October 6 Meeting Highlights

4:48pm Legal Review Committee called to order by Commissioner Fine

Commissioner Mason requested a breakdown on fees billed by Mr. Rice between lobbying costs and legal costs, she also stated she could not do an evaluation at this time without these figures.

Commissioner Fine suggested postponing the evaluation until the forms were completed.

Commissioner Erwin was concerned about conflict of interest and wondered if the Board could receive and end of year report on legal matters as they do for Legislative work.

Commissioner Young also wanted a legal presentation of sorts (and in her sunglasses using something as a shade asked staff to please do something about the lighting…maybe she could call one of the local Anchorpersons and ask for tips).

the jist of the rest was to postpone and do nothing….Adjourned

5:01 Planning Committee called to order by Commissioner Fine

Jennifer Ringold gave a presentation on her exchange year in Adelaide, Australia She gave an interesting presention and stresses that Adelaide was a planned city and that the policy of planning things in detail and covering many contingencies over the long term was a large part of the Business plan of the city. (Long term planning with contingencies considered and continual maintainence projections included..what a common sense approach). Another big difference was that the land was owned by the city and leased to private sports clubs, more of a landlord type of situation.

Jennifer also showed pictures of her travels and answered questions from the commissioners.


5:20 Administration and Finance called to order by Commissioner Hauser

Commissioner Kummer asked to add to the agenda under new business moving petitions and communications to the end of the regular meetings by New Business.

7.1 Approve the lease extension to Mintahoe for the Nicollet Pavillion

per Assistant Sup Siggelkow (or whatever the new titles will be) Mintahoe has invested $1,000,000 to install HVAC, windows, carpet etc.. to make the facility year round and able to cater large events (like the MPRB their original est. was $450,000 and it climbed) Under their present contract they market the site. The site is making good money and did a $150,000 day when the Event Planners Convention was in town . The new terms would include renovations of a boiler room to new restrooms and kitchens and an elevator and thus more floor space to accommodate larger groups. They would pay for renovations but would ask that the MPRB change the contract rates. There would be a trade off of utilities for event rental $$ ( I missed a bit, but I think it was for 5 years with the possibility of 2- 5 year extensions).

Commissioner Dziedzic wants them to throw in an extra free day for the MPRB (currently have 4 set days for annual events and 4 floating days)

Commissioner Erwin asked if they were increasing the building footprint with the expansion plans, per ASST SUP Siggelkow no.

Commissioner Erwin asked would there be a parking problem

ASST SUP Siggelkow..Is now but can work them out with De La Salle and conventions bus people in to the area.

Commissioner Young wants to know if the dollars earned at the site are kept available for big fixes like roofs, plumbing and maintainence.

ASST SUP Siggelkow ..the Enterprise side of the MPRB has such a contingency plan

The lease extension was Approved

7.2 Ammended Expeditures passes without discussion (expenditure now outpace revenues by $200,000)

7.3 Commissioner Kummer’s motion to move Petitions and Communications to the end of the full board meetings so more of the “business” gets broadcast on cable

not much discussion here but more after it is approved (3 to 2 in committee) and moved to the full board.

Study Report Items

ASST SUP Siggelkow and the proposed 2005 budget (which was suppose to have been discussed in detail at this meeting but low and behold we are behind)

Assuming a salary fringe allotment of 2%, insurance increases of 18% (yes 18), operating expense increase of 2% and a max operating levy of 4% they will be $1,000,000 short.

(YES ONE MILLION DOLLARS WILL NEED TO BE CUT ….WATCH OUT POOLS AND POTTIES) The interim superintendent says he wants no gimmick cuts but that operating expenses must go down and the Charter requires a balanced budget. They will rate service priorities and present the budget Oct 20th (I’m not holding my breath)

The interim superintendent has a new plan for Strategic and Forward looking budgets so we can be prepared to deal with shortfalls rather than reacting (DUH!!!)

They will now keep expenses to revenues, count inflation (good luck guessing health insurance increases) and use efficiencies before service reductions (oh my, common sense, what were they using before).

Priorities for one time dollars will be as follows 1.Reduce debt or operating expenses 2. One time investment to provide annual income (like Neiman Sports Complex, oops that costs money annually) 3.An expense that will improve efficiencies 4.Further goals but DO NOT increase operating expenses

The interim superintendent has been working on this since April/May (I think my bank sends out a set of suggestions just like this to help get rid of your credit card debt in my monthly statements)

Commissioner Erwin asks where safety priorities are on the list which add to costs

ASST SUP Siggelkow replies that they come out of the regular budget by shifting some operating expenses for no net increase, badly needed fixes can be brought to the attention of the interim superintendent.

