Monthly Archives: September 2004

Star Tribune: Minneapolis hydroelectric project extended anew

September 23, 2004: With stern warnings that it probably won’t happen again, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted owners of a controversial hydroelectric project a 45-day extension to get their power plant along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis going.

Owners of privately held Crown Hydro have until Oct. 26 to pursue one of the four options they’ve laid out to realize a project that’s been 30-plus years in the making. But project leaders are exactly where they were last month as their previous deadline approached: They have no idea what they’re going to do.

“Our plan is not to quit,” Crown Hydro president Tom Griffin said. “Beyond that, I don’t know.”

Project leaders want to build an underground hydroelectric power plant along the Mississippi near St. Anthony Falls. The plant would generate enough electricity to serve 2,700 households.

The project leaders set their hearts on leasing the old Cataract Mill site, but in a narrow defeat, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted months ago to deny them the land.

Crown Hydro then asked the federal commission for a 90-day extension to allow for exploration of four options, including taking the Park Board land through eminent domain. When the Sept. 11 deadline passed and Crown Hydro leaders hadn’t settled on a course, they applied for another extension — their fourth.

A Sept. 17 letter from the commission to Crown Hydro leaders said a fifth extension would be granted only if the leaders can provide legal documentation of their ability to exercise eminent domain, which would entail taking the Cataract Mill site without Park Board approval, or evidence of negotiations with the Park Board. The commission could put a stop to the project if it feels satisfactory progress is not being made.

Park commissioners have said they don’t foresee the board changing its stance on the project.

Chao Xiong

Sept. 15 Park Board Meeting Highlights

The September 15 meeting of the Park Board was more notable for its parliamentary and political maneuvering, than for outright fireworks.

At 5:00pm, the Administration and Finance Committee met and approved a variety of items with little discussion, except the purchase of 4 parking pay station machines. After some discussion about malfunction, ticketing, profitability and the public’s uneasiness with the newer technology, this item also passed with comr. Walt Dziedzic voting no with the comment that there were “too many complaints.”

Then the Admin & Fin Com heard the reports for two study items.

Item #1 was the mayor’s budget proposal and how it would affect the Park Board. Comr. Dziedzic took this opportunity to complain that there were no capital projects listed for the “east side” of Minneapolis. He also asked Asst. Super. Siggelkow what the latest state forecast was. Answer: about a $1 billion biannual deficit at the state.

Item #2 was a report on the Preplanning Fund by Asst. Super. Siggelkow. Chairperson Marie Hauser allowed Comr. Vivian Mason, who does not sit on this committee, to make some remarks. Mason noted that what she had asked for was an update on all reserve funds [not just this one], and that she was told by Siggelkow that he had that data and that it would be in the information packets for the commissioners the coming Friday. Mason would like the board to review that information at their next meeting. Siggelkow then held forth with a bunch of background on the fund, how it was sometimes reimbursed from projects that proceeded, how it was sometimes funded in years not so lean as recent ones, how it was used to react to plans by other government agencies, or to plan projects to take to other agencies that the Park Board wanted done. It’s also used for “testing.” The balance was $214,000 in mid-August this year. The low was $15,000 in 1992, and the high was $600,000 at the end of 2003. [So we’ve spent $600k – $214k = $386,000 from it this year already?] There is a state law capping the amount the staff can spend without elected board approval at $50,000.

Comr. Annie Young wants to know who decides when this fund is used. Siggelkow answers but never really says who. Young notes that larger amounts than $50,000 appear to have been spent, but Siggelkow insists that the board has always approved all amounts over $50,000. Young tries to press her question, but…

Chair Hauser interrupts Young, and cuts her off saying her 3 minutes are up and then calls on Comr. Rochelle Berry Graves.

Berry Graves immediately yields her first 30 seconds to Young, who finishes her remarks. Berry Graves then asks about the discretionary fund, and also wants to know when the previous long-standing limit of $25,000 before board approval was changed and how? Siggelkow says he has never heard of a discretionary fund, and that the Park Board has always been audited.

Hauser asks if the discretionary fund is the same place the money was going to be found to fund the skate park at Elliot Park [at the time, there was no money but the claim was made that some could be found someplace].

