Monthly Archives: January 2005

Park Board Meeting February 2

Regular, first Wednesday of the month board meeting

Agenda items include:

4:30pm Regular (starting with closed executive session)
5:00pm Standards & Conduct Committee
5:20pm Administration & Finance Committee
5:30pm Planning Committee
6:00pm Public Open Time – Regular meeting (time certain)
6:15pm Recreation Committee

For copies of all the official agenda documents downloadable in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, click here and follow the agenda links.

January 19 Meeting Report

The Board met at 4:30 behind closed doors to deal with workman’s comp issues. At 5:00 President Olson asked Commissioner Dziedzic to start the Legislation and Intergovernmental Committee. Commissioner Dziedzic who needs a refresher in protocol hopped right in and then had to back track and cover the formalities like rollcall and agenda approval etc… Chair Dziedzic then gave a refresher on how priorities at the legislature are ranked A-important B-would like and E- bills the MPRB supports but which are not the MPRB’s primary interests. He then asked the Lobbying team to go over the agenda for this year….

Brian Rice listed the priorities as
1) Retain LGA (is approx $9 million dollars of the MPRB’s budget)
2) Protect Operations and Maintenance dollars for regional parks and lottery dollars dedicated to parks (approx $1.1million comes to MPRB, he was talking pretty fast and I am no stenographer)
3 )Met Council Bonding (again he was going fast but the MPRB would get $2.9 million of their $7 million for projects like Minnehaha Parkway,Chain of Lakes, more work at Mill Ruins and the Central Riverfront)
4) Pursuing last years bonding requests for Lake of the Isles restoration, JD River project, and Grand Rounds…would NOT be pursuing the East Phillips Community Center or the MARINA
5)Money for Earn to Learn which has been cut in the past from $250,000 to $180,000 and may be 0 now.
6)LCMR(?) metro and regional parks…(sorry missed what he said)
7) Dutch Elm Community Forest Protection (being headed up by Jon Olson and Mike Schmidt)
8) Looking for dedicated funds for environmental programs
9) Support the efforts of others for the White Water park on the Mississippi

Commissioner comments….

Commissioner Young…great to pursue money for trees, would like East Phillips Center back on the bonding list (made a motion, accepted a friendly amendment to make it a B item for 2005 and an A item for 2006.. passed) Feels the East Phillips community now facing troubles with 3 Latino gangs really needs somewhere else for the youth of the area to spend their time.

Commissioner Hauser also wants East Phillips back on the list (Brian Rice mentions that only items with traction during the failed 2004 bonding session will be in the 2005 plans and that East Phillips really had little and 2006 more appropriate timing)

Commissioner Erwin also supports the idea, especially now that neither Minneapolis plan made the Kroc list for community centers.

Commissioner Kummer asks how much the MPRB got from the state during the Dutch Elm Crises during the 70’s

Kirk Peterson of the lobbying team replies that the state funded the program at $30 million (annually in the late 70’s) but it was for the entire state.

Commissioner Mason asks about the change in $$ amounts for Lake of the Isles Restoration, and will the lower request pay to finish it.

Kirk .Peterson replies that the bill’s sponsor changed the amount and NO not enough for completion

Commissioner Erwin asks about the JD RIvers project and if the MPRB is negotiating with the U of M to gain their support etc…

Head of Planning Judd Rietkerk says that the scope of the project has changed overtime and planning is ongoing as well as possible partnerships

Commissioner Erwin also complements President Olson on his efforts for the tree situation and warns that Oak Wilt and the Ash Borers are just around the corner.

Commissioner Kummer asks who’s efforts on behalf of the Whitewater Park the MPRB is supporting and will parkland need to be traversed for access?

DNR is the fiscal agent and a private group is behind the project

Commissioner Berry-Graves wants to get the $$$ for the Earn to Learn program and keep the youth at hard work during the day so they are too tired to make trouble in the evenings.

Brian Rice said Rep. Mullery is pursuing those dollars

Mary Ann Campo (lobbyist) made a report on getting money from the Met Council for operations and is pleased Superintendent Gurban is working with Peter Bell on this issue.

