Monthly Archives: February 2004

Park Board's plans for riverfront boom?

There’s a big boom on the riverfront going on, with millions of dollars being spent and made in profit. The Park Board has a current project to landscape a half-mile riverside stretch above St. Anthony Falls. The Park Board master plan calls for reclamation and landscaping of both sides of the river to the city limits above the falls, according to this article in the Star Tribune.

Ignoring for a moment that the Park Board does not even own some of the riverfront property (the city does), some developers and real estate brokers will be made wealthy by such decisions by the Park Board. Will these be similar to the decision to buy the HQ building, made behind the public’s back, wasteful of taxpayer dollars and favoring an insider?

National Scenic Byways

The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway is a system of trails, paths and roadways through the Minneapolis parks is a unique urban setting that includes dozens of parks, lakes, and historic districts.

The National Scenic Byways Program is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. The program is a grass-roots collaborative effort established to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States. Since 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has provided funding for almost 1500 state and nationally designated byway projects in 48 states. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation recognizes certain roads as All-American Roads or National Scenic Byways based on one or more archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities.

The Marina that won't die

Why is it that despite Irwin Jacobs pulling out of the Park Board’s silly idea for building a marina, JADT Development Group’s Riverview Homes development just north of the headquarters building continues to advertise that their buyers will have “access to planned marina?”

The planned marina is to be located on the river directly in front of their headquarters building (on city property, not park property — and at a really bad location river-navigation-wise).

And the marina is still on the Park Board’s legislative agenda — that is, their paid lobbyists continue to twist arms at the state to get bonding for this development. What’s the likelihood the state will come up with bonding for such a project, given the financial mess they’re in, unless some interesting strings get pulled?

Wirth-While Weekend

“A Wirth – While Weekend” celebrates Minneapolis Park history with the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society and Theodore Wirth’s family.

More information here: http://www.Minneapolis

Sat. June 19: Dedication of the Theodore Wirth Statue Garden at Wirth Park, motorcade on the parkway system to 3954 Bryant Ave. So. to attend the dedication of the signage at the National Historic Site of the Theodore Wirth Home & Administration Building, with public tours of the home and of the Wirth gravesite in Lakewood Cemetery.

Sun. June 20: Tour the Scenic Byways; Minnehaha Parkway to the River Road and Boom Island Park.

Co-sponsors: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Assoc., Lakewood Cemetery Assoc. The National Scenic Byways & The Twin Cities Regional Group Horseless Carriage Club.

Feb. 18 Park Board meeting highlights

Here are the highlights of the most recent (Feb. 18) commissioners
meeting as recorded by Jason Stone who was in the audience.

Attendance was light at the Park Board meeting this evening, although
for about five minutes the excited Skipperliner entourage helped
fill the space up.

There was a lot of BAU (Business As Usual), but there were several
items of note. True to form, the juicy stuff happened at the end
of the meeting.

My biased reflections below, rooted in as much fact as my poor
memory can muster

Jason Stone

Charter Commission

It has recently come to the attention of the Board that the City
is working on revising its Charter, with significant potential
ramifications to the independence of the MPRB. Ostensibly, the
Charter revisions were intended to simply and update the language
of the existing Charter. Counsel Brian Rice advises that the current
draft (Draft 4) of the revised Charter carries verbiage that
significantly reduces the power of the MPRB, reducing its role to
that of a city department (at least in the eyes of the City).

Needless to say, there was considerable consternation regarding
this new development. Most concerning however, is that this new
development is actually an old development. Apparently someone
from the City sent a letter to President Fine and all MPRB Commissioners
about a year ago regarding the initiative to update the Charter.
The letter, I believe, requested the involvement of the Park Board
in the revision process. President Fine denies that he ever received
this letter and nobody admits to having heard of this issue before.

Commissioner Fine was President Fine when this issue began. Quotes
from Commissioner Fine with respect to the revisions-in-progress
of the Charter include “What happened to this process? ” and
“How did it get so far?”

The MPRB getting blindsided by this is quite odd given that
Commissioner Diedzic’s daughter is on the Charter Commission.

There was conjecture about the effectiveness of a City effort to
reduce the powers of an organization legislated into existence by
the State, and with power that extends beyond city limits.

