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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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Dayton, Met Council Seek to Revive Southwest Light Rail Prospects

The following article by Patrick Condon was published in the August 26, 2016 edition of the Star Tribune.

Dayton, Met Council Seek to Revive Southwest Light Rail Prospects

Advocates fear losing out on federal funds, but critics say it’s time to pull the plug. 
Gov. Mark Dayton and Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt earlier in the month when talk of a special legislative session bogged down over the Southwest light rail project.

 

Taxpayers in the Twin Cities area would be on the hook for an additional $145 million to salvage the Southwest Light Rail Transit project from State Capitol gridlock, under a newly unveiled plan that Gov. Mark Dayton endorsed Thursday.

Dayton led a three-hour public meeting Thursday about the future of the beleaguered Southwest line, a proposed light-rail link between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. Supporters touted its benefits and critics questioned its cost and effectiveness as a deadline approaches to secure needed federal funding for the $1.9 billion venture.

“We’re at the point where we need action or we’re in trouble,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, a key player in the push for the project.

The fate of SWLRT, the next spoke of an envisioned metrowide transit system, has been in question since Dayton, his Senate DFL allies and the House Republican majority failed to agree on a much larger package of tax cuts, transportation and infrastructure improvements. GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt in particular has harshly criticized the project, and its funding is poised to be a campaign issue in legislative elections around the state this fall.

To continue reading click on the link to the Star Tribune

Dayton, Met Council seek to give Southwest LRT $145M boost

A Sorry Finish to an Unproductive Legislative Session

The following editorial by the Star Tribune Editorial Board was published on August 20, 2016.

A Sorry Finish to an Unproductive Legislative Session

Consider one more try for tax relief and a bonding bill.

The long, twisted tale of the 2015-16 Legislature apparently has come to a sorry but not unexpected end. Legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton announced Thursday that they had reached no deal on Southwest light rail and, without it, there will be no special session to complete the year’s lawmaking work.

That means no tax relief, no building projects (bonding) bill, no new transportation funding — and no reason for confidence in the ability of this cast of lawmaking characters to produce a different result next year if they hold their seats in this fall’s election.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribunehttp://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/390755151.html

Special Session Negotiations Break Down with no Deal

The following article by Ricardo Lopez was published in the August 19, 2016 edition of the Star Tribune.

Special Session Negotiations Break Down with no Deal

Gov. Mark Dayton won’t call legislators back after impasse over light rail. 

Gov. Mark Dayton said he has given up hope of calling a special legislative session to pass tax breaks and millions of dollars in statewide construction projects after last-ditch negotiations with legislative leaders failed to break the deadlock.

“I am not going to call a special session,” Dayton said Thursday after a brief, 30-minute meeting with legislative leaders.

Dayton and top legislators have met for three months after the spring session collapsed without agreement on millions of dollars in construction projects. Legislators were seeking a special session to pass the construction measure and to fix a tax package that included an error that would cost the state $100 million.

The breakdown in negotiations ends hope for $260 million in tax breaks for veterans, farmers and students with college debt, at least for this year. It also kills a property tax break and liquor license for a proposed professional soccer stadium in the Midway area of St. Paul.

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

http://www.startribune.com/politics/390619801.html

Minnesota Leaders Get Testy over Light-rail Deadlock

The following article by J. Patrick Coolican was published in the August 13, 2016 edition of the Star Tribune.

Minnesota Leaders Get Testy over Light-rail Deadlock

Battle over Southwest line boils over at news conference after a meeting to discuss a possible special legislative session. 

 

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt clashed Friday over light rail after meeting to break an impasse on a possible special legislative session to pass a menu of tax cuts and a public works package.

Dayton, Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk emerged from a closed-door meeting laughing and jovial but without an agreement.

Both sides said the conflict holding up the entire deal — which would entail a special legislative session to give tax cuts and borrow about $1 billion for roads and other infrastructure projects — is whether to fund the Southwest Light Rail project from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

The transit line is hugely important to many DFL legislators, but Republican opposition has been unwavering and firm.

Dayton and Bakk, DFL-Cook, say there can be no deal without the light-rail line, but Daudt, R-Crown, insists there can be no deal with it.