Commissioner Young asked if Minneapolis is still out of favor at the Capitol and Ms. Campo said little has changed however the “parks” are treated better than the city because they are parks. She also remarked that the outlook for a bonding bill passing is good, especially in light of the 2004 house elections.

The legislative agenda( of 1-9 above) with the East Phillips Center added for 2006 bonding requests as an A item passes.

Some discussion takes place regarding scheduling the legislative breakfast, this is moved to unfinished business by President Olson (where later it is forgotten… oops). Committee Adjourns.

Admin and Finance is called to order by Commissioner Hauser

In passing 2 amended contracts Commissioner Mason asks that the reasons for the increases in costs be explained to the public ( as they are in the Commissioners’ Packets of supplementary materials) so that the public understands the reasons for the increases in costs.

Commissioner Berry-Graves asks for a staff contact for the golf fundraisers as she has a possible “BIG SURPRISE” guest for next year (and she’s not telling).

Committee Adjourned.

President Olson reconvened the Regular meeting at 5:45
Commissioner Mason thanked GM Don Siggelkow and Dianne Hill for getting the meeting minutes through 11-17-04 up to date and hopes the trend will continue.

Reports of Officers
Superintendent Gurban introduced Jon Oyanagi the new District manager for the River District ( North and NE ) He has 25 years of park experience and comes to the MPRB via Anoka Co and prior to that the city of Eagan. Superintendent Gurban then refers the commissioners to his December report in their packets. He reports that the Gopher mens basketball team held a practice at Farview Park and it was well attended by not only young people but coaches with many questions looking for tips. This “event” was organized by the Henry High basketball coach (my apologies, I did not catch the name and no copies of the report were readily available for the public).
The Superintendent then went on to praise the event at Winter Park sponsored by the Minnesota Vikings. The hosts were very gracious and accessible and the attendees were thrilled ( and on their best behavior).
Comments from the commissioners were…

Commissioner Mason asked that the report be included in the packet prior to the meeting so they can be prepared to ask questions.
Commissioner Dziedzic was all praise for the Vikings player and coaches.
Commissioner Hauser welcomed Mr. Oyanagi
Commissioner Berry-Graves also impressed by Vikings event

GM for Ops Mike Schmidt commented on the dry run for the TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Loads) and hopes that the commissioners can attend ( something to do with the storm water system, public hearings and permits to discharge storm water into the Mississippi. I hope Commissioner Young feels like explaining this as I would do a poor job)

GM Schmidt then explained that the warming houses were closed due to a long standing policy that goes into affect when the windchill is 20 degrees below 0. He recommends reconsidering this policy prior to next winter.

Commissioner Young points out that those temps were in the evenings only and that the policy would need some flexibility

DeLaSalle issue (earlier in the meeting it was decided that since so many people had signed up to speak that each side would be alloted 9 minutes and could divide it up accordingly)

Residents first

John Chaffee (30+year resident of the island) The island belongs to everyone and the residents must be good stewards for future generations and should not be altering the landscaping so drastically ( 10 foot retaining walls, asphalt tennis courts almost to the waters edge…)

Barry Clegg ( resident since 1992) The neighborhood was informed of DeLaSalle”s plans in December, the neighbors and many others were displeased and he provided a petition signed by 300 people with another batch of 50 to be delivered at a later date. He also stated the the PPERIA (Prospect Park) and Marcy Holmes neighborhoods had issued a resolutions against the stadium and street closing plan. He also mentions the restrictive covenant on the island.

Representative Phyllis Kahn (resident and representative of the area prior to residing on the island) spoke of the possibility of the MPRB having to reimburse the Met Council $1.4 million dollars if this land was leased for this purpose and that if a stadium is built for football the school (leasing on public land) would no doubt need to meet some sort of Title IX requirements for the same investment in girls sports.

DeLaSalle side

Brother Michael Collins current president of DeLaSalle spoke to the issue of creating a space for not 20 or 30 boys but for the 625 students of many diverse backgrounds including 30% that are non-Catholic. He spoke of a public/private partnership like many throughout the area and more summer field space for the MPRB , thus the public to use. Together they would serve the community. He also said the Minneapolis Police Department did not feel closing part of Grove ST would present safety concerns.

