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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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Proposed 2015 Minneapolis Park Board Budget

The following item was issued by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
on October 22, 2014.

Proposed 2015 Minneapolis Park Board Budget


Because of your interest in the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), we want you to know that MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller presented her recommended 2015 budget at tonight’s Board meeting and that there are opportunities to review and comment on it.

The Superintendent’s Recommended 2015 Budget focuses on maintaining park services and facilities, strategically addressing financial and operational challenges, improving organizational efficiency and service delivery, and addressing Emerald Ash Borer and other threats to the urban tree canopy.

Opportunities for public comment are scheduled for November 5 and 19 at MPRB Headquarters and December 10 at Minneapolis City Hall.

Read the full news release about the proposed 2015 budget for full details and information.
You can view the Superintendent’s Recommended 2015 Budget online at www.minneapolisparks.org/budget.

Alternative Uses Considered for Controversial Riverfront Land

The following article by Ben Johnson was published in the October 17, 2014 edition of the Downtown Journal.

Alternative Uses Considered for Controversial Riverfront Land

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An aerial view of the Park Board’s new $4 million operations center proposed for 1720 Marshall St. NE
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Park Board looking at different options after $4 million storage facility rejected by neighborhood

Nobody in Northeast liked the Park Board’s plan to build a $4 million storage and maintenance facility on recently acquired riverfront property, so now staff is putting together alternative options for commissioners to consider.

Several Park Board staff members and Park Board President Liz Wielinski met with concerned neighbors Oct. 14 to discuss how to best use the 1.74-acre chunk of riverfront real estate. The original plan, which included a small riverfront park, was slated for preliminary approval at the Aug. 20 board meeting but that was tabled after more than 30 people showed up to testify against it.
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City Receives 14 Design Proposals for Downtown East Park

The following article by Sarah McKenzie was published in the October 17, 2014 edition of the
Downtown Journal.

City Receives 14 Design Proposals for Downtown East Park

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An illustration of the Downtown East park.

The City of Minneapolis has received 14 proposals from landscape architecture firms to design the Commons, the new park planned to go next to the Vikings stadim and Ryan Cos.’ Downtown East development.

The 4.2-acre park will be on two blocks bound by Park Avenue, 4th and 5th streets and a residential building on 5th Avenue South — an area now home to surface parking lots.

“Our goal was to get numerous responses from the best and brightest, and that’s exactly what we got,” said City Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3) in a prepared statement. “The premier design firms from around the country clearly recognize that downtown Minneapolis, and particularly the Commons, will be at the forefront of forward thinking urban design.”

The design firms that submitted proposals for the city’s RFP include:

— OJB (Office of James Burnett)
— Olin/Snow Kreilich Architects
— site design group ltd.
— Land Collective/HWKN
— Coen + Partners/Daoust Lestag
— Stantec/Supermass Studio
— West 8/HGA
— Tom Leader Studio/SOM
— Walker Macy/Kestrel
— Hargreaves  Associates/Damon Farber Associates/VJAA
— WORKSHOP Ken Smith/Perkins + Will
— Hoerr Schaudt/Rogers Partners
— Design Workshop/HKGi
— Gustafson Guthrie Nichol/Confluence/VJAA

A review team will recommend a design firm by mid-November, according to a news release from the city’s Community Planning & Economic Development (CPED) department. City Council approval is expected by year’s end.

Greening Downtown Minneapolis, a new nonprofit conservancy, will oversee the Commons and launch a fundraising campaign for the park.

Symphony Hydro Project – Update

The following e-mail, with attachment regarding Symphony Hydro LLC, is from Doug Verdier who lives in the Mill City District.

Symphony Hydro Project – Update

Attached FYI and action is the Oct. 22, 2014 “Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions to Intervene, and Competing Applications” that has been issued by FERC to Symphony Hydro LLC.

You will note in paragraph 2 of the Notice the scope of the proposed project. What it does NOT state is that the concrete bulkheads and turbine generators will be constructed INSIDE the current St. Anthony Falls Lock. This information was included in Symphony Hydro’s original June 25, 2014 application to FERC for the permit that has now been issued. The plan to construct a hydro plant inside the lock is predicated on the future closing of the lock for navigation, required not later than June 10, 2015. The closing was mandated by Public Law 113-121, dated June 10, 2014, and was intended mainly to prevent migration of invasive carp up the Mississippi RIver.

