September 8 Meeting Report

5:00 Regular Meeting ( all commissioner except the absent Commissioner Mason arrive by 5:15 )

In approving old minutes Commissioner Dziedzic gives an impassioned speech about how most of the votes that have been anything but 5-4 and it just shows that they get along great.


GM Don Sigglekow reports that the MPRB has hired Dawn Summers the former marketing and public information person from the 3 River’s Park District. She will be starting on Sept. 19, 2005. After her arrival she will be meeting individually with the commissioners.

Commissioner Olson and Superintendent Gurban joke about stealing all the top talent from competing park districts.

then GM Siggelkow introduces the 4 “commercials” that the MPRB will be airing on during any extra time after the broadcasts on the cable channel.

Commercial #1 Protecting our Parks which focuses on the Environment, Recreation and Community. There is an interview with Superintendent Gurban and there are lots of scenic pictures of the parks and kids playing in the parks and ends with the new MPRB catch phrase “Minneapolis Parks, Your Best Investment”

Commercial #2 Youth Sports ( featuring…. the Neiman Sports Complex) shows kids playing baseball, soccer and tennis. the Select Committee on Youth Sports report from 1999 is mentioned, in which the committee recommends that new field capacity is needed. (Liz’s comment, I read the report… fields were needed in NORTH Minneapolis, in the Jordan, Hawthorne, McKinley etc… neighborhoods. The fields in South Minneapolis were said to be adequate for future needs… so they built Neiman where????? )

Commercial #3 Value Added Services ( or privatization… the positive spin)

Here is a true commercial Sheffield Priest of the Tin Fish, Jon Blood of Sea Salt, outside shots of the Nicollet Island Pavilion , the yacht and paddleboat of Paradise Charter Cruises (if you take the paddleboat notice the fares do not include the fees of up to $3.00 per person ) and of course the Jim Lupient Waterpark. They actually use the phrase “Without being a burden on the taxpayers” in this ad. (Liz asks…. How much money did this ad cost and did the money come out of the Enterprise Division as most businesses have to pay for their own advertising? )

Commercial #4 Forestry ( or how we didn’t handle the Dutch Elm crisis badly ) It claims to be responsible for all the city owned trees (like down 3rd and in the middle of Central AV????) They do need some editing unless there really is a Minneapolis DNR.

Per GM Sigglekow they were produced by Dreamworld and the narrator was Frank Quillacy.

Commissioner Young asks the cost and GM Siggelkow says that their new hire Ms. Summers will answer that during her introduction to the board at the Oct 5th meeting.
( so keep tuned to this same park station to see if the cost is eventually divulged)

Reports of District Officers….

Cynthia Wilson for Paul Hokeness in the Lakes district…

Did a Friday Fishing event (catch and release) on Lake of the Isles and had 165 kids show up. They are also registering many for fall sports.

Commissioner Erwin asks if the lakes are stocked and with which types of fish

Per General Manager for Operations Mike Schmidt.. the DNR does it based on their fisheries practices
Calhoun and Harriet have muskies
others have pan fish and catfish at Powderhorn Lake, and the creeks are not stocked

Commissioner Dziedzic gives a bit of a fish stock lecture that turns into a diatribe about a burned down porta-pottie

Commmissioner Hauser explains that the catfish in Powderhorn Lake are to clean up after the pan fish…

adjourned to go to the Planning Committee

Planning committee
Presentation of the West River Road Plan from the Plymouth Av Bridge to the BNSF RR Bridge ( the .pdf is 25 pages and is very detailed) is presented by Mike Kimble ( formerly of planning now head of community and governmental relations for the MPRB). He describes the planning process including a CAC that met over a 1 year long process with staff and the consultants. He also stated that the plan had been approved by AFCAC (Above the Falls Citizen Advisory Committee) and that the Met Council had approved the park part. There were many speakers following Mr. Kimble as part of the public hearing including Meg Fourney who was chair of the CAC and Tim Baylor the developer of the Riverview Towers ( just North of the Taj Ma headquarters) and many other residents. Their concerns included a turn around prior to their building ( to keep traffic to a minimum) and moving the restroom shelter to a less secluded area, mainly nearer where the River Rats perform for safety reasons and of course loss of street parking with the parkway redesign. Total estimated cost… $10 million, money so far $3,000,000 from the Mississippi Watershed Organization. There was also some concern about drug use nearer the secluded area of the RR bridge and Commissioner Dziedzic stated that with the park police so close that will end, to which the audience gave a resounding NO.

