Highlights from last night’s (4/21) Park Board meeting
Thanks to Liz W. for the help with taking minutes on the meeting.
The Operations and Environment Committee was called to order by Chair Young at 5:05 pm.
* Quaking Bog Buckthorn Removal
Eagle Scout Candidate Hyun-Soo Lee who had organized a volunteer project for removing buckthorn from the Quaking Bog in Wirth Park. On Feb. 28th of this year he and 40 volunteers cleared buckthorn for 9 hours from 2 1/2 acres of parkland. He was thanked profusely by Commissioners Mason and Hauser and President Olson offered to have staff send in a recommendation letter towards reaching the level of Eagle Scout.
* Earth Day
A presentation to Andrea Manalov who was the winner of the Earth Day Poster Contest. She was chosen out of 1200(?) entrants at 15 sites of the Rec Centers. Her prize was a pizza party for her and 10 of her friends and her winning entry was tastefully matted and framed at the MPRB’s expense. Photo Op following the presentation.
* Arbor Day, May 15
A presentation by Paul Domhoht of the MPRB forestry department about Arbor Day 2004. He first listed quite a few awards the MPRB and various partner groups such as Troop #123, the Folwell Park Neighborhood Association, and others had won during the previous year. He then noted that tree planting for 2004 had begun with the plan to plant 3742 new trees this year. Each tree will receive 2 waterings and mulching by the park board. The trees then become the project of the homeowners and the MPRB staff has created an award winning video on new tree care, whose grant award paid to distribute the video with the trees. During the month of June the fire department will also be watering the trees as time permits.
As to this years Arbor Day, the main event of the MPRB will be at Penn Avenue and Olson Memorial Hwy on May 15th. Registration will begin at 9:30 and the program will run from 10-12. 50 disease resistant elms will be planted along the median to replace the 500 elms that were planted in 1944 of which 90% were lost over the years. Including trees planted at the corners and along the route a total of 125 trees will be planted that day. This will help keep Minneapolis as a Tree City USA. Compliments were given by Commissioner Hauser and a thanks was given by Commisioner Erwin for the good work done at the April 25th tree planting kick off with the Mayor. [sounds like it already happened even though it is in the future — this coming Sunday] President Olson than asked if all the organizations in the partnerships for planting receive acknowledgement of the awards won, such as the sailors from the USS City of Minneapolis who had aided in tree planting last year and he was assu
red they received their own awards certificate.
* Geese Management Plans for 2004
Assistant Superintendent Schmidt then made a presentation about goose control. A head count will be done in June (nesting season) to see how many resident geese there are at which time it will be detirmined how many will need to be collected during molting season. Those geese will be donated to the local food shelves. The cost for this is $1000 per round up and $15 per goose for processing. Other control methods for keeping the geese from eating near the lakes and streams and then defacating there in would be more tall grass plantings along the waterfronts and use of a spray called Flight Control on the areas where the grass is cut short. This spray is not harmful to most species and motivates the geese to eat elsewhere. It would be used most prominently at Mill Ruins Park and at the Lake Hiawatha Beach where the e-coli levels have been worst.
* Beach Closures on Lake Superior in 2003
Assistant Superintendent Schmidt gave a presentation about the beach closures due to high levels of e-coli and a single scientific study made of the problem. Schmidt appeared to be saying in so many words that they did not know what caused the e-coli levels and that the evidence was not conclusive in proving that a specific animal was to blame. [I’m not sure what the point was as I missed the first couple of minutes. Maybe Liz can clarify.]
– Operations and Environment Committee adjourns.
[NOTE: for details on numbered items in motions in following report, see the Park Board agenda documents HERE ]
– Administration and Finance Committee called to order by Committee Chair Marie Hauser.
* Young moves consent items 7.1 and 7.2. Motion PASSES.
* Dziedzic moves action items 7.3 and 7.4. Motion PASSES.
