Monthly Archives: March 2004

2002 Superintendent's Report Published

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board’s Superintendent’s Report 2002 was distributed this past week.

  • Yes, this is March 24, 2004 and the report is for 2002. There is no error in that date.
  • Despite having mortgaged the future of the Board to buy a new headquarters building in 2002, this $5.7 million transaction isn’t even mentioned in the report.

March 19 MPRB Legislative Report

10 Second Street Northeast
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55413
(612) 676-2300

To: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioners
Minneapolis Legislators
MPRB Staff
Environment Committee Chairs

From: Brian Rice, Kirk Pederson, Maryann Campo

Date: March 19, 2004

Re: Legislative Update for the Week of March 15, 2004

Today was the first committee deadline in the Senate, and the second committee deadline in the House. As noted previously, these incongruent deadlines are causing confusion as to the status of bills in the House vs. the Senate. Numerous lengthy hearings and late night committee meetings were held throughout the week. In the House, finance committees have submitted bonding recommendations to the Capitol Investment Committee, and the bonding committee held several overview hearings on these projects. In the Senate, finance divisions are in the process of submitting their priority lists to the Capitol Investment Committee, but details of exact proposals have not yet been released for several divisions. Policy committees in both bodies are finishing up hearing non-fiscal bills that will be passed on to the floor or included in omnibus bills.

With these developments, our time and energy is now shifting to working with members of the bonding committees to ensure the viability of our projects. It is crucial at this point to get the highest level of funding and priority rankings possible for our projects as the bonding committees begin putting together their bills. We are also coordinating with other park groups and legislators on major policy and fiscal issues affecting the Park Board such as the 4/16ths bill, funding mechanisms for non-metro regional parks, and budget balancing plans that will be decided in the upcoming weeks.

The following is the list of items that we are lobbying on or tracking this year.

  1. *** Priority Issue!!! "Non-Metro Regional Park" O&M Funding. (H.F. 1852 – Knoblach/S.F. 1965 – Kleis). This bill states that "non-metro regional parks" must receive the same amount of state O&M funding that the Metropolitan Regional Parks receive in lottery-in-lieu-of sales tax appropriations ($4.152 million in FY05 vs. the $3.3 million we were appropriated in state O&M money). As the bill is currently structured, it gives vastly disproportionate funding to rural regional parks. The attached chart uses data from the LCMR Park Study Group Report to compare state, metro regional, and rural regional parks in terms of usership and acreage and indicates the amount of funding per user visit each system would receive under H.F. 1852/S.F. 1965.
  2. While we are not opposed to some level of funding for non-metro parks (provided that Metro Park funding is not negatively impacted), we maintain that it should be a fair and proportionate amount. Giving 83 times the O&M funding to rural regional parks than to Metro Regional Parks can in no reasonable way be construed as fair or proportionate.

    The "rural regional parks" funding bill has gained some credibility through the LCMR Parks Study. However, the research to support a major state commitment simply does not exist. What seems to fuel the syllogism is that the state supports Metro Parks and therefore must support non-metro parks. Aside from the fact that there is no such legally defined thing as a non-metro regional park, the primary reason the state funded Metro Parks was the fact that there is virtually no such thing as a State Park in the metro area.

    Also, the Metropolitan Regional Park System has very strict guidelines for defining parks, prioritizing projects and appropriating funds. Under the bill as currently structured, rural regional parks are not bound by the same restrictions as are other park systems, no administrative structure is in place for planning and prioritizing projects, and no criteria is outlined to determine what would constitute a rural regional park. In fact there is no consensus as to how many or which parks would be included in the rural park system. As such, this proposal is premature and we recommend that this issue be studied further before being enacted.

