Monthly Archives: May 2005

Lake Calhoun Event Center Alert

It is expected that the Park Board will be either considering or acting on a proposal for a building on the south shore (across from the archery range) of Lake Calhoun at either the June 1 or June 15 Park Board meeting.

The original proposal presented by the Calhoun Yacht Club (CYC) — Sailing School was for a 40 foot high structure with event center and three additional retail spaces.

Commissioner Bob Fine has indicated support for this project, which has been opposed by those who feel it will have a negative impact on the lake and the park.

The following is a statement by Marissa Lasky for the Windsurfing Association:

“We, the Windsurfing Association, are concerned about the CYC-Sailing School’s proposed facility and move of their 100 to 140+ buoys and dock and hard surface launch, and overtaking of the parking lot of the South Beach, for the purpose of a ‘Sailing Village,’ and 3 retail spots. We see this as exclusionary to windsurfing, and certainly swimming and other existing recreations in that area. That is not to mention what we would consider an overly intense development and commercialization of that very small land site.”

May 18 Park Board Meeting Highlights


Recreation Committee, called to order by chair John Erwin.

This committee took no official actions, but heard 4 study/report items. They were the following.

1. City Children’s Nutcracker Project is a year-round program in the parks presented in cooperation with Ballet Arts Minnesota, teaching children ages 8 to 12. Marcia Chapman of Ballet Arts Minnesota offers complimentary tickets to the Ballet Arts 2005 Spring Performance to the commissioners.

2. Extended Building Hours / Phat Summer. This is the 11 season for Phat Summer, and this year it would not have happened if not for a $100,000 grant from the Northway Community Trust (the Youth Coordinating Board appears to have had a hand in it someplace, and Mayor R.T. Rybak also apparently did a lot of work in getting the money). 23 sites will have extended hours for this program aimed at youth ages 12 to 18. Commissioner Jon Olson, not on this committee, gets time to comment and thank Hennepin County commissioner Peter Mclaughlin and the county board for their contribution. It’s not clear what Mclaughlin had to do with the portion of the money coming from the county, if anything. Commissioner Erwin points out that Mayor Rybak helped get the money.

3. Summer Playground supervision. Runs from June 20 to August 12 at 21 playground sites plus 4 mobile sites. They need to hire about 50 – 60 staff for this program yet. This program was started in 1950. It nearly got the ax last year in the budget negotiations until incensed parents primarily from Northeast showed up at a meeting and expressed their displeasure.

4. Summer Reading in the Parks, in cooperation with the Minneapolis Public Library. Theme is “What’s buzzin’ at your library.” Sponsors also include the Minneapolis Public Schools and Marshall Fields, the latter organization being thanked profusely for their support. “Rec Plus” kids ages 5 to 12 look like they are automatically part of this program. Kids not in that program should go directly to their libraries to get enrolled.

5:49pm — Adjourned.

[ It’s obvious that it is an election year — the commissioners all just unusually full of praise and thanks for the staff and the partnerships. ]

Administration & Finance Committee, called to order by chair Marie Hauser.

Action items 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 are moved and approved with very little discussion. Commissioner Annie Young tries to offer a friendly amendment to 7.2 to hold $5,000 in reserve, but is told the $20,000 is already spent on funding the Midtown Community Works and this motion gives the other $15,000 in the board education and travel fund to the Teen Teamworks program, whose funding at the state got completely cut this year.

Study/Report Items

1. Field Use Fees.

Commissioner Walt Dziedzic interrupts the report to make a motion to postpone the report until he has had a chance to meet with the superintendent and with several groups who use and will pay for field usage. The sense is that a lot of people are upset at the new fees, and Dziedzic had not had time to meet with them yet. After some discussion, Dziedzic withdraws his motion.

6:00pm — Admin & Fin is recessed.

Regular meeting called to order to allow for Public Open Time.

