Author Archives: Chris

Press release regarding sewer line construction in Roberts Bird Sanctuary

This press release was received by Park Watch from Matt Johnson today.

Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary
Matt Johnson, President
[email protected]

Treasured Minneapolis Bird Sanctuary in Peril

Friends of rare urban nature area oppose devastation to habitat and vegetation

Minneapolis, MN – The Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary (FRBS) announced today that it opposes the current plan to rehabilitate the 100-year-old sewer line running through the Sanctuary and called on the Metropolitan Council to adjust its plan for work inside the Sanctuary. According to FRBS President Matt Johnson, “While everyone understands the necessity of upgrading the sewer line, the Met Council’s current plan ignores the fact that this area is a bird sanctuary and would result in unnecessary devastation and loss of habitat that would last for decades.”

According to the Friends, key aspects of the rehabilitation plan have changed drastically since the Met Council conducted meetings and open houses to inform the public. For example, the width of the work zone through the Sanctuary has increased from 10 feet to 60 feet since the project was announced. Such a wide zone of destruction will result in the loss of many more trees important for nesting owls and other birds. Despite earlier assurances that work would not occur during bird migration periods, work is now likely to start during Fall migration. Normally migrant birds use the sanctuary as a stopover to rest; however, the current plan will eliminate this option for birds. MPRB is also planning to use a crude oil aggregate, bitumen, as a surface material inside the Sanctuary, which will certainly pollute the Sanctuary’s fragile wetland environment.

Audubon Minnesota and two local Audubon chapters have joined with the Friends of Roberts and with organizations representing the two neighborhoods in which the Sanctuary is located (East Harriet-Farmstead Neighborhood Association and the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council) to oppose the Met Council’s current plan. All six organizations signed a letter urging the Met Council to meet with them to resolve concerns before finalizing the plan for the sewer work inside the bird sanctuary. To date both the Met Council and MPRB have refused to address these critical concerns.

The letter states, “We are very concerned about the lack of an explicit mitigation plan that acknowledges and accommodates the value and fragility of the bird sanctuary, and with the lack of transparency over the past few months as the Met Council met with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board staff to finalize plans.”

Take Action to Protect the Sanctuary

FRBS encourages people to contact the Met Council, MPRB Commissioners and MPRB Superintendent urging full transparency and modifications to the work plan that will ensure a strong, detailed and contractual commitment to minimize the disruption and damage to the Sanctuary.

About Roberts Bird Sanctuary

The Thomas Sadler Roberts Bird Sanctuary is a 31-acre undeveloped natural area located in Lyndale Park near the Peace Garden in southwest Minneapolis. One of only two bird sanctuaries in the Minneapolis park system, Roberts Bird Sanctuary is part of the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Important Bird Area (IBA), which is recognized as a globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations, both migrating and resident. Hundreds of species visit the Sanctuary during migration.

About the Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary

The Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary, Inc. is a Minnesota non-profit corporation formed in 2013 whose purpose is to protect, preserve, and enhance the Sanctuary as a sustainable and thriving habitat and sanctuary for birds and other native wildlife; to safeguard the integrity of the Sanctuary as an undeveloped natural area connecting people with nature; to enhance through education visitors’ appreciation and understanding of Minnesota’s birds and native wildlife and their natural environments as part of an intricate and balanced web of life; to promote and to assist in the implementation of management techniques in and near the Sanctuary that protect and enhance water quality and wildlife habitat.

Concepts Begin To Emerge In Water Works Park Project

The following article by Ben Johnson was published in the October 10, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal:


Last month initial concepts for Water Works park were presented to the public by representatives from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), the Minneapolis Parks Foundation and the private firms hired to design and build the park.

At this point no park features are set in stone, although basic ideas have begun to emerge for the planned park in between the Stone Arch and 3rd Ave. bridges along the Mississippi River.

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Many Construction Projects Make Mess, But Bring Upgrades To Theodore Wirth

The following article by Ben Johnson was published in the October 10, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal:

Many construction projects make mess, but bring upgrades to Theodore Wirth

A number of ongoing construction projects at Theodore Wirth Park have some sections of its 759 acres looking a little rough.