John Derus spoke of 5 generations in NE Minneapolis growing up with DeLaSalle and the great loyalty to the school of the graduates. He commented on the uniqueness of the student body in it’s diversity. He again stressed the many public / private partnerships already existing.


As Mr. Derus was speaking he ran out of time. The Island Residents pointed this out and Mr. Derus continued and would have kept on speaking had the residents not called time again. President Olson finally interrupted him and asked him to stop. I am going to mention this just once because it has been ticking me off… Commissioner Olson needs to be consistent in monitoring OPEN TIME. He usually insists that all speakers give their name and address for the record, neither Brother Michael or Mr. Derus received this reprimand and while he felt it necessary to interrupt Mr. Chaffee while he was speaking he did not do so for Mr. Derus.

For those not in attendance there were approx. 45-50 residents and 8-10 DeLaSalle supporters in the audience.


Next to speak at OPEN TIME was Frank Rog former Northeaster who has written a book about his boyhood experiences growing up near the river. He had attended the annual meeting on January 3rd and after hearing Commissioner Young’s presentation on Minnehaha Park thought he would bring another historical accounting to their attention. The book is “Let me be Frank”, and was self published and is available by contacting the author.

The last speaker was Mary Govrik who outlined her proposal for a Southern Fare style eatery at Lake Harriet. She was referred to GM Siggelkow.

back to Officer reports…
GM Siggelkow…in the commissioners packets (again no public copy readily available)
Judd Rietkerk, Head of Planning.. The proposed realignment of the trails at Webber Park around the Library, pool and tot lot was approved by the community and the work will begin in the spring.

Consent Business was passed
Unfinished Business, the calendar for the year

Commissioner Erwin asked for a committee of the whole meeting to be set to discuss the goals for the year
Commissioner Olson stated goals would be discussed at the retreat for Commissioners
Commissioner Erwin then asked for a copy of the full budget for 2006 in the spring so that commissioners could study it in preparation for the fall budget meetings

Commissioners Young and Mason wished there had been some communication regarding the retreat date prior to it being set

Commissioner Mason also suggested adding some Committee of the Whole meetings into the calendar for the fall ( for budget discussions) and if they were not need they could be dropped at that time so commissioners could avoid scheduling conflicts

Commissioner Olson comments that the updated calendar is underway and should be available soon.

Commissioner Young schedules the South High students’ presentation for Feb 16th (tentative)
Commissioner Olson requests a change of date for the Institute of Art meeting as it falls on Ash Wednesday

New Business

Commissioner Mason requests that the agendas available to the public via mail and on the MPRB website ( include more information like some of the background materials the commissioners receive.

She also restates a request from 2003 that the Standards and Conduct committee review the committee structure. Is there a better system?

Commissioner Hauser also would like all materials to be discussed at meetings to be included in the commissioners packets to allow for study before being asked to make decisions.

Commissioner Kummer agrees with the having materials available early and would consider committee structure changes being discussed

Petitions and Communications

Lots of DeLaSalle calls and calls about the warming houses for many commissioners.

Commissioner Kummer asks that the board give the DeLaSalle situation much thought and discussion

Commissioner Erwin applauds the presentation made by the Tree Advisory Board to the City Council

Commissioner Bob Fine had nothing to say.

Commissioner Berry-Graves hints around her MYSTERY GUEST for the golf tourneys again

Commissioner Dziedzic and Superintendent Gurban are meeting with the U of M about the boathouse and Commissioner Dziedzic has been contacted about a plan for a WWII Memorial on the river on the NE side of the Mississippi by the NSP plant

Commissioner Young gives a report on the MLK events she attended and thanks staff for the great job they did.

Commissioner Bob Fine quickly moves to adjourn the meeting.

6:50pm — Adjourned

Pioneer Press: Higher Fees for Using Parks

In this article, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the City of Lakes Marathon may be cancelled because the Park Board has doubled its fees.

» Minnesota officially joined the world of marathon running when three men led by future Olympian Ron Daws of Minneapolis completed 26.2 miles in an event billed as the Land O’ Lakes Marathon on the Twin Cities river roads in the fall of 1963.

