Monthly Archives: January 2005

January 5 Meeting Report

The meeting started late because there was a closed committee of the whole meeting (about pending litigation) that ran over it’s alloted time. The Operations and Environment Committee was called to order at 5:20. It consisted of a report from the Minneapolis Tree Advisory Committee Chair Peggy Booth (other members were present in the audience). Ms Booth stressed that our urban forest trees are not “niceties” but rather necessities that reduce storm water runoff, lower air conditioning bills, shelter us from chilling winter winds and increase property values and the resulting tax base. The committee had 6 recommendations…
1) FUND sufficiently the removal of all marked public diseased elm trees within 20 days ( per cost estimate the forestry budget would need to be increased by $2.6 million annually)
2) ENFORCE the presently existing system to assure removal of all trees marked for Dutch Elm disease on private property within 60 days ( state statute already on the books)
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. ( Get the Media going on this.)
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. (This would be done during winter by the same foresters taking down diseased trees in the summer and would be part of the $2.6 million.)
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. (Again part of the $2.6 million.)
6) FACILITATE cooperative approaches to link interested property owners with the providers who are available to properly treat elms with systemic fungicides to prevent infection by Dutch elm disease. (Yes, vaccinate your trees, cost and service providers could be linked via the MPRB website or something of the sort)

Commissioner Dziedzic wonders about the 20 day rule and enforcing it on private property (the statute is there, it hasn’t been enforced) He also asks if there are enough private contractors and if not are city contracting rules too stringent (yes there is a shortage of licensed contractors) LIZ SAYS…I hope there are some rules, a chainsaw does not a forester make.
Commissioner Hauser wants to know if the $2.6 million catches us up or if it is a continuing expense?
General Manager for Operations Mike Schmidt says that $2.6 million is what is needed additionally in 2005 to hire more foresters and buy more equipment and get them trained and ready to go in 2006. Then there would be the wages and equipment maintenance yearly which would of course increase annually with inflation. (So no it is not a one time expense.)
Commissioner Erwin suggests a plan where a citizen could pay for 50% and the MPRB 50% and get more trees planted faster.
GM Schmidt replies that in 2005 the $500,000 in the forestry budget is for stump grinding only and the trees being planted are with the dollars from the Mayor and City Council (1000-1200 trees will be planted) and that is if they can find enough grinding contractors.
Commissioner Berry- Graves thanks the committee and suggests moving on the 20 day removal enforcement before the March emergence of the beetles.
Commissioner Hauser asks about private tree planting ( you need a MPRB permit for an approved tree type from the forestry department, it will then be owned by the MPRB who will assume responsibility for its maintenance, on the boulevards only)
Commissioner Young thanks the committee for their time and is looking forward to their next report after they have presented to the Mayor and the City Council
She also would like any comments from the public regarding this issue…
adjourned 5:50

Administration and Finance Committee
7.1 to approve a contract with OSIRIS for computer lab support
Bill Roddy of OSIRIS gave a brief presentation as to the amount of software/ hardware/staff support hours and youth employment hours they had provided and would again be providing.

7.2 Approve Lease transfer for the Nicollet Island Inn
( the MPRB owns the land only, the buildings and operations are separate)
A Mr. Abdo presented his plan for assuming the current lease for the Nicollet Island Inn Property and turning it into the #1 romantic inn in the country.
He personally and his company would assume the lease “as is” from Craig Christenson. He has a great staff in place and high hopes for the restaurant
Both Commissioners Berry-Graves and Dziedzic asked if it would be turned into condo’s and Counsel Rice said that they can not be with the current lease.

Regular Meeting
During approval of Oct. 6th minutes Commissioner Mason suggests having a time limit for completing them as hey are 3 months behind.

Superintendent Gurban introduces 2 out of the 3 new District Managers and passes out the partial organization chart for the restructuring. The new District Managers are River District (North and NE) Jon Oyanagi (starting in a few days), Minnehaha District (South) Eileen Kilpatrick and Lakes District (SW) Paul Hokeness. There was discussion of their office space shuffling and that they would soon be working in their district area when space is arranged.