* Young moves fee item 7.5 to approve 2004 parking fees. Dziedzic asks where most parking meters are located (most new meters?). Asst. Super. Sigglekow says they are on West River Road. Dziedzic asks if they are being used. Sigglekow says yes, market for parking along rivier is changing and seeing increased usage. Dziedzic asks if police are doing enforcement there. SIgglekow says yes, and remarks that the light rail line will have some impact especially near Minnehaha and that staff will come back with new rates for that area once rail starts up. Kummer asks about weekly/monthly parking passes. Motion PASSES.
* Young moves appropriation item 7.6. A $1.5 million dollar adjustment to expenditures PASSES without any discussion at all.
* Young moves items 7.7 and 7.8. Motion PASSES.
* Report on the Wirth-While Weekend
The Wirth-While Weekend is a public event on June 19 and 20 celebrating the installation of a statue of Theodore Wirth surrounded by a number of children near the chalet in Theodore Wirth Park, co-sponsored by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society. The Society has been working on this project for more than 3 years, raised the money for and had the statues commissioned.
Asst. Super. Sigglekow gave an update report on some details about this weekend and particular about the financial support being requested of the Park Board. The Legacy Society is requesting $1622 in total support, most being waived permit fees plus $52 for 2 golf cart rentals at the Wirth Chalet, $550 for police escort fee during a parkway motorcade and $500 insurance fees waived. [It is standard practice for the Park Board to waive permit fees for any events they co-sponsor.]
For some strange reason [most likely at the director of Interim Super. Jon Gurban who is well known to for his hatred of the Legacy Society] Sigglekow attempts to muddy the waters on the cost of the weekend by mentioning the costs of park design work paid for years ago on a contract to Theodore Wirth’s (the grandson and co-founder of the Legacy Society) Wirth Design Associates of Wyoming and Montana, as well as the cost of the statue installation which previous Superintendent Mary Merrill Anderson insisted that the Park Board pay for at the time the Legacy Society was raising money for the project.
The question of how to pay for landscaping around the statues was brought up and some discussion about whether money from a grant from the National Scenic Byways could be used for this, though there were questions as to whether that was legal or not.
Hauser asked if she had heard that the Legacy Society or the Wirth family[!] would pay for the landscaping. Sigglekow said no, that former Super. Merrill Anderson had stated the Park Board would pay for the landscaping.
Young expressed concern and asked was it not a bit late to be trying to figure out the landscaping details.
Asst. Super. Reitkerk stated that they couldn’t do landscaping before the statues were installed.
Mason stated we need to have staff get the landscaping issue resolved.
Young says she is worried how it will look on the day of the installation celebration, and asks if temporary landscaping using existing flower stock destined to be planted in other parks couldn’t be used to temporarily beautify the area.
Dziedzic thinks the Weekend event will be good for the Park Board, and asks if the “Wirth Golf Course” will have to be closed for the event. Sigglekow says no, the event was moved to inside the chalet building.
Young moves to direct staff to look at a temporary beautification landscape and to approve the $1622 requested by the Legacy Society for the celebration.
President Olson [who is not on this committee] asks what is the dollar amount that can be spent on this temporary landscaping. He complains about gift givers in general not paying for landscaping and wants to make it a policy of the future that anyone who gifts the parks with a sculpture, etc. will pay for the landscaping. Also states staff should have looked at this earlier.
Chair Hauser wants to split the motion into two motions. Young agrees to do so.
* Young moves temporary beautification with Olson’s “get an amount”. Motion PASSES.
* Young moves approval of $1621 for this event. Motion PASSES.
Mason wants to know if this approval will go to full board. Answer is yes.
– Committee adjourns.
– Regular Meeting called to order by board president Olson.
Mason changes her amendments to the agenda to correct a duplicate item.
Young amends agenda to add discussion items for John Sarna naming nomination and an east bank sculpture.