More than a mile of new mountain biking trails are being constructed near the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Theodore Wirth Parkway. These trails are replacing unsanctioned paths that have developed over the years. For the first time MPRB is using professional contractors to build mountain biking trails, and they have been using excavators to clear room and shape the trails.

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Arvonne Fraser: Re-think Ranked-Choice Voting

The following letter-to-the-editor by Arvonne Fraser was published in a recent issue of the Star-tribune:


The fact that there’s a tryout is telling

Something is wrong when the process of voting is made so complex that Minneapolis has to buy new voting machines and host lunch-hour educational sessions to explain the process. The Star Tribune’s well-meaning explanatory editorial (“Try ranked-choice before Nov. 5 voting,” Sept. 13): laments the fact that few people show up for these educational sessions and urges us to bone up on this new ranked-choice voting system.

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Park Worker / Board Candidate Fired Over Lost Funds

The following article by Bill McAuliffe was published in the September 20, 2013 issue of the Star Tribune:



A Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board youth specialist backed by Mayor R.T. Rybak in his run for a seat on the board was fired from his job last month after being unable to account for $3,800 in soccer field rentals, according to board documents.

Hashim Yonis, who accompanied Rybak last year to meet President Obama for recognition of a Minneapolis youth jobs and mentoring program, was dismissed Aug. 23, two weeks after filing to run for one of three at-large seats on the Park Board.

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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.”

The following topics are some of the agenda highlights:

–Resolution Amending Professional Services Agreement #C-36040 with Tom Leader Studio/Kennedy Violich Architecture for Schematic Design of RiverFirst Priority Projects in the Amount of $35,000 for a New Contract Total of $811,033.

–STUDY/REPORT ITEM: Visioning ideas for 4 areas: River, Downtown, Stadium, other (neighborhood/other parks)

–STUDY/REPORT ITEM: Pros/cons associated with various funding devices: Tax Liens, Referendum, Conservancy, Naming Rights

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday September 18, 2013 is at

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. Look for the links to these reports under Petitions and Communications in the agenda 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:

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.

Webcasts of MPRB regular board meetings are posted on the MPRB website two to five business days following each meeting and are available for viewing, along with webcasts for the recent two months, at

Board meeting agendas and related information are posted on www.minneapolisparks.orgtwo business days prior to meetings.

The Park Board’s website is The phone number is 612-230-6400.

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch


The following item by Nick Halter was published in the August 29, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal:


Lots of challengers emerged in the final days of filing for public office, announcing runs for Minneapolis Park Board this November.

The most competitive race will be for the three at-large seats that are elected citywide.

One of the incumbents, Bob Fine, decided to instead run for mayor. Now, 10 candidates are vying for the three seats.

John Erwin and Annie Young are incumbents. Tom Nordyke is a former Park Board president and got the DFL endorsement along with Erwin and Fine.

Also running are Meg Forney and Jason Stone, who lost Park Board elections in 2009.

The field is rounded out by Hashim Yonis, Mary Lynn McPherson, Steve Barland, Casper Hill and Ishmael Israel.

Hill works for the city of Minneapolis communications department.

In the Park Board’s sixth district in Southwest, incumbent Brad Bourn is facing Josh Neiman. Bourn got the DFL endorsement. Neiman’s father and grandfather were Park Board commissioners.

In the fourth district, incumbent Anita Tabb faces Bobby Davis.

Roberts Bird Sanctuary Management Plan Open House

The following item has been issued by the Park Board:

Thomas Sadler Roberts Bird Sanctuary Management Plan Open House Sept. 12

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is hosting a public meeting to review the sanctuary’s management plan, proposed trail improvements and capital improvement program opportunities.

The meeting will be held Thursday, September 12, 2013 from 6:30 – 7:30 pm at the Thomas Sadler Roberts Bird Sanctuary Shelter:

4124 Roseway Road

Minneapolis, MN 55409

612 230-6400

Public Contact:

Debra Lynn Pilger

Director, Environmental Management

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board