Hauser adjourns the Admin & Fin Committee

5:45pm

Operations and Environment Committee called to order by Young. The only item on the agenda is an item to increase the number of voting members on the Minneapolis Water Quality Monitoring Task Force. Presently there are 5 voting members: 2 city council, 2 Park Board and 1 mayoral. Proposal is to add 4 members for the 4 watershed districts which impact Minneapolis surface water quality. Comr. Carol Kummer and Young have been serving as the Park Board reps. Kummer and Young speak in favor of this action.

Comr. Dziedzic wants to point out to the public that this is not about drinking water for the public.

The item (5.1) is passed unanimously and moved to the full board.

Young adjourns the Op & Env Committee.

5:50pm

Commissioner President Chairman Jon Olson calls the Regular meeting to order. Comr. Bob Fine is absent.

* The agenda is updated and approved.

* Petitions and communications.

Dziedzic talks about some brochure from a 1960s-era De La Salle program, that he passes around, Vikings coach Mike Tice presenting $5,000 to some program, etc.

Hauser says someone spoke to her about banning smoking in the parks, even outdoors.

Mason received comments from a number of citizens concerned that diseased elm trees were not being removed quickly enough, about the fate of the Wirth and Longfellow houses, and about meeting agendas not being mailed to citizens at all or on time.

Comr. John Erwin mentions the success of traffic calming on West River Parkway, and that he met with Jim Parsons of People For Parks and that he believes they will reach some sort of agreement. Erwin also remarks that a discussion of the disposition of the Wirth House is overdue since the tenant (Mn. Rec. and Parks Assoc.) will be vacating by end of this month.

Kummer mentions Tobacco Free Minnesota regarding smoking in parks, and also notes that Mason has requested that the Standards and Conduct Committee, of which Kummer is chair, meet [to discuss Dziedzic’s outrageous verbal assault at the August 18 meeting].

6:01pm

Olson moves meeting to Open Time so public can speak.

* Liz Wielinksi of Northeast:

“President Olson and commissioners,

During the past 18 months I have been coming to meetings of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. At first I was very impressed with hose the meetings were conducted. The Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents and staff made frequent reports to the board which were very informative and kept the commissioners abreast of happenings within the system. Sounds recommendations were given and the board made reasonable decisions based on this information. In fact, the only thing I found hard to handle (as a speed talker myself) was Dr. Merrirfield’s charming yet exquisitely slow Southern drawl.

This has all changed. Since the appointment of Interim Superintendent Gurban, the meetings and activities of this board have become soap-operaesque. Clandestine planning, hidden agendas and all out hostilities have become the norm. Much as this may make for entertaining television, this does not make for good governing. A prime example is Commissioner Dziedzic’s behavior at the August 18th meeting.

Commissioner Mason asked reasonable questions of Interim Superintendent Gurban about the plans for moving the park police. He gave her some mumbo jumbo about tentative plans written on napkins and suggestions made in passing. When she confronted him about the professional plans she had seen, he was defended by Commissioner Dziedzic. He proceeded to get into a temper over her picking on staff. He even made what appeared to be threats that only those familiar with School Board history would know referred to when Commissioner Mason’s late husband was attacked by a disgruntled staff member at a meeting.

I am a constituent of Commissioner Dziedzic’s and I am not only embarrassed by this but very disappointed. I thought I had voted for him to represent myself and my neighbors to oversee the workings of this fabulous system. Questioning staff on their plans and expenditures is part of his job as a supervisory board member just as it is for Commissioner Mason and the other elected members of this board. How else would making decisions which provide excellent services while keeping costs contained be achieved?

Today I see a return to the boring and yet productive and well intentioned board of last year. Please continue. I believe an apology from Commissioner Dziedzic to Commissioner Mason is also necessary to improve the working relations of the board. The next step would be for Interim Superintendent Gurban to do the job he was hired to do, including making his reports or at least deferring to the experienced Assistant Superintendents who are very familiar with the system. In fact I hope that if Interim Superintendent Gurban is actively pursuing the position of Superintendent he would make an effort between now and December to demonstrate he has the necessary abilities to do the job. Not just to the commissioners but to the citizens of Minneapolis who are through their tax dollars paying his salary.

Minneapolis has a stellar park system. A gem which needs to be maintained and kept intact for future generations. This can best be accomplished with cooperation between a dedicated staff and board devoted to sound management.”