* Minutes from the meeting of February 4 are approved. Mason points out these minutes contain the initial co-sponsorship of the Wirth-While Weekend by the Park Board on several pages.
– Petitions and Communications
* Dziedzic asks staff about putting Gluck Park on an asbestos agenda [?], talks about starting a Reading in the Park program for kids with a Diane “Hosstus”[?], and wanting to get the John Sarna naming nomination on agenda next time.
* Young had a letter about the sculpture on the river and a mailing about a walk for Indian Month[?], and lots of e-mail.
* Hauser says the happy people in Central are thanking the Park Board for the new trees about to be planted. Says she received calls regarding crime peaking in Powderhorn Park, and that the Code Blue poles are more for looks than safety.
* Mason says she, Interim Super. Gurban and Erwin met with west Isles group last night regarding the 100 to 140 trucks daily which will be bringing fill dirt to the Isles project. 20 to 30 citizens attended meeting. Getting trucks to site will be challenging because Isles has two bridges which are not strong enough even for an empty truck to pass over. Mason received many e-mails and phone calls regarding Crown Hydro, some about planned mountain bike trail in Wirth Park, and also from Bryn Mawr about a planned development there near Park property.
* Erwin met both with west Isles group and then later a larger group from east Isles including the mayor, state senator Scott Dibble and other notables. He wants to accelerate the process at ?_____? Park. Erwin also talked to Jim Calkins at the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District regarding separating issues out.
* Kummer also received a call about crime at Powderhorn Park and lights wanted along 10th Avenue. She also received calls concerned with speeding on parkways and a call about how bad the traffic is around Lake Nokomis with a request to make the parkway there one-way. A couple of women contacted Kummer requesting that park programs look at making some of them usable by children with physical disabilities.
* Dziedzic adds that he was at the Lake Calhoun tot lot and that the 3 year old wall there is crumbling, and states the staff needs to look at getting a longer warranty on future projects.
* Hauser brings up something to do with which board members are responsible for some work on the north river and something to do with the Mississippi River Watershed Management board. [From memory I think Olson straighened her out on which board is responsible for what.]
* Olson received communication from a Mark Shafer thanking the board for re-opening the south Lake Harriet beach, and something about the basketball hoops at Jordan Park.
– There were no officer reports.
* Young moves consent items 2.1 through 2.4. Motion PASSES.
– Open time 6:15pm.
* Liz Wielinksi makes a statement regarding the increasingly white male good old boy appearance of the executive staff in contrast to the board with the departure of superintendent Mary Merrill Anderson and assistant superintendent Merrifield. She encourages the board to evaluate the search firm chosen for the superintendent search on the additional criteria of their ability to locate qualified women and people of color, and to change the status quo.
– Meeting continues
* Dziedzic moves approval of 4.1, a $2.965 million capital improvement program application to the Mississippi Watershed management organization for recreation facilities and water quality improvement at the Park Board Headquarters, East River Flats, Mississippi River Gorge, Father Hannepin Bluffs and Edgewater Park. Mtion PASSES.
* Dziedzic moves approval of 4.2, approve construction of skate parks in 2004 to 2005 in Bottineau Park, Brackett Park, Elliot Park and Morris Park, subject to funding.
Mason offers a substitute motion to ensure that Elliot Park is built this year, as it is centrally located near downtown where there is a larger concentration of children who may use it, according to the demographer who gave a presentation to the board a week or so ago. The Park Board has $200,000 provided by the City of Minneapolis, and 2 parks, Creekview on the extreme north edge of Minneapolis and Armatage and the extreme southwestern edge of Minneapolis, were previously approved to be built this year. Previous estimates for skate park construction were $60,000 to $65,000 per park, so there should be enough money to do 3 this year and include Elliot Park.
Interim Super. Gurban opines that he doesn’t think the parks have $200,000 [but as that is clearly wrong, perhaps there was some confusion on ths point].