That race, which evolved into the City of Lakes Marathon and was the precursor of the Twin Cities Marathon, had numerous luminaries as leaders of the pack, including U.S. 50-mile record-holder Barney Klecker of Minnetonka, future Olympian Janis (Horns) Klecker of Minnetonka, Boston Marathon runner-up Steve Hoag of Minneapolis, world age-group record-setter Alex Ratelle of Edina and women’s running pioneer Jan Arenz of St. Paul.

Grandma’s Marathon record-holder Dick Beardsley dropped out of his first marathon at City of Lakes. My first marathon was in the City of Lakes in 1979. Oprah Winfrey ran the City of Lakes 25K several years ago.

Modified to a 25-kilometer road race using lakes Harriet and Calhoun in Minneapolis since the TCM began in 1982, the City of Lakes is in danger of being canceled, according to race director Barb Leininger, because user fees charged by the Minneapolis Parks Department have been doubled.

“It certainly makes you wonder whether it’s economical to continue the race,” Leininger said.

User fees were instituted many years ago, ending an era when events on parks property were charged for police protection and medical personnel but little else. The fees charged in 1981 by the Minneapolis parks were 50 cents per participant, but the number has gone up faster than gasoline prices.

This October, for example, the Twin Cities Marathon will fork over $14 per finisher to the Minneapolis parks system, based on a formula in which each runner is charged $2 per park segment. Runners travel through seven Minneapolis park segments during the TCM.

In contrast, the TCM is charged 50 cents per runner by the St. Paul parks.

The park board fees were actually doubled last year, but the change was not implemented until 2005, said Shane Stenzel, manager of special services. “It’s based on impact,” he said. “It was determined they would pay more for using more.”

Virginia Brophy Achman, executive director of the TCM, said the organization will absorb spending an additional $55,000 in parks fees this year without increasing its entry fee of $75 per runner, and it won’t alter its course.

“That’s the beauty of our race – the parkways,” she said.

The City of Lakes 25K is scheduled for Sept. 11, three weeks before the Oct. 2 TCM, and has become a prime preparatory event for the longer event. The 25K uses three parkway segments, Leininger said. Last year, the race had expenses of about $22,000 and paid $8,500 to the Minneapolis parks department. When fewer runners participated than expected, Leininger was told she was due a refund of $3,000.

Factoring that in, the race broke even last year, although it’s still $3,000 short because “we have yet to see the money,” she said.

The demise of the City of Lakes would be a blow to the running community, Leininger said.

“It’s been a tradition for a lot of years, and a lot of people count on it,” she said. “I think people would be extremely surprised if it didn’t continue.”

In the beginning, she said, the Minneapolis parks department was a sponsor of the race and did not charge a fee. «

Star Tribune: DeLaSalle Wants Home Field

» On a small island in the Mississippi, a school’s dream for home-field advantage is giving neighbors nightmares.

DeLaSalle High School hopes to build a 600-seat athletic field next to its campus on Nicollet Island, an eclectic and eccentric neighborhood in full view of some of the most expensive riverside property in downtown Minneapolis.

The new field would allow the century-old private school to play home games on its own turf rather than at assortment of “borrowed” fields across the city.

“We’ve been homeless for 106 years,” said Brother Michael Collins, DeLaSalle’s president.

Too bad, say many island residents. An athletic complex would be disruptive to island life, they fear. Traffic that comes onto the island via several bridges would snarl. Open regional parkland would be lost.

“They’ve gotten along without a field for a century,” said DFL state Rep. Phyllis Kahn, who lives on the island. “It’s just too bad that their home turf is too small. … What they’re planning is just too big for too small a piece of land. …This is not NIMBY [not in my backyard]. This is a backyard for a lot of people.”

Controversy and contention aren’t new arrivals on Nicollet Island. In the 1970s, residents spent more than a decade fighting plans to raze the historic but rundown homes and turn the island into a park. Other outsiders proposed building high-density developments and trendy shops.

