Monthly Archives: September 2005

Skyway News: Citizen-advisors named for DeLaSalle project

« The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has released the list of appointees to the DeLaSalle Athletic Field Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) and a timetable for its meetings.

DeLaSalle is proposing a joint use athletic facility on Nicollet Island, that the Park Board could use during non-school times. It would span park and school property and require closing half of Grove Street.

The 21-member CAC has:

– Thirteen members appointed by elected officials;

– Five neighborhood representatives;

– Two youth sports members; and

– One business owner.

President Jon Olson appointed Bert McKasy, a Lindquist & Vennum attorney and lobbyist, to chair the committee. McKasy is vice-chair of the Metropolitan Airports Commission and is a former Republican state representative, State Commerce Commissioner and U.S. Senate candidate.

The other CAC members are as follows, (with the official who appointed them in parentheses):

– Theodore Wirth, grandson of former parks superintendent Theodore Wirth (Commissioner Rochelle Berry Graves);

– Thomas Hoch, president, Hennepin Theater Trust, (Commissioner Walt Dziedzic);

– Edna Brazaitis, Nicollet Island resident (Commissioner John Erwin);

– Judy Blaeseg, a Linden Hills resident and DeLaSalle parent who has been a parent/helper on softball teams that Commissioner Bob Fine coached. (Fine);

– Minneapolis State Rep. Neva Walker (Commissioner Marie Hauser);

– Jim Nestingen, architect and landscape architect, former Hiawatha Corridor Community Advisory Committee member (Commissioner Carol Kummer).

– Chris Johnson, member of the Park Board reform group Park Watch (Commissioner Vivian Mason);

– Jeff Lee, former Park Board staff who managed environmental programs (Commissioner Annie Young);

– Rip Rapson, senior fellow at the McKnight Foundation and former deputy mayor under Don Fraser (Mayor R.T. Rybak);

– John Pacheco, Downtown resident, director of the Xcel Energy Foundation and former Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission member (Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin);

– Susan Howitz Hanna, Windom Park resident, member of the city’s Civil Rights Commission and former DeLaSalle parent (Council President Paul Ostrow);

– Roger Cummings, (Councilmember Natalie Johnson Lee)

– Barry Clegg, attorney and Nicollet Island resident (Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association). Ryan Curry is the alternate.

– John Chaffee and Prudence Johnson (Island residents). Judy Richardson and Deanna Cummings are their alternates.

– Ken Shaffer (St. Anthony East Neighborhood Association). Alternate: Mary Jane Partyka.

– J.D. Pride (St. Anthony West Neighborhood Association). Todd Roeder is the alternate.

– Former Park Board member Scott Neiman, and Thomas Johnson, a former Park Board staff member who worked on youth sports (Park Board staff appointments to represent youth sports/athletics)

– Jim Surdyk (business appointee).

The Park Board has set a schedule to reach a decision on the project before the current board leaves office. All nine commissioners are up for election.

The first CAC meeting is primary election night, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 6:30 p.m., at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road North. The group is also scheduled to meet Sept. 22 and Sept. 29, said Emily Ero-Phillips, a park planner. It will take public comments Oct. 4 and then vote on recommendations.

The Board’s Planning Committee will hear the recommendations Oct. 19, she said. If there is an appeal, a public hearing would be held Nov. 2. The committee will “review and comment on the schematic design alternatives for DeLaSalle’s proposed recreation facilities on Nicollet Island,” Park Board documents said. »

Original article by Scott Russell on the Skyway News website.

City Pages: A Bluff on the River

Is the Minneapolis Park Board considering selling a prime parcel on the Mississippi?

An article by Mike Mosedale, September 7, 2005

« As Rosemary Knutson surveys the neglected parcel of land that lies just east of her West Bank condominium, she imagines the possibilities. There could be a butterfly garden here, new trees and grasses, even a secluded picnic grounds. “This is probably the choicest piece of undeveloped real estate in the metro area,” Knutson muses, a little loudly, as she strains to be heard above the steady hum from the traffic on the nearby 35W bridge.