General Manager for Operations Mike Schmidt reported on ice conditions and about a plan to handle uncooperative weather in the future.
Commissioner Kummer passes on a question about ice at Lake of the Isles from a constituent and Commissioner Dziedzic passes on that as line #1 on the phone system he is getting all the ice complaints. He would also like to know if the staff are checking out the ice in Roseville and Edina.. the competition.

General Manager for Administration Don Siggelkow says the MPRB now has a contract to provide Snow-boarding instruction and rental at Wirth Park.. and all they need is snow. Commissioner Berry -Graves asks if the winter programs end in February and they do.

Commissioner Erwin asks about the Loppet and GM for Ops Schmidt says it is scheduled for Superbowl weekend, it will again end on Lake ST and that they are banking mostly on “Mother Nature” for the snow but have their contingency plans in order.

Director of Planning Judd Rietkerk states that they are in the midst of applying for a Save Americas Treasures Grant for the upgrades on Victory Parkway. I would be a $500,000 matching grant and that Council person Barb Johnson had already done some of the lead work in getting the area recognized as a treasure because of the WWI plaques and memorial etc…

The Board passes consent business for the redo of Jackson Square Park in the Holland Neighborhood.. $384,000 for benches tables and a temporary toilet enclosure with many alternate additions if funding becomes available. Commissioner Dziedzic asks twice if a meeting was scheduled with the neighborhood and Director Rietkerk says they will be.

( and my favorite) item 2.3 $52,000 for trash bags

Unfinished Business

Commissioner Young read an apology letter for any mix up that may have hurt anyone’s feelings regarding the Annual Meeting’s Commissioner Dinner. Traditionally held off-site, not held in 2004 and now on-site and creating confusion.

Commissioner Dziedzic seconds the apology and comments on the appetizers

New Business

Commissioner Mason reports on a meeting she and Commissioner Erwin had with the Skyway Senior Center which is in need of some support. She believes it would be a wonderful opportunity for the MPRB to partner with them by providing possibly on the MPRB website a place for them to post their activities and links to other senior programs and to possibly sponsor a senior dance and afternoon tea at the Nicollet Island Pavilion . She also mentions they would be interested in volunteering in the parks with gardening etc… the idea is also supported by Council person Goodman and former mayor Hofstede.

Commissioner Erwin wonder’s if the staff could work up some sort of proposal

Commissioner Young states that staff time costs something and that the idea should be brought to the rec committee

Petitions and Communications

Commissioner Dziedzic congratulates Commissioner Mason on the birth of her grandson. ( I saw pictures, he’s a cutie)
Asks about a staff retreat and mentions that the Coaches dinner should be citywide

Commissioner Kummer has a request from a 9 yr. old constituent for a hot drink machine at the Pearl Park rink.

Commissioner Young mentions a program about “Beyond the Gridlock” at the Humphrey Institute and wonders if they could present at the retreat in a shorter version

Commissioner Mason reports she attended the Bicycle Advisory Meeting and that she and Superintendent Gurban have a meeting about the plans to resurface the tennis courts at Kenwood Park.

Commissioner Dziedzic reports that the legislature is in session and a legislative agenda needs to be put together pronto.

Commissioner Young mentions the PUC meeting about the Center Point Energy cost increases coming on Wednesday the 13th

Commissioner Mason asks for the annual calendar.

Commissioner Erwin reports that it should be ready at the next meeting.

Adjourned at 6:55pm

Star Tribune: Questions | Jon Gurban

Jon Gurban is the new superintendent of Minneapolis’ park system, a collection of 170 park properties, 6,400 acres of land and water and about 50 recreation centers. His three-year contract started Jan. 1.

How has the park system changed since you were a kid?

When I grew up in Minneapolis in the late ’50s and early ’60s, even though I look a lot younger than that — I hope your photographer caught that OK, got me on a good angle (he said jokingly)– Minneapolis was pretty homogenous. It was about 98 percent white, so if you went to a park in southwest Minneapolis the amenities that were in that park were the same ones that were in northeast Minneapolis. Everybody was playing baseball and football, and tennis was just starting to get popular. That’s no longer the case. The neighborhoods are different. They’re much more diversified, and we need to embrace that concept.