First was Marcea Mariani of the Longfellow neighborhood in south Minneapolis. She was quite displeased with the Park Board for taking $112,000 in NRP money from the neighborhood to restore, renovate and open the Longfellow House to the public, and then to turn around and use it as Park Board offices. She complains about the lack of a working relationship with the neighborhood, and asks that 2 Park Board commissioners meet with the neighborhood organization.

Second was Joan Berthiaume of the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society who thanked the Park Board for reconsidering the recent staff decision to build shelving and move general storage into the most historic rooms in the Wirth House: the Wirth Office and Drafting Room. Since these are the rooms the public most wants to see, Ted Wirth has asked that an alternate location be found for this storage. No decision has been made yet.

6:05pm — Regular meeting recessed.

Admin & Fin reconvened.

Continuing report and discussion of same regarding Field Use Fees and Permit Fees. New in 2005 are fees charged to non-MPRB and non-MPS youth teams which use MPRB fields.

Erwin thinks youth fees are a disincentive to participation by youth who need to participate, and wants the $8/hour fee dropped.

Dziedzic says the fees are causing a big problem, and that most kids signed up in March before they knew about the fees.

General manager Michael Schmidt says the fees were finalized March 10 and announced between March 10 and March 19 to groups they had contact with. But the fee change itself was in the Budget before the commissioners since September 2004.

Dziedzic talks at length about what he calls the $8 – 16 problem, and wants to defer those fees until next year. He mentions a “pick up” game getting stopped for not paying fees. [Official policy appears to be contrary. Pick up games can use the field without a fee, but anyone who has paid a fee can kick them off the field.]

Young says she has gotten some of the same complaint calls as Dziedzic, and says we have a communication problem.

Olson asks questions regarding clarification of who these “traveling teams” are. He says some go to the suburbs and pay to play, some even go out of state, e.g. even to Florida. He says yes it’s hard but it’s the reality of our budget.

Commissioner Vivian Mason says it is premature to make a motion, and support Dziedzic having his meetings first. She says they have to stand by the budget.

Erwin talks about the ramifications. He says most of the kids Olson talked about are Minneapolis kids [not suburban kids].

Dziedzic says “commissioner Mason has good advice and we should follow it.” He says many kids can’t afford the fees.


Commissioner Bob Fine asks if we raised the hourly fee? Did it go from $6 to $8 an hour?

Schmidt answers, no, not necessarily. He reiterates that this is a new fee of non-park teams. These teams paid zero last year, and will pay $8/hour this year. They are known as the so-called traveling teams.

Fine asks if they are willing to make exceptions or concessions?

Schmidt says yes.

Fine says many such organizations plan [internally] for having kids who cannot afford it [by raising money for them].

Olson says we have a lot of [park board] teams at our parks, and thus they are affordable to our kids through the recreation centers — versus private/traveling teams.

Commissioner and committee chair Marie Hauser goes outside of normal protocol and allows a member of the public to comment.

Gregory G?? [missed his last name] from south Minneapolis comments that most of the teams that his son has played on and with do not have sponsorships and some don’t even accept them. It is just parents paying to give their kids a different kind of baseball or soccer opportunity [than the standard Park Board league opportunity].

Young says let’s have the meeting [Dziedzic’s] and put this item on our agenda in 2 weeks.

2. Assessment Changes.

Staff reports on proposal to provider a deferral of special property tax assessments for seniors, age 65 plus, to be repaid at time property is sold or until hardship is gone. Such a program has existed at the City since approved by the state in about 1980. GM Siggelkow says such a program would have minimal impact on the budget, and they would ask the city ombudsperson who currently handles it for the city to do likewise for the Park Board, as to the qualifying people for the program.

Olson says he supports the program, says lots of trees are dying [and are expensive to take down].

Dziedzic brought this item forward and moves to move it to the full board. Motion PASSES.

Young states the forestry department needs to know about this program’s existence so that they can pass the information on to people on an as needed basis.


3. Improved Customer Service through Online Reservations and Program Registration.

[Welcome to the 20th century, Park Board…]

Working with vendor Reserve Master, Inc. the staff has implemented a customized software solution.