It’s not much to look at right now. Goldenrod and weeds sprout up through the gaps in a field of crumbling concrete. Beer cans, ruined bicycles, and other such detritus are scattered about. But with some effort and about $45,000 in private contributions, Knutson contends, the eight-acre plot could become a welcome addition to the Minneapolis park system. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has owned it for more than 20 years–but rumor has it the board is looking to unload it. »

Entire article here at City Pages web site.

Skyway News: Environmental review could delay DeLaSalle field vote

The city will have to approve an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for a proposed Nicollet Island athletic complex before the project can proceed, according to a unanimous City Council vote Sept. 2.

The EAW, which reviews potential environmental impacts and ways to minimize or eliminate problems, means a two-to-six-month delay before government bodies could vote to approve the project.

All 13 Councilmembers voted to require the EAW for the proposed joint-use DeLaSalle/Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board field.

The joint-use facility would span park and school land and include football and soccer fields; practice areas; 750-seat bleachers; and storage, refreshment and restroom areas.

An EAW is a public process that reviews a development’s potential negative environmental impacts and ways to avoid or minimize problems before a project is approved, a state Web site said. The EAW requires the proposing organization to respond to a 31-question form, providing information on everything from soil conditions to the project’s noise, dust, traffic, wildlife and visual aesthetic impacts.

Brother Michael Collins, DeLaSalle’s president, said the school supported the required EAW. “We are amenable to whatever measures seem to be necessary to lead to the project happening,” he said. “This being one of them, we will do everything we can to cooperate.”

Barb Sporlein, city planning division director, estimated EAW completion in two to six months, depending on how long it takes DeLaSalle to submit its materials and for city staff to evaluate.

At a minimum, the athletic complex will need city approval of a site plan and permission to close half of Grove Street. The school also needs to have a reciprocal-use agreement with the Park Board, outlining responsibilities for the costs, maintenance and use of the facility.

DeLaSalle wants to get the project approved before the fall elections, which will see Park Board membership change, but the two-to-six-month EAW timeframe could complicate that. The new Board will be elected in November, two months away, and seated in January, four months away.

Don Siggelkow, Park Board general manager, said the Park Board could speed up key votes by approving a reciprocal-use agreement with DeLaSalle, contingent on final EAW approval.

The proposed athletic field has stirred heated emotions on the island, with many residents and preservationists opposing the field, and DeLaSalle and youth sports backers supporting it.

More than 25 people signed a petition seeking the environmental review. The state referred the petition to Minneapolis. City staff said the DeLaSalle field plan met the criteria for a mandatory EAW.

The Park Board is creating a Citizens Advisory Committee to review the DeLaSalle proposal to try to find a compromise. Appointments were expected in early September.

By Scott Russell

Original article at Skyways News.

Primary Election Day

Primary Elections — be sure to vote.

Endorsed Park Board Candidates in the Primary Election:

At-large / City-wide: Rochelle Berry Graves
At-large / City-wide: Tom Nordyke
At-large / City-wide: Annie Young

District 3: Scott Vreeland
District 4: Tracy Nordstrom

All voters get to vote for three (3) at-large Park Board candidates. In the primary, only Park Board districts 3 and 4 have more than 2 candidates running, and so are the only races which have primaries.

In the general elections in November, all voters will get to vote for three (3) at-large Park Board candidates plus one (1) district candidate for a total of 4 votes out of 9 commissioner seats.

Click Me Hard: How to lose a ton of money selling ice cream in the parks

“One of the most popular places in the entire metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul is a chain of four lakes about two miles from downtown Minneapolis.

The inner-city location coupled with the natural beauty of the lakes and surrounding forestry have made “the Lakes” as they are known here, a frenzied hub of activity for more than a century.