The law provides: “Emergency Operations — Nothing in this section prevents the Secretary from carrying out emergency lock operations necessary to mitigate flood damage.” We’ve seen that use for a couple of weeks this past summer when lock doors at both ends were open.

Construction of concrete bulkheads and turbine generators inside the lock would certainly have some impact on the ability of the Corps of Engineers to regulate flow for flood control. But more importantly, such construction would be a significant obstacle to any future navigation through the locks if it were necessary for an emergency or even for certain maintenance operations up river. The current repair project on the base of the 3rd Avenue bridge requires the use of several barges loaded with equipment, including a large crane, for example. These barges all came through the lock to get to their current position at the bridge. Construction of any kind inside the lock would impede such passage.

Bottom line: The notion of constructing a hydro plant inside the lock, regardless of whether it is to be closed for navigation, is a bad idea. It is inconceivable that the lock would never again be needed for navigation. It is critical that the lock remain functional, controlled by the Corps of Engineers, and unencumbered by any sort of construction so that it is available immediately when needed in the future.

I invite all of you to address your concerns about this project with FERC. Deadline for comments is Dec. 22, 2014. Instructions for filing your comments are contained at the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2 of the Notice.

Anyone wishing to receive a copy of the original June 25 filing by Symphony Hydro may email me, please use “Symphony Hydro” in the subject line.

Doug Verdier

Grand Opening of Brownie Lake Site Improvements – Saturday, October 25

 Grand Opening of Brownie Lake Site Improvements – Saturday, October 25


The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), along with MPRB Commissioner Anita Tabb, invite you to join us to celebrate completion of improvements at Brownie Lake, located at the north end of the Chain of Lakes Regional Park! The re-aligned bicycle trail along Cedar Lake Parkway has new surfacing, lights, railings, and signs. The trails and canoe launch at the north end of the park have eliminated erosion and improved access to the lake. The pedestrian bridge installed over the channel to Cedar Lake allows walkers to make a complete circle around the lake. Tree planting and buckthorn removal were other components of the project.

This special event is this Saturday, October 25, from 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm and will feature MPRB naturalist-led activities, live music by Rachael Kroog, canoe rides and a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Refreshments will be served. The event will be held at the north end of Brownie Lake.

Please see the project web page for more information on this project.

BrownieLake 10-14-14

Heads-Up for the October 22, 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.”

Listed below are some agenda items of interest:

–Authorizing a Professional Services Agreement with LHB to provide Consulting Services for the Downtown Service Area Master Plan for a Fee Not to Exceed $274,000, including Expenses

–Accepting a Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund Grant from the State of Minnesota in the Amount of $600,000 for Vegetation Enhancements at Theodore Wirth Regional Park

–Superintendent’s Recommended 2015 Budget

–Authorizing the Formation and Charge of an Appointed Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Reconstruction and Cowles Conservatory Renovation

–Minneapolis Parks Foundation Presentation of the Water Works Site Concept Plan Within Mill Ruins Park

–Awarding a Construction Contract to Morcon Construction Co. Inc., in the Amount of $1,305,000.00 for the Minnehaha Park Refectory Improvement Project, Per O.P. No. 7996, Pending Approval by City of Minneapolis Purchasing & Procurement and Civil Rights Departments and Authorizing Administrative Use of a 10% Construction Contingency Up to $130,500.00 for Necessary Construction Change Orders that May Arise with the Contract and Authorizing an Internal Loan Up to $1,500,000 for Refectory and Site Improvements

–Amending Professional Services Agreement C-31051 with Landform for Master Planning, Final Design, Construction Document Preparation and Project Management Services Related to Construction of Weber Park Natural Swimming Pool and Pool House in the Amount of $62,340 for a New Contract Total of $632,840 and Allocating Additional $80,000 in Future North Mississippi Regional Park Funding to Cover This Change Order and Other Miscellaneous Project Costs

–Authorizing a Professional Services Agreement with M. A. Mortenson Company for “Construction Manager as Agency” Services for Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Reconstruction and Cowles Conservatory Renovation in the Amount of $657,444

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on October 22, 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 www.minneapolisparks.org. The phone number is 612-230-6400.

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

Another Hydropower Proposal Emerges

The following article by Ben Johnson was published in the September 30, 2014 issue of The Journal and updated on October 15.

