One of the next major issues that will be coming before the Minneapolis Park Board–and bears watching–is the resolution of the $945,000 lien against the Park Board. This was one of two topics that were presented to the Park Board commissioners at a Park Board study session on August 2 prior to the regular board meeting. The other topic was the Parade Stadium. (This study session was not televised or recorded; so there is no official record of what transpired at this meeting. But Park Watch was there and taking notes.)
Don Siggelkow, General Manager for Administration and Board Secretary, presented to the commissioners options for resolving the $945,000 debt owed by the Park Board for the negotiated settlement of a lawsuit over outstanding construction bills due the unpaid contractors for work done on the failed Naegele Skatepark at Fort Snelling. The skatepark, which had been leased in 2002 to a group known as the Fort LLC, was often referred to as the Naegle Skatepark because Robert Naegele III was the head of the company.
The skatepark was intended to be a profit-making enterprise for the Park Board; but, instead, was a costly failure, because the unpaid contractors sued the Park Board after the tenant abandoned the project before it was completed. Because there was no performance bond on the project, as there should have been, the Park Board, owner of the 201 Building, was left with a costly disaster–a vacant building, an expensive lawsuit and four years of accruing interest on $2,000,000 in bonds.
The Park Board’s investment to date for the 201 Building, land and other costs–not counting the lien–is $2,130,000. And that figure does not include various consultant fees, attorney fees, wasted staff time, operating costs and the interest on the bonds that were issued in 2002.
The options for the Park Board are to sell the building and recoup costs or keep the building and continue pouring even more taxpayers’ dollars into it. According to an article in the Star Tribune (January 17, 2006), Commissioner Bob Fine said that he wants to pay the money and keep the building for indoor soccer fields. This would be an extravagant and inappropriate option for a cash-strapped public body.
When GM Siggelkow was through with his briefing on the Fort, Superintendent Gurban stepped forward with a presentation on the Parade. He spoke of his vision for “reinventing” the Parade. Using a series of architectural renderings, he described a sprawling complex (bordered by the Sculpture Garden, the 301 Kenwood Condominiums, Northrop School and Parade Ice Arena) consisting of a field-house, a 5,000 to 7,000 seat stadium and an enormous edifice he referred to as an event center.
The event center is intended to be a profit-making enterprise for the Park Board, just as the 201 Building/Skatepark was. What an irony that even before the Park Board has recovered from one failed profit-making enterprise, Superintendent Gurban is already presenting plans for another so-called profit-making enterprise.