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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 April 15, 2015 Park Board Meeting

Heads-Up for the April 15, 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 HEARINGS
–Windom Northeast Park Playground Improvements
–Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Listed below are some agenda items of interest:

–Accepting the Non-Appointed Citizen Advisory Committee Recommendations and Approving the Concept Plan for Playground Improvements at Windom Northeast Park in Northeast Minneapolis

–Accepting the Recommendations from the Appointed Community Advisory Committee and Approving the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Reconstruction and Cowles Conservatory Renovation Concept

–Approving a Cooperative Agreement with Minnehaha Creek Watershed District for Collaborative Concept Planning of Improvements to Meadowbrook Golf Course and the Stream Corridor through the Course

–Community Engagement Plan for Powderhorn Park Wading Pool and Playground Improvements

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on April 15, 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 seeks owner’s rep for Downtown East Commons

The following article by Brian Johnson was published in the March 31, 2015 issue of Finance and Commerce.

 
Minneapolis seeks owner’s rep for Downtown East Commons
The Downtown East Commons will rise on the site of the former Star Tribune building (at right) at 425 Portland Ave. S. in Minneapolis. The two Wells Fargo office towers (at left) and the Vikings stadium (far right) are under construction. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)

Minneapolis seeks owner’s rep for Downtown East Commons

 
The city of Minneapolis has put out a request for an owner’s representative for the Downtown East Commons park, as seen in this preliminary rendering from Ryan Cos. US Inc. (Submitted rendering)

The city of Minneapolis has put out a request for an owner’s representative for the Downtown East Commons park, as seen in this preliminary rendering from Ryan Cos. US Inc. (Submitted rendering)

The city of Minneapolis is looking for an owner’s representative for the public park that will be created within the $420 million Downtown East mixed-used project in downtown Minneapolis.
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NEW SWLRT LAWSUIT: Minnetonka Residents, Apartment Complex Owners Sue Over Southwest Light Rail

The following article by Jim Hammerand was published in the March 31, 2015 issue of The
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.




NEW SWLRT LAWSUIT: Minnetonka Residents, Apartment Complex Owners Sue Over Southwest Light Rail

light rail metro transit

Enlarge Photo

The Southwest light rail will be the third such Metro Transit route. PIctured is the network’s Blue Line, connecting Minneapolis to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America.

Minnetonka Residents filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday in an effort to keep the Southwest light rail transit project from destroying a wooded public park and trail.

In their lawsuit, the Opus Woods Conservation Association and the owners of the 330-unit Claremont Apartments said the Metropolitan Council did not adequately consider the rail route’s impact on the 49-acre Opus Hill area.

 

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Crown Hydro Preparing to Submit License Amendment to FERC

The following letter dated March 30, 2015 regarding Crown Hydro is from Doug Verdier.

Cover for Draft License Amendment Application (D0216453x8DF41) Crown Hydro Preparing to Submit License Amendment to FERC

Crown Hydro has recently sent a letter to resource agencies stating their intention to submit required documentation to FERC for an amendment to their license. The cover letter to that draft amendment is attached. Crown is required to submit their amendment by April 30, 2015.
I have omitted the actual amendment document due to its length (64 pages). If you would like to receive it, let me know. (dougv22000@gmail.com)
Important comment and response information in the cover letter from Crown is as follows:
Because Crown Hydro is scheduled to submit the final license amendment
application to FERC on April 30, 2015, Crown Hydo requests that any comments received on the
draft license amendment application be received by Monday, April 20, 2015. Please contact us
at (202) 467-6370 or Mr. Joel Toso (contact information below) with any questions you may
have.
Joel Toso
Wenck Associates
1800 Pioneer Creek Center
Maple Plain, MN 55359
(763) 479-4231

Tell the Graco Board & CEO that the Time has come to Fulfill their Promise to the Community

The following item is being circulated via e-mail by the Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR).

Tell the Graco Board & CEO that the Time has come to Fulfill their Promise to the Community

Graco, a worldwide leader in fluid handling based in Northeast Minneapolis, is refusing to fulfill the promise they made to the Twin Cities community. They will not allow a trail to be constructed on their property along the Mississippi River just south of Broadway Street.

