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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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Crown Hydro’s 2/8/16 Response to FERC’s Previous Request for Additional Information

The following item has been provided to Park Watch by Doug Verdier.

Crown Hydro’s 2/8/16 Response to FERC’s Previous Request for Additional Information

As anticipated, Crown Hydro has submitted the attached document to FERC in response to FERC’s request of Dec. 8, 2015 for additional information about their request for license amendment.

The document consists of 107 pages. Much of the document is charts, copies of previous correspondence and emails back and forth. There are some pages where specific questions from FERC are addressed, more or less. It appears, again, that Crown hopes to overwhelm FERC with a massive document that either will delay any decision or not be read. In any case, here it is. Enjoy.


Public Meeting For Roberts Bird Sanctuary Improvements on Feb. 18

Public Meeting For Roberts Bird Sanctuary Improvements on Feb. 18


Please join the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the first public meeting regarding the Roberts Bird Sanctuary Improvements project on Thursday, Feb. 18, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Lyndale Farmstead Recreation Center, 3900 Bryant Ave. S.

The project team will introduce the project, present the Draft Habitat Assessment Report and identify current habitats that are critical to the future health of the sanctuary. At the meeting we will discuss the draft bird list, identification of bird species that are threatened, endangered, or of special concern, and how the site can best support avian habitat. The public is encouraged to attend this public meeting and share opinions and concerns related to Roberts Bird Sanctuary.

Public Meeting #1

Date: Thursday, Feb.18, 2016

Time: 6:30-8:00 pm

Location: Lyndale Farmstead Recreation Center

Address: 3900 Bryant Ave S. Minneapolis

Subject: Project Iaunch and introduction

Please visit the Roberts Bird Sanctuary Improvements project page for more information.

Button Visit Project Page

To learn more about this project and others, visit http://www.minneapolisparks.org/planning

Minneapolis Park Board Overrides Hodges Veto

The following article by Steve Brandt was published in the February 5, 2016 issue of the Star Tribune.

Minneapolis Park Board Overrides Hodges Veto

More talks are likely as the board seeks to put a funding request on the fall ballot.

Minneapolis park commissioners overrode a veto by Mayor Betsy Hodges of their proposal for a park spending referendum, but negotiating is expected to continue on language to which Hodges objects.

Commissioners voted 7-1 Wednesday to override last week’s veto. That wasn’t surprising, given that the board historically overrides mayoral vetoes as an expression of its semi-independence from City Hall. Brad Bourn opposed the override, and John Erwin was absent.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribune

Minneapolis Park Board overrides Hodges veto – Star Tribune

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Overrides Mayor’s Veto

The following press release has been distributed by the MPRB on February 4, 2016.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Overrides Mayor’s Veto

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board overrides Mayor’s veto of recommended ballot language for referendum to close neighborhood park funding gap

At its Feb. 3 meeting, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) of Commissioners overrode a veto by Mayor Hodges of the MPRB’s Jan. 20 resolution approving language for a 2016 ballot measure. The ballot measure will ask Minneapolis residents for a property tax levy to help maintain, rehabilitate and invest in its chronically underfunded network of 160 neighborhood parks.

Per the City Charter, the MPRB could only override the Mayor’s Jan. 27 veto if it took action at its Feb. 3 meeting by passing the resolution again by two-thirds vote.  The City Charter requirement of taking action on Feb. 3 didn’t allow time for any rewording of the resolution; however MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller and MPRB President Liz Wielinski will continue working with Mayor Hodges to discuss her concerns with the resolution.
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Crown Hydro’s 2/2/16 Request to FERC

The attached letter from Crown Hydro to FERC has been provided to Park Watch by Doug Verdier.

On Feb. 2, 2016, Crown Hydro sent the attached request to FERC, Subject:  Request for Designation as the Commission’s Non-Federal Representative for Informal Consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for License Amendment Application for Crown Mill Hydroelectric Project, FERC Project No. 11175. The letter provides a basic explanation of what this will mean if approved.

Doug Verdier


Minneapolis’ Neighborhood Park Referendum/Mayor Veto

The following item by Carol Becker was posted on February 3, 2016 on http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/mpls

Minneapolis’  Neighborhood Park Referendum/Mayor Veto

There have been two things that have been bothering me for quite a while
now: the state of our parks and the state of our roads. The City has cut
back in its investments in both of them. The result is that the condition
of our roads has been declining (the potholes are real) and our parks are
aging and show it.

Now the is a solution for roads. Or at least a start. The City has yet to produce
a study about what the full need is but the City has about $7 million in savings
(on-going) from reduced payments for city pensions.  This can be used for roads.

But what to do about neighborhood parks? Regional parks get state, federal
and regional money but neighborhood parks only get property tax money for
maintenance and rehab. We have over 150 neighborhood parks and 49
neighborhood park buildings. Currently, the City’s five year plan has $2.5
million a year for maintaining and rehabbing all these parks and park
buildings. Clearly this isn’t enough. The Park Board put together an
estimate of the cost of maintaining our neighborhood parks and it comes to
$14M a year. We need more money for parks if we are going to keep the
system that we have.