* Arlene Fried of Bryn Mawr:

[Regarding the superintendent search which was originally not on the agenda for tonight’s meeting, but now has been added.]

“This matter is important and it deserves close public scrutiny. The public wants and needs to be kept informed of the search progress.

On behalf of other interested citizens, I am asking the following questions:

1. In what specific publications and websites have the ads for superintendent been placed?

2. Have you received any applications so far and, if so, how many? [roughly 10 says Andrea Sims of the Oldani Group]

3. On what date will the public be invited to question the finalists? [tentative date of December 1]

Thank you for your prompt response.”

Pres. Olson refers her to Asst. Super. Siggelkow for answers.

* Back to Petitions and Communications

Berry Graves encourages attendance at the annual Peace Ball, and wonders how a no smoking outdoors in the parks law would be enforced.

* Reports from Officers gets SKIPPED [Gurban once again does not report.]

Items from standing committees all get passed without discussion except item 7.2 from Admin & Fin, an authorization to accept bids from St. Croix Recreation Company, Inc to build skate parks at Armatage, Creekview and Elliot Parks:

* 7.2 – Young has a number of questions. Berry Graves asks why the first park to request a skate park years ago is not on this list of 3 parks being approved for construction bids. President Olson says that park is “next.” Berry Graves thinks that $50/hour for meeting with the community is too high. She has also heard there might be a conflict of interest in that the significant other of a staff person works at the company which has the bid.

7.2 PASSES.

* Unfinished Business

Items 8.1 and 8.2 pass.

* 8.3 – That the board authorize the capital project appropriation of $350,000 for the [added] renovation of the headquarters building and the moving expenses associated with relocating the park police operations… The board further authorizes the finance manager to process a LOAN of $350,000 from either the self-insurance fund or the tax fund balance as appropriately determined at year end.

Mason remarks that she will not be voting yes because a complete estimate, etc. was not done. Mason reiterates the issue is not about the police department, but about proper process. She says “any project worth moving forward with can withstand public scrutiny.”

Berry Graves is concerned about this much money coming out of the self insurance fund. What is the balance?

Erwin supports the project but the original motion at the last meeting, which he himself made, was to move forward but to get better estimates before approval. He needs to know those estimates before he can vote.

Hauser asks if exact dollar amounts can be gotten.

Assistant Superintendent Judd Rietkerk circumlocutes about how all estimates and bids are subject to change orders, contingencies, etc., essentially saying no number is ever exact. He has some rough guesses that he just got from a contractor this morning [why so late in the game?]: framing and finishing, $125,000[?], HVAC, etc. $117,000[?], electrical $55,000 and IT/phones $35,000 for a total of $342,000 and thus $350,000 is a good ball park figure.

Young is also concerned about the income [lost] from the lease on the same area, and remarks that they have not yet discussed the funds.

Berry Graves withdraws her motion.

Olson is about to move on without 8.3 passing.

Dziedzic makes motion to pass 8.3 It dies for lack of a second.

The half a dozen or so Park Police officers who showed up for this moment, start to file out and Dziedzic blurts out to them “thank you for coming officers” to which a few respond, interrupting the meeting that Olson is trying to conduct.

* 8.4, that the board authorize staff to execute a letter of intent on the 201 Building [the building at Ft. Snelling which was to be the location of the failed “The Fort” sports complex which has not payed its contractors, and who as a result have filed $1.7 to $2.0 million in liens against the Park Board] and/or adjoining property.

8.4 is moved for discussion.

Berry Graves wants to know if one of the groups that Siggelkow described as being interested would come to the board and make a presentation. Siggelkow says no, neither group knows if a project is viable at that location. [so why the letter of intent?]

8.4 passes.

** Meeting ADJOURNS at 6:40PM **

Several people from the audience remark aloud “what about the superintendent’s report.” Olson [I believe, in the post meeting hubbub] says something to the effect it was an oversight, but it’s too late, they’re adjourned.

STrib: Park superintendent search won't be walk in the park

Chao Xiong, Star Tribune, September 16, 2004

As the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board delves into its second search for a superintendent in a year, memories and wounds remain strong from the chaotic meeting that brought an unsettling conclusion to the 2003 search.

The board is just weeks into advertising for a chief steward of Minneapolis’ nationally renowned park system, a collection of nearly 6,400 acres of land and water, more than 170 park properties and about 50 recreation centers.

