Star Tribune: Skateboard park proposal falls flat

Robert Naegele III’s state-of-the-art facility wasn’t built; instead, the Park Board got sued. Star Tribune reporter Rochelle Olson writes in a story published January 17:

» Minneapolis taxpayers face a $900,000 legal settlement because of the Park and Recreation Board’s failed attempt to develop a skateboard park with Robert Naegele III, 40-year-old son of Minnesota Wild owner Bob Naegele.

The board will now decide whether to pay the tab to settle a lawsuit filed by several contractors or sell off the vacant property near Fort Snelling at foreclosure. The options are the result of a mediated legal agreement with the board, the contractors and Naegele. Park board members say the Naegele name lulled them into a false sense of security.

As a result, what was supposed to be a privately funded project on public land will end up costing public money. «

» The origins of the would-be skateboard park date back to September 2000, when the park board paid $748,000 for an old federal building close to its baseball and softball fields and the indoor tennis center.

At first, the Wild considered converting it into a training facility, but the costs made the team choose Parade Stadium instead, said Don Siggelkow, assistant superintendent.

Then along came Robert Naegele III with a proposal to turn the 27,000-square-foot building into an indoor-outdoor state-of-the-art skate park with an observation deck encircling the park.

His company, called The Fort, signed a lease with the park board that stated the firm would pay for renovation and construction.

But within six months after construction began in September 2003, The Fort stopped putting money into the project, according to a written report submitted to the board by its attorneys, Brian Rice and Karin Peterson. At one point, one of the subcontractors even loaned the project $300,000 to keep it going.

After negotiations with The Fort failed, the Park Board terminated the lease in June 2004.

Later that year, contractors and subcontractors sued The Fort and the Park Board to recover $1.8 million in unpaid bills.

Negotiations to settle the suit began in July. The mediated legal agreement includes a $22,500 payment by Naegele to the Park Board and $150,000 to one of the subcontractors, Steenberg-Watrud Construction. Rice said the Park Board didn’t want to take a chance in court, which might have required it to pay an additional $200,000 in attorneys fees. «

Read full story at Star Tribune website.

See more information about this fiasco here, here, here, and here.

1 thought on “Star Tribune: Skateboard park proposal falls flat

  1. Liz Wielinski Post author

    I found it very curious reading as the poor park board was just snookered by that mean Robert Naegele III. The original discussion in committee that took place was on July 3, 2002 ( getting the transcribed tape was not a cake walk). Annie Young, Rochelle Berry Graves and Vivian Mason were absent. During the committee discussion then President Bob Fine described how the Fort LLC was nothing but a shell company and that the MPRB was unprotected should the company default. The motion passed out of committee ( Commissioner Fine not on the committee could not participate in the vote) with the understanding that staff was directed to clean up the wording about mechanics liens that would put the MPRB at risk.

    Two weeks later ( 7-17-2002) before the whole board there is no mention in the minutes of any discussion other than Commissioner Berry Graves asking to delay the vote so the lease could be rechecked. Who voted for the contract… Jon Olson, Walt Dziedzic, Ed Solomon, John Erwin and Vivian Mason. Commissioner Berry Graves abstained and Commissioner Hauser votes against ( there was no wording requiring going rate labor …read union). Annie Young and Bob Fine were absent. This leads me to wonder how Commissioner Fine was quoted as voting against the project… as he never did get to vote.

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