Monthly Archives: March 2006

Your Rights to Public Data at the Park Board

Want some information about the Park Board, but having a hard time getting it? As a government entity, most of the data they have and collect is public information under Minnesota law. The attached PDF documents describe your rights under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA), the Park Board data practices policy and a form to request data from the Park Board under that policy and the state law.
MPRB MGDPA Your Rights.pdf
MPRB Data Practices Policy.pdf
MPRB MGDPA Request Form.pdf

Park Board Meeting

Regular third Wednesday of the month public commissioner meeting.

Official documents can be found at this link.

Agenda Highlights:

  • 3:30pm – 4:30pm: Standards & Conduct Committee, Study Session
    1. Superintendent Evaluation Process
  • 5:00pm: Regular board meeting
    • Consent Business: 2.1 approve a contract with Simon Delivers for $80,000. Others.
    • Unfinished Business
    • New Business
  • 5:45pm: Operations & Environment Committee
    • Swimming Beach Monitoring Procedures for 2006
  • 6:00: Open Time – public comment
  • 6:10: Recreation Committee
    1. Women’s Hockey at Edison Arena
    2. 2006 Summer Park Activities for Youth report
  • 6:45pm: Administration & Finance Committee
    1. Minneapolis Municipal Building Comission’s Resolution on City Management Fee — 15 minute report by Don Siggelkow (Darth Vader), General Manager
    2. Construction Permit for Soil Testing in Mill Ruins Park

MPRB and Their Money Woes

During the MPRB meeting this evening [March 15, 2006] the Commissioners had a grand old time bringing up the past and haranguing over their financial woes. It seems they are having trouble doing repairs and keeping fields and buildings in good repair. They do not have enough money for capital projects. Seems back in the day they were all set to ask for a referendum, but stepped aside for the Library Board and the schools. In return they were to get more operating dollars and for the remainder of the SSB administration they did. Did they use these dollars toward fixing up the buildings…. seems it went towards operations like having longer hours at the rec centers. Then came the party shift at the state and federal levels, and the recession and suddenly there is less money for operations. Now they are crying unfair. Commissioner Merrill Anderson was just appalled about the state of affairs.

I wish I could give them a shoulder to cry on, but after watching things like the Neiman Complex going from $6 million to $14 million on then Superintendent Merrill Anderson’s watch, to $900,000 being wasted at the 201 Building on that skatepark deal, seeing them considering buying Edison Arena for $800,000 and now tonight approving $40,000 for a bridge in a plan that most of the neighbors do not want and which goes from one side of a creek to another to end in 100 feet at a softball field outfield fence I am not very sympathetic to their plight. I like many in Minneapolis was not surprised when the Maguire Foundation decided it would bypass the MPRB and plan to build its own riverside park near the new Guthrie. Commissioner Dziedzic actually mentioned in the meeting that if William Maguire had checked out the MPRB he could have used their foundation to get this done. He probably did and that’s why he’s doing it himself.

Liz Wielinski
Columbia Park
Who isn’t claiming she was misquoted in that tabloid the Star Tribune

Star Tribune: Letters: Arrogance is appalling

When you’re a small man with small ideas, great men like Theodore Wirth (the elder, designer and builder of the Minneapolis park system) and Theodore J. Wirth (the grandson, and lead designer of Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, just to name 3) threaten your masculinity, ego, or something. Commissioners Bob Fine and Jon Olson really ticked the public off with their small-minded, arrogant remarks about the Theodore Wirths:


Arrogance is appalling

In the March 9 Star Tribune article “Some are shutting door on plans for Wirth house” the arrogance of at least one Park Board member shines!

“In fact, some commissioners are openly exasperated with the efforts of [Ted] Wirth and his group, the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society,” the article said, citing specifically Board President Jon Olson. And Bob Fine, the Park Board commissioner whose district includes the house, said of Theodore Wirth’s grandson, Ted, “He’s not from here. He didn’t grow up here. I think he found someone that is willing to take care of him.”

I do not know the youngest Mr. Wirth. I do know that founders are typically honored if they really had an impact and that it never is kind to publicly air the hostility shown in the above statement.

(As an important aside, as a Minnesotan for the last 29 years, I have experienced what many non-birth Minnesotans have — we’re not quite of the same cloth for many years. If you can survive the distance till then, it might change.)

Mr. Fine, what does Mr. Wirth not being from here have to do with any of this? Our amazing parks are known around the country as the legacy of his grandfather.

I am appalled, both by the attitude about this and by the difficulty in accepting a gift of time and love that some people want to give this city.


Appropriate honor for park system architect

I read with astonishment the March 9 remarks by Minneapolis Park Board President Jon Olson, “Theodore Wirth wasn’t God. I’m getting tired of Theodore Wirth” and by Commissioner Bob Fine about Wirth’s grandson, “He’s not from here. He didn’t grow up here.”

The grandson wants to preserve the Wirth home as a museum that traces our park system’s history. Olson and Fine want to defeat the idea. They are leading us down the wrong path.

Trying to defeat this appropriate acknowledgment of the Wirth legacy reminds me of the folks in Kirby Puckett’s hometown of Chicago who are unaware of Puckett’s origins. Thankfully some people in Chicago are aiming to change that and are seeking ways to honor the athlete.

Similarly in Minneapolis we should be proud to honor one of the greatest park superintendents in history. The Minneapolis park system is consistently rated among the most respected city park systems in the country, and is studied by planners from throughout the world. Comments like “he’s not from here” and the like attest to a singular provincialism that can only serve to drive a wedge among community-minded people. Let’s show our pride in what we have.


Theodore Wirth and William McGuire

The Minneapolis Park Legacy Society recognizes that Theodore Wirth played a pivotal role in developing a park system that in turn shaped the city. The Wirth House, with its treasure trove of original drawings, offers an unmatched opportunity for teaching the society’s goal: appreciation for and understanding of Minneapolis’ nationally recognized park system.

Lack of such appreciation and understanding may be at the heart of decisions made by the new board majority to give private users priority access to public land (DeLaSalle Stadium and Fuji Ya, with others to follow).

In a marvelous turnabout, a proposal offers to privately fund a park strictly for public use. The McGuire proposal for a riverfront park adjacent to the new Guthrie is likely something Wirth would have loved.

The park space Wirth set out for the downtown has largely disappeared under concrete and steel, but the principles he espoused could be given life by both the McGuire proposal and by preserving and interpreting the Wirth House.

The role and importance of parks in enhancing life is the message, and the Wirth House is the teaching medium. For those who embrace that philosophy, what’s not to like?


Original letters at Star Tribune web site: and

Star Tribune: Letters

Two letters to the editor in the Thursday, March 9,
2006 Star Tribune:


Doing Park Board’s job

Thank you, Dr. William McGuire, for stepping in and
proposing the park on the river near the new Guthrie
Theater instead of a wall of high-rises (Star Tribune,
March 3).

His generosity may accomplish what our public
institutions won’t. The Minneapolis Park Board is more
interested in paving over or selling green spaces
along the Mississippi River than in preserving them.

For instance, selling the old Fuji-Ya site to “The
Wave” condo project, giving parkland to DeLaSalle High
School for playing fields, the parking lot in the
middle of Nicollet Island where there was once a green
spot, and talk of selling the wild spot east of the
10th Avenue bridge for condos. Add to that list the
Pillsbury “A” high-rise development that will have an
impact on the small park between it and the river.


Keep us green

With his $5 million donation toward a downtown park,
William McGuire has demonstrated a greater level of
leadership and vision than have the entire Minneapolis
Park Board and City Council during this rapid-growth
period of the last 10 years.

McGuire is absolutely correct. Our city, in order to
be great, must have the green spaces that soften the
steel and cement of our urban core. The city would be
incredibly shortsighted and negligent to pass up this
generous offer.


Well said, we say.

Original letters on the Star Tribune website at this link.

The final, Final, FINAL RUA with DeLaSalle

The park board has finally posted on its website the final version of the DeLaSalle stadium Reciprocal Use Agreement (RUA) that the full board approved on March 1, 2006. Some changes were made that day, so this version has a few differences from earlier versions, even those from February.

A 15 page PDF file is attached and you can also download it at:

Star Tribune: Some are shutting door on plans for Wirth house

In an article subtitled “Theodore Wirth’s grandson wants his granddad’s former home turned into a museum for park history” journalist Conrad Wilson writes:

» One hundred years after his grandfather came to Minneapolis to design a world-class park system, Theodore J. Wirth arrived with a more modest mission.

Wirth, 78, and a park designer himself, wants to create a museum in his grandfather’s former home that traces the history of the park system.

“This is my last big project,” he said.

But the vision for a Wirth museum hasn’t gotten far with the home’s owner, the Minneapolis Park Board. «

Jon Olson, the board’s president, criticized the effort, saying, “Theodore Wirth wasn’t God. I’m getting tired of Theodore Wirth.”

» In fall of 1999, Joan Berthiaume, the co-founder of the Parks Legacy Society, called Wirth after the Park Board and other local organizations couldn’t answer her questions about park history.   …

The conversation led to a visit, and before long, Wirth was in the park named for his grandfather, asking people: Who was Theodore Wirth? No one knew.

Two other historic houses [the Longfellow House and Stevens House] owned by the Park Board are operated as museums by nonprofit organizations, and Wirth and Berthiaume thought the same arrangement would be appropriate for what the Park Board calls the Superintendent’s House.

The last superintendent to live there moved out in 1996, and it’s currently used for park staff and storage.   …

Last March, Berthiaume asked to lease the home from the Park Board. The Parks Legacy Society would operate the house at no cost to the city using funds generated from memberships and donations, Berthiaume said. «

Read the entire article at the Star Tribune web site.

More information about potential park / other use of parcel next to Guthrie

Details on the City’s Request For Proposals (RFP) and the three proposals received for the “Riverfront East Parcel” next to the Guthrie can be found here at the City’s website. “All three proposals also include open space/park concepts for some or all of the adjacent Guthrie expansion parcel; only the McGuire Family Foundation proposal includes a letter from the Guthrie consenting to that aspect of the proposal.”

Comments on these proposals by the architectural community over at the Minnescaper can be found here.