Commissioner Hauser asked if the raingarden that was for the Riverview Tiwers was being paid for by the MPRB to which Mr. Baylor replied that it was funded by Riverview’s developers.


Rosemary Knutson, past president of the West Bank Community Coalition, said it appears to the WBCC Bluff
Street Park Task Force that the park board would like to sell the 8 acre derelict piece of land next to her
building. She said she had spoken before the park board in August 2000 on the same issue.
Then-commissioner Dean Zimmerman opposed the sale. The WBCC formed the task force last fall to encourage the
park board to preserve the bluff as native open space rather than sell the parkland for real estate
development. The neighborhood was “virtually unanimous” in support of the $45,000 park plan as
designed by a consulting landscape design firm, the least expensive of three proposed designs
Four issues: 1) This is the only significant amount of flat park land on this stretch of river bluff. 2) Does this
organization [the park board] work with residents to protect the environment? 3) Does this organization
[another rhetorical question … I think it was broader, like does the park board work with citizens at all?]
4]Cedar-Riverside is densely populated … and id interrupted as she has gone over her 3 minutes per President Olson.

– Ann Forsyth, director of the Metropolitan Design Center at the University of Minnesota said the task
force had asked her for free technical assistance in developing a park plan. There were steps taken
1) task force; 2) a stakeholders survey, held at neighborhood organization’s annual meeting; 3) Three
options, least expensive chosen. To learn more about free help, go to and click on “design assistance.”

– Karen Swenson of Groundwork Minneapolis said her organization works to turn blighted sites into open
space parkland. The Gas Works Bluff site had been included on a list of feasible sites they developed
some time ago (BF Nelson was another site on their list). They helped arrange for AmeriCorps crew to be
available to work on Bluff Street Park next spring, and found funds for materials.

– Elizabeth Hopwood asked commissioners to keep the property as park rather than condos. Most residents
are Somalian refugees who take their kids out to play in the evenings and increased traffic from further
real estate development would endanger them. She wants “open space for people from the Seven Corners area to utilize.”

– Arthur Renander of Riverview Towers, thanked the board for the opportunity to speak, then
said “This is a [park] board in crisis,” well on its way to selling off valuable park land. He called the
current commissioner whose district includes the Gas Works Bluff site [Comm. Marie Hauser] a “closet
supporter” of selling the land to condo developers, whose support was a cover for the rest of the board to
approve the sale. He said the rumored sale price was far below the land’s value. “An election can’t come
soon enough!” he said. “Our plan is incredibly simple.”

– Bob Johnson, said he lived at Riverview Towers for 24 years, 1979–2003. He cited the
great improvements to the area brought by the construction of West River Parkway, but said Gas Works
Bluff was the site of a coal gas tank, and a 100-foot diameter concrete slab is still there. He said five
years ago there began a movement for creating a park there, which he said would be a “great misuse” [of
either money or parkland or both?]. “This is a piece of land which should be used for development. It
should be a high rise condo. That property should be sold for a high price, and the money used to pay for
[existing] parks in the city.”

– Tony Scallon, , was the city councilman when the townhouses near the site were built ( and has since worked on Hauser’s campaigns). Gasworks Bluff is a “highly polluted piece of ground,” he said. “It’s nice to throw political bombshells, but you better take a step back.” He made reference to an old lawsuit and warned the park board
“not to get run over by some group.” He said the park board should worry more about pollution than politics

Liz’s comment: according to Ms. Forsyth sitting next to me the park plan will leave the site undisturbed unlike any development, which would require much excavation.

– Arlene Fried said the park board public notice published Sept. 3 announced a DeLaSalle CAC meeting
for Sept. 13, which is illegal because it’s primary election day. Pres. Olson referred her to Asst. Superintendent Don Siggelkow.

– Edna Brazaitis described her background in alternative dispute resolution. She said she had first asked the park board to form a DeLaSalle CAC on July
6, as a “big kitchen table, where everyone could sit around and talk.” Of the CAC, she said “We have to be unleashed [and allowed to] think outside the box, and
we need time to do it.”

– John Chaffee, asked what did the park commissioners want the CAC to do with the copy of the 1983 Agreement that was in CAC members’ packets? He asked for two reasons: 1) Despite assertions to the contrary, several attorneys have said the agreement does not obligate the park board in any way; and besides, 2) the conditions of
the agreement have been met: a football field and two tennis courts. In 1984 DeLaSalle began using a piece of the public street to create a regulation sized
football field. During the earlier CAC process for the island as a whole, 1992-96, DeLaSalle’s sole requirement were tennis courts. Three tennis courts were constructed in 1999 at public expense for DeLaSalle. Pres. Olson referred the question to CAC chair Bert McKasy.