Commissioner Mason requested of President Olson that she be appointed
to the Charter Review Commission (after having received a new request
from the Commission for an MPRB Commissioner or staff member to
participate). President Olson indicated that he himself would fill
the role. Commissioners Berry Graves and Young, along with Legal
Counsel, all indicated their support for Commissioner Mason filling
this appointment, or at the very least joining President Olson.
President Olson dismissed all requests that he be accompanied by
Commissioner Mason.

Obviously, this is a very important issue that could use several
sets of eyes. It appears to me that President Olson’s need to either
consolidate power or punish Mason for transgressions (going public?)
supercedes the desire to ensure the ongoing independence of the
Park Board.

Cable Broadcast of Meetings

A presentation was made to the Board on several options for
broadcasting MPRB meetings on local cable access. The cost would
be about $20k/year amortized over seven years to procure equipment,
cabling, circuits, etc to host the broadcasting in MPRB HQ.

The cost associated with broadcasting using the existing infrastructure
of the City Council chambers was presented as around $20k, $5,700
of which was for parking. The major distinction is that the
infrastructure at City Hall would be studio quality while broadcast
facilities at MPRB HQ would be minimalist.

I wonder if the City could sweeten the deal for the MPRB to broadcast
from the City Council chambers. It seems rather silly for one
portion of the city to make an expensive, redundant capital investment
when very expense equipment will be sitting idle.

The majority response was positive on the idea of broadcasting
meetings, with a few Commissioners questioning how many people would
watch. I wonder if they are intentionally missing the point.

Excursion Boat

The board authorized staff to negotiate and execute a 10 year
contract with Skipperliner with a 5 year option. Someone (Berry-Graves
perhaps?) briefly questioned the wisdom of such a long contract,
but the motion passed anyway.

What are Gurban's Qualifications?

Last year (2003), the MPRB hired a search firm to find prospects to fill the position of superintendent. We recently obtained a copy of the text in the document the search firm sent to prospective applicants. The criteria all seem reasonable. Jon Gurban (current interim superintendent and appointed at the last moment by the Gang of Five in what clearly was a backroom deal) did not apply for the job, or follow any of the application requirements outlined here. Thus we have no way of knowing if he is at all qualified. The commissioners never received any further information beyond a brief, inaccurate resume handed out just minutes prior to the vote. What are they trying to hide? That Gurban is completely unqualified?

Page 1

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
Announcement of Vacancy

Page 2


Minneapolis, a city of 382,618 residents in the southeastern corner
of Minnesota is the largest city in the state and the center of a
metropolitan region of 2.7 million. The name Minneapolis combines
the Dakota word for water (minne) with the Greek word for city
(polis), a fitting name for a city with 18 of Minnesota’s 12,034 lakes.
Minneapolis began as a grain milling and timber
city centered on the river. It has become a city
renowned for great parks and open spaces,
quality medical facilities and health care services,
high tech medical devices industry, the arts and
six major league sport teams.
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are
second only to New York in per capita theater
and arts attendance. Besides being home to the
world-renowned Tyrone Guthrie Theater,
Minneapolis has more than 30 other theaters and
two world-class museums and is home to the
internationally acclaimed Minnesota Orchestra.

Outdoor attractions are just as popular as indoor. Minneapolis has
more golfers per capita than any other city in the country. Midwest
Living ranked the Grand Rounds route, circling the Minneapolis
lakes, as one of the three “best national scenic byways.” Cooking
Light included Minneapolis on its Top 10 list of major U.S. cities
most fit for healthy living.

Minneapolis has become more ethnically and racially diverse
over the last 45 years. Current demographics are 65% of
European background (white) and 35% other ethnic and racial
groups (an increase from 22% in 1990). Recent waves of
immigration have brought people from Africa, Asia, Eastern
Europe and Latin America, accentuating the cosmopolitan feel
of the city with an international flair. Racial
diversity is most noticeable in the younger
age categories, where approximately 40% of
the population is children of color. Twenty-
five percent of the people in Minneapolis
are 19 years of age or younger, with a
median age of 31.

Minneapolis has 81 residential neighborhoods offering a broad range of housing to
161,000 households. The median household
income, while rising slightly for Minneapolis families, remained below the income level
for the larger metropolitan area (69%) and
U.S. (84%) residents as a whole.
Forty-seven thousand students are enrolled in Minneapolis
public primary and secondary schools. Non-public primary
and secondary enrollment is about 7,000. The University of
Minnesota (just minutes from downtown Minneapolis) has a
current enrollment of 39,595 students.