Their promise to grant land for the trail was made in exchange for the City’s generous redevelopment package: expansion of their business very close to the Mississippi River, a street vacation, and a $730,000 subsidy. 

Instead of fulfilling their promise and allowing the trail to be constructed – a great amenity for their employees, the community, and visitors to our local National Park – Graco is trying to renegotiate the agreement in an effort to gain more riverfront land. The worst part – that desired riverfront land is currently public parkland.

Is that fair? Is that the right thing to do? Is that what a good neighbor would do?

ACT NOW! Tell Graco to keep its word and grant the trail easement immediately.

Pictured is Graco’s plant along the river in Northeast Minneapolis. The narrow strip of land between the river and the plant was promised for a regional trail when Graco developed the site. Now they want land to the south (right) that was recently purchased for a riverfront park. Picture by Irene Jones, FMR.

Heads-Up for the April 1, 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”

Listed below are some agenda items of interest:

–Authorizing the Formation and Charge of an Appointed Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet Master Plan and Improvements in the Chain of Lakes Regional Park.

–Approving the Master Plan for Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park

–Authorizing the Acquisition of 1601 16th Avenue NE, 1510 Water Street, and 1415 Ramsey Street from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for $206,000

–Granting a Construction Permit to Metropolitan Council, for Design and Engineering Investigative Activities Only, Within Theodore Wirth Regional Park Associated with the Metro Blue Line LRT Extension Beginning on April 16, 2015 and Ending on December 31, 2016 and Allowing Staff to Extend the Permit for Up to an Additional 12 Months

–Authorizing Selection of Option A – Reduced for the Phillips Community Center Aquatic Facility and the Preparation of Final Design and Construction Documents Based on Option A – Reduced

–Approving a 4(F) Letter to MPRB Regarding the Construction of Mississippi River East Bank Trail Within Above the Falls Regional Park

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

$70M North Loop Proposal Features More Green Space, Parking

The following item was broadcast on WCCO Radio on March 13, 2015.

$70M North Loop Proposal Features More Green Space, Parking

It’s one of the most booming neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. Now another new development in the North Loop is being proposed.

Two things that make this approximately $70 million project different: parking and a big park.

Both United Properties Inc. and Greco Development have been responsible for nearly a dozen projects in the North Loop area already.

United Properties has been responsible for places like: Freehouse, Caribou Coffee next to Target Field and Historic Ford Center, just to name a few. As for Greco Development, this would be their sixth project in the neighborhood.

United Properties is currently in the works to acquire the third parcel of the project. The renderings of the development show a new landscape set to cover three blocks between North 3rd Street, North 8th Avenue and Washington Avenue. The centerpiece of this joint project: much needed green space for neighborhood filled with pets and even strollers.

(credit: Greco Development /ESG Architects Inc.)

(credit: Greco Development /ESG Architects Inc.)

“We started in this neighborhood in 1996 with a project called Riverside Condominiums,” President of Greco Development, Arnie Gregory, said.

Gregory has seen the transformation of this Minneapolis neighborhood first hand. His two latest rental properties along Washington Avenue, including Elseware House, have currently reached max capacity.

It’s not just apartments, but condos too. Sotheby’s International Realty says condos are also going fast.

“The North Loop and Mill District are the two most in demand neighborhoods,” Josh Neaumann, Realtor at Sotheby’s International Realty, said. “If there’s a good unit that comes on — anything with a good view, it’s going to be sold that same day.”

One example of just how popular living close to the river has become: Neumann said on the newer properties in the Mill District — Stonebridge Lofts — is already at 99 percent occupancy.

“There’s not enough inventory, we could use more developers to come in and build more product,” Neumann said.

With all that demand, vehicles have to park somewhere.

“The neighborhood is starved for public parking,” said Gregory.

That’s exactly why his company, Greco Development, is hoping to break ground on a 330-stall public parking ramp in September.

If the joint development with United Properties is approved by the Minneapolis City Council, it will include: a 10-story rental building and a restaurant with room for a large patio space.

