Monthly Archives: February 2007

Debate over the Wave condo project rolls on

By Michelle Bruch

Developers facing mounting opposition

Developers of the Wave condominium project now have three weeks before their option to purchase the riverfront site expires.

In the past two years, the development has changed hands and undergone an archaeological dig, a redesign and an environmental review. Now the project may halt altogether if the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board decides not to extend the purchase option. Downtown Journal

MPRB Highlights from 2-21-2007

Just some more information about Wednesday nights marathon MPRB meeting ( I gave up at 8:35 after a grueling 4+ hours).

The Wave:

( some background)
The MPRB ( Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board) ended up with the parcel after a lawsuit .
The legislature put lots of conditions on how the proceeds ( which turned out to belong to the state ) could be utilized if it is sold.
The MPRB entered into a purchase agreement that did not even take into account the caveats they had listed in their request for proposal on the property.

According to public testimony ( not normally done in a study session) the project failed 11 of 12 criteria in the EAW
and in a feisty 2 minute presentation CM Goodman summed it up in 3 points…
1) The Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association ( DMNA ) voted against the project
2) Voting against an EIS at the city council does not mean approval of the project
3) The project still has the HPC and the Planning Committee to get through

I wish that this meant the project wouldn’t happen but I can think of another project that other than planning has been through exactly this same scenario and is currently being battled in court. Can the MPRB afford to be in another lawsuit?

This is parkland and the fact that there were condos going up all around the property should have had some forward thinking member of the board saying….hey, we need a park for all of these folks, rather than looking at the short term gain of some money ( which turns out belonged to the state) and parking. Minneapolis parkland should not be utilized as a site supply for developers.

The Wirth Statues etc…

The statues may be able to be repaired as all pieces have been recovered (thank you to the scrap yards who helped the police out on this )
The possibly moonlighting school liaison officer did not come up in Chief Johnson’s report.
The Wirth House fireplace remodel… apparently the “new” fireplace is in at the HISTORIC home. No word on if the original metalwork and mantelpiece will be restored and refitted. Odd that a building that was “referred to planning and never brought forward due to lack of funds ” is undergoing a remodel.

Northeast parks public hearing outcomes….

Sheridan Memorial Park ( planned name, referred to as the Water ST Park by the MPRB) was approved in planning and now goes forward to the full board for approval. This river front park which will feature an “All Wars Memorial” will need private donations to fund the maintenance of the memorial. I know that the Sheridan Neighborhood Organization ( SNO ) would appreciate everyone’s help in getting the first park for their neighborhood off the ground.

Gluek Park ( On Marshall ST next to the Sample Room)

The neighbors were not thrilled with this plan and even Commissioner Olson was less than impressed with the look of the shelter. The Bottineau Neighborhood Community Organizer Chris Gams offered the neighborhood’s suggestion that since the plan did not have enough money for pervious pavers that for improved water quality and for flexibility with the funds they would prefer that the bituminous trail be taken out of the plan and a better shelter and other features be funded instead. This plan was referred back to staff to take back to the community.

Crown Hydro:

In a surprise agenda move reminiscent of the appointing of Jon Gurban as Interim Superintendent in 2003 the park board passed the following resolution…

“The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) authorizes Emmons & Oliver Resources to produce a report evaluating the feasibility of entering into a lease with Crown Hydro, L.L.C. ( Crown) for the construction and operation of a hydroelectric plant on MPRB land adjacent to the Mississippi River as proposed by Crown. The report shall document the issues and procedures the MPRB is required to consider before entering into the lease with Crown. MPRB staff is authorized to enter into two agreements:

1) A time and materials contract with Emmons & Oliver Resources not to exceed $20,000, and
2) An Agreement with Crown to reimburse the MPRB for all contract payments made to Emmons & Oliver Resources including costs incurred by MPRB
staff and attorneys related to the Crown project.

The Staff shall not enter into the contract with Emmons & Oliver Resources until the agreement with Crown is executed.

This action by the MPRB does not obligate the MPRB to enter into the proposed lease Agreement with Crown and/or is a promise to enter into any future Agreement with Crown.”

The discussion about why Crown was added to the agenda after the commissioner packets were mailed and why some commissioners found out that the project would be added by receiving an e-mail from Crown’s representatives was discussed at length. Commissioner Olson’s explanation was creative. When called upon during this discussion the resolution was introduced by Commissioner Kummer and seconded by Commissioner Olson.

During the ensuing discussion Commissioner Dziedzic asked who wrote the resolution (not exactly the kind of statement usually prepared by Commissioner Kummer) and Brian Rice stated that he had. Commissioner Dziedzic then asked Mr. Rice who had asked him to write the resolution. This is when Commissioner Olson jumped back into the fray and took credit for asking Mr. Rice to write a resolution. More questions were asked as to where Emmons and Oliver Resources came from and Mr. Rice noted that it was his firm that had contacted them and that was why there was a bound proposal for the commissioners including an estimate for $60,000 for Emmons and Oliver Resources to do an EAW for the site.

Commissioner Young was quick to point out that if this group was going to have a $60,000 contract it would have to go through an RFP ( request for proposal ) and pointed out that Commissioner Dziedzic was always touting that the MPRB used a fair bidding system for contracts.