Commissioner Hauser ask if there is a safety committee and the interim superintendent claims there is an ad hoc one.

Commissioner Young asks how the ratings on services are created and the system is explained

Commissioner Kummer asks why 18% increase in the insurance and was told that was the max and under the old systom it would have been closer to 60%

Commissioner Hauser asks how the budget sessions went at city hall

ASST SUP Siggelkow said ways and means thought there was a great “spirit of cooperation”

Commissioner Dziedzic asks how much unexpended MPRB money is sitting in funds earning the city but not the MPRB interest. He jokingly alludes to annoyance at self and Brian Rice for setting system that way while at city hall in past. (20/20 hindsight) Those dollars should be used to pay off the loan on the building so the MPRB pays less interest.

Then Commissioner Fine suggests using money in funds to pay off building, freeing up the $160,000 interest payments they are making, with the caveat that they can mortgage the building if they need extra funds (Great Idea, maybe when the rates are higher and then you can pay even more interest and extra closing costs).

The committee was recessed for the Full Board Meeting and open time.

Regular Meeting is called to order by President Olson.

Open Time

First up is Tim Baylor who is the MPRB’s neighbor upstream. Riverview homes Phase 1 is almost complete. 22 of 29 units are sold and by the end of the month 20 units will be occupied. He has done some temporary landscaping and has plans to start phases 2-5 after trying to become part of a TIF district. His 3 minutes were up and there were no questions for his companions.

Next was a Mr. Schmekt (sorry about the guess on the spelling) from the Jordan neighborhood. He spoke about moving a berm between Jordan Park and his neighborhood. He and the neighbors had a petition asking the MPRB to consider leaving their berm intact for a sound barrier and removing the berm on the east side of the park as they are already lower and could provide easier access for Park Police if needed. The east side also has a larger sidewalk that would even accommodate police vehicles. They were not impressed with the neighborhood receiving NO NOTICE.

Back to the Admin and Finance Committee….

A power point table listing balances of different funds during the past few years was displayed ( sorry, I missed getting notes on it) Commissioner Hauser suggested the funds should be used to pay off debt and be invested in projects that would decrease operating expenses ASST SUP Siggelkow tried to simplify the system as the operating budget being the checking account and the Fund balances being the savings account with some complications such as self-insurance (apparently the fund balance total is at about 2.5 million expected for this year)

Commissioner Mason supports having an operating balance of 10% (of total MPRB budget of around $50 million) and a fund balance of $1,000,000, where the other 1.5 million should go to board priorities, paying off the debt would be nice but the rents from the lower level were suppose to do that. She also suggested that there be a balance level on accounts where the board receives a notice.

Commissioner Erwin believes there should be a tree reserve and thought the report idea was good. He also recommended keeping some dollars available for matching grants.

Commissioner Young advocates using the $$ to get the diseased trees down,the stumps out and new trees planted, otherwise we should leave the fund balances for unforseen emergencies.

Commissioner Hauser suggests that stump removal be moved up on the priority survey the commissioners filled out

Commisioners Dziedzic thinks maybe we need to spend more on safety, lighting

Commissioner Berry-Graves suggests keeping the health care costs down and then mentions the ELEPHANT in the room…moving the Park Police and is against it.

Stump removal is moved to 3A on the commissioner survey via motion and the committee is adjourned (and the whole issue of the fund balances is dead and buried without anything happening…sooooo smooooth).

Back to the regular meeting…

Additions to the agenda..the commissioner search, and plans for the Wirth House

Petitions and Communications: most were mundane but there was some hand slapping of 2 commissioners (Kummer and Erwin) for meeting with the folks from People for Parks, which is again disbanding, when there had been a directive that ASST SUP Siggelkow should be included in any meetings. (People for Parks just wants to distribute funds and get outta Dodge)

The windsurfers are unhappy with the plans to move their jump off spot on Calhoun (the new one is wind defficient)………

Commissioner Kummer is hoping to convene the Standards and Conduct committee by the end of the month (Dziedzic comments from an earlier meeting)

2nd Annual Peace games 10/21 1-4pm Nicollett Island Pavillion


The Goodwill team reports..a team of 3 visited the rec centers and took care of some long delayed wish list items of the local building staff members..made lots of friends throughout the system and made clear that communication within the organization needed some streamlining