(credit: Greco Development /ESG Architects Inc.)

(credit: Greco Development /ESG Architects Inc.)

So, how about that view? There will be a park covering two city blocks.

“We envision having some water features, some paver stone walkways, a lot of green grass and irrigation and trees,” Gregory said.

Gregory calls the project a game changer. It’s expected to be presented to a neighborhood advisory board Wednesday, March 18.

“What we’re seeing is the core of downtown shifting closer to the river front,” Minneapolis City Councilman, Ward 3, Jacob Frey, said. “The more green space the developer is able to propose, they’re far more likely to punch this thing through the process at city hall.”

As for the park, it’s expected to be right around 20,000 square feet. If the development is approved by the city and park board the entire project is expected to be complete by the summer of 2017.

Video of MPRB Presentation by Edna Brazaitis re Graco

The following article and video clip is provided courtesy of David Tinjum and the March 16, 2015 edition of the Mill City Times:

Video of MPRB Presentation by Edna Brazaitis re Graco

Riverfront champion Edna Brazaitis speaks at March 4, 2015 MPRB meeting during Open Time.

http://millcitytimes.com/news/update-on-graco-mprb-riverfront-trail-issue.html

Heads-Up for the March 18, 2015 Park Board Meeting

Heads-Up for the March 18, 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”

6:00 P.M.  CLOSED SESSION for a meeting to consider pending litigation in condemnation of easement for trail from Graco

Listed below are some agenda items of interest:

–Amending Professional Services Agreement No. C-38659 with Barr Engineering Related to Professional Consulting Services for Environmental Review and Permitting Process Associated with the Development and Construction of Hall’s Island in the Amount of $ 202,000.00, for a New Contract Total of $598,000.00

–Receiving and Filing the Financial Status Report of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the Year Ending December 31, 2014 and File Said Report as a Permanent Record with the Secretary of the Board

–Authorizing the Board to Amend the Professional Services Agreement with WSB & Associates, Inc. to Provide Planning, Design and Engineering Services Related to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park for Playground and Site Improvements, in the Amount of $18,000, for a New Contract Amount of $67,794

–Authorizing a Cooperative Funding Agreement in the Amount of $31,000 for Calendar Year 2015 with the Minnesota Historical Society and the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board for Interpretive Planning and Implementation in the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Interpretative Zone

–Neighborhood Capital Presentation and Discussion

–Discussion of Options for Phillips Community Center Aquatics Facility

–Memorializing the Surface Transportation Board to Require an Environmental Impact Statement Addressing Impacts on the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area Resulting from Construction of Railroad Connector Track in Crystal, Minnesota Which Permits an Alternative Routing of Unit Trains Transporting Oil Products through the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area

–Approving a 4(F) Letter to MPRB Regarding the Construction of Mississippi River East Bank Trail Within Above the Falls Regional Park

–Authorizing the Formation and Charge of an Appointed Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet Master Plan and Improvements in the Chain of Lakes Regional Park.  Also, under Petitions and Communications is the Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet (Chain of Lakes Regional Park) Engagement Plan

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on March 18, 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

How The Commons Became “the Worst Development Deal” in Minneapolis History

The following article by Cory Zurowski was published in the March 11, 2015 edition of City Pages.

How The Commons Became “the Worst Development Deal” in Minneapolis History

Gryffindor via Wikipedia

batterypark.jpg
 
The Commons could be green space for the people like Battery Park or V.I.P. party grounds.

There’s a boatload of head-scratching facts surrounding the Downtown East Commons, the 4.2-acre park that will be the centerpiece of the sprawling $400 million development project abutting the new Vikings’ stadium.

The price tag for the two-block parcel is double the assessed value. City taxpayers are flipping the bill for yet undetermined construction costs. Estimates range from $6 to $20 million.

Residents will also likely get stuck with annual operating costs topping out at $3 million, but they can’t use it a third of the time.

Adding insult to injury is the fact taxpayers get no say in how it’s run or how it’s used for at least 30 years despite shouldering all the liabilities.

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