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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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“THE YARD” — OR DOWNTOWN EAST PARK: A CAUTION FROM MINNEAPOLIS PARK HISTORY”

On July 6, 2014, David Smith, author of City of Parks: The Story of Minneapolis Parks, posted on his blog the following cautionary article about “The Yard.” citing previous Park Board disasters.

“THE YARD” — OR DOWNTOWN EAST PARK: A CAUTION FROM MINNEAPOLIS PARK HISTORY”

Here is the link to his article: www:http://minneapolisparkhistory.com/2014/07/06/the-yard-or-downtown-east-park-a-caution-from-minneapolis-park-history/

REQUEST FOR MANDATED ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW FOR SWLRT

REQUEST FOR MANDATED ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW FOR SWLRT

Park Watch has learned that on June 23, 2014, The Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis sent a letter to Mayor Hodges and Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson. According to state law, the environmental impact study must be completed before cities give their consent to SWLRT!

The letter, which is signed by attorneys Tom Johnson and Lewis Remele, concludes with this paragraph:

“Accordingly, the Lakes and Parks Alliance requests that the City require that the necessary environmental review be performed before the Metropolitan Council asks the City to consent to the preliminary plans. The decision to approve the plans before that review is complete would not only endanger the environment, but would also violate the state laws governing the construction of light rail transit.”

Click here to view the letter in its entirety.

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

Change to Agenda for July 16 MPRB Meeting

RE: MPRB 7/16 AGENDA

Park Watch has learned that there has been an alteration to the MPRB 7/16 agenda. See the following notice:

Resolution 2014-243 has been removed from the July 16 Regular agenda.

The resolution authorized the start of the 45 day public review and comment period to the Draft Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan. The Draft Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan was not ready and was not attached to the resolution. Resolution 2014-243 is targeted to appear on the August 6 Regular Board meeting agenda with the draft plan attached.

Resolution 2014-243 was as follows:

X. UNFINISHED BUSINESS

10.1 That the Board adopt Resolution 2014-243 captioned as follows:

Resolution 2014-243

Resolution Authorizing a Forty-Five (45) Day Public Review and Comment Period of the Draft Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan

John Goodrich
Executive Assistant/Office of the Superintendent
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

HOW MINNEAPOLIS ACCEPTED SOUTHWEST CORRIDOR LIGHT-RAIL DEAL

The following article by Pat Doyle was published in the on-line StarTribune on July 12, 2014.

HOW MINNEAPOLIS ACCEPTED SOUTHWEST CORRIDOR LIGHT-RAIL DEAL

Prodded by a mediator, Minneapolis officials agreed to the light-rail route with promises of money for improvements.

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Photo by Renee Jones Schneider

A view of the Kenilworth corridor neighborhood, where trains now run and where the Southwest light-rail line is proposed to also run in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis officials long insisted they wouldn’t stomach a light-rail line next to freight tracks in a part of the city popular with bicyclists, hikers and canoeists.

But with no palatable alternatives and time running out for action, they agreed to just that. The Southwest Corridor light-rail deal accepted this week by city negotiators and Mayor Betsy Hodges sacrifices the interests of a small and well-connected group of opponents for promises to make the line more accessible and appealing to other Minneapolis residents. The City Council is expected to vote on it in late August.

Final approval would keep the Southwest project, the most expensive transit venture in the Twin Cities at $1.6 billion, on track to win federal approval this fall to advance in competition for funding. The nearly 16-mile line would run from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

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THE $1.6 BILLION PRICE TAG FOR SWLRT IS EXCESSIVE

The following letter-to-the-editor from Mary Pattock of Minneapolis was published in the July 11, 2014 edition of the StarTribune.

THE $1.6 BILLION PRICE TAG FOR SWLRT IS EXCESSIVE

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Photo: DAVID JOLES • Star Tribune

I’m flabbergasted at how blithely many people are accepting the $1.6 billion price tag for Southwest light rail. Maybe the number is just too large to comprehend — so here are some comparisons. It represents more than $300 for every man, woman and child in Minnesota. It is 20 times the annual construction budget of all 400 parks in the National Park Service program. It is 70 percent more than President Obama’s budget to help the 50 states prepare for climate change. It exceeds, according to World Bank statistics, the last reported U.S. foreign aid to Iraq.

For an investment of this stunning magnitude, we need a far better return than what the Met Council is projecting: taking 4,000 cars off the road — by 2030! — and providing train service to 12,000 Eden Prairie commuters, the route’s largest user group, who already have access to fine and faster bus service.

Let’s get past the ugliness, name-calling and municipal enmities that have come to characterize this public debate. And let’s stop dancing to the jingle of coins in Washington. We need to open our minds to all the facts and make a rational decision about whether promised benefits — meager at best — are worth the environmental damage and safety risks they entail, and whether they justify paying the highest price for any public-works project in Minnesota history.

 

SOUTHWEST LRT CLOSER TO APPROVAL AFTER MET COUNCIL VOTE

The following article by Pat Doyle was published in the July 10, 2014 issue of the StarTribune.

SOUTHWEST LRT CLOSER TO APPROVAL AFTER MET COUNCIL VOTE

But some suburban officials question the $30 million set aside by Met Council for Minneapolis improvements.

The Metropolitan Council on Wednesday approved a $1.6 billion agreement with Minneapolis that could trigger a new debate between the city and suburbs over who is getting a better deal from the Southwest Corridor light rail project.

Signs already are emerging of another rift between Minneapolis and suburbs along the nearly 16-mile route. At a meeting of metro leaders, officials from Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Eden Prairie questioned a provision committing up to $30 million for improvements in Minneapolis.

In so many words, the suburbs asked: “Where’s mine?”

With the approval of all but an absent member of the Met Council, the agency overseeing the project, the stage is set for the Minneapolis City Council to take final action on the deal Aug. 29, although a vote could be delayed until late September.

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