Boasting elaborate pedestrian and biking trail systems, permanent grills, picnic areas, public bathrooms, concession stands and lakeside pavilions, the Lakes attract more than three million visitors a year. On any summer day, and especially during the weekends, it is by far the busiest area in the state.

Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet are summer magnets for virtually any activity you can imagine. Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, fishing, running, walking, rollerblading, skating, biking, or simply finding a soft patch of grass beneath a shady tree are just some of the enjoyable activities people go to the Lakes for.

It is a place for lovers: marriage proposals, serious talks, or even “it’s not you, it’s me” scenes are played out every day at the Lakes.

It is a place for- the children- with numerous playground areas available for all sorts of games.

It is most likely a place many kids have been conceived…

Anyway, at Lake Harriet, the southern-most lake, there is the Lake Harriet Pavilion, a bandshell where summer concerts are held featuring music from polka bands to rock acts.

Public beaches line the east side of the bandshell, and the largest single picnic area, as well as massive parking lots sit right at the foot of the pavilion. There are canoe racks and sail boat slips at the water’s edge. A famous rose garden and bird sanctuary are also within walking distance.

And the Lake Harriet Trolley tour rides are just up the hill.

Ensconced in this picturesque setting, where the walking trails and bike trails cross, where the swimmers and picnickers merge, where almost everyone meets at one point or another, is the Lake Harriet concession stand, built right into the scenic bandshell. A place to buy icy cold sodas and lemonade, candy, the legendary Lake Harriet popcorn, or ice cream.

There is absolutely no better place on the planet to enjoy an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

Last year the Minneapolis Park Board, which runs the concession stand, lost $127,000 selling ice cream.


What the…

Hummena Hummena Hummena…

This was the second year in a row they claimed to have lost money…

And somehow there are still people on the planet who look to the comforting arms of government to solve their problems?

A five-year-old kid selling life insurance could make money at this location!

Yet somehow, the Minneapolis Park Board was unable to sell ice cream in the summer on the shore of the busiest lake in the metropolitan area.

Inexplicably, the newspapers in town missed this angle to the story and focused on the fact that the Park Board was involved in a contentious debate over whether or not to bring in a Dairy Queen to run the ice cream concession and actually make money at it, offering the city 12% of the profits.”

Read the entire article at the Click Me Hard archives.

The reality that Tom at Click Me Hard was unaware is that employees were embezzling tens of thousands of dollars at the Lake Harriet Concession. Why do you suppose the guilty parties were left unpunished?

How do you mend a broken CAC?

I received a copy of the DeLaSalle Athletic Field Proposal Citizen’s Advisory Committee documents. Since this is a public body, with its meetings open to the public, and concerned with giving use of public land to a private institution, I thought perhaps you, the public, might want to know what’s in it. So here are some of the details.

Page 1 — MEMBERSHIP (as of 3pm, September 2) — Total 21 members

Elected Official Appointments (13)

Park Board
President of the board, Jon Olson: Bert McKasy, CHAIR of the CAC
Commissioner Berry Grave[s – typo theirs]: Theodore Wirth
Commissioner Dziedzic: Thomas Hoke
Commissioner Erwin: Edna Brazaitis
Commissioner Fine: Judy Blaeseg [DeLaSalle parent]
Commissioner Hauser: Neva Walker
Commissioner Kummer: Jim Netsingen
Commissioner Mason: Chris Johnson
Commissioner Young: Jeff Lee

Mayor R.T. Rybak: no appointment submitted
Council Member Ostrow: Susan Howitz Hanna
Council Member Johnson Lee: no appointment submitted

Neighborhood Association / PAC / Resident Appointments (5)
Nicollet Island PAC: no appointment submitted
Alternate: no appointment submitted
Island Resident: John Chaffee
Alternate: Prudence Johnson
Island Resident: Roger Cummings
Alternate: Deanna Cummings
St. Anthony East: no appointment submitted
Alternate: no appointment submitted
St. Anthony West: J.D. Pride
Alternate: Todd Roeder

Youth Sports / Athletics (2)
Thomas Johnson
Scott Neiman

Business Owner (1)
Jim Surdyk

My Questions:
1. Why do neighborhoods and residents get alternates, but not the others?
2. Who selected the Athletics appointments?
3. Who selected the Business appointment?
4. Why are Historical interests not represented?
5. Why are Conservation / environmental interests not represented?
6. Why are civil / constitutional rights interests (e.g. atheists) not represented?