Candidates for the high-profile superintendent post, which will pay a salary of $114,200, also have to contend with less clear-cut challenges, including working with a board that has gained a reputation for infighting (a recent five-hour meeting ended with heated verbal exchanges). And, all nine commissioners’ terms expire in November 2005.

“I think that some potential candidates may look through the news accounts [from] last year and be concerned that this may be a difficult situation,” said Commissioner Marie Hauser.

Despite the problems, commissioners hope that the board has turned a corner and that the search will go smoothly.

Meanwhile, Interim Superintendent Jon Gurban, whose contract ends in December, hasn’t said if he is applying for the job.

At a meeting that featured shouting, name-calling and walkouts by some commissioners, the board voted 5-4 in December to appoint Gurban, who hadn’t applied for the job.

The top two candidates withdrew at the last minute, and the board turned to Gurban. He was given a one-year contract that expires Dec. 31. But he got the $112,000 post without the required rigorous application process.

That process included management and psychological tests and interviews for the other applicants.

Search begins again

Andrea Sims, executive recruiter for the Oldani Group, which is conducting the search, said she expects the subject will come up in discussions with candidates.

“I think they’ll feel good about the process that is taking place now,” she said.

The group has received about 10 applications, typical at this stage, and expects to have up to 40 strong candidates, she said. The search budget is $30,000.

The parks, often referred to as “urban jewels,” have a 2004 operating budget of $48.6 million and host 15.5 million visitors each year, making them second to the Mall of America for the most visited attraction in the Twin Cities. The city’s parks get close attention from hard-core parks enthusiasts who religiously attend twice-a-month board meetings and keep online forums rife with park news and gossip.

Mixed reviews

Some commissioners said they expect Gurban to apply for the job and to be a top candidate.

“I hope [Gurban] applies,” said Commissioner Walt Dziedzic. “I’m happy with what he’s done.”

Reviews of Gurban’s performance are not without criticism.

Commissioner Annie Young wants to see more reports from him on park projects. Some commissioners and residents were surprised to learn last month that park staff members were drafting plans for improvements to Bryn Mawr Park without notifying the board. Park staff said it’s common practice to work on plans even if improvements are not imminent and to bring them to the board’s attention later.

Young said she was also upset to see the Lake Harriet band shell repainted without board notification. “I feel that [Gurban’s] relationship to the commissioners is lacking,” she said.

Regardless of the tumult, commissioners said they expect top candidates for the post.

“It’s a different year, it’s a different time,” Young said. “I firmly believe that this is the No. 1 park system in the country, and there are people who want to come here and work here.”

Crown Hydro Files for Extension / Pursues Eminent Domain

Here is the text of Crown Hydro’s most recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) filing:

September 9, 2004 VIA OVERNIGHT MAIL
Ms. Magalie R. Salas
Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE
Washington, D.C. 20426

RE: Request for Extension of Time to File an Acceptable Conveyance of Project Property – Crown Hydro LLC
Project No. 11175-016

Dear Ms. Salas:

This letter is written on behalf of Crown Hydro LLC (“Crown”) to request an extension of time to secure acceptable conveyance of the project property from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (“MPRB”), in connection with the pending amendment application on the Crown Mill Hydroelectric Project, FERC No. 11175. Crown’s current deadline is September 11, 2004.

As expressed in the lint, it is Crown’s desire to enter into an agreed upon conveyance from the MPRB (in the form of a lease). Since a lease is far from guaranteed, Crown has retained an attorney experienced in eminent domain to investigate all of our options in that respect.

Currently, with respect to eminent domain, Crown is investigating the accuracy of the MPRB letter dated August 18, 2003, with respect to the acquisition and designation of parklands prior to the effective date of the Federal Powers Act of 1992. In that respect, Crown is currently investigating the issue of whether or not the subject property was a “public park.., established under State or local law” prior to October 24, 1992. Crown has requested MPRB documents in correspondence dated July 2, 2004 and August 19, 2004, and is waiting for a time to review these documents.

Crown remains optimistic that the MPRB may revisit the issue and come to agree with Crown’s view of the project as an asset to the community and the Minneapolis park system.

