolution…
Download the supporting letter…

Minneapolis Park Will Green a Brown Part of Downtown, But at What Cost?

The following article by Rachel Kaufman was published in the November 6, 2014 edition of Next City, an on-line publication.

Minneapolis Park Will Green a Brown Part of Downtown, But at What Cost?


AP Photo/Jim Mone

The Minneapolis Park Board voted not to take responsibility for a park that’s planned outside the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium.

When is a free park not a free Park?

The saga of Minneapolis’s Downtown East Commons, an ambitious planned park in a part of the city lacking in green space, is enough to make one’s head spin.

Next to a planned football stadium that will replace Minneapolis’s aging Metrodome, the Downtown East Commons is envisioned as a two-block, 4.2-acre “front yard” for the new stadium and a planned mixed-use complex all built by developer Ryan Companies.

Initially the space was proposed as a smaller plaza, a staging area for game-day events. The city asked the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to turn the plaza into a park that the MSFA and the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings could use on game days.
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Letter to Star Tribune from MPRB President Liz Wielinski Re SWLRT

The following commentary regarding SWLRT by MPRB President Liz Wielinski was submitted to the Star Tribune in response to a letter-to-the-editor written by Paul Linnee.

October 23, 2014

ln his commentary piece “Help me understand this light rail bridge logic”,,, Paul Linnee asks why the old bridge is so important to the park Board.

The old bridge is not the issue. The importance of this location is the parkland under, above and around the old bridge and whether the park like setting can possibly be preserved as the LRT, fright rail and trail are co-located in the Kenilworth Corridor.
Under a provision of federal transportation law referred to as 4(f), no federal dollars can be spent on a transportation project that impact$ park land unless there is no “feasible and prudent alternative”. No federal funds can be expended on this project unless the public agency responsible for the park (the Park Board in this case) determines that the transportation impacts are “de minimis,” i.e. insignificant.
One tunnel is required already. We believe a short extension of that tunnel under the Channel, would be feasible and prudent to protect park resources. Over 100 years ago, after fighting the railroads all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board acquired an easement on this property to facilitate the connection of Cedar Lake with Lake of the lsles. ln effect, the Park Board created the Chain of Lakes in
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Summary Judgement Announced in 1800 Lake Lawsuit

The following article by Dylan Thomas was published in the November 5, 2014 on-line edition of the Southwest Journal.

Summary Judgement Announced in 1800 Lake Lawsuit


The city took the apartment building owners to court over groundwater discharge

EAST ISLES The judge hearing the city’s dispute with the developers of an apartment building discharging millions of gallons of groundwater into the Chain of Lakes has announced a summary judgement, according to Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board attorney Brian Rice.

Rice shared the news at Wednesday’s Park Board hearing. The Park Board joined the lawsuit against Lake and Knox LLC, developer of the 57-unit 1800 Lake building, in January.

Reached for comment, Daniel Oberpriller of Lake and Knox LLC said he hadn’t yet seen the judge’s ruling.

“I just know we are making important headway on a solution,” Oberpriller said, adding that an announcement may come before the end of the week.

1800 Lake, named for its address overlooking Lake Calhoun, opened in October 2011. It includes a two-story underground parking garage that, depending on seasonal fluctuations, lies up to 18 feet below the water table.

Two sump pumps operating continuously since 2011 are necessary to keep the lowest basement level dry. They pump about 170 gallons of water per minute into the city storm sewer, which dumps into the channel connecting Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles.

The warm groundwater prevents ice from forming on part of the channel in the wintertime, creating a nuisance for cross-country skiers and hikers.

The discharge amounts to 89 million gallons of groundwater annually, according to a Barr Engineering aquatic ecologist retained by the city and Park Board in the case. It’s also adding about 75 pounds of phosphorous per year, which contributes to algae growth.

The case was before Hennepin County Judge Philip D. Bush, who ordered a hearing within 30 days for the city’s request for injunctive relief.


1800 Lake Litigation, Water Discharge Continues

1800 Lake Litigation, Water Discharge Continues

The following article by Michelle Bruch was published in the November 4, 2014 issue of the Southwest Journal

Photo by Michelle Bruch

The apartment development at Lake & Knox has pumped groundwater into the chain of lakes since 2011

The city of Minneapolis and the 1800 Lake apartment developer couldn’t reach a settlement this fall, and litigation continues over millions of gallons of diverted groundwater pumping into the lakes.

The apartment building’s lowest parking level sits below the water table at Lake Street & Knox Avenue, and dewatering pumps are discharging water into a storm drain that flows into the channel between Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun. If pumping stopped for more than an hour, the garage would flood, according to city staff. The rate of water discharge is 170 gallons per minute, or more than 89 million gallons per year.

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Motion for Summary Judgment in Light Rail Lawsuit

The following article by Dylan Thomas was published in the November 3, 2014 issue of the SouthWest Journal.

Motion for Summary Judgment in Light Rail Lawsuit

File photo

Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minnesota members rallied in September after filing a federal
lawsuit seeking to halt work on Southwest light rail


Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minnesota argues a trial is unnecessary in its case against Met Council over $1.65-billion Southwest Light Rail Transit project

A Minneapolis citizens’ group suing to halt work on the $1.65-billion Southwest Light Rail Transit line until an environmental review is complete on Monday asked a federal judge to forgo a trial and rule on the case immediately.

Attorneys for the Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis filed the motion for summary judgment about two months after bringing the lawsuit to U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. The group maintains Metropolitan Council violated state and federal law when it sought local approvals for the 16-mile light rail route before a report on its potential environmental impact was issued.
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Lakes and Parks Alliance asks for summary judgment in SWLRT case

The following press release has been issued by the Lakes and Parks Alliance, a group that opposes running the Southwest light rail line through the Kenilworth corridor.

Lakes and Parks Alliance asks for summary judgment in SWLRT case

NOVEMBER 3, 2014, MINNEAPOLIS, MINN./ The Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis today asked the Federal District Court of Minnesota for a summary judgment in the Southwest light rail transit (SWLRT) case the Alliance brought last month against the Metropolitan Council and the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA).

If the court grants the request, the SWLRT approvals obtained by Met Council through the municipal consent process would become null and void.  The Met Council would have to pause the project while the environmental impact study required by state and federal laws was completed and provided to the municipalities when a new consent process is commenced.

“If the municipal consent process has any validity,” says Alliance board member George Puzak, “it has to mean that municipal officials — and the public — are entitled to know the environmental impact of the proposed SWLRT before the officials are forced to vote on it.”

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