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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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The following clarifying letter by MPRB Park Board Commissioner Scott Vreeland was posted on the Minneapolis Issues List on September 20, 2016.


Many of you know that I have been working on systems and structures to
decrease institutional and structural racism.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is a national leader for its
work on racial equity.  It is important that the Park Board continue this work
on eliminating racial disparities and that we have employment policies that
increase diversity.
Unfortunately, this does not prevent people from making false allegations
about racism for their own personal gain, or for the spotlight of TV cameras
and Facebook likes.
You can believe me about this or you can believe Hashim Yonis.  You can
look at the evidence and facts or you can make assumptions based on false
Hashim Yonis is one of the main organizers of disrupting Park Board
meetings. He was convicted of theft by swindle by the Hennepin County Criminal
Court. He was found guilty of stealing money from the park board by telling
There is also extensive evidence contained in a separate civil service
investigation which is public information.
In addition to the evidence of his criminal activity, there is a document
with Mr.Yonis’ signature that is a legally binding contract.
Here’s the text of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board  statement
about this legally binding agreement:
“In July, 2013, a citizen complained to a park board employee that Hashim
Yonis was renting out Currie Park field and questioned where the rental
money was going.  An internal  investigation was conducted resulting in a
finding that Mr. Yonis had violated numerous civil service rules constituting
just cause for his termination.  On August 23, 2013, Mr. Yonis was terminated
from employment with the Park  Board.
On August 27, 2013, Mr. Yonis appealed his termination through the
Minneapolis Civil Service Commission.  A civil service hearing on Mr. Yonis’s
appeal was scheduled to be held on October 15, 2013.  The day before the hearing,
Mr. Yonis, through his attorney, asked the Park Board if it would consider
amending his termination to a resignation if he dropped his appeal.
After consultation with Park Board counsel, the Superintendent determined
that it was in the best interest of the Park Board to amend Mr. Yonis’
termination to a resignation on the following conditions:
He waive his right to appeal his termination;
He never apply or reapply for a position with the Park Board;
He waive his rights, if any, to sue the Park Board for any claim arising
out of his employment with the Park Board; and
That he not disparage the Park  Board, its commissioners or employees
relative to the investigation into  employment misconduct and his subsequent
Mr. Yonis signed the  settlement agreement on October 21, 2013. The dispute
over his termination is concluded.  The settlement agreement is public, as
is the investigation into the complaint against Mr. Yonis”.
Mr. Yonis organizes disruption by making false accusations that are untrue, defamatory, and in violation of a negotiated and voluntary settlement that he signed. It is because I care about fairness, racial equity, and social justice that I see the harm in spreading lies that divide communities.


Scott Vreeland
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Commissioner District # 3



Tonight’s Park Board meeting provided an interesting study in contrasts.

First there was Open Time, characterized by a number of individuals spewing angry insults at the superintendent and the commissioners.  At the conclusion of Open Time, most of the critical and insulting speakers and their supporters (many with insulting signs) got up and left, not waiting to hear responsive comments from Superintendent Miller.  Such a hasty departure by the Park Board critics leaves the impression that there is no genuine desire to resolve their complaints.

And then, in contrast, there was–later in the meeting–the Public Hearing for the Southside Service Plan, characterized by a number of individuals from a variety of ethnic backgrounds providing their varied perspectives on the plan.  These individuals presented their perspectives calmly and thoughtfully.

A reminder:  Anyone wanting to observe the meeting can do so by going to the Park Board website:
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
There will a delay of a few of days between the meeting and the posting.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

Disruptive Behavior at Public Meetings

The following two letters were published in the September 10, 2016 edition of the Star Tribune.

Disruptiveness to get a point across? Nope, not right.

I read the Sept. 9 article about the increasingly difficult task of conducting public meetings without a variety of disruptive tactics (“Noisy meetings more the norm”). NAACP spokesman Raeisha Williams points out that no matter what tactic protesters employ, they cannot get their message across. I suggest that they give the “kneel in silent protest” another chance.

Rod Johnson, Alexandria, Minn.

• • •

I am writing to respond to the Star Tribune’s article reporting the Minneapolis NAACP’s demand for an apology from the city’s Park Board for removing a number of disruptive individuals from Wednesday’s meeting. The individuals removed were heckling the commissioners and interfering with Park Board business. Their removal was a logical consequence of their intentional disruptive behavior.

It would be appropriate for the disrupters to apologize for their bad behavior. Why would they expect the Park Board to apologize to them?

Arlene Fried, Minneapolis

Crown Hydro–Friends of the Mississippi River motion for extension to FERC

Crown Hydro–Friends of the Mississippi River motion for extension to FERC

On 9/16/2016, the following Filing was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Washington D.C.:

Filer:   Friends of the Mississippi River
Friends of the Mississippi River (as Agent)

Docket(s):         P-11175-025

Filing Type:     Comment on Filing
Description:    Comment of Friends of the Mississippi River -Request on behalf of our members and other interested residents and community organizations for extension of time to review and submit comments on EA under P-11175.

To view the document for this Filing, click here:


NOTE: In addition to the above filing by  Friends of the Mississippi River, similar filings were submitted to FERC by the following organizations: Friends of the Riverfront, Minneapolis Parks Foundation, St. Anthony Falls Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association.