A list of 400 items was pared down by 300 and 50 in the works ..some after slides were shown. (no cost for this was given in the report) Interim Superintendent Gurban talks about getting more staff training in gang recognition, latino culture..and that the bandshell is done (thanks Mr. McGowan and volunteers)

ASST SUP Siggelkow mentions that the U of M wants to move the homecoming bonfire from the ST Paul campus ot the East River Flats to promote bringing football back to campus and that the budget presentation should be Nov 3rd

ASST SUP Schmidt mentions volunteer appreciation banquet, Peace Games (in his dual capacity as ASST SUP for Recreation) and brings up Solomon Park the “new park” ( they better not be jumping that park ahead in the park improvement line or some people are going to get unhappy) (CONSIDERING THE LENGHT OF TIME SPENT ON THIS LITTLE WAS REPORTED)

Consent Business is passed with little discussion

Reports of Committees..

Commissioner Dziedzic votes against the new parking machines (which are part of the 21st century and accept credit cards)

Petitions and Communications is moved to the end of the meetings (so if you want your complaints or concerns to be made public you will need to voice them at open time to be “on air” unless the meetings are short…)

Unfinished business….

8.1…Changing the titles, job descriptions, and maybe salaries….. Commissioner Young had some questions about salaries, job descriptions, and who is appointed and who reports to whom…A vote is called and it passes (Big 5 to Small 4).


8.2 Moving the Park Police to the new building to the tune of $350,000 and a $50,000 contingency fund thus $400,000 (as we know project overruns are the norm, consider the $6 million for the Neiman Sports Complex that is now at least $12 million)

Commissioner Erwin thinks he can live with the numbers and hopes that they can stay in the estimate

Commissioner Mason questions the “work out room” when Park Police already receive health club memberships and questions the cost of revamping the old police building for the Environmental Operations Department (well there goes more money….$400,000 my Aunt Fanny) she motions postponing discussion until January, it fails.

Commissioner Hauser thinks it is a great idea as the old building had mice and was in bad condition (who is responsible for the upkeep…oh yeah…the parkboard)

Commissioner Berry-Graves suggests again using the money to reduce insurance rates for staff and sees the costs with renovation of the old building totaling closer to $600,000 and will vote no.

Commissioner Dziedzic will vote for the cops out on the front lines and thinks having the gym and showers will be great and the officers can bring in the kids and show them around etc….(I think there might be a liability issue with that and I’m not going into the showers seen in the wrong light aspect)

Commissioner Young…costs too much

Commissioner Erwin…gym available to all staff not just police

Vote 6 for, 2 against (Mason and Berry-Graves), 1 (Young) abstains

(There goes the budget rules out the window..or is that next year when those apply???) 8.3 and 8.4 pass

Counsel Brian Rice gives a report on the Charter Commission and is dutifully making sure the MPRB loses none of it’s power to the Mayor or City Council The Charter Commission is on Draft 5B and the MPRB has been the most active participant (billable hours I am guessing)


Commissioner Kummer introduces a long resolution to oppose a development next to Lake Calhoun (the owner had a 4 story building that was grandfathered in under the Shoreline Overlay District (?) and now that the building is being redone they want a variance to go 6 stories)

Commissioner Young suggests using the standard process and sending a letter from the MPRB stating their position on this which though agreeing with the neighborhood would be independent

Commissioner Erwin offers a substitute motion to hear from the developer first and it fails (even with Jackie Cherryholmes the developer’s rep in the room)

Resolution Passes

Discussion of the blue background wall for the TV cameras

Superintendent Search

Commissioner Mason…only 8 applicants as of 9/30 should deadline be extended

Commissioner Dziedzic… Interim title known since last January plenty of time for folks

No Extension

Wirth House

Commissioner Erwin..tenant is out, environmental operations is in until police move and redo of old police building…then what and let’s not wait until the last minute

ASST SUP Schmidt…Environmental Operations went out of trailers to save the rental expense and no work other than the move from the trailers to the building was done and the house was not altered


(so with a proposed $1 million shortfall for next year they voted to spend $600,000 to move staff around…is it your park that takes the hit next year??????)

Liz Wielinski
Columbia Park

1 thought on “October 6 Meeting Highlights

  1. Anonymous

    Now that the boating season is over can we see how close Asst. Superintendent Sigglekow was on his projections for the two Mpls. excursion boats.

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