Asst. Super. Reitkerk says something about there being 2 skate parks “on the grill” and that maybe there might be enough money left over to do a third, depending on the bids received for Brackett, and that they are working with the Elliot Park neighborhood and that maybe some money is there.
Erwin suggests giving each of the 3 parks (Creekview, Armatage and Elliot) $60,000 each and letting Creekview and Armatage Parks and neighborhoods find more money to finish the projects if needed.
Dziedzic makes a second substitute motion (which causes some questions as to whether that’s legal under Roberts Rules of Order which sends Young looking through her copy to verify) to put Elliot first of the four parks being considered for 2004-2005 work if funded. Makes some remark about Curry Park being too small.[?]
Kummer states she thinks the two substitute motions are similar, and that she has observed that Elliot Park is full of kids needing something to do. Thus Elliot would be good place to build a skate park.
Hauser remarks that Armatage Park is already going to be under construction [athletic field renovation] and that the skate park will go on top of one of the existing tennis courts there. She makes some remark about Brackett Park. She supports the substitute motions.
Erwin is concerned we will have two $100,000 skate parks instead of three $65,000 skate parks.
Asst. Super Reitkerk rambles about the cost and that the pads cost $35,000 each, but at Armatage it will cost only $29,000 for the pad [presumably because it was part of a larger bid and they got a better deal but he doesn’t actually make this statement clearn]. He says the price of steel has doubled and the price of lumber is doubling so he can’t predict how much one skate park will cost [that is, will it be more than the $60,000 to $65,000 the staff previously estimated].
Mason says the Elliot Park Association and NRP have put a lot of money and effort into getting a skate park and are frustrated that they are not at the top of the list. Mason wants to be sure the skate park is built in Elliot Park this year.
Dziedzic makes some statements about “Naegele III” and some development at “the Fort” and is told that the project is on hold due to finance trouble. Suggests asking Naegele for something because of something to do with the 201 building at “the Fort” and the Parade Ice Arena. Says he is in favor of Elliot Park getting a skate park this year.
Young is in support of a skate park near downtown and Elliot Park is the logical location. She also confirms that Roberts Rules allow one to many modifications to a motion.
Vote is called.
– Dziedzic’s motion FAILS.
– Discussion goes back to Mason’s first substitute motion.
Young asks about what contingency funds the Park Board has available that could be used with the $200,000 from the city to make sure a third skate park at Elliot Park gets built this year.
Young makes a friendly amendment to Mason’s motion to state that contingency money be used to fill any gap up to an amount no more than $50,000.
Olson asks about costs. He talks about the lifetime of asphalt versus concrete, stating concrete lasts much longer and maybe that’s what they should install instead.
Hauser is concerned about the costs, too. She worries with steel and lumber doubling how they can afford to build Elliot. She thinks concrete costs more than asphalt and that puts it more out of reach. She doesn’t see contingency money that is easy to find.
Dziedzic asks Interim Super. Gurban if the board even has any contingency money.
Olson says there is money left over from last year and that the hiring freeze has resulted in some unfilled positions which has saved some money for contingencies.
[I don’t suppose the funds they raided and drained to buy the Park Board Headquarters building at $6.1 million or the drain on cash from the Neiman Athletic fields at Ft. Snelling have anything to do with this scramble for contingency money, do they?]
Olson drives the vote.
– Mason’s motion PASSES. In theory, Elliot park should get a skate park this year.
* Hauser moves 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5. Motion PASSES. And just like that, they spent about $1 million.
* Hauser moves 7.6 through 7.11. Motion PASSES.
* Hauser also move 7.12 (Wirth-While Weekend funding). Motion PASSES.
– Unfinished Business
Young moves 8.1 and 8.2. Role call vote, 7 Ayes, 2 absent, motion PASSES.
* Re-opened Beaches.