Now, Kahn and other residents hope to head off the DeLaSalle proposal even before drawings are put in ink and a formal plan lands before the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Residents have peppered board members with phone calls and e-mails and recently attended a board meeting to voice their opposition to a plan that would use park land that now accommodates a trio of tennis courts. … «

Excerpted from DeLaSalle High wants home-field edge
Mary Lynn Smith, Star Tribune
January 22, 2005

SW Journal: Parade Stadium Resurrection Causes a Stir

By Scott Russell

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board staff hopes to piggyback on any legislative stadium bill to score a Lowry Hill stadium of its own, said Superintendent Jon Gurban.

Not a Vikings stadium or Twins stadium; nothing that big. Gurban wants to resurrect the old Parade stadium that once stood north of the Walker Art Center and was the showplace for Friday night high school football games. The hope is, if legislators can find hundreds of millions for pro facilities, they might find an as-yet-to-be-determinded dollar amount to serve kids and other local athletes.

Gurban floated the idea Jan. 12 during a City Council Intergovernmental Relations Committee meeting, as part of the Board’s preliminary 2005 legislative agenda.

Gurban said the plan called from something smaller than the old 15,000- to 20,000-seat stadium and would have artificial turf to support multiple sports. The stadium would create another “sense of place for our city” and a “community gathering spot,” he said.

Gurban said senior staff developed the “concept plan,” one the Park Board itself had not yet seen let alone approved.

It drew a strongly negative reaction from City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), who represents the area. She had seen neither “hide nor hair” of the plan, she said.

Goodman questioned whether the Park Board had talked to the surrounding neighborhoods: Lowry Hill, Loring Park or Bryn Mawr.

Gurban said the Park Board would take it to the neighborhoods “as the plan comes together.” Goodman questioned whether it could get any community input if the Park Board was reacting to fast-moving, behind-the-scenes legislative proposals.

Gurban said “it wasn’t our intention to ram anything down the throats of the neighborhood,” but Goodman seemed unconvinced. She said her constituents would want to participate in the planning.

After the meeting, Gurban said Goodman had “blown things out of proportion.”

Staff was preparing the Parade proposal in case an opportunity surfaced during the session, he said: “To me, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t anticipate it.”

Regardless of legislative action, staff would present the Parade plan to the Park Board in February or March, Gurban said. If staff got the go-ahead, it could then present the idea to neighborhoods.

Asked how he could get community comments if the Legislature was moving on a stadium bill, he said: “It does compress it.”

Parade Stadium is a potential site for the Cirque du Soleil to perform when it comes back to town. “That is part of what is driving this conversation,” Gurban said.

A bemused Councilmember Scott Benson (11th Ward) took the stadium plan in stride.

“Do they think there is going to be money lying around after they have a stadium bill?” he asked after the meeting. “I am not sure what they are thinking. It doesn’t seem well conceived to me.”

Park Board Meeting

The official agenda documents in Adobe Acrobat PDF format can be found here.

The agenda includes the following items of note:

* The open time speakers are all from Nicollet Island (including Phyllis Kahn).

* Under Intergovernmental Affairs one of the bonding projects on the legislative agenda is the Marina that will not die. Strangely, the online agenda document for this committee does not actually list any of the legislative agenda, even though all of the items are known and could and should be listed. What are they trying to hide? This item is actually listed on the agenda document which was mailed to people who requested it. Why is the website, online version different?

* Approving the termination of the land lease to IsleWest which owns and runs the Nicollet Island Inn, so that they can sell it to a new owner.

* Approving a couple of about 10% increases to existing contracts. One wonders why contracts are repeatedly given to the “lowest responsible bidder” yet the price increases so often after the contract is let and is in progress of being worked on. Do contractors ever come in on budget? Or is this just a way to get the bid?