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

Heads-Up for the August 17, 2016 Park Board Meeting

4:45 P.M.  CLOSED SESSION–Committee of the Whole Meeting–Discussion Regarding Proposed Workers Compensation Settlement

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:

— Receiving and Filing the Financial Status Report of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as of the Second Quarter, 2016 and File Said Report as a Permanent Record with the Secretary of the Board

–Authorizing a Professional Services Agreement with SEH, Inc., to Provide Design, Construction Documents, and Construction Administration Services for the Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet Trail and Access Improvements Project for a Fee Not to Exceed $344,300 for the Period of August 18, 2016 to December 31, 2019

–Awarding Construction Contract to Global Specialty Contractors, in the Amount of $881,907.00 for Wading Pool Improvements at Powderhorn Park and Mathews Park, Per O.P. No. 8295, Pending Approval by City of Minneapolis Purchasing & Procurement and Civil Rights Departments and Authorizing Administrative Use of a 5% Construction Contingency, Up to $44,095.35, Necessary for Construction Changes that May Arise with the Contract And, Authorize Use of Park Dedication Fees for Additional Funding in Order to Award the Construction Contract

— Approving Section 106 Memorandum of Agreement Between the Federal Transportation Administration and the Minnesota Historic Preservation Office, for Which the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board is Identified as a Consulting Party, Related to Adverse Impacts on Historic Resources Within the Grand Rounds Historic District and the Kenilworth Lagoon Caused by the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project

–Awarding a Construction Contract to Park Construction Company, in the Amount of $1,146,500 for the Wirth Adventure and Welcome Center Site Work Project, Per O.P. No. 8321, and Authorizing Administrative Use of a 10% Construction Contingency Up to $114,650 for Necessary Construction Change Orders that May Arise with the Contract

–Naming and Sponsorship Discussion

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on August 17, 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
http://www.mplsparkwatch.org

Price of Southwest Light Rail Continues to inch Up; Now at $1.86 Billion

The following article by Janet Moore was published in the August 9, 2016 issue of the Star Tribune.

Price of Southwest Light Rail Continues to inch Up; Now at $1.86 Billion

The cost of the Southwest light-rail line has increased — again. This time, by $19 million.

The price tag of the 14.5-mile line linking downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie is now $1.858 billion. Although the Metropolitan Council, the regional planning body that is building the project, is quick to note that about half of the $19 million increase will be borne by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), it leaves local taxpayers responsible for $9.5 million.

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

Price of Southwest light rail continues to inch up; now at $1.86 billion

Calhoun Refectory Open House pushed back to August 12 due to forecast for inclement weather

minneapolis park and recreation

Calhoun Refectory

Calhoun Refectory Open House pushed back to August 12 due to forecast for inclement weather

Online survey also available to provide feedback that will shape new design recommendations

The first open house for the Calhoun Refectory Facilities and Grounds study has been pushed back from Aug. 11 to Aug. 12 due to forecast for inclement weather. The scheduled times and location remain the same: 7-9:30 am, noon-2 pm and 4-6 pm at the Calhoun Refectory, 3000 Calhoun Parkway. Local restaurant The Tin Fish has leased space at the Calhoun Refectory since 2004.

Another open house is scheduled Thursday, Sept. 8, noon-2 pm and 4-6 pm at the refectory.

If you can’t make the open house, an online survey is also available. The 5-10 minute survey uses the same images that will be displayed at the open house.

Take the survey

Contact

Beth Pfeifer

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

Phone: 612-230-6466

Email: bpfeifer@minneapolisparks.org

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Final Roberts Bird Sanctuary Public Meeting Set for Aug. 10

The following item has been issued by the Park Board.

Final Roberts Bird Sanctuary Public Meeting Set for Aug. 10

The public is invited to the final Roberts Bird Sanctuary project meeting on Wed. Aug. 10, 

7-8:30 pm. The meeting will be held at Lyndale Farmstead Park Recreation Center at 3900 Bryant Ave. S.  MBRB staff will present all public input received to date, the preferred concept design which directly corresponds to community comment, and the proposed projects which outline funding sources and the project timeline  Staff is very excited to present the designs to the community and believe they capture and support the goals of the MPRB, the Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary, Audubon Minnesota, and the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis.

The project will be looking at the how the site can best support avian habitat, while providing education and low-impact access to park goers. It will result in a preferred concept to be approved by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board of Commissioners. The preferred concept will outline key improvements for construction in 2016. Visit the project page for more information about the Roberts Bird Sanctuary.

 

Edwards Wrong: Park Board Employee not Fired

The following is a letter to the editor of the Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder from Keith Kalney, an employee of the MPRB.   The publication date is July 26, 2016.

Edwards Wrong: Park Board Employee not Fired

Once again I feel it necessary to respond to misinformation and allegations included in Ron Edwards’ Spokesman-Recorder commentary, “Michael Baker is out at Theodore Wirth: Demotion as of October 1, 2016” (July 7, 2016). Quite simply, Mike Baker is not “out” at Theodore Wirth. He has been — and remains — a valued employee, and we look forward to working with Mike for years to come.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Spokesman-Recorder

http://spokesman-recorder.com/2016/07/26/edwards-wrong-park-board-employee-not-fired/

Heads-Up for the August 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:

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