I’ve been working with some folks to put a question on the ballot this year
that would give more money to neighborhood park maintenance. The Park
passed a formal resolution on this, stating that they supported a
referendum vote this fall. Now the Mayor vetoed it. In her letter, she said
she supported the referendum but she disagreed with the inflation
factor selected by the Park Board and also the hold harmless language
(which would have meant that the City couldn’t have cut local government
aid or the bonding money that it already provides or jack up its
administrative fees). Now I actually agree with her about the inflation
factor being too aggressive. But I do think that there has to be some way
of making sure the City doesn’t come and raid all the money from the
referendum. Because, without safeguards, that is what will happen.

The Park Board is going to vote on overturning the Mayor’s veto tonight.
The community folks will continue to work on bringing this to the voters
because there is no other way of making sure our parks are preserved for
future generations. Hopefully all parties can all work together to make
this happen.

Carol Becker

Heads-Up for the February 3, 2016 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”

Some agenda items of interest are:

–Awarding Construction Contract with G Urban Companies in the Amount of $92,000.00 for Trail Improvements Associated with Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park–Phase 2, Per O.P No. 8202, Pending Final Approval by City of Minneapolis Departments of Procurement/Purchasing and Civil Rights and Authorizing Administrative Use of a 10% Construction Contingency Up to $9,200.00 for Necessary Construction Changes that May Arise with the Project

–Authorizing Purchase of Play Equipment and Services Up to $264,427.70 from Kompan (Ultimate Playgrounds) through the U.S. Communities Government Cooperative Contract #110171 for Improvements at Bossen Field Park and Authorizing Administrative Use of a 10% Construction Contingency Up to $26,443 for Necessary Construction Changes that May Arise with the Project

–Authorizing a Cooperative Funding Agreement in the Amount of $31,000 for Calendar Year 2016 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

-Approving an Amended and Restated Joint Powers Agreement Between the State of Minnesota, Acting through Its Commissioner of Natural Resources, County of Hennepin, Acting through Its Department of Community Works, National Park Service, Acting through the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and the Minnesota Historical Society for Properties at Fort Snelling in Hennepin County, Minnesota

–Approving the 2016 Legislative Agenda of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

–Accepting the Non-Appointed Community Advisory Committee Recommendations and Approving the Concept Plans for Wading Pool and Playground Improvements at Powderhorn Park in South Minneapolis

–Community Engagement Plan – 2016 Bryant Square Park Improvements

–Approving Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Minneapolis to Guide a Cooperative Process to Pursue Phase 1 Redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal

–Approving Record of Decision on the Meadowbrook Golf Course and Minnehaha Creek Improvement Project Incorporated Herein, Finding and Determining, Based Upon the Record of Decision, No Environmental Impact Statement is Required for the Project and Directing Staff to Distribute This Resolution and the Attached Record of Decision Within Five Days in Accordance with Minnesota Rules 4410.1700, Subpart 5

–Update on the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Reconstruction Project

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on February 3, 2016 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

Xcel’s Letter to FERC Regarding A-Mill (and others) Proposed Water Usage

The following item has been provided by Doug Verdier:

Xcel’s Letter to FERC Regarding A-Mill (and others) Proposed Water Usage

Here is the attachment with the comments Xcel has filed with FERC regarding the proposed water flow/usage proposed by the A-Mill project. The letter, dated January 14, 2016, also mentions the proposed usage by Crown Hydro, should that project proceed.


Why is the Downtown East Commons Park Such a Tough Sell?

The following article by Lee Schafer was published in the January 26, 2016 edition of the Star Tribune.

Why is the Downtown East Commons Park Such a Tough Sell?


 Hargreaves Associates and the City of Minneapolis

It’s going to take $22 million in donated money to fully realize the plan for the Downtown East Commons park, envisioned as the kind of civic jewel that should inspire the generosity of the corporate community.

There are enough Fortune 500 public companies in the state, along with giants like privately held Cargill and Ireland-based Medtronic, that a million bucks from each would wrap up this campaign pretty quickly.

Well, that was wishful thinking.

The organization in charge of the fundraising for the Downtown East Commons, called Green Minneapolis, this month announced that it had raised not quite half of what’s needed to complete the project, including some money for operations. And some of the more ambitious features of the park’s design have been put on hold.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribune

Why is the Downtown East Commons park such a tough sell?

CAC Meeting for Draft Recommendations for Lake

CAC Meeting for Draft Recommendations for Lake
Calhoun & Lake Harriet Master Plan

The attached draft recommendations for the Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet
master planning process will be discussed at the February 16 CAC meeting
at Jones Harrison Residence from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The public is invited to attend and speak.

This project description highlights the environmental costs of increased
usage of these park lands, and especially concerns about water quality: