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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 March 4, 2015 Park Board Meeting

Heads-Up for the March 4, 2015 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.  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”

6:30 P.M.  PUBLIC HEARING for the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan.  Individuals wishing to speak can sign up at the meeting.

Listed below are some agenda items of interest:

–Approving the Master Plan for Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park and to suspend Board Naming Policy and Authorize Central Mississippi River front Regional Park to be Renamed St. Anthony Falls Regional Park

–Approving the Master Plan for Theodore Wirth Regional Park

–Approving the Master Plan for the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park

–Determining that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Will Not Pursue Tunnel Crossing Options for the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) Project; Approving a Memorandum of Understanding with the Metropolitan Council that 1) Establishes a Process that Recognizes Parks and Park Resources in the Transit Project Development Process, 2) Outlines a Process for Collaboration Between the Southwest Project Office and MPRB on Design of Bridge Crossings at the Kenilworth Channel, and 3) Results in an Agreement Between the Metropolitan Council and the MPRB to Facilitate Approval and Construction of the SWLRT Project; and Authorizing the Superintendent to Initiate Agreements with Metropolitan Council to Reimburse the MPRB for Costs Related to Its Work on the SWLRT Project and the Blue Line Light Rail Transit Extension (Bottineau) Project ;

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on March 4, 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

Southwest Light Rail Route Opponents Get Their (first) Day in Court

The following article by Peter Callaghan was posted on MinnPost on February 25, 2015.

Southwest Light Rail Route Opponents Get Their (first) Day in Court

Judge John R. Tunheim presided over Wednesday’s federal court hearing

MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim presided over Wednesday’s federal court hearing.

It was less about lakes and parks and more about legal standing and ripeness but Wednesday’s federal court hearing opened the first test of a legal challenge to the process that selected the route for the Southwest Light Rail project.

Lakes and Parks Alliance v. the Federal Transit Administration and the Metropolitan Council seeks to halt the alignment selection process until a supplemental draft environmental impact statement is released this spring. The opponents of the alignment that passes between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake in southwest Minneapolis are arguing that the EIS must be in hand before — not after — the cities along the route give their consent.
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MPRB Welcomes New Assistant Superintendent of Planning Services

The following news item has been issued by the Park Board.
MPRB Welcomes New Assistant Superintendent of Planning Services
 
 
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) welcomes Michael Schroeder as the new Assistant Superintendent for Planning, effective February 1, 2015.Schroeder comes from architecture and design firm LHB where he served as a Landscape Architecture and Planning Focus Leader. He has been acting as the MPRB’s Interim Assistant Superintendent for Planning since October 2014. Schroeder also assisted with the Planning Division’s leadership transition in 2011.

The Assistant Superintendent for Planning is responsible for the oversight of the division’s application of land management practices consistent with the Park Board’s mission and policies. The MPRB’s Planning Services Division provides expertise to lead, advise and guide the development and redevelopment of the Minneapolis Park system. The division oversees park system analysis and master planning, real estate services, design and engineering, physical development and redevelopment, and construction permitting.
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Understanding on SWLRT Kenilworth Channel Crossing Reached Between Metropolitan Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The following press release was issued on February 27, 2015 by the MPRB.

 Understanding on SWLRT Kenilworth Channel Crossing Reached Between Metropolitan Council and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President Liz Wielinski announced today that the two agencies reached an understanding on the Southwest Light Rail Transit (Green Line Extension) crossing of the Kenilworth Channel.

With its engineering studies complete, Park Board staff and legal counsel are recommending to Park Board Commissioners support of a light rail transit bridge over the channel.  The agencies have an agreed upon memorandum of understanding (MOU) that provides for a more direct Park Board role in the design of the proposed bridges over the channel and earlier involvement in any light rail transit project to address impacts to park land and park resources owned by the Park Board.
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Public Hearing on Central Mississippi Riverfront Proposed Master Plan

Public Hearing on Central Mississippi Riverfront Proposed Master Plan

There will be a Public Hearing on March 4, 2015 at 6:30 pm at MPRB Headquarters for the Central Mississpppi Rverfront Proposed Master Plan.

Public Hearing on Central Mississippi Riverfront Proposed Master Plan

For additional information, click on this link.

Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan

TWO FEDERAL COURT HEARINGS SCHEDULED RE SWLRT

The information in this post is excerpted from a news release dated February 23, 2015 and  circulated by Bob Carney, Jr., a former candidate for mayor in Minneapolis and a registered Lobbyist representing “We the People”


TWO FEDERAL COURT HEARINGS SCHEDULED RE SWLRT

The LPA’s Lawsuit challenging Met Council’s Southwest Light Rail process has two upcoming Federal Court Hearings: Motion to Dismiss on February 25 and Motion for Summary Judgment on March 9; Lawsuit could stop, delay, or change Met Council’s plan

On February 25th at 10:00 AM Federal District Court Judge John Tunheim will hear the Metropolitan Council and FTA’s motion to dismiss the case.  On March 9th at 3:00 PM, Judge Tunheim will hear the LPA’s motion for summary judgment.