  3. Park Board Bonding Projects. The Park Board is requesting capital improvement (a.k.a. bonding) appropriations for the following projects:
    1. Restoration of Lake of the Isles. (H.F. 2053 – Kelliher/S.F. 1930 – Dibble). Senator Dibble reports that this project is doing well as the Senate discussions on the bonding bill progress. The project was given a very high priority by Minneapolis Senators. The Senate Environment and Economic Development Budget Division Chairman has forwarded his bonding proposals to the chair of the Capitol Investment Committee, but the funding levels and priority list of projects has not yet been made public. We believe this is a high priority issue for the Senate and that the committee has included a significant amount for this project in its recommendations to the Senate Capital Investment Committee. The House Environment Finance Committee did not recommend any funding for this project, so any hope of obtaining money for Lake of the Isles rests in securing a high priority ranking on the Senate side, thereby giving us a strong leverage position in conference committee. We are working with our delegation members and bonding committee members to reinforce the importance of this project.
    2. East Phillips Cultural and Community Center. (H.F. 1990 – Clark/S.F. 1858 – Berglin). As noted above, the Senate Environment and Economic Development bonding package has not yet been released, but we believe this project will be ranked second among Minneapolis projects, next to the Colin Powell Center bonding request. In the House, it was included on the finance committee’s "regular" priority list, meaning that funding has not been ruled out but is not a high priority.
    3. J.D. Rivers Urban Agricultural Awareness Center. (H.F. 1940 – Kelliher/S.F. 1950 – Dibble). This is a $2.5 million bonding request to build an urban agricultural awareness center in Theodore Wirth Park. As noted last week, H.F. 1940 was included on the "regular" priority list for potential consideration by the Capital Investment Committee. In the Senate, it appears that Senator Dibble was able to earmark $50,000 for planning for this project in the recommendations that will be forwarded to the Capital Investment committee, although the official committee recommendation has not yet been announced.
    4. Grand Rounds Missing Link. (H.F. 2154- Kahn/S.F. 1920 – Pogemiller). As noted previously, Rep. Kahn was able to get rider language included that earmarks $250,000 for this project out of the Local Initiative Grants bonds in the House Environment Finance Committee’s bonding proposal. We have met with Senator Pogemiller and are coordinating a strategy for earmarking funds in a similar manner in the Senate bill.
    5. Upper Riverfront Park – Minneapolis Marina. No further legislative action was taken on this issue this week.

  4. Met Council Bonding. (H.F. 2562- Tingelstad/S.F. 2380 – Anderson). The House Environment Finance Committee recommended $7 million for the Metro Parks bonding request, the same amount included in Governor Pawlenty’s proposal. Although the Senate bonding numbers are not yet available, we expect this item to receive high priority and a higher level of funding than in the House.
  5. Dedicated Funding Sources for Environmental Programs ("1/4% for Nature"). (S.F. 401- Sams/H.F. 1166 – Hackbarth). There were several high-level discussions regarding the details of and strategy for this bill this week. In particular, we have been working to regain the percentage of funds allocated to Metro Parks that were proposed in earlier versions of the proposal. The current version of the bill in both the House and Senate divides the $170 million that would be dedicated into three major categories: fish and wildlife, parks and trails, and impaired waters, with varying percentages for each fund in the different bills. Monies are further broken down within these major groupings. As momentum grows, different groups have come to the table seeking to get in on this revenue stream. As other interests have been added, the percentages for the various subgroups have been altered, mostly to the detriment of the Metro Parks. We have been fighting hard to restore the percentage of funding allocated to the Metro Regional Parks to a more fair and proportionate level. S.F. 401 is scheduled to be heard in the Environment Finance Division on Thursday of next week, and we will continue working with the various groups and legislators involved to make sure that Metro Parks receive a fair and proportionate percentage of funds should this measure be approved by the voters.

  6. This proposal would provide approximately $4.5 million to $5.5 million in additional revenues for the Park Board every year if passed. It is important to reiterate that the concept of a dedicated environmental funding source appears to be gaining momentum, and that we must stay involved if we are to remain included in discussions.