Mason is asks about citizens without computers.

Staff answers that rec center managers can to choose to reserve a number of slots for in-person registrations only at those rec centers.

Young raises the issue of non-English speakers.

Siggelkow says the rec center directors talk to people.

Discussion devolves into a variety of suggestions for redesign of parts of the web site.

Siggelkow says the next phase is to do permits and more online, e.g. parking, picnic, etc.

Dziedzic brings up the problem with the parking tickets to memorial service attendees which got press in the Star Tribune. He wants parking info included on the permit. He takes advantage of this situation to look good. He wants the board to approve his paying for them and negotiating with a referee on the amount.

Commissioner Rochelle Berry Graves points out it may well be illegal for the board to approve Dziedzic paying for the tickets. He can do what he wants as a private citizen, but if the board takes action, it clearly is displaying favoritism to some parties who got tickets and not others.

Siggelkow [who we didn’t know had his law degree] says he doesn’t think it is a problem legally. Dziedzic can do what he want as a private citizen.

Young asks if they would be setting a precedent.

7:13pm — Admin & Fin Adjourned

[ Notice how much important business gets discussed, decided and conducted in the committees — yet their are no official minutes kept for the committees, only for the regular meeting. ]

7:13pm — Regular Meeting reconvened.

Agenda amended to add 2 items:

7.6 to approve the deferral of special property tax assessments for senior citizens, and

8.2 to approve resolution No. 2005-107 requesting the City Council and Board of Estimate and Taxation to sell net debt bonds for the Park Board’s 2005 capital improvement projects.

[ Up until the Park Board bonded the first $6 million of what ultimately became $14 million in bonded debt for the Neiman Complex, the Park Board had never gone into debt in its entire 120+ year history. Now, without even being on the original agenda, and with no details in the commissioners meeting packet information, it appears they’re willing to go further into debt. What’s up with item 8.2? Are they charging up the credit card like the previous regime at City Hall which voters turned out? ]

** Reports of Officers **

– Superintendent Jon Gurban highlighted his activity report (written) for April. The written report contains some items which may be of interest to some readers. Gurban report that he:

1. “Met with representatives of the Calhoun Yacht Club and Lake Calhoun Sailing School [corrected name] to further and explore their involvement in the pending Lakeside Pavilion project. The meeting went very well. We believe we will be bringing the proposal forward to the Planning Committee in June.”

2. “Met with DRI Consulting (John Fennig) in an effort to improve both my communication and management skills.”

[ It appears that DRI Consulting is the “company” that did the psychological management testing for the superintendent candidates both this past year when the finalists were Jon Gurban and Cris Gears, and the previous year when Jon Gurban was not a finalist, but was slipped in and given a “take home” test by DRI. Now DRI is Gurban’s personal management coach? And taxpayers are paying how much for this? DRI’s ethics are less than stellar at this point. ]

– General manager Don Siggelkow reported on contract negotiations.

– General manager Michael Schmidt gave a forestry update.

– Park police chief Brad Johnson gave a public safety report. Through a small grant and a cooperative effort with the UofM, the horse patrol will continue.

Erwin asked about the Hidden Beach status.

Johnson said there were allegations of excessive force and that it is an on-going investigation.

Johnson clarified the situation with the 4 reports of robberies near the Cedar Lake Trail. Only 2 were actually on the trail and on park property. The other 2 were in neighborhoods near the trail.

Dziedzic asks Johnson if he is chief or captain. [As a former cop and the Park Police department’s biggest booster on the board, can anyone imagine Dziedzic not knowing the answer to this question? Listening to Dziedzic sometimes reminds me of listening to Peter Falk’s Lt. Columbo — you just never know where he’s going with some things.]

Dziedzic asks Johnson when they are moving into the HQ building. Answer: August 1 is the target date.

** Consent business

Items 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6 and 2.7 are all moved, seconded and passed with no controversial discussion.