The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB), a semi-autonomous elected body of city government, oversees a diverse system of land and
water areas. The Minneapolis Park System consists of more than 170 park properties including local and regional parks, the urban forest consisting
of park and street trees; playgrounds, totlots, triangles, waterparks, golf courses, gardens, picnic areas, nature sanctuaries, athletic fields and the only
National Urban Scenic Byway in the country (a 55-mile parkway system known as the Grand Rounds). Together, these properties total nearly 6,400
acres of land and water.

Over the years, our park system has grown from a few city parks to a large, nationally recognized and Gold Medal award-winning park system.
Within the park system there are 49 neighborhood recreation centers; 11 supervised beaches; three outdoor swimming pools; two waterparks; 34
outdoor ice rinks; 2 year-round hockey rinks, one indoor ice skating and hockey complex; five 18-hole golf courses; one Executive 9-hole course; one
Par-3 course; two Golf Learning Centers; 396 baseball and softball diamonds; and 167 tennis courts. There are also 38 miles of walking paths, 36
miles of biking/skating paths, a winter recreation complex at Wirth Park, the Neiman Youth Sports
Complex at Fort Snelling and four dog parks.

The mission of the MPRB reflects what they believe and how they dedicate their efforts. “The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, on behalf of all current and future citizens of the City of Minneapolis, shall
strive to permanently preserve, protect, maintain, improve and enhance the City’s parkland and recreational opportunities.” It is their belief that the parks and positive recreational experiences offer individuals and communities the fullest opportunity to maximize their potential.

Various divisions of the MPRB provide planning, development, maintenance, and police protection for the
city’s recreational facilities. Recreational, environmental and other park programs and services are provided
for all ages and abilities, from toddlers to senior citizens.

Today, an important component of what makes Minneapolis a great place to live and work is the parks and lakes in the Minneapolis Park System.
City residents enjoy a park or open green space within six blocks of every household. The MPRB primarily serves the nearly 400,000 Minneapolis
residents. Many people who don’t live in Minneapolis also enjoy the Minneapolis Park System. Every year, there are 15 million visits to the regional
parks in Minneapolis, second only to the Mall of America as the most visited place in the State of Minnesota.

The new Superintendent will become only the tenth superintendent to serve the MPRB since its inception in 1883. The Superintendent will provide
leadership to about 600 full-time and over 1,000 part-time staff, and will report to the nine member elected Board of Park Commissioners.

Page 2

Page 3


The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board operating budget for 2003 totals $47.9 million, consisting of
property taxes, Local Government Aid from the State of Minnesota, other revenue, governmental grants,
pension credit and transfers. The new Superintendent will also oversee $12 million in Enterprise (non-tax)
funds. The capital budget has averaged about $14.5 million for the last three years from all sources.


Bob Fine, President
first elected November 1997
Marie Hauser, Vice-President
first elected November 2001
Rochelle Berry Graves
first elected November 1993
Walt Dziedzic
first elected November 1997
John Erwin
first elected November 2001
Carol Kummer
Appointed to fill a vacancy in March 2003
Vivian Mason
Appointed to fill a vacancy in March 1997
First first elected in November 1997
Jon Olson
first elected November 2001
Annie Young
first elected November 1989

Seated: Annie Young, Marie Hauser,
Bob Fine, Carol Kummer
Standing: John Erwin, Rochelle Berry
Graves, Vivian Mason, Jon Olson, Walt

Page 3

All Commissioners’ terms expire December 31, 2005.


The Board will offer a minimum salary of $110,000 plus fringe benefits. Actual salary is negotiable,
based on background and experience.


    The Board of Commissioners of the MPRB wish to employ a Superintendent with the following qualifications and characteristics:

  • A strong academic background in parks and recreation or related fields, such as urban planning and/or management.
  • Five to seven years senior administrative experience. Experience as a superintendent preferred.
  • Possess an understanding of the environment, sustainability and “green” technologies.
  • Ability to create a sound fiscal program that includes budgeting, capital projects, budget management and the development of creative funding
  • Strong personnel management skills, including the ability to assign personnel and delegate responsibilities with assurance and accountability.
  • Proven track record of developing strong intergovernmental relationships and cooperative efforts.
  • Ability to work with diverse cultures and immigrant communities.
  • Evidence of skills and experience in developing short-range and long-range goals to incorporate the Board’s Master Plan.
  • An in-depth understanding of the board/superintendent relationship.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Must demonstrate skills of a visionary, motivator and leader.