  7. Protect Local Government Aid. The Governor’s supplemental budget bill does not appear to make any further cuts to LGA.
  8. Mississippi Waterwater Park. We will continue to monitor this item as the year progresses.
  9. LCMR. No further LCMR action is likely to occur until the Commission processes the requests submitted and begins holding hearings over the summer.
  10. Buckthorn and Other Invasive Species. (S.F. 2211 – Skoglund/ H.F. 2363 – McNamara). This bill imposes or increases penalties for people who transport or introduce invasive species in Minnesota. H.F. 2363 was passed by the House Judiciary committee this week. In the Senate, S.F. 2211 was passed by the Crime Prevention Committee and referred to the State and Local Government Operations Committee.
  11. Conceal Carry – Prohibiting Concealed Carry Guns in Parks. (S.F. 1654 – Solon/ H.F. 2611 – Slawik)). S.F. 1654 is awaiting action in the Senate Crime Prevention Committee. In the House, H.F. 2611 has been introduced and was referred to the Judiciary Committee.
  12. Phosphorous Fertilizer Prohibition Extension (H.F. 2005 – McNamara/S.F. 1999 – Sparks). This bill extends the current metropolitan area ban on lawn fertilizer to the entire state. H.F. 2005 is awaiting floor action. S.F. 1999 is scheduled to be heard in the Environment Policy Committee on Monday.
  13. Youth Enrichment Grant Program Reinstatement. (S.F. 2032 – Hottinger/H.F. 1774 – Mariani; S.F. 2034 – Hottinger/H.F. 1778 – Slawik). These bills reinstate and provide appropriations the after school enrichment grant program which was repealed two years ago. As with the previous program, it gives priority to certain Minneapolis neighborhoods. We have offered to provide Senator Hottinger and his staff more information about the impact After School Enrichment programs had in the past.
  14. Forest Pest Control. (H.F. 1959 – Sheldon Johnson/S.F. 1692 – Murphy). This bill is awaiting action in the Agriculture Committees in both bodies.
  15. Land Banking (H.F. 3006 – Cox/S.F. 2570 – Robling). This is a $3.75 million Met Council bonding request for the acquisition of potential regional park land. Last week, we mistakenly reported that the Upper Mississippi Marina was a potential site that could qualify for funding under the land banking proposal. At this time, there is no site for such a marina. Instead, the property north of the upper river terminal is a key link to North Mississippi Regional Park, and some of that property is becoming available. This would be a better example of a project that may qualify for land banked money under this legislation.
  16. Possible O&M Cuts. The DNR’s supplemental budget deficit reduction package includes a cut of $99,000 for Metro Regional Park operation and maintenance funding. This will reduce the Metro Parks O&M base funding level from $3,300,000 for FY05 to $3,201,000, a 3% cut. For the Park Board, this cut would mean a loss of approximately $28,203 in FY05. This compares with $256,000 in cuts for State parks. No cuts are proposed to the $4,152,000 Metro Regional Parks receives in "lottery-in-lieu-of" funding.

Going Through the Motions

by John Belfy

I attended the meeting last [Wednesday, March 17] night including the Search committee at 4:00. Watching this was probably analagous to watching hot dogs being made — it was ugly. I think John Erwin sincerely hopes to come up with the best possible candidate. But it is clear that 3 on the Committee and 5 on the Board want a candidate that fits their “master plan” — and that probably means Gurban.

To do it right, they would have to agree on an unbiased, professional search firm and probably spend about $40,000. That probably won’t happen unless someone funds it from the outside. They seem to have defined qualifications sufficiently — only to ignore them. Their salary limits may present a problem and they might have to include the Wirth house to land the best person. But the search firm would be able to help with those definitions and decisions.

They have approved a schedule that includes unnecessary steps and pushes the decision to November 3 — final selection resulting in an offer. There was already a mention of “what if we don’t find someone by then?” And the
statement was made that “we could extend the interim superintendent’s contract.”

In simplistic terms, it seems to me that:

  1. Public input called for a “parks” person — it was ignored
  2. The controlling 5 wanted “their” person
  3. Public outrage was recognized only for window dressing
  4. They will spend $20,000 to $30,000 on a process with the only practical purpose of looking good
  5. Then the “five” will vote in Gurban

I just went into that meeting to listen. But
I have seen enough of this Board to recognize
the obvious. If they ignored the pretense and
had the guts to say what they were doing, it
would at least be honest. Am I naive to think
or hope that this Board would collectively
want the “best” superintendent? I am afraid
that ultimately the “Five” will get “their”

March 17 Park Board Meeting Minutes

As reported by Liz Wielinski

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board met on the 17th of March at
their headquarters at 2117 W River Rd. I took notes and am posting them
here. I apologize in advance for any misspellings of names and hope that
I do not attribute any statements to the wrong folks.

