Monthly Archives: April 2007

Star Tribune: DeLaSalle design is improved, but concerns remain

In a Star Tribune Commentary subtitled “A new design for athletic fields on Nicollet Island in Minneapolis doesn’t meet preservationists’ objections but softens the impact on the landscape” Linda Mack writes:

Minneapolis architect Tom Meyer, famed for his award-winning Mill City Museum, stepped into the fray when he agreed to redesign the controversial football stadium that DeLaSalle High School wants to build on Nicollet Island.

The debate over the stadium has simmered for three years, since the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board agreed to the Catholic school’s desire for athletic fields adjacent to its classrooms.

The many-headed fracas has touched on such big issues as church and state, parks funding, youth athletics, environmental and neighborhood impacts.

The overarching one: Is historic Nicollet Island the place to build a sports facility?


That’s really the crucial question, indeed. Ms. Mack continues:

Preservationists, including the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, have said no, that it would irreparably harm the island’s historic character.

On the opposites are those least qualified to make such a judgement. Most elected officials doing so have obvious conflicts of interest but refuse to recuse themselves from votes on the matter. Still:

The Park Board, DeLaSalle officials and the city of Minneapolis have said yes.
</blockquote.

Read the entire Commentary at the Star Tribune website.

AN EVALUATION OF SUPERINTENDENT JON GURBAN

Or
10 Reasons Why The MPRB Needs A New Superintendent

MPRB Superintendent Jon Gurbans contract expires at the end of this year. Instead of conducting a search for a new superintendent, it is expected that at the May 16 Park Board meeting the Park Board is going to rehire Gurban for another three years in spite of the fact that his leadership has been problematic.

So far, there has been no indication that the public will have any opportunity to comment on the rehiring. It will be done very quickly and without public input. The following 10 examples are indications of the Park Boards administrative dysfunction and poor management practices under Superintendent Gurban:

  1. Failing to acknowledge and analyze unsuccessful entrepreneurial projects which have resulted in costly lawsuits and/or lost taxpayers dollars, i.e. the Nicollet Island Pavillion, the Fuji-ya/Wave site and, most significantly, the Naegele skatepark which has cost taxpayers at least $3.1 million.
  2. Failing to provide quarterly financial statements to the commissioners and the public.
  3. Circumventing the Park Boards legal framework by developing plans for costly projects without Board direction or approval, i.e. the mega-million dollar Parade event center.
  4. Failing to comply with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act by not honoring all requests for public information.
  5. Withholding of information from the commissioners and the public, i.e. the Minnesota Thunder Soccer Teams proposed contract.
  6. Awarding of contracts to selected vendors without issuing requests for proposals (RFPs) as required, i.e. the study for Crown Hydro.
  7. Suppressing criticism of Superintendent Gurban and his administration by excluding from the public record letters that are critical.
  8. Circumventing Park Board laws and procedures by attempting to bypass mandated Citizen Advisory Committees, i.e. Parade Stadium.
  9. Violating open meeting laws.
  10. Failing to respond to citizen correspondence.

The above 10 examples of bad government are reasons why Superintendent Gurban should not be rehired.

The most important thing that our Park Board Commissioners are elected to do is to provide for their constituents a superintendent whose tenure will clearly reflect the hallmarks of good government: TRANSPARENCY, OPENNESS and ACCOUNTABILITY.

The administrative practices of our Park Board, since Superintendent Gurban has been in his leadership position, do not align with these good government guidelines. The poor management practices, as outlined above, are undermining the health of our park system.

It is time that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board recruit a new superintendent, one who can establish compliance with Park Board ordinances and procedures and adhere to the guidelines of transparency, openness and accountability.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Needs a Superintendent Who Will:

  • Be open and transparent in all of his communications with the Board and the public.
  • Acknowledge and analyze unsuccessful entrepreneurial projects.
  • Provide quarterly financial statements to the Board.
  • Comply with the Minnesota Government Data practices Act by providing requested public information.
  • Work within the Park Boards legal framework and develop plans for major projects only when directed to do so by the Board.
  • Issue requests for proposals (RFPs) as required.
  • Include in the record all letters from the public regardless of whether they are complimentary or critical.
  • Take the initiative to convene mandated Citizen Advisory Committees without citizens having to demand them.
  • Comply with open meeting laws.
  • Respond promptly to all citizen correspondence.

TAKE A STAND FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT and set aside a few minutes to contact our Park Board commissioners. Tell them that its time to recruit a new superintendent.

URGE THEM TO VOTE ON MAY 16 TO INITIATE A SEARCH FOR A NEW MPRB SUPERINTENDANT who respects good government and to:

DEFER EXTENDING MR. GURBANS CONTRACT AT THIS TIME!