** Reports of Standing committee

Planning: 4.1 is moved and passed with no discussion.

Admin & Fin: 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4 are all moved and passed with no discussion.

7.5, to spend board education and travel budget on funding Midtown Community Works Partnership [remember in first message, this was already spent] and Teen Teamworks is moved and passed. Young asks how it could already spent with no funding source identified. [bah! details!]

7.6, the hardship assessment program for seniors, moved and passes with no discussion.

** Unfinished business

8.1 thanking General Mills Foundation for its grant of $15,000 to Teen Teamworks, passes.

8.2, resolution to sell net debt bonds. Role call vote: 7 ayes, 2 absent [Mason and Olson, who had left to go to GetBob meeting — an amusing story in itself]

** New Business

Young reminds board that the budgeting process is starting again in June. Young also would like a record/chart of how votes were taken on resolutions, similar to the one that Dziedzic got instituted at the City Council in 1980.


** Petitions and Communications

Fine got a letter suggesting they plant disease resistant elms. GM Schmidt pointed out that the forestry department already does that.

Young mentions the Linden Hills festival on Sunday [in Fine’s district — wonder why he didn’t mention it].

Kummer has gotten complaints about speed on the parkways and says she “did saw something,” the aftermath of an auto/bicycle accident.

Berry Graves got a letter supporting better use / improvements of the Fruen’s Mill area.

Erwin reports that an EPA cleanup grant reports the BF Nelson site was selected, but no dollars yet.

Gurban suggests renaming the BF Nelson site.

8:00pm Meeting Adjourned.


Wednesday evening May 18, the Getting to the Bottom of the Ballot organization ( held its first voter forum at Temple Israel. This is the third year that this organization has used this name as part of their efforts to expand civic engagement and enhance political empowerment. Wednesday’s forum was a well-attended success.

Apparently a few people, including Park Board Commissioner Walt Dziedzic, thought GetBoB was an effort to “get Bob Fine.” GetBoB panelist Vivian Mason took pains to explain to the attendees that this was not the case, and organizer David Weinlick did the same after the meeting to the Minneapolis Issues List.

Park Commissioner Jon Olson left the Park Board meeting early that evening to attend the GetBoB forum as a member of the audience. On numerous occasions he felt it necessary to “correct” panelist statements, and spin them to favor his political viewpoint. Once he went so far as answer an audience question directed at panelist Vivian Mason, before Ms. Mason even had a chance to speak!

Why do Park commissioners Jon Olson and Walt Dziedzic so fear voters becoming educated and the truth being heard?

Commentary on the Minneapolis DFL Park Board Endorsements

What occurred at the DFL city convention on Saturday May 14 is very revealing. Of the four majority faction commissioners on the Park Board who were seeking party endorsement, only two (Jon Olson and Walt Dziedzic) were successful. Olson was unopposed and Dziedzic had to go to three ballots before he could claim his endorsement over a last-minute candidate.

Both Bob Fine and Carol Kummer, long time DFLers, were unsuccessful in getting party endorsements. And both Fine and Kummer have highly qualified candidates running against them. Fine is being challenged by Jim Bernstein and Kummer by Jason Stone.

The stewardship of the majority faction is being questioned — and appropriately so.

DFL City Convention

The Minneapolis DFL City Convention endorsed the following Park Board candidates on Saturday, May 14. 60% is the minimum required for endorsement.

At Large (city wide)
Tom Nordyke – 69.2%
Mary Merrill Anderson – 60.1%
[3rd position no endorsement]

Park Districts

District 1
Walt Dziedzic – 60.18% (on the third ballot against Peter Vevang who started his campaign Friday night before the convention)

District 2
Jon Olson – unopposed

District 3
Scott Vreeland – 75.9%

District 4
Tracy Nordstrom – ??.?%

District 5
No Endorsement

District 6
No Endorsement

May 4 Board Meeting Highlights

The nearness of the May 14 DFL endorsing convention made its presence known as the majority five commissioners were unusually subdued and courteous of their minority members. There was also the not unexpected political grandstanding.