Another Hydropower Proposal Emerges

Three pending hydropower proposals along central riverfront test balance between renewable energy and maintaining flow over St. Anthony Falls
Photo by Ben Johnson

St. Anthony Falls at about 11,000 cubic feet per second (cfs)

Another hydropower proposal has joined the crowded field of existing and proposed
hydropower facilities vying to divert water away from St. Anthony Falls to create renewable energy.

The controversial proposals highlight the increasingly complicated battle between numerous stakeholders over water use along the central riverfront.

The newest plan is called Symphony Hydro, led by former Northern States Power (NSP) executive Bob Schulte and several anonymous partners. Its plan, submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 26, would place a hydropower plant entirely within the soon-to-be-shuttered Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam.

60-day Comment Period Open for Draft of Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan

The Park Board has issued the following notice:

60-day Comment Period Open for Draft of Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) invites public comment on the Draft Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan through December 15, 2014. Once approved, the master plan will guide park investment at Wirth Park for the next twenty years. The draft plan builds on the concept plan that was approved by the MPRB Board in July 2012. Based on comments received, the draft plan will be revised and presented to the Board of Commissioners for a public hearing and approval in 2015.

The Draft Master Plan is available for review:

  • Online on the Wirth Park project page
  • At the following locations:
    • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Headquarters, 2117 West River Road N
    • Wirth Chalet, Theodore Wirth Regional Park, 1301 Theodore Wirth Pkwy
    • Par 3, Theodore Wirth Regional Park, 1325 Theodore Wirth Pkwy
    • Harrison Recreation Center,
    • Kenwood Community Center,
    • North Commons Recreation Center,

 Submit a Comment:

  • Online
  • By Mail: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board; 2117 West River Road N, Minneapolis, MN 55411 ATTN: Colleen O’Dell, Project Planner

 If you require language translation, please send an email to planning@minneapolisparks.org requesting translation in the language needed.

Riverfront Summit Monday, Oct. 20

The Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership will hold a Riverfront Summit on Monday, October 20, from 5:30 to 8:00 PM at the Mill City Museum.  The event will include the Mississippi Minute Film Festival, featuring 17 one-minute videos about the river submitted by members of the public.  Admission is free.

Further information is available at http://minneapolisriverfrontpartnership.org/minneapolis-riverfront-summit-2014/

MPRB Resolution on SWLRT tunnel consultant

Below is the text of the resolution passed by MPRB on October 1, which calls for hiring an outside engineering consultant to perform a more detailed study of a deep tunnel under the Kenilworth channel.  The Metropolitan Council abandoned the tunnel idea because they felt it was too expensive.  MPRB believes it would help reduce the impact of the Southwest light rail line on the Kenilworth corridor.  More information about the resolution is given in a previously-posted article, http://mplsparkwatch.org/2014/10/06/park-board-votes-to-study-southwest-light-rail-tunnel/  

MPRB Resolution on SWLRT tunnel consultant

Whereas, Current plans for the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project (SWLRT) bring the alignment over the Kenilworth Channel, co-locating freight, light rail and trail in the Kenilworth corridor and require massive at-grade infrastructure in and around the Kenilworth Channel that will fundamentally and permanently affect and change park, recreation areas, and historic property;

Whereas, In August, 2013, the MPRB Board of Commissioners passed Resolution 2013-282 stating a position on the preliminary engineering options for the proposed SWlRT through the Kenilworth corridor;

Whereas, Through Resolution 2014-114 in February 2014, the MPRB notified the SWLRT Project Office of the MPRB’s concern about the project and its effect on parkland and requested the SWLRT Project Office to conduct preliminary engineering feasibility and cost analysis of tunneling under the Kenilworth Channel;

Whereas, In Resolution 2014-209 the MPRB has stated its position that, based on SWLRT Project Office preliminary finding of feasibility, tunneling LRT under the Kenilworth Channel may be the only Section 4(f) prudent and feasible alternative;

Whereas, In Resolution 2014-209 the MPRB requested that the SWLRT Project Office continue necessary design and engineering studies to determine the feasibility and prudence of a tunnel under the Kenilworth Channel;

Whereas, The Metropolitan Council has not directed project office staff to develop the tunnel under the channel to the same level as the bridge option and has declined to conduct additional analysis;

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