DeLaSalle Stadium Plan Letter

Dear Neighbors,

We have recently learned that DeLaSalle High School has plans to expand its athletic field on Nicollet Island. A picture of the proposed field expansion is attached.
To build this facility, DeLaSalle would take over some land owned by the Park Board, including the present tennis courts and a strip of open ground along the river, now sometimes used for parking.
DeLaSalle staff say that the athletic field would be a very important part of the education they provide to inner-city kids. They claim it is a matter of “social justice” for their kids to have this field to play on.
At present, they do have a football field for practice. What they don’t have is enough room for bleachers so that home games can be played there. They play their home games on the Park Board fields at Fort Snelling.
There are four home games a year.
In order to play these four games at the school, they are proposing to construct this complex at an estimated cost of $3 million. If they can in fact raise $3 million, the only beneficiaries of the “social justice” will be the 20 or 30 boys on the football team, and their parents. That money could be better spent on a good many other school programs.
DeLaSalle says the field will be used for soccer also, presumably in order to include a sport that girls can play.
But a soccer field is considerably larger than a football field. It is not clear whether a soccer field would fit in this area. They haven’t measured it. The picture was prepared by DeLaSalle, and the field they are showing is a good deal smaller than either a football or soccer field.
Building this complex will require closing half of Grove Street, which has the potential to create some serious problems in terms of emergency access. The fire chief does not believe it would cause any trouble, but no formal study has yet been done. No one has explained how ambulances and police cars would navigate the roundabout route, or how much extra time it would take
Emergency access to the north end of the Island is a problem anyway, because there are 30 to 50 trains per day which block the railroad grade crossings, and only one bridge over the tracks. The street closing would cut off one of the two access routes to the bridge. The other emergency access route would be compromised by having all the school traffic forced onto it.
Aside from emergency access, there would be other traffic and parking problems. School buses and cars now use Grove Street to circle around DeLaSalle. That would no longer be possible. With a train across the grade crossings, all these vehicles would encounter a dead end and have to turn around.
In order to make the playing field fit, the complex would need to include a strip of land along the tracks which is proposed for use for a future light-rail line. There are better locations for the light rail; but City and State money, and Federal ISTEA funds, have already been spent for raising and lengthening bridges along this corridor. The total is probably $5 to $10 million.
The field would need to have a retaining wall along East Island, about 400 feet long and rising perhaps 10 feet above street level. With the wall on one side, bleachers on top of the wall, and a parking lot and tennis courts on the other side, this area would not be much like a park.
That would be a loss to the thousands of people who now visit the Island to walk, jog, bike, exercise their dogs, take a carriage ride, look at the river and the Victorian houses, and generally get away from the atmosphere of the city. At present, people can cross the river and find themselves in a semi-rural area. Under this plan, they would walk into something resembling the parking lot at the Metrodome.
Turning park land over to a private institution raises some rather serious public-policy issues, of course. Apparently the idea is that the public will “share” these facilities. But if DeLaSalle didn’t want them, would the public actually need them in this location, and would that be judged the best use of the area? It is very doubtful.
This is a regional park, originally dedicated to passive recreation. It serves that purpose well. The Met Council has said that athletic facilities don’t belong in regional parks, and that is a wise policy. They benefit a very small number of people compared to their impact on a much larger number.
If you share our concerns about this issue, contact Park Board and City Council members. The project may be discussed at the Park Board meeting on January 19. However, the agenda for that meeting is not yet available. It will probably be ready about the 14th.

John Chaffee and other friends of the Island

Another Stadium Controversy

A story from the January issue of The Minneapolis Observor:

(Jan. 12) If you thought the Twins, Gophers, and Vikings stadium questions cause some political angst, just start talking about rebuilding Parade Stadium.

That’s what new Park Board Superintendent John Gurban did yesterday during an otherwise benign legislative update before the Intergovernmental Relations Committee. Gurban mentioned that Park Board staff are working on a plan to rebuild the stadium-long treasured for Friday night high school football games-on its former site and adding an event center as well. He noted that the plan had not been approved by the Park Board yet and it was “just a concept at this point,” but added that he wanted to be prepared to spring the idea on state lawmakers should they become mired in another divisive stadium debate this session. (Apparently, the idea being that if legislators were ready to drop a few hundred million of the public’s money on a professional-or in the case of the Gophers, a semi-professional-sports team, they might be inclined to throw a few pennies toward a quaint little stadium near downtown Minneapolis.)

Gurban’s trial balloon was met with a stinging rebuke by Council Member Lisa Goodman (Ward 7), who lambasted the superintendent for even considering such a plan without consulting first with neighborhoods in the vicinity of the proposed stadium. “I’ve never heard this before,” she said. “Have you had any neighborhood involvement in this?”

Gurban reiterated that it was only a concept at this point, and that senior staff were planning to bring it to the community at some point.