Both hearings are open to the public, and are at the Federal Court Building, Chamber 13E, 300 South Fourth Street, Minneapolis.  LPA has stated it has moved for summary judgment because all facts are a matter of public record and are not in dispute, consequently the case could be resolved immediately by the Judge, by applying the law to the facts.

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Graco is Unfairly Holding Trail Hostage

The following commentary by Jenny Fortman was submitted to and published by the Star Tribune on February 22, 2015.  Jenny Fortman is a board member of the Sheridan  Neighborhood Organization.

Graco is Unfairly Holding Trail Hostage

The company got what it wanted 15 years ago. Now it’s time to honor its commitment for an easement.

Graco Inc. is taking advantage of a quickly approaching funding deadline to manipulate the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to sell riverfront parkland or risk losing the funding for a much-needed and long-awaited trail connection. In his Feb. 18 commentary (“Graco is happy to negotiate on land Park Board wants for trail”) defending Graco’s bullying of the Park Board and the community, Bill Blazar of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce suggests we look at history.

In 2000, Graco was granted special permission to build its headquarters right on the Mississippi River, very close to the water. In exchange, Graco was asked to provide an easement for a pedestrian and bicycle trail behind the building. In a letter on Aug. 4, 2000, Robert M. Mattison, Graco’s vice president, general counsel and secretary, said:

“Graco hereby undertakes to work with the city of Minneapolis and/or the Minneapolis Park Board to locate a corridor and grant an easement for a parkway, including bicycle/pedestrian path and vehicle road, on the property of Graco west of the Riverside facility. This easement will be granted for such a corridor to run under the Broadway bridge next to the Mississippi River, and will be granted when the city of Minneapolis and/or the Minneapolis Park Board is ready to proceed with the construction of such a path/road….”Even Blazar’s article concedes that “[Graco] has said on numerous occasions that it is willing to provide an easement.” He neglects to mention that it has never before tried to attach any requirements to purchase parkland to expand its headquarters.

For 130 years, the Park Board has been working to create and protect our shore land and waterways as public amenities. In Minneapolis, there are very few private properties on shore land. The Park Board buys up shore properties and creates parks, as properties become available, focusing on certain areas for planning and development.
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Link

The Facts About Southwest Light Rail

Attached is a Facts outlining the facts about Southwest Light Rail
circulated by the Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis, Inc.

 

Re: [Mpls] Mill City Times- Graco’s broken promise

The following piece was posted on the Issues List on February 23, 2015 by Bob Carney, former candidate for Minneapolis mayor and Lobbyist for “We the People.”

Re: [Mpls] Mill City Times- Graco’s broken promise

 

I’m glad to see the Star Tribune published Jenny Fortman’s Commentary article, but to me three things are missing.  First, it’s important to keep in mind that Graco’s commitment to provide the easement was part of a Tax Increment Financing deal in which Graco received financing that I think was valued at about $1 million.  Second, the Planning Commission’s document established as a condition of that deal that Graco WOULD provide the easement — actually two easements, one for a trail, the other for a road.  The point is that this deal was, and is, a contract, in writing, involving land.  Graco has a legal obligation according to the contract — counter arguments can be made, but I think the starting point is clearly that a contract exists.

Third, in 2011 Graco provided a letter to the Park Board supporting the plan that is going forward now, and stating Graco had ALREADY provided a trail corridor.

I don’t have any problem with trying to be nice and encourage Graco to “do the right thing” — but I think this situation has reached a point where we need to start talking about Graco’s legal obligation, and the harm Graco could cause if the Federal money is lost.

 

I’ll plan on following up on this with a more detailed post.

Minneapolis Park Board Votes on Taking Back NE Riverfront Property from Graco

The following story was reported by Beth McDonough for KSTP-TV on February 18, 2015.

Minneapolis Park Board Votes on Taking Back NE Riverfront Property from Graco

Minneapolis_Park_Board_Votes_on_Taking_Back_NE_Riverfront_Property_from_Graco-syndImport-082712

Link to video:

http://kstp.com/article/stories/s3710544.shtml

A stalemate between the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and manufacturing giant, Graco came to a head Wednesday.

The site is next to Graco’s headquarters in Northeast Minneapolis along the Mississippi River.
At a public meeting Wednesday, the Park Board considered taking the land through eminent domain.

Right now, Graco owns the land. The Minneapolis Park Board wants it as an easement to expand a recreational trail from Boom Island further north. It’s an issue close to home for Northeast resident Jenny Fortman, “it’s a critical piece to connect Minneapolis into the bike trail system and make the river an amenity it should be.”

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