Page 4


The Board of Commissioners of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board invite applications for the position of Superintendent. The
Board wishes to select a Superintendent who will be employed and begin work no later than January 12, 2004.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All applications or inquiries should be referred to:

Screening Committee — Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
Illinois Association of Park Districts
211 East Monroe Street
Springfield, Illinois 62701-1186
(217) 523-4554

Applications should be marked personal and confidential.

To receive consideration, the applicant’s file must be received by November 3, 2003 and must contain the information below. All documents
(other than education credentials) must have a left margin of 1.5 inches. Each numbered item below needs to be on a separate page.

  1. Formal letter of application indicating reasons you desire to be a candidate.
  2. Current resume needs to include, but not limited to, dates of employment, duties, number of employees supervised, and budget amount

  3. Complete list of accomplishments/completed projects.
  4. Provide at least three (3) current letters of recommendation. These written references should include former employers, employees and
    board members.

  5. You must also supply 3-6 references with complete name, address and phone number. These references need to be different than those
    providing letters of recommendation and will be contacted by the Illinois Association of Park Districts upon receipt.

  6. Complete set of up-to-date credentials which include legal proof verifying educational degrees. Transcript or copy of diploma is acceptable.
  7. Written permission to contact past employers and written permission to have a criminal background check and substance abuse test.
  8. Typewritten responses to the following management questions. Please limit each response to one page.
    1. Describe your management style.
    2. State your philosophy of parks and recreation.
    3. What issues do you consider to be critically important to the park and recreation field?
    4. How are you attempting to resolve these issues?



November 3, 2003 ……………………… Deadline for Receiving Applications
November 19, 2003 …………………… Board Reviews Slate of Finalists
December 1-7, 2003 ………………….. Board Begins Interview Process
December 10, 2003 ……………………. Tentative Date for Selection of Superintendent
January 12, 2004 ………………………. Date of Employment

Where is Wirth

Sent to the Strib Editorial Page Letters to the Editor submissions page—-

This is very interesting. Can you guess the identity of this person? Most of this description of him comes from webpage for theThe Honorable Cornelius Amory Pugsley Medals. These “are the most prestigious awards that recognize outstanding contributions to the promotion and development of public parks in the United States. Each year medals honoring extraordinary service are awarded at the National, State/Regional, and Local levels.” Our mystery person was a recipient. Here is some more about him.

In January, 1906, a new Park Superintendent arrived in Minneapolis. The park system consisted of 57 different properties, covering an area of 1810 acres with a total inventory value of $3.5 million. When he retired in 1935, the inventory showed a total area of 5241 acres contained in 144 properties with a total value of $19.1 million. He transformed marginal undeveloped land into parks, golf courses, flower gardens and boulevards. To eliminate swampy sections and frequent flooding, he dredged lakes and graded their banks. Then he designed a thoroughly integrated and coherent park system influenced by Frederick Olmsted’s visionary insights.

His ambition was to make the Minneapolis Park System unequaled in the country with its natural majesty and recreation opportunities. The Minneapolis Park System was so outstanding that park planners from throughout the world came to study its development. Organized around its chain of lakes, the system became widely acclaimed for its aesthetic and functional integrity.

While initially a follower of the traditional school of thinking that parks should be established first for beauty and aesthetic dignity and second for passive recreation, he became a strong proponent for the establishment of playgrounds and for the use of parks for active forms of recreation. He tore down fences that surrounded Minneapolis’ park turf areas, and put up signs reading “Please Walk on the Grass” to emphasize his conviction that parks are to be used.

The park, parkway and playground system, which he masterminded, is perhaps our community’s biggest asset and has made our city famous throughout the nation.

And the fun part of guessing who this famous Park Superintendent was? Go to , click on “About MPRB” and then “A Brief History”.

Then call your Park Board Commissioner and ask who this person was and why isn’t he worthy of a mention in Park History!

Next Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissioners Meeting, Feb. 18

The agenda documents are now available at the Park Board web site for their next meeting. There are 3 Agenda links on their page for the 3 agenda documents for the 2 committee meetings and the general / regular meeting which will take place starting at 5pm on Feb. 18.

Note that the agenda documents are in Microsoft Word document format.

Here’s a link to the Park Board website page containing links to those agendas: Meeting Information