Page 2 — SCHEDULE [no input from CAC members was solicited]

September 8: Project informational meeting presented by Park Board planning staff

September 13: First CAC meeting
September 22: Second CAC meeting
September 29: Third CAC meeting

October 4: Public comments to the CAC and Recommendation
October 19: Park Board planning committee Public Hearing and action

November 2: Park Board Public Hearing and action

My Questions:
1. What if the CAC cannot complete its work in just 3 meetings?
2. When will the required Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) be completed? Will the CAC even get to see it before completing their work? How can they make an informed decision without it?


“The Park Board gave the Committee the following direction:

‘The planning and design program for the proposed DeLaSalle Athletic Field will be reviewed using the Board’s Appointed Committee Process. The charge to the DeLaSalle Athletic Field Appointed Committee is to review and comment on the schematic design alternatives for DeLaSalle’s proposed recreation facilities on Nicollet Island.

The Committee will hold four (4) public meetings and take input from residents and other interested parties. Based upon the comments presented and alternatives prepared in response to said comments, the Committee will recommend a preferred design option to the Park Board as part of the Board’s Public Hearing process. The Board will consider the Committee’s recommendations and Park Board staff recommendations before approving the final design plans for the facilities.'”

“In order to vote on the final schematic design, Committee Members or an Alternate must have attended 3 of the 4 meetings.

Public input is welcomed at all meetings. One half hour at the end of each meeting will be set aside to allow non-committee members to address concerns or comments to the Committee. Written comments will be accepted at any time and copies will be provided to all Committee Members. A separate meeting to just hear public input will be held prior to any recommendations being made. At the discretion of the Chair or by agreement of the Committee additional opportunities for public input will be accepted.”

Note that the charge as describe above is at odds with the language of Commissioner John Erwin’s Resolution which passed unanimously to create this Citizens Advisory Committee. The relevant passage is: “The Park Board will initiate a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to review ALL ASPECTS of the project including the DETAILED site plan, design, LOCATION, and USE of the proposed athletic facility. [emphasis added] The CAC will also consider options that may include moving of facilities to adjacent parkland.”

Page 5 — AGENDA for First Meeting, September 13

Nothing earth shattering here, except that the whole focus is on talking about “Design Elements and Issues” such as Drainage, Turf, Bleachers, etc. followed by a vote on which of those design issues would be addressed in a revised site plan for the next meeting.

So already the controlling faction of the Park Board with the complicity of the staff is abrogating their legally agreed upon resolution to limit the scope of the CAC. Along with the questionable composition of its membership (recall Christine Viken’s Issues List posting regarding the Park Board Ordinance requiring the CAC to be both representative and balanced), this CAC is looking like a kangaroo court.

SpeakSpeak: Amanda Toering: Big Bad Superintendent

“Once upon a time, there was a candidate for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. We’ll call him Jason Stone. One day, in an effort to win the hearts of voters, Jason Stone engaged in some pamphleteering at a local park.

What Jason Stone didn’t know is that he was being watched by his sworn enemy, the Big Bad Superintendent, Jon Gurban. The Big Bad Superintendent licked his greedy lips and gnashed his sharp, sharp teeth. Jason Stone was distributing pamphlets without the magic permit!”

Read the whole story here at, a nationwide freedom of speech organization.

Question about endorsement

I have a question; have read Tom Nordyke’s and Meg Forney’s statements on their websites. Meg Fourney looks awfully good to me. Is there something that I am not understanding? Why are we not supporting her? If someone could contact me at:, I’d appreciate it. Thanks for any info.