Monthly Archives: June 2006

The Bridge: Island amphitheater shouldn’t sit unused

Chris Steller, editor at The Bridge brightly illustrates the problems with the continuing park privatization going on in Minneapolis in his editorial:

« Shakespeare was wrong: All the world’s not a stage.

That’s why, here in Minneapolis, we go to such efforts to build and maintain the special places that are our stages. We see theater far more than do people in other American cities; we crave outdoor music during our abbreviated summers. Stages are precious community gathering spots.

Rome has its Coliseum, but in Minneapolis a more newly minted ruin, the Washburn-Crosby mill, has become a stage, where the Mill City Museum’s summer music series, “Mill City Live,” is now in its third season.

Just next door, the Guthrie Theater has just opened its new three-stage building. »

Read the entire editorial at the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

June Park Board Meeting items of interest

For those who are interested here are some highlights of what has happened at the last 2 MPRB meetings and FYI they are not meeting on July 5th. During the June 7th meeting the most interesting items were the hiring of PDI for a contact of up to $15,000 to give the superintendent a review and Carol Pass from East Phillips coming in give credit to those who helped get East Phillips Park on the bonding bill.

The review is expected to be done by September 1, 2006 ( to cover the Superintendent’s last 2 1/2 years of work) with a work plan to last until Sept. 1, 2007 to be determined at that time. His work performance toward the work plan will then be review in Sept. of 2007 at which time it will be decided whether or not to offer a contract extension. If he is not asked to continue on this would leave a mere 4 months to hire a replacement. There was a lengthy discussion over extending the contract right then and there to cover the needed extra months to hire a replacement which led to that issue being tabled. All of this because the current board President Jon Olson and Superintendent Gurban did not bother to create work plans for the superintendent during the last 3 years.

Ms Pass gave a special thanks to Mary Ann Campo ( legislative lobbyist) and the many folks who helped make East Phillips Park go from a second tier legislative agenda item to being a reality. Carol may give out credit to many but she was the driving force behind this issue.

The June 21st meeting was interesting in just a few small details. The final resolution to purchase the Edison Youth Hockey arena passed, the loan is for $710,000 at 4.99%. Then in the Admin and Finance committee they voted for the MPRB to execute an agreement with the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation ( the Loppet folks) to commit up to $150,000 in matching funds for private non-governmental funds they raise. This was a bit of an issue as questions were asked about where the money was to come from and GM Siggelkow explained that since the Wirth Winter Recreational area is part of the “enterprise” division and is also recreational they do have some “tax dollars” in that area that could be used. I am still waiting for this board to define what exactly it means to be part of the “enterprise” division? Both the Wirth Winter Rec area and the Neiman Sports Complex are in this division and yet neither is self supporting which I believe the golf courses and waterparks as well as the restaurants in the parks were suppose to be. I hope that there is a true distinction coming forward in the “Comprehensive Plan” that is being developed.

Still Watching…

St. Anthony Parkway Bike Trail

1st Park District Commissioner Walt Dziedzic has scheduled a Community Meeting to discuss the missing section of the bike trail along St. Anthony Parkway from Ulysses St NE to Stinson BLVD. The meeting will take place on Wednesday- June 28, 2006, 6:30pm at Mount Carmel Church 1701 St. Anthony Parkway in Northeast Minneapolis. This project was delayed after a contentious public hearing in 2005 over this section of the trail.

For more information contact the following Park Board staff:
Tim Brown, 612-230-6466 tbrown@minneapolisparks.org or
Emily Ero-Phillips, 612-230-6468 eero-phillips@minneapolisparks.org

Minneapolis Issues List: For Rybak: Too darn hot?

Judith Martin, president of the Minneapolis Planning Commission, is featured in the May 29 issue of the Downtown Journal, www.skywaynews.net/articles/2006/05/30/hot_dish01.txt . She’s been president for eight of the 15 years she’s served, but Mayor Rybak has decided not to reappoint her to another term. His explanation? He wants “new voices.”

Martin is a geography professor and chair of the University of Minnesota’s Urban Studies Program, so no one can say she doesn’t know her stuff. But she has also lived for 24 years on Nicollet Island.

This is where some heat glow begins. The Planning Commission deals with street vacations. The current proposed location for the DeLaSalle Stadium would necessitate closing (vacating) Grove Street. This is why last month the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota named Grove Street to its list of the state’s Ten Most Endangered Historic Places for the second year. It’s a historic street that existed for almost half a century before DeLaSalle was founded.

Judith Martin lives on Grove Street. If, as a Planning Commission member, she had abstained from voting on an issue where she had a clear interest, where would that have put City Council President Barb Johnson in subsequent DeLaSalle votes? After all, President Johnson is a board trustee of DeLaSalle.

In fact, President Johnson plays a dual role, as she represents both the proposer (DeLaSalle) and the regulatory body (Minneapolis), whenever she votes on DeLaSalle matters before the city.

Unlike CM Cam Gordon, who abstained from a vote because his son had been accepted to DeLaSalle, Pres. Johnson has voted twice in the last six months on DeLaSalle matters before the city.

But a move to abstain by Judith Martin because of her Nicollet Island connection would have increased the heat on Pres. Johnson. For no matter what the law may say regarding these individuals’ legal status regarding conflicts of interest, common sense and fairness say they each would undeniably have a vested interest.

Now we’ll never know how that showdown may have played out.

Did Mayor Rybak possibly have concerns about the potential church/state conflict that the street vacation would set up? When a street is vacated, by law ownership of half of the property on each side of the vacated street goes to the adjacent property owner.

In this instance, that would mean the city would transfer land ownership to a religious body (Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis) in clear violation of Article 13, Sec. 2 of the Minnesota Constitution. For, while a governmental body may sell land to a religous body at fair market value, “giving” the land away most likely sets the city up for a lawsuit over the constitutionality of such a move — one hot issue.

Certainly there were multiple aspects to Mayor Rybak’s decision. His new Planning Commission appointments, Lara Norkus-Crampton and Lauren Huyhn, have represented opposing positions on Lake Calhoun development, but both represent the same general Southwest area of the city. That area includes Uptown, where issues of development scale, density and height are definitely hot, hot, hot.

Yet with the qualifications Judith Martin brings to the job, there have to be considerations beyond the palid expanation of wanting “new voices.”

Mayor Rybak may have switched some of the players, but the realities have not changed: the heat of conflicts remains as surely as does the heat of the Minneapolis summer.

Christine Viken
Stevens Square/Loring Heights
–which is my home, but I own private property (not Parkland) on Nicollet Island, on which I pay the same property taxes as all owners do whether or not they live on land owned by the Park Board, with the exception of DeLaSalle, which is a tax-exempt religious entity.

Star Tribune Letters: Bigger than Nicollet Island

In the June 6 Star Tribune online edition, Arlene Fried writes:

When Garrison Keillor canceled his appearance at the recent River Roots Revue fundraiser, he dismissed the DeLaSalle stadium controversy as a local land-use issue.

If all land-use controversies were considered local and of concern only to those immediately impacted, then there would be no organizations such as the Trust for Historic Preservation, the Nature Conservancy or the Trust for Public Land.

I am glad that my contributions to these organizations support causes I believe to be important, even though they may be in areas of the country (or world) far from my own Bryn Mawr neighborhood. And I believe the DeLaSalle stadium issue goes far beyond the confines of Nicollet Island.

ARLENE FRIED, MINNEAPOLIS