Heads-Up for the September 21, 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”

6:30 P.M.  PUBLIC HEARINGS for Matthews Park Playground Improvements and South Service Area Master Plan

Some agenda items of interest are:

–Accepting the Non-Appointed Community Advisory Committee Recommendation and Approving the Concept Plan for Playground Improvements at Matthews Park

–Approving the South Service Area Master Plan

–Authorizing the Formation and Charge of an Appointed Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for Scherer Site Parcel ‘D’ Development

–Amending the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Rule Section 2 to Include New Language Regarding Decorum at Meetings

–Community Engagement Plan for the Boom Island/Nicollet Island Bridge Repair

–Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board 2016 Goals & Performance Measures Report on Second Quarter Results

–Community Engagement Plan – 2017 Sheridan Memorial Park Improvements

–Community Engagement Plan – Lake Nokomis Community Center

–Community Engagement Plan for Scherer Brother Parcel ‘D’ Development

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on September 21, 2016 is at http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx

Board meeting agendas and related information are posted on the above 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

Crown Hydro–Friends of the Riverfront Motion for extension to FERC

The following item has been circulated by Doug Verdier:

Crown Hydro–Friends of the Riverfront Motion for extension to FERC

On 9/14/2016, the following Filing was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Washington D.C.:

Filer:         Friends of the Riverfront
Husch Blackwell LLP (as Agent)

Docket(s):         P-11175-000

Filing Type:     Procedural Motion
Request for Delay of Action/Extension of Time

Description:     Motion for Extension of Time of Friends of the Riverfront under Docket No. P-11175, et. al.

To view the document for this Filing, click here


Sender’s Note:  There is no guarantee that an extension of the Oct. 2, 2016 deadline for submission of comments to FERC will be granted. Individuals and Homeowner’s Associations wishing to submit comments regarding the Crown Hydro project and/or its Environmental Assessment (previously emailed to you) are encouraged to do so by the Oct. 2 deadline.


The following letter-to-the-editor was published in the September 17, 2016 issue of the Star Tribune.


In response to the Sept. 6 commentary (“Downhill skiing is a race to the bottom; caring for ski trails in Minneapolis isn’t”) by Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Member Brad Bourn, Nekima Levy-Pounds (president of Minneapolis NAACP), Cathy Jones (second vice president of the Minneapolis NAACP) and Corey Webster (Local 363 president):

Bourn unfortunately stirred last-minute controversy between the public, the Park Board and the Loppet Foundation last week. He has told his constituents, including me, that he “supported” the Trailhead project. His concern about union labor was addressed openly at the Park Board meeting on Aug. 3, as well as in many negotiations between the board and the Loppet Foundation in the past three years. Here are the facts. Six part-time winter employees will move elsewhere in the Park Board system with the same benefits and hours. The grooming and snowmaking will be done by trained professionals. Skiers at Wirth Park already know that the trails are “up to par” only on event days when the Loppet-trained teams are allowed to be in charge. Also, the Trailhead project will create up to 35 new jobs.

No one loses their job. In what form of math does that take away opportunity from communities of color, as the commentary argues, or take away middle-class jobs?

Bourn gave the wrong information to the NAACP, the union and the public at the last minute. Instead of celebration, the partnership starts with protests. Fortunately, the Trailhead will bring employment and vitality to Wirth Park and its immediate neighborhoods anyway, despite Bourn’s “support.”

Mary Kate McKelvey, Minneapolis

The writer coaches in the Loppet Foundation’s Trail Kids program.

Park Board Moves Forward ith Wirth Sports Center Despite Union Concern

The following article by Eric Best was published and updated on September 8, 2016 in the Southwest Journal.

The Trailhead rendering courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The Trailhead rendering courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Park Board Moves Forward ith Wirth Sports Center Despite Union Concern

Several protestors were removed from the contentious meeting.

Police removed 10 people from a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board meeting Wednesday night for disrupting commissioners.

Of the 10 people, four were cited, including three for disorderly conduct for disturbing a meeting and one for obstructing the legal process or arrest, according to a park spokeswoman.

The removals come after months of disruptions from protestors, who have at times called for the resignations of board leaders and have been critical of the board’s hiring practices concerning people of color. This summer meetings have regularly gone into recess while audience members chant or interrupt commissioners.

President Anita Tabb asked park police to remove four people for yelling while she read rules regarding the board’s open time period, which went on for over an hour even though speakers were limited to one minute at the dais.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Southwest Journal

Park Board moves forward with Wirth sports center despite union …

Dayton Pushes SWLRT Funding Solution

The following article by Dylan Thomas was published and updated in the September 9, 2016 Southwest Journal.

Dayton Pushes SWLRT Funding Solution

Stopgap would replace state dollars with county and Met Council funds.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck unveiled their stopgap funding solution for Southwest light rail Thursday.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck unveiled their stopgap funding solution for Southwest light rail Thursday.

Facing a potential idling of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project next month, Gov. Mark Dayton and Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck on Thursday unveiled a stopgap funding solution to keep the $1.86-billion project on track.

The plan involves Met Council, the Counties Transit Improvement Board and Hennepin County partnering to contribute an additional $144.5-million to the project. That amount would cover the state’s unfulfilled 10-percent commitment to the 14.5-mile extension of the Metro Green Line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, plus additional costs incurred due to delays.

The public meeting on Thursday included many critical of Southwest light rail, but they appeared to be outnumbered by supporters.The public meeting on Thursday included many critical of Southwest light rail, but they appeared to be outnumbered by supporters.

“I believe this project is in the best interests of the metropolitan region, I believe it’s in the best interests of Minnesota and it is very important that it go forward,” Dayton said Thursday. He said the plan was hammered-out in an eight-hour meeting in his office just the day before.

Met Council is poised to submit its application for a $928.5-million Federal Transit Administration grant meant to cover half the cost of SWLRT, but it needs to shore-up local financial commitments first. Duininck said he was “cautiously optimistic” the boards of all three bodies would approve the plan — which involves the sale of certificates of participation, a form of government financing similar to bonding — by Wednesday.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Southwest Journal.

Dayton pushes SWLRT funding solution | Southwest Journal