Crown Hydro remains committed to the project and respectfully requests an extension of time to acquire an acceptable conveyance of the subject property.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Very truly yours,
O’NEILL, GRILLS & O’NEILL, P.L.L.P.
Richard J. Savelkoul
rsavelkoul@ogolaw.com
RJS:klm
cc: FERC Service List

Park Board Meeting

5:00pm — Administration and Finance Committee
5:45pm — Operations and Environment Committee
6:00pm — Regular Meeting

Agenda documents for the above portions of the meeting (in Microsoft Word document format) are available here.

They include these items of notable interest:

1. A review of the preplanning “slush fund” used for paying for the controversial plans for Bryn Mawr Meadows and park police move to HQ building.

2. The required monthly — but never given by Jon Gurban before during his tenure — superintendent’s report.

3. Rejecting all bids received for phase IV of improvements at Mill Ruins Park.

4. Approving yet another increase in the contracted amount for comprehensive planning to Brauer & Associates, Ltd.

5. Authorizing $350,000 to further renovate the headquarters building and move the park police into the space.

If you cannot attend in person, but you have access to Minneapolis Time Warner cable, you can watch the meeting live on channels 14 and 79.

SW Journal: Isles parkway to close in late September

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will close a portion of Lake of the Isles Parkway for up to three weeks as part of ongoing lake restoration work.

According to a Park Board news release:

The Park Board will close the parkway between Franklin and Sheridan avenues weekdays between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., beginning as early as Monday, Sept. 20, to accommodate wrong-way truck traffic.

A detour will reroute Lake of the Isles Parkway drivers west along Franklin Avenue, south along Penn Avenue South, west on West 21st Street, south on Thomas Avenue South and West 22nd Street, then east on West 24th Street to Sheridan Avenue, which reconnects with the parkway.

More at link.

SW Journal: Putt-Putt for the parks?

By Scott Russell

Life is imitating art.

This summer, the Walker Art Center opened a popular miniature golf course as part of the Sculpture Garden — 10 holes designed by area artists and architects. The course is scheduled to close Monday, Sept. 6 — but the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board staff may create a permanent Putt-Putt to make some bucks-bucks.

Mini-golf is one of several ideas Park Board staff is mulling to recoup lost parking revenue, said Don Siggelkow, general manager for administration and finance. Staff eventually will take a formal proposal to the Park Board.

The Park Board has a surface parking lot near the Sculpture Garden. It once charged $7 for Guthrie Theater event parking, Siggelkow said. The lot generated $500,000-$550,000 a year to support the parks.

However, last November, the city opened the 671-stall underground Vineland Place ramp to serve the Walker and Guthrie, charging $5 for event parking. That cost the Park Board $200,000 a year in lost lot revenue, Siggelkow said. He expects the loss to hit $300,000 a year once the Guthrie moves to its new riverfront home.

Park Board staff has several ideas for raising more money, he said.

They considered proposing a two-story, 20,000-square-foot banquet facility near the Sculpture Garden — only to find they would have to dig 120 feet to hit bedrock, Siggelkow said. The extra construction costs make the plan less feasible.

The Park Board could put the mini-golf course west of the Sculpture Garden, where it had envisioned the banquet facility.

SW Journal: Parks superintendent search squeezed

By Scott Russell

Adding to the pressure: persistent Park Board divisions

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is behind schedule on its superintendent search and is trying to catch up.

Earlier this summer, the Park Board hired the Oldani Group to conduct the search. It is the same firm the city of Minneapolis used earlier this year to hire Police Chief William McManus.

Park Board President Jon Olson called the search schedule “a tight squeeze.”

Mary Page, the Park Board’s human resources director, is the staff point person on the search. The application deadline is Oct. 8. The Park Board expects to make a final decision by late November, with a Jan. 1 start date, she said.

The Park Board had planned to hold a mid-October public forum with finalists, Olson said. That will probably be pushed back since finalists won’t be named by then.

Last year, the Park Board hired the Illinois Association of Park Districts to find potential replacements for retiring Supt. Mary Merrill Anderson. That search imploded when the two top candidates withdrew.

A thin five-of-nine Commissioner majority voted to hire Gurban to a one-year contract. Gurban had neither applied for, nor interviewed for, the job. Several in the four-Commissioner minority charged their colleagues with backroom deals. Some residents also sharply criticized the process.