4:08 pm
The Superintendent Search Committee was called to order by Commissioner
Erwin. The agenda was approved and discussion moved to the Time line for
the Superintendent search. 2 time lines were discussed and the original was
kept. Next public hearings were debated. The final plan was to have
public input for search criteria to be presented at the 6/23 meeting and
then questions from the public as well as questions from the board put to
the search finalists. The questions would need to be sent in in advance
to be screened for legalities and to weed out redundant questions. These
questions would be asked on October 19th and the Boards Questions on the
20th. Staff was directed to figure out how to implement this plan. Then
Commissioner Kummers asked the $1million question. What if we end up
with no candidate?
It was also suggested by Commissioner Hauser that on 11/3 before the
Board votes there should be time for public comment on the
finalists. The timetable was sent to the full board.

The Operations and Environment Committee was called to order by
Commissioner Young. The agenda was approved and the Van Cleve Park
Plaque and Boulder were discussed. The University of Minnesota and the
SECNA (Southeast Como Neighborhood Association) wished to plant a
Memorial Tree in Van Cleve Park for the 3 U students who died in last
year’s fire. The MPRB has a memorial tree program and the tree comes
with a band that notes the memoriam. The SECNA had hoped to place a
boulder next to the tree with an inscribed plaque. Staff had denied this
request based on keeping to policy. The request was tabled while
Commissioner Dziedzic and SECNA worked with staff for a better solution.
Then Commissioner Young brought up that our parks are full of geese which
may be the cause of much of the high e-coli levels in the lakes. Asst
Superintendent Schmidt mentioned that staff already uses some anti-geese
turf products etc., so “collection of geese for food shelves” was put

The Planning Committee was called to order by Commissioner Fine.
Assistant Superintendent Reitkirk listed terms that Crown Hydro had
agreed to in advance of the meeting. They included a $100,000 closing fee
to the MPRB, $30,000 per year lease, a percent of gross revenue at a certain
point and an insurance policy of $10 million in case of a catastrophic

The floor was opened for public comment. 13 citizens and Peter Grills
from Crown Hydro spoke.

1) Rolf Svenson, former Commissioner. The Plant will be an important
interpretation of history and great for tourism.

2) Mary Marsden, Location in a fragile geological area and distracts
from Riverfront aesthetic. It also keeps further excavation from
proceeding at Mill Ruins Park.

3) Bill Grant {Issac Walton League} The Renewable Development Fund put
30% of its resources here because this is a good source of renewable

4) Eric Johnson, As long as the engineers do their jobs and keep enough
water to the Falls by using water diverted at specific levels.

5) Sheldon Strom, Director for Energy for the Environment. It will be
going from dirty to clean energy and even though not without some impact
will not need a transmission system built to use it.

6) Steven DeRyder, In the early days developers estimates were
considered bad for actual water over the Falls predictions. Small
financial benefits vs. large financial concerns. Don’t risk the Falls.

7) Greg Lacker, Move the site downstream to the Lower St. Anthony Falls
by the 2nd lock.

8) Sage Coles, St. Anthony Heritage Commission. Minneapolis is finally
inviting people back living and visiting the area. The Falls must be

9) Doug Spalding of SAF Hydro Electric. They are pursuing a permit for
the Lower St. Anthony Falls.

10) Michael Nobels, Executive Director, Minnesotans for an Energy
Efficient Economy. The Falls that built the city should do its fair
share to help with clean renewable energy.

11) Barbara Portwood, The MPRB is responsible to the Parks and after
spending $4 million at the Mill Ruins Park should strive to keep it
intact. Also Xcel is already doing its part at this point in the river.

12) David Luce, All parks are negatively effected by traditional energy
use. Adapting to reuse helps keep historic structures maintained.

13) Dick Miller, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. Any decision made
should have sound solid science on its side.

After Peter Grills of Crown Hydro reassured everyone they have the best
intent, some of the commissioners had more questions. Commissioner Mason
referred to a piece in their information packet touting many supporters
and asked for a list. She also questioned why the parking lot needed to
go, what the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency had to say, and what the
historical features of the park would be impacted. Commissioner Hauser
wondered if FERC could override the Historical Society. It was moved from
the committee to the full board and should be taken up at the April 7th

The regular meeting of the full board was called to order by
Commissioner Olson. At open time Tom Rittaker spoke to putting the
fishing dock back in Lake Harriet. Arlene Freid requested the financials
on the new headquarters for the 2nd or 3rd time and was referred to
Interim Superintendent Gurban. Mark Schaeffer spoke about the SW
Journal article referring to the closing of beaches and reduced milfoil
harvesting (mowing).