Mason thanks board for re-opening 3 beaches, refers the demographers report and says that the City of Lakes needs to have lakes and beaches that are open and usable to the residents. There remain some problems to address: the beaches will only be life-guarded on weekends, and milfoil. Kummer, Fine and Mason met regarding these issues.
Kummer believes that the fishing docks need to be part of the mix of making the lakes the amenity they should be.
Mason thanks Asst. Super. Mike Schmidt for the work he did in writing a memo which discusses the beaches, fishing docks and milfoil, and which contains cost information. She says Fine suggested floating diving docks, and that the mayor could provide them. Mason asks board to read Schmidt’s memo and come back with ideas and suggestions at the May 4 meeting.
Schmidt clarifies that beaches are open 7 days, but only lifeguarded on weekends.
Kummer wants clarification of where the fishing docks went which were removed and the costs of reinstalling them. Cost should not include new docks unless old docks were sold, it would seem.
* Solar lighting. Young wants board to look at solar lighting opportunities.
– New Business
* Dziedzic interjects asking if Erwin only asked “his four” and not all commissioners for their goals this year. Erwin answers he asked all commissioners but that some had responded and others had not. [there was an earlier statement made by Erwin at some point about these goals but I don’t have where that was in my notes.]
* Erwin, acting as chair with Olson out of the room, asks with respect to new business item 9.1, a change to Park Board ordinances, how it has changed. Asst. Super. Sigglekow says it adds alcohol rules for Plank Road and Stone Arch Bridge as venues for permits.
* Erwin says ordinance must be read aloud before the vote.
Young reads the ordinance.
Roll call vote, 7 ayes, 2 absent, ordinance PASSES.
– More Discussion
* Young says some park commissioners have been asked to sign a letter on behalf of Phillips neighborhood to the EPA regarding designation of the area as a Superfund Site due to 30 years of arsenic plumes over that neighborhood. Young also wants a letter on Park Board stationary demanding cleanup due to risk to parks.
* Olson says commissioners can sign and that Interim Super. Gurban will write and sign, and Olson will co-sign, the requested letter on stationary.
* Young brings to discussion the sculpture on the river. They received a letter from the previously unknown artist. Young wants to be polite and acknowledge the artist and the sculpture, and that the situation changed recently, and as a result, the Park Board removed the sculpture.
Gurban says they received calls about the sculpture, that it was growing in size daily, and the calls were concerned about activity around the sculpture. The Park Police checked it out and opined that it was an unsafe structure. It became a problem so it was removed per previous board direction [what direction? when?].
Olson states with some agitation that there is a process for placing sculpture on park property and it needs to come to the board and go through the process.
Kummer says she saw the sculpture from across the river and asks if what she saw was a sign nailed to a tree. Staff says no, but other assorted things were found.
Young says we actually have a name and address for the artist and wants to send a letter to him letting him know he needs to work with staff.
Dziedzic asks if people were living in the sculpture structure.
Gurban says no, well, we don’t know, but the police were concerned that it could happen.
Dziedzic says they need to take out a building permit and build on their own land, that the parks don’t need a “hobo hut” and that we shouldn’t be apologizing for removing it.
Young says she just wants to acknowledge to the artist that they received his letter, that the situation had changed and just wants to be polite.
Olson says it is time to move on.
* Young brings to discussion the nomination of the name John Sarna for the golf learning center. She says that Sarna, along with 2 others, really changed things along the river front, and brought the Stone Arch Bridge into public ownership and use. He should be recognized and memorialized for bringing things to fruition at the water front by naming something associated with it after him. Young proposes naming the former Riverview supper club property the John Sarna Park Plaza, instead of the golf learning center, which is quite removed from the river, is just a small ordinary building and maybe Sarna doesn’t even golf. Young wants to keep Dziedzic’s previous meeting motion on the Sarna name tabled so that this new idea can be discussed.
Olson says the idea is “brilliant.”
* Dziedzic moves to adjourn.
– Meeting adjourns at 7:12pm.