Commissioner John Erwin, who did not vote for Gurban’s contract, chaired the committee that created the new search process. The Park Board is three weeks behind its initial timeline, he said.

Andrea Battle Sims of the Oldani Group spoke to the Park Board Aug. 4. Her organization had already begun calling potential applicants, she said.

In the hot seat

Gurban’s selection last December underscored deep Park Board divisions. The question now is, can a board marked by years of bad blood create something resembling consensus as it tries to choose a permanent leader?

Gurban will likely be a flash point.

The Park Board invited people to comment on the qualifications for the next superintendent. A dozen people spoke at the Aug. 4 board meeting. Dan Forby, a Jim Lupient Water Park board member, said he had “warm fuzzies” for the current Park Board leadership. However, former 10th Ward City Councilmember Lisa McDonald — a potential 2005 Park Board candidate — sent a strongly worded letter urging the Park Board to take Gurban off its list of potential candidates.

“Many qualified candidates would be deterred from spending the time and effort to apply if they knew there was an inside track candidate being considered who had served as interim superintendent for one year,” wrote McDonald.

Several speakers echoed her comments.

Olson said in an interview McDonald’s proposal was discriminatory. “Last time I checked, we are government,” he said. “I thought it was illegal to prohibit people from applying for a job.”

Commissioner Walt Dziedzic, who praised Gurban’s work, said after the meeting he thought McDonald’s letter was “terrible” and “just nasty.”

SW Journal: Bryn Mawr meadows: a better solution

By Vida Y. Ditter, Bryn Mawr

The article, “Bryn Mawr Park Concept Creates Political Storm,” (Aug. 23-Sept. 5) highlighted how a single individual pursuing a private agenda and ignoring due process can anger those who have spent years working as a community — and with other communities — to develop physically and economically sustainable solutions that benefit everyone.

Due process would suggest that Parks Commissioner Bob Fine’s concept to expand Bryn Mawr Meadows into the Bryn Mawr/Parade Stadium Athletic Complex should first be presented to the neighborhood(s) most affected.

Courtesy would further suggest that the plan be presented to the Commissioner in whose district the land is located. Commissioner Fine, according to the article, argues he is above such conventions: “Why do I need to talk to her (referring to 4th District Commissioner Vivian Mason)? We work differently than the City Council. One person doesn’t own the

whole district.”

He is right. ONE person does NOT own the whole district. The residents of Bryn Mawr reviewed — and decisively rejected — a similar Park Board suggestion in 2000. After multiple public hearings, public meetings and design charettes, folks from Harrison, Bryn Mawr, Near North, other neighborhoods and the Minneapolis City Council, chose to support the Basset Creek Valley Master Plan’s land-use proposal….

Star Tribune: Plan would upgrade North Side parkway

Chao Xiong, Star Tribune
September 2, 2004

Improvements to Victory Memorial Parkway will maintain its dominant green space while highlighting its memorial to veterans under a master plan endorsed Wednesday.

The 2.8-mile linear park in north Minneapolis is part of the 40-mile Grand Rounds Scenic Byway loop around the city; it honors Hennepin County’s World War I veterans.

The plan approved Wednesday by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Planning Committee will exceed $1 million and will include the installation of kiosks with historical information as well as the addition of a formal garden with seating at the parkway’s Lincoln Memorial.

The plan also calls for widening the deteriorating bike/walking trail installed in 1975 from 8 feet to 12 feet.

Plantings and signs will be added at parkway entrances, benches and drinking fountains will be installed along the trail, and trees will be replaced as needed.

A proposal to close off parts of Irving, Knox, Morgan, Oliver, Queen and Xerxes Avs. N. and 39th Avenue N. — which cross the parkway — drew mostly support from residents at Wednesday’s board meeting.

Greg Ingraham, a project consultant with Ingraham and Associates, cited safety concerns as the reason behind the street closures.

Fred Talbot, who lives on Penn Avenue N., said the closures will only move the already heavy traffic to nearby intersections.

“I can see it coming,” said Talbot, who was the only one of about a dozen residents to speak against the closures. “I’ve been there 44 years. If you shut it off, [traffic] is just going to be incredible.”

Minneapolis parks engineer Tim Brown said the closures still need to be approved by city officials in Minneapolis and in adjoining Robbinsdale.