The full board meeting was suspended and Commissioner Hauser called to
order the Administration and Finance Committee. A motioned was made and
approved to move forward 7.2-7.5 which are requests for RFPs for Webber
Park, Grand Round Signs, Poles for the Grand Rounds signs and Reserve
Block 40 Park (yes the neighborhood is going through the procedure to
give it a better name).

It also moved and passed 7.6 to approve the NRP funding agreement for
the Shingle Creek Neighborhood Associations action plan to implement
Creekview Summer Programs.

Next up was moving forward 7.7 to set the Fees for Parade Ice Garden.
It was brought up at this time that there had been calls regarding the
sale of Parade in a column by Patrick Reusse in the Star Tribune.
Apparently while having a discussion with Commissioner Dziedzic, Mr.
Reusse misheard, because it was Edison Arena that per Commissioner
Dziedzic will be for sale if they do not find refinancing for a
$600,000 balloon payment due next year. The Wild has a contract with
MPRB through 2005 per Assistant Superintendent Siggelkow.

Next up was to direct that an RFP be sent out to Catering firms for the
Cowles Conservatory at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. A commissioner
asked which firms would be contacted and Assistant Superintendent
Siggelkow said they contact catering firms in the yellow pages.

The committee adjourned and the full board meeting was resumed.

Commissioner Olson asked for any communications. Commissioner Mason had
received calls and e-mails regarding closed beaches, milfoil, and ECCO
(East Calhoun Community Organization) had questions about the
restaurant opening at Lake Calhoun and its parking arrangements.
Commissioner Mason had received calls both for and against the Crown
Hydro project and also some concerns about the possible delay at Brackett
Park over the rocket. Commissioner Erwin had more comments about the
rocket and some questions about talking to the Mayor and Fire Department
about watering trees.

The board moved onto consent business and passed 2.1 (fix holes #6 and
#11 at Columbia Golf) and 2.2 an increase to Herfort/Norby Golf Course
Architects for more work at Meadowbrook. The full board then approved
4.1-4.5 the schematics for Jackson Square Park, Currie Park, Brackett
Park, Easement of a storm sewer by Ford Parkway Bridge and approve a
grant agreement with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization to
repair bluff erosion at West River Parkway and W 34th St. The Brackett
Park rocket park had some discussion over the moving of the rocket and
tot lot. Commissioner Fine put forward a motion to table Bracket Park
until 2005 and skip ahead to Jordan Park which is due for work in 2005.
Commissioner Olson stated he was sure the Jordan Neighborhood would be
able to have everything worked out and ready to go in no time.
Commissioner Erwin stated that all the questions at Brackett had been
worked out with the neighbors and the staff and the amendment was

The board then moved onto the fee increases at the Neiman Sports
Complex. Commissioner Fine stated he had been informed that the fees
would now be higher than the sports complex in Blaine and groups would
probably move after this season was completed and that the fields were
bad. The fees were passed for the center and also the 2004 Aquatic Fee

Next up was moving and passing consent for bids. 7.1 $86,900 for
installation of parking machines. 7.2 $137,000 for tee shirts and caps.
7.3 1,050,000 for stump removal and disposal. 7.4 $227,404 for 15 2004
Ford pick up trucks.

Next up was Cable Broadcasting
7.5 was moved and passed to proceed with the preparation and
installation of equipment to broadcast MPRB meetings from the
headquarters building at a cost not to exceed $70,000. A commissioner
asked where the funds were coming from and any new computers at the MPRB
are on hold as this fund was tapped for funding per Assistant
Superintendent Siggelkow.

