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.