The meeting started at 4:30pm with a closed-to-the-public session of the entire board to discuss pending workers’ compensation litigation. The open meeting was scheduled to begin at 5:00pm. The closed doors to the board room were opened to the public at 5:02pm and before the public could get in and seated, Commissioner Bob Fine began the Planning Committee meeting.

5:02pm – Planning Committee

Action Item 4.1 — “That the board approve conceptual plans for the I35W bridge over Minnehaha Creek, and AUTHORIZE STAFF TO APPROVE DETAILS [emphasis added] and issue construction permits…”

What was supposed to be a brief 5-minute presentation by the consulting company working with MnDot on the Crosstown Commons project turned out to be a much longer presentation, followed by a long question and discussion period. Although this was a Park Board meeting, the amount of information about this project was revealing for anyone interested in the future of 35W through Minneapolis.

The Crosstown Commons Reconstruction project (MnDot info here)– ostensibly designed to solve the congestion problem in that area — is much, MUCH larger in scope and meaning than that title or purpose indicates. It involves reconstructing I-35W from 66th Street in Richfield to 42nd Street in Minneapolis, and 62 (Crosstown) from Penn Avenue on the west side to Portland Avenue on the east side, both in Minneapolis and Richfield.

For those who have any interest in the 35W “Excess”/Access Project at Lake Street, or who care about paving more of Minneapolis under concrete, note the following: 35W will be expanded from 6-lanes south of 46th Street and 8-lanes north of 46th Street to 10-lanes from the Crosstown to 42nd Street. The 35W “Excess”/Access Project involves construction from just north of 42nd Street to 94. In particular, it expands the number of lanes from 8 to 10 from 28th Street north. Some might notice only a small gap remaining between these two projects to drop additional lanes on to get 10-lanes from the Crosstown to 94.

Back to immediate Park Board interests in this project: It will have primarily 3 effects on Park Board property.

1. The 35W bridge over Minnehaha Creek, the parkway, bike and foot paths will be torn down and reconstructed to carry the additional lanes of traffic.

2. Storm sewer drainage on 35W from about 57th Street to the Creek will drain directly to Diamond Lake. There is already an existing storm drain in this location. It will be reconstructed, and have 2 grit chambers added. MnDoT may also alter the drain delta in the lake.

3. Minor reconstruction of a path in Martin Luther King Park to meet the new elevation of the altered 42nd Street (southeast corner of park).

Although MnDot talked in terms of working cooperatively with the Park Board, it also seemed obvious that legally they could and would do whatever they ultimately decided they needed to do to complete the project.

The bridge over Minnehaha Creek got the most discussion, regarding lighting beneath the bridge, sound walls on the bridge, the affects of the slightly larger gap between the northbound and southbound lanes (more noise? more snowplow spray?), aesthetics, railing between bike path and creek, etc.

If you have an opinion, let your Park Commissioners know because they did not rubber stamp this and let the staff just go off and cooperate with MnDot. Instead, staff and MnDot will actually come back for a “final FINAL” approval. There are still details to be worked out; getting your concerns to the Park Board (commissioners and staff) now would be advisable.

During the discussion, a couple of comments struck me as interesting:

* Regarding the need for a railing between the bike path and creek, Director of Planning Judd Rietkerk said it was his recommendation that the railing be there for safety — apparently to keep cyclists from crashing down into the creek and suing the Park Board.

* Regarding all the possible concerns that neighbors of the bridge might have, and were expressed by other commissioners, Bob Fine felt it necessary to put down all other concerns and “tell us how it was” — that neighbors really only had 2 concerns: (1) noise, and said the noise wall on the bridge really wouldn’t help [when did Fine become an expert on noise?] and (2) light. Despite most commissioners playing nice, Fine just doesn’t seem to stop insulting people and acting like he knows best for all of us. Of all the commissioners on the Park Board, Bob Fine is the one who most needs to be soundly kicked out of office in the election this fall.

4.1 passes with Commissioner Annie Young’s amendment that MnDot and staff come back to the commissioners with a final plan.


Action Item 4.2 — “That the board request the City’s public works department conduct a traffic study to determine the impact to traffic on Dean Parkway as a result of the Ackerberg housing proposal.”

The outlet of this large proposed housing development will be a narrow driveway just north of 2928 Dean Parkway onto the Parkway.

Commissioner Carol Kummer requests adding language to motion to indicate that the development respect the Shoreland Overlay District ordinance.

4.2 passes.


Action Items 4.3 and 4.4 are related to the same effort — accepting some tax forfeited land from the county for use as community gardens in Community Gardens Program. Neighborhood gardening groups which garden in the Shingle Creek and Bancroft gardens will have some financial responsibilities, e.g. $1-1.5 million in liability insurance, in order to keep these as gardens under the Park Board’s ownership.

4.3 and 4.4 pass.

No Open Time speakers.
* Study / Report Items
1. St. Anthony Parkway Master Plan (scheduled for 10 minutes), Tim Brown, Parks Engineer
A similar effort to the Victory Memorial Parkway project, using federal TEA-21 grant money and matching money (much of it from Met Council) to rebuild the bike paths as “regional transit” facilities. Lots of maps and slides presented. This project will include adding 4 more blocks to bring the parkway all the way to Stinson Parkway. Plan is to put bike path and walking path on north side in this stretch.

President Jon Olson congratulates Commissioner Walt Dziedzic on delivering once again for the Northeast.


2. Cirque Du Soleil (scheduled for 10 minutes), Judd Rietkerk, Planning Director
Cirque Du Soleil has been talking to staff since last year about using the Parade Stadium field as a location for their performances. The proposal is Cirque will lease the field from August 22 to October 28, 2005 and pay the Park Board $50,000 for that use. The Park Board will do some initial site preparation, and then Cirque will spend another $225,000 on doing site preparation, such as adding gates, removing ball field lights, etc. Rietkerk says this is an advantage for the Park Board, because of plans for installing an artificial turf field at this location, and would have to do construction preparation work like removing sprinklers and fences anyway. He says this will save some money because Cirque will do some of that work. When Cirque leaves town, they will do nothing further to the site. It will be left in whatever state it is in — unusable for recreation.

All parking will be handled on site using the existing lots to the east and west of the field, except for perhaps a few performances where larger crowds might result in some overflow parking, which the Park Board is trying to work with Dunwoody to accommodate across Dunwoody Blvd in their parking lot there. The plan is to close the Vineland entrances to all of those lots during Cirque performances, and have all traffic enter/exit from Dunwoody. Note that Cirque Du Soliel gets ALL of the parking revenue thus generated, until it exceeds $225,000, after which they share it with the Park Board.

A typical Cirque performance expects 350 to 375 cars, and there is parking on site for 500. Cirque’s performance tent seats about 2500 people.

Once again, President Jon Olson describes the project in much more detail than the staff presents, and clearly knows much more about it than the minority commissioners. It appears there is an inner circle of staff and commissioners that Olson is in which excludes minority commissioners from getting details about projects until they are done deals.

Speaking of which — this was a study/report item, which usually means no action is requested of the commissioners. But this item suddenly becomes urgent in needing to move ahead and now a motion is needed.

Commissioner John Erwin moves that the staff goes ahead, but wants them to negotiate a kids nights at Cirque because most Minneapolis kids will never be able to afford to see such a performance.

Commissioner Vivian Mason supports Erwin, and says that not enough notice to neighborhoods (residents, institutions like the Walker, and businesses) was done [in fact, none]; that they learned about it through the newspaper and then contact her [its Mason’s district], often irately. She asks if staff has yet contacted the neighborhood, and the answer is no. She asks if there are costs for dismantling bleachers and fences, and who pays them. The answer is that the Park Board will be paying for that.

The motion passes.

Part 2 of 2
6:57pm — Planning Adjourned.

Administration and Finance Committee called to order by Marie Hauser.
* Action Items
– Change Order: 7.1 — approve additional $500,000 for tree and stump removal for new total of $2,050,000.00.
– NRP: 7.2, 7.3, 7.4 — approve NRP funding agreements with Fulton for (7.1) Youth Start Program at Pershing Park $5,800, (7.2) four square facility at Pershing Park $2,000, and (7.3) purchase youth program equipment for Pershing Park $2,500.00.
– Agreement: 7.5 — approve coop funding with Mn. Historical Society and St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board for $31,000.

All items are quickly moved and passed with no discussion, except Comr. Young comments on past difficulties of working with MHS.

6:59pm — Admin & Finance Adjourned.

Pres. Olson calls Regular Meeting back to order.

* Agenda Approval
Comr. Dziedzic wants to add about 4 things, but under the “new rules” of not amending the agenda, Olson says they need to go through the Admin & Finance Committee at the next meeting first.

* Reports of Officers
– Superintendent Jon Gurban briefly mentions Earth Day and Community Gardens. He then moves to answering questions that comr. Mason asked a month or more ago. (1) Park police will move into the newly renovated offices on the first floor of the HQ building in late summer, maybe August. (2) In mid May, the new district managers will begin moving into their offices. The Minnehaha District will move into the second floor of the Longfellow House. They will install a T1 telephone line for Internet connectivity [about $600 – $800 / month] back to HQ. The Lakes District will move near the end of May into the Southside Service Center. The River District will remain in the HQ building. (3) In theory, no additional staff will be hired, but rather people from inside the organization will simply move into the district jobs. Despite Gurban’s initial tone of voice and mannerisms of giving Mason a comeuppance for asking for this information, he actually manages to get over it and ultimately give the first comprehensive and clear report he’s ever given to the board in 16 months. [Too bad that all reports from the officers are not always like this and voluntarily given. Such reports by staff to elected boards in other organizations often are.]

– GM Don Siggelkow reports that the Minneapolis Queen excursion boat has arrived.
– GM Michael Schmidt reports on an RBI and Volunteer Appreciation Event

* Consent Business

– Items 2.1 through 2.5 are quickly moved and passed without discussion. [see agenda for details]

* Standing Committees

– Planning Committee: Items 4.1 through 4.4 are quickly moved and passed without discussion, with Mason opposing 4.4, Cirque Du Soliel’s lease terms.

– Admin & Finance Committee: Items 7.1 through 7.4 are quickly moved and passed. Mason asks why 7.1 and 7.2 are both change orders increasing existing contracts for $100,000 or more. Rietkerk says they were just adding back the original features to those projects.
7.5, a contract with Barr Engineering, passes without discussion and Mason abstains because a member of her family works for Barr. Dziedzic comments that Mason has no conflict of interest because her daughter is an adult not living with Mason. [I find that to be an interesting definition of ethical conflict of interest.]

7.6, the change order to increase stump removal for $500,000. Dziedzic complains about the contractor who did stump removal on Gross Golf Course damaging the fairways with there and that the Park Board should get some money back from them. It passes.

* Unfinished Business
8.1 Resolution to authorize acceptance of tax-forfeited land. Roll call vote: 8 for, none against (Berry Graves left meeting early).

* New Business
– Hosting the 2010 NRPA Congress. Young warns of the big effort this will take. There will be 8,000 to 10,000 people at the event.

* Petitions and Communications
[nothing of significance]


District managers

After spending over $6 million in 2002 to purchase and renovate a new headquarters building in order to centralize staff and save money, the Park Board is now decentralizing staff and adding a new layer of governance to the Park Board administration.

Three new area district manager positions have been created. Each position pays $90,000 for a total of $270,000, plus staff and office expenses. These area district managers will have offices that are located away from the headquarters building.

How essential are these three positions? Wouldn’t $270,000 plus costs have been better spent in supporting the Park Board’s underfunded battle against Dutch elm disease?