“After the staff has decided what to do?” Goodman asked.

“They’ll hone in on the general concept and bring it to the neighborhoods,” Gurban replied. “Certainly it’s not our intention to ram this down anyone’s throat.”

Goodman said she’d be bringing this news out to the neighborhood groups in her ward, but that she expected the Park Board to communicate with them as well. “It’s not my job to do your community work,” she said. “I have a very active constituency and they will not want to be told what to do,” she said.

An Emergency Report by the Minneapolis Tree Advisory Commission


January 4, 2005

To: The Mayor, The City Council, and The Park and Recreation Board of the City of Minneapolis (presented to Park Board on Janury 5, 2005)

The Minneapolis Tree Advisory Commission (the “Commission”) was appointed by The Park and Recreation Board (hereinafter the “Park Board”) in 2004 to, among other duties, evaluate issues relating to trees and to report annually on the State of the Minneapolis Urban Forest. Because of the extremely serious nature of the problems presently facing the Minneapolis Urban Forest, the Commission has deemed it necessary to address all three governing bodies of the City of Minneapolis with this Emergency Report.

The year 2004 was the third worst year in the year in the history of Minneapolis for the number of trees lost, with 4979 trees on City property and boulevards being lost to Dutch elm disease. Only 1977 and 1978 saw more American elm trees cut down: 20,823 and 13,688 trees respectively. In fact, in terms of percentage of boulevard elm trees lost, 2004 was the second worst year. And if one considers the amount of “total urban forest canopy” lost with the destruction of9914 elms, 2004 was probably the worst year, since the City’s remaining elms are mostly very large trees, with each one equal to many, many smaller replacement trees.

The members of the governing bodies of Minneapolis must understand (as we believe they do) that our Minneapolis Urban Forest trees are not “niceties” but in fact are necessities that reduce storm water runoff. lower air conditioning costs. shelter us from chilling winter winds. and increase property values and the resulting tax base. Each large Minneapolis shade tree lost now is lost for the remainder of the lives of all but the youngest Minneapolis residents. Preservation of trees is “about time”-double entendre intended.

Furthermore, without doubt wise urban forest management is highly cost effective.

Newly planted Minneapolis trees are the one civic capital investment whose value appreciates over time. More notably, preservation of large existing Minneapolis trees eliminates the cost of removal and the loss of the appreciated value of the multitude of economic benefits that large trees provide.

If, in the throes of the present crisis, we delay removal of diseased elms (thus substantially increasing the spread of the disease), and if we defer pruning of young trees, we only substantially increase future costs and decrease the economic value of our future Minneapolis urban forest.

Accordingly, we must recommend that the Park Board, the City Council and the Mayor act cooperatively to:

1. Fund sufficiently the removal of all marked public diseased elm trees within 20 days.

2. Enforce the presently existing system to assure removal of all trees marked for Dutch elm disease on private property within 20 days.

3. Seize the “teachable moment” created by the current highly visible tragedy to inform City staff members, residents and property owners on the multitude of economic and environmental values of the Minneapolis trees and the actions they need to take to protect our Minneapolis Urban Forest investments from harm.

4. Assure allocation of resources needed to sustain adequate pruning cycles on public trees necessary for health and safety reasons, i.e., every two years for young trees and every four years for all other public trees.

5. Invest needed capital in the next generation of City trees to retain the public tree population of the Minneapolis Urban Forest essential to maintain Minneapolis property values and other economic benefits.

6. Facilitate cooperative approaches to link interested property owners with providers who are available to properly treat elms with systemic fungicides to prevent infection by Dutch elm disease.

The Members of your Commission welcome the opportunity to discuss with you the foregoing recommendations in more detail, but because of the emergency facing the City of Minneapolis and its World-renowned urban forest, we offer this concise report on the most urgent needs ofthe Minneapolis Urban Forest.

Respectfully submitted,


Margaret (Peggy) Booth, Chair
Donald C. Willeke, Secretary
Commissioner John Erwin
Gary R. Johnson
Commissioner Vivian Mason
Janette Monear
Tracy Nordstrom
Michael P. Schmidt
Ralph C. Sievert
Lorrie Stromme
George Welles