Mary Merrill Anderson
mmerrillanderson@minneapolisparks.org
(at Large) 612-230-6443 ext 7
M. Annie Young
ayoung@minneapolisparks.org
(at Large) 612-230-6443 ext 9
Tom Nordyke
tnordyke@minneapolisparks.org
(at Large) 612-230-6443 ext 8
Walt Dziedzic (District 1) 612-230-6443 ext 1
Jon Olson (District 2) 612-230-6443 ext 2
Scott Vreeland
svreeland@minneapolisparks.org
(District 3) 612-230-6443 ext 3
Tracy Nordstrom
tnordstrom@minneapolisparks.org
(District 4) 612-230-6443 ext 4
Carole A. Kummer
ckummer@minneapolisparks.org
(District 5) 612-230-6443 ext 5
Bob Fine
bfine@minnepolisparks.org
(District 6) 612-230-6443 ext 6

Park Dedication Fee

The MPRB will be holding a public hearing on Wednesday May 2nd at 5:30 pm to hear public testimony regarding the proposed ordinance. The Draft Ordinance is posted below. The following are some portions that have become contentious.
PB 14-5 (a)- fee on affordable housing
PB 14-5 (c) -what the fee can be used for
PB 14-7 – where the fee can be used
The new St. Paul Ordinance is attached as well.

The largest issue being where the funds can be used. As proposed for example, if there is new construction in North or Northeast the funding could be used to build onto the athletic complex at Neiman. The intent is to create parkland near the new development, or if there is nearby parkland to fund major improvements.

At least one City Council Member has put voice to the opinion that affordable housing is government subsidized and should not be subject to the fee.

The Proposed Minneapolis Ordinance….

AN ORDINANCE
(By Park Commissioner _________________)
AMENDING THE MINNEAPOLIS PARK AND RECREATION BOARD CODE OF ORDINANCES BY CREATING A NEW CHAPTER 14 REQUIRING THE DEDICATION OF LAND, OR PAYMENT OF CASH IN LIEU OF A LAND DEDICATION, WHEN DEVELOPING OR REDEVELOPING PARCELS OF LAND FOR RESIDENTIAL HOUSING WHICH WILL INCREASE THE NUMBER OF HOUSING UNITS ON THAT PARCEL OF LAND, AND ESTABLISHING THE POLICY AND PROCEDURES FOR THESE NEW REQUIREMENTS. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board of the City of Minneapolis does hereby ordain: Section 1. That the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Code of Ordinances is hereby amended by adding the following new Chapter 14 to read as follows:

CHAPTER 14 PARK DEDICATION. PB14-1. Findings and Purpose. The Park Board finds that the preservation, accessibility and enjoyment of parks, recreational facilities, playgrounds, trails, natural areas, and open space within the City are a vital and integral part of the quality of life of its citizens and that the creation of multiple new housing units creates a demand on the current park resources beyond its limits, thereby requiring that the Park Board plan for the increased demand on park resources caused by increased density in housing in particular parts of the city.

The Park Board finds that the need for such parks, recreational facilities, playgrounds, trails, natural areas, and open spaces is directly related to the density and intensity of population and development permitted and allowed within the City. New urban development results in increased population, increased intensity of use of and greater demands for such public areas and facilities in particular parts of the city where new development occurs.

The Park Board finds that new housing developments with increased density and use will result in a demand for new park facilities and land and, in some cases, additional housing units in certain other areas of the city will increase use, thus resulting in the deterioration of existing parks land and facilities and will diminish the quality of the parks and the environment for future generations.

The Park Board finds that it is necessary and in the public interest to provide new or reconstructed parks, trails and other public spaces for the citizens of the City. The necessity for additional public park facilities is caused by increased development occurring within the City. The Park Board finds that it is appropriate that new residents share the cost of rebuilding or providing new parks to accommodate them.

The Park Board finds that as of the end of November 2006, there were 178,258 housing units in the City and there are a total of 5,147 acres of parkland in the city limits and 1,782 of those acres are devoted solely to neighborhood parks.

The Park Board further finds that the financial burden of creating additional parks, recreational facilities, playgrounds, trails, wetlands and open spaces should not be placed entirely upon the general property tax levy. Rather, new housing development should contribute financially to and assist in paying the cost associated with creating additional public parks or recreation facilities in the proportion that the existing number of housing units bears to the amount of land currently devoted to neighborhood parks.

The Park Board also finds that parks, recreation facilities, playgrounds, trails, wetlands, and open space contribute many benefits that are in the public interest.

The Park Board hereby finds that the requirements of this ordinance are necessary, proportionate, fair and reasonable with respect to the need created by new residential development and is adopted pursuant to and consistent with the authority granted by Laws of Minnesota 2006, Chapter 269, Section 2 and Minnesota Statutes Section 462.358.

PB14-2. Definitions. Unless otherwise indicated by the context, for the purposes of this Chapter, the following terms have the meanings given.

Affordable Housing Units means housing units whose annual rental cost or mortgage payments are less than or equal to one third (33.3%) of the gross income of households earning less than one-half (50%) of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan median income (“MMI”).

City means the City of Minneapolis. Communities means those certain eleven (11) distinct officially recognized areas of the City of Minneapolis that have historically been designated to have neighborhoods in common.

Comprehensive plan means the system wide plan adopted by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the acquisition, development or redevelopment of parks, recreational facilities, playgrounds, trails, wetlands or open spaces and includes any specific plan that has been adopted by the Park Board.

Developer means any natural person, corporation or legal entity that owns land who seeks to improve property in