How do you plan to balance the environmental preservation and development of parks?

The environmental aspect of what parks and recreation does is becoming increasingly important because development and other things seem to be crowding nature out of the city. We are blessed with the Mississippi River. It gives us a great opportunity to protect the environment, understand nature a little bit more. We’re blessed with those lakes in that they’ve been preserved for the public benefit. It’s even more important now because of technology. Technology is crowding out our space. … What that means for the environment is that we need to have areas in our system that allow people to pause and reflect. That’s what’s so great about our lakes. We have ordinances there that do not allow motors on boats … Somebody ought to be able to go down to the lake and have a peaceful time.

Read more at link.

Chao Xiong, January 3, 2005, Star Tribune

January 3 Annual Meeting Report

The meeting started promptly at 5 PM and all commissioners were present except Commissioner Berry-Graves who was having car trouble but arrived soon thereafter and Commissioner Mason who was awaiting the impending arrival of her first grandchild (congratulations).

The Agenda was approved, honored guests were introduced and former commissioner Walter Carpenter was remembered (passed away recently).

Guest Louis DeMars (sp?) was given the opportunity to speak and he spoke of the times pre open meeting laws and suggested that the MPRB set an example for the Legislature and other bodies of how to have respectful disagreements.

Commissioner Young gave a presentation on Minnehaha Falls in honor of the 150th anniversary of Longfellow’s poem “Song of Hiawatha”.


Commissioner Young nominates Jon Olson, President and John Erwin, Vice President for a second term. They are elected 7 aye 2 absent.

Secretary Don Sigglekow 7 Aye 2 Absent
Attorney Brian Rice 8 Aye 1 Absent

Appointments and Committees…
Planning Commission…Carol Kummer ( 2nd year of 2 year term)
Board of Estimation and Taxation…Bob Fine
NRP Policy Board Jon Olson, alt John Erwin
St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board…Bob Fine, Walt Dziedzic, Jon Olson and Superintendent Gurban
Youth Coordinating Board…Walt Dziedzic (staff liaison Superintendent Gurban)
Minneapolis Institute of Arts Board.. Rochelle Berry-Graves
Public Art Design Advisory Panel…Jon Olson
Water Quality Task Force… Annie Young, alt Carol Kummer
Middle Mississippi Watershed Management Organization…John Erwin and Marie Hauser
John H. Stevens House Organization…Rochelle Berry-Graves
Midtown Community Works Partnership…Marie Hauser
Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee..Vivian Mason
Blue Water Association… Annie Young, alt Carol Kummer
People for Parks… Jon Olson
Minneapolis Tree Advisory Committee… Vivian Mason
Minnehaha Creek Visioning.. Bob Fine

Admin and Finance Committee
Chair… Marie Hauser, V-Chair Walt Dziedzic
Vivian Mason, Annie Young, Rochelle Berry-Graves

Recreation Commitee
Chair… John Erwin, V-Chair Rochelle Berry-Graves
Bob Fine, Walt Dziedzic, Marie Hauser

Planning Committee
Chair…Bob Fine, V-Chair John Erwin
Walt Dziedzic, Marie Hauser, Annie Young

Operations and Environment Committee
Chair…Annie Young, V-Chair Rochelle Berry-Graves
Bob Fine, John Erwin, Vivian Mason

Legislation and Inter-Governmental Committee
Chair Walt Dziedzic, V-Chair Carol Kummer
Annie Young, Bob Fine, John Erwin

Committee on Standards and Conduct
Chair Carol Kummer
Bob Fine, Walt Dziedzic

Commissioner Hauser asked that the 2005 schedule not conflict with religious holidays.

Commissioner Dziedzic recommended a Saturday retreat.

Meeting Adjourned (to the party room with the great chandeliers run by Twin Cities Catering, the only tenant in the MPRB Headquarters).

p.s. I asked and it was cash bar but the rest came out of a fund for this type of activity (per Commissioner Olson).

Liz Wielinski
Columbia Park