7.6 amended expenditure
7.7 negotiation of concessions at Jim Lupient Water Park with Deborah
7.8-7.10 NRP agreements with Bryn Mawr Community Development Agency,
Standish Ericcson Neighborhood Association and Folwell Neighborhood

New Business
Minneapolis Tree Commission

Commissioner Erwin proposed this commission and it would form to
1) coordinate issues
2) coordinate fiscal resources and
3) Evaluate and report to the MPRB and the City Council

The commission would be made up of:
Michael Schmidt MPRB Assistant Superintendent of Operations
Ralph Seifert MPRB (the tree guy, sorry slow note taker)
1 MPRB commissioner
1 city council member or their appointee
mayor or his appointee
MN Shade Tree representative
U of M rep Gary Johnson (urban forestry?)
4 citizen reps appointed by MPRB for North, Northeast, Southeast and

This will hopefully keep the MPRB and Mayor’s efforts from conflicting
and being redundant and save everyone money by having an organized tree
plan. The cost will be minimal and mostly administrative and hopefully
funded by grants. Passed.

Lobbyist Brian Rice gave a report on Legislative issues. Most issues
are moving well and had hearings but it is still early yet.

This ended the official business. There was then a heartfelt good bye
for Assistant Superintendent Merrifield who is relocating to El Paso,
Texas and an apology for not having a formal resolution prepared before
he left.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:10 PM

The next Full Board Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday April 7, 2004.

Does not play well with others

Cindy Walsh of St. Louis Park, Recreation Department director, is proposing Victoria Pond, 2750 Virginia Ave., be used as an off-leash dog park where owners can take their four-legged friends for playful romping and exercise.

The potential for a pooch park began two years ago when the Minneapolis Park Board approached St. Louis Park and Edina city officials about converting an open space bordering the three cities into an off-leash site. Walsh said St. Louis Park residents in particular were excited at the prospect of having a park in close proximity and encouraged city officials to engage in a discussion with Minneapolis.

Several attempts were made to get the project underway, but the city of Minneapolis directed its Park Board to terminate discussions.

“They just decided they didn’t want to do it,” explained Walsh.

Park Board commissioner Hauser to run for city council

Park Board Commissioner Marie Hauser is throwing her hat in the ring for the 8th Ward City Council seat in the 2005 election, as is former 9th Ward City Council aide Jeffrey Hayden.

The 8th Ward has no incumbent due to redistricting. Robert Lilligren currently represents the ward, but the new boundaries put the Phillips resident in the new 6th Ward with fellow incumbent Dean Zimmermann.

The new 8th Ward is largely east of I-35W, but encompasses about 60 percent of Southwest’s Kingfield neighborhood.

Crown Hydro question goes to full board

The full Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will debate a private company’s plan to produce water power in Mill Ruins Park. Crown Hydro has proposed building a small underground electric plant on the historic Cataract Mill site near the Stone Arch Bridge. The company wants to lease the land for 50 years with a 50-year option to renew. Fulll story here at the Star Tribune.

Star Tribune: Crown Hydro

Plan to harness Mississippi River churns up a debate
Linda Mack, Star Tribune
March 17, 2004

Minneapolis was built on the thunderous energy of St. Anthony Falls, but would a plan to resurrect water power in Mill Ruins Park enhance the Mississippi riverfront’s history — or damage it?

Tonight, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will debate a plan to lease one of its most historic holdings, the Cataract Mill site near the Stone Arch Bridge, for 50 years to a private company.

Crown Hydro wants to use the historic tunnels and chutes that the Park Board recently restored to do what entrepreneurs did 150 years ago: create energy from St. Anthony Falls.

Skyway News: Crown Hydro

Power paradox: clean hydropower versus riverfront beauty
Hydropower would cut the flow over the St. Anthony Falls spillway by Scott Russell

Park Board poised to vote on Mill Ruins power plant that would reduce St. Anthony Falls flow.

A proposed $10 million, 3.2-megawatt hydroelectric plant that could reduce St. Anthony Falls’ flow will reach a critical Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board vote as early as Wednesday, March 17.

Crown Hydro LLC needs to secure a Park Board lease by April 13 or it will miss a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) deadline. FERC licenses power plants.

The plant would go in the upstream end of the new Mill Ruins Park, on the river’s west bank. The Park Board will hold a public hearing March 17 and take a final vote April 7, said Park Board President Jon Olson.

The vote poses a significant dilemma for some Park Board commissioners.