– Barry Clegg said when the board passed a resolution to form a DeLaSalle CAC, the community supported that resolution, expecting an open, thorough, and fair
process-but we are not on the track for that today. Why are there representatives of soccer and football but not historic preservation and environmental
interests? A park commissioner is openly armtwisting a neighborhood organization on their appointment to the CAC. The original resolution charged the CAC to look
at “all aspects” of the project, but now the CAC charge is “just design-the color of the Astroturf and the location of the Porta-potties.” As proposed by
Comm. John Erwin, the CAC process would include “at least” three meetings, but park staff have changed that to “no more than” three meetings, to take place
over 16 days (compared to the West River Road CAC that took 18 months), a “rocket docket” schedule unlikely to result in “real due process.” “If you want a
railroad job, skip the CAC” and just approve DeLaSalle’s proposal, and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

– Pres. Olson referred the question to CAC Chair McKasy, commenting that when he (Olson) appointed McKasy as chair, he told him to ask if he needs
anything, such as more time. Barry Clegg observed that the CAC packet says the CAC’s scheduled report to the board is “time certain.” Comm. Erwin says, “The chair
of the committee can’t change [the schedule on his own without board approval].

Back to reports of Officers… Jon Oyanagi River District Manager, Thanks to corp. sponsors of the Safe Streets Program, General Mills, Target, Cub and the Minneapolis Foundation. Spoke about the “reverse groundbreaking” at Folwell (?) Park where the tennis courts are coming out and a soccer field is going . Working on reviving ice hockey on the Northside.

Minnehaha District: Doing a big housecleaning of the Rec Centers and has partnered with the Midtown Latino Organizing Project to sponsor a family night and have already rounded up 4 soccer teams in the effort.

The board moves onto consent business and discusses funding another hour of cable time through the end of the year. Commissioner Fine points out the extra expense and the commissioners vote to pay for the additional hours ( $40/hour for 7 more meetings this year for an expense of $280 ) During which they will run the newly produce “park commercials”… what political theater. NRP funding for air conditioning at Folwell Park is approved.

Unfinished Business: Commissioner Young reports that the Water Quality Task Force is developing indicators for sustainability.

New Business: Superintendent Gurban speaks of the 9/11 tribute at Lake Harriet and mentions the Salvation Army wishing to collect for hurricane Katrina victims through the sale of vigil candles ( the MPRB forgoes their usual cut)

New Business: Commissioner Fine suggests delaying any planning around Lake Calhoun until their can be a review of past CAC information etc.. and suggests avoiding any piecemeal planning. It is suggested that money to do planning for this be put into the 2006 budget ( gosh really… just who was it pushing all those projects who is now backpedaling before the fall elections)

Commissioner Dziedzic claims there are a lot of election year rumors flying around ( not rumors sir, just not flattering information for some majority incumbents)

Petitions and Communications

Commissioner Dziedzic mentions the debut of the MPRB song by Charlie McGuire at the Lake Harriet Bandshell and that the next evening is the first official meeting of the DeLaSalle CAC. This leads to a discussion of the CAC and how it will be run, who gets to vote etc…

Commissioner Hauser reports she doesn’t understand why everyone thinks she wants to sell land and that she was approached by a developer and never heard from them again regarding the GasWorks Bluff site. She is glad the neighbors came up with the plan and hopes the staff can work out any pollution, maintenance and labor issues ( what labor issues??? are the unions against Americorp volunteers helping these folks build their park???)

Commissioner Erwin will be looking into the charge of the DeLaSalle CAC

Commissioner Fine has a patron wondering if the parking passes are transferable (from old car to newly purchased) He has also been getting many calls regarding the Gas Works Bluff site and since it isn’t even on the radar why are folks getting so concerned (HINT: Ask the Nicollet Island Residents about the heads up they received regarding the football stadium for DeLaSalle)

Regular Meeting Adjourns at 7:45

Admin and Finance Committee

Discussion of Fertilizer ( for the fall season to fill in so less weeds in spring per GM Schmidt)

Administrative Tickets ( motion passes to pursue without report…. on agenda for the next meeting)

2006 Budget Schedule presented by GM Sigglekow

Commissioners choose to follow previous year’s pattern and rank their priorities on a survey ( though the survey is compiled by staff so whose priorities are these really???)