Commissioner Merrill Anderson was very eloquent in stating that if the MPRB did not pay for the study it would not be interpreted by the public as independent.

The vote was…

Nays Dziedzic, Merrill-Anderson and Young. Ayes Olson, Kummer, Nordyke, Vreeland, Nordstrom and Fine.

Board Meeting

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissisoners Meeting

Commissioners Walt Dziedzic, Bob Fine, Carol Kummer, Mary Merrill Anderson, Tom Nordyke, Tracy Nordstrom, Scott Vreeland, Annie Young and President Jon Olson

Date: 3/21/2007
Time: 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Type: Regular
Location: MPRB Administrative Offices, Board Room Suite 255
Address: 2117 West River Road

Park Board Agenda

Board Meeting

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissisoners Meeting

Commissioners Walt Dziedzic, Bob Fine, Carol Kummer, Mary Merrill Anderson, Tom Nordyke, Tracy Nordstrom, Scott Vreeland, Annie Young and President Jon Olson

Date: 3/7/2007
Time: 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Type: Regular
Location: MPRB Administrative Offices, Board Room Suite 255
Address: 2117 West River Road

Park Board Agenda

Council Member Lisa Goodman calls the Wave a Horrible Idea

Shown here in this video clip at the February 15 Zoning & Planning discussion, which concluded the Wave project did not need an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), is Council Member Lisa Goodman taking a stand against the too-tall, too-large Wave riverfront condo development.

The project is proposed by Omni Investment Properties for the site of the former Fuji-Ya restaurant. The site, next to St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River, is owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and is within the St. Anthony Falls Historic District.

Downtown Journal: City Council should cherish consistency and integrity along with alleys

Downtown voices: City Council should cherish consistency and integrity along with alleys

In her OpEd published in the Downtown Journal, Christine Viken writes:

The City Council was right last month to protect an historic alley from a proposed development in Downtown’s historic Warehouse District. As Council Member Gary Schiff expressed it to the Zoning and Planning Committee he chairs: “The importance of the alley is … in setting the tone and the feel of the streets, and the size and the scale of the pedestrian environment; and it’s something very important to the history of Minneapolis … and it’s something we should keep and cherish.”

But if City Council members now recognize their duty to “keep and cherish” elements of national historic districts like alleys, why only four months earlier did they deny the same protection to an historic street?

Last September, the Council reversed a unanimous Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission decision, opening the door for DeLaSalle High School to destroy half the length of Grove Street on Nicollet Island in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District.

Both public rights-of-way – the Warehouse District alley, bisecting Block 34 of the 1855 plat for the town of Minneapolis, and Grove Street, part of Nicollet Island’s original and intact 1866 street grid – contribute to the cultural landscapes of Downtown’s two national historic districts. Yet the Council acted to save the alley and abandon the street.

Schiff told the Council that alleys “help explain how transportation and commerce came together in the early parts of the city’s history and made us such an economic powerhouse.” But Schiff belittled historic Grove Street, from the City Council dais and in the Downtown Journal, as a mere “alignment” that’s somehow too abstract to be preserved.

He’s wrong. Grove Street, in continuous use for 140 years, is quite real, with as much or more to tell about the city’s history as any alley. The reasons to preserve it are straightforward and compelling. Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, put it plainly: “This proposal to close and remove a significant portion of Grove Street will forever compromise the historic character and integrity of Nicollet Island and the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, disrupting Nicollet Island’s street grid, traffic and pedestrian movement patterns, and the historic and visual relationship between the district and the Mississippi riverfront.”

Why did the City Council reject one developer’s project in order to preserve an alley but approve another developer’s project that will destroy an historic street? Maybe it depends on where, in the City Council chamber, the developers sit.

As with most projects, representatives of the Warehouse District developers sat in the public audience area, where they watched as the Council rejected their appeal of Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) rulings against their project.

Contrast that with the Council’s deliberations on the proposal to build on top of historic Grove Street, during which representatives of the developer could be found in their assigned seats on the City Council dais. It’s true: Council President Barbara Johnson and City Attorney Jay Heffern also sit on DeLaSalle’s board of trustees. Johnson even went so far as to vote, as a representative of the citizens of Minneapolis, in favor of the appeal she was party to filing, as an officer on the developer’s board.

At an HPC hearing last year, Chairperson Philip Koski questioned DeLaSalle’s claim that “there are no reasonable alternative sites” for their stadium. “Instead of ‘reasonable,'” Koski said, “I might say ‘political.'”

Arbitrary and inconsistent decisions damage more than historic districts. They also harm citizens’ perception of fairness in local government. Having taken a stand to preserve historic alleys, the City Council should now turn its attention to preserving historic streets – and its own integrity.

The original opinion piece can be found at the Downtown Journal website.

Christine Viken, owns a bed and breakfast in Stevens Square/Loring Heights. She has been involved in efforts to fight the proposed athletic field on Nicollet Island for more than two years and is now a property owner on Nicollet Island.

Statues show up at recycling center — in pieces

Two men, 1 woman charged after alleged attempt to sell pieces of bronze figures as scrap metal
Pioneer Press

To those who meandered through Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis, the discovery of six lifelike bronze sculptures was a surprise and delight. For two men and a woman, the three-dimensional art looked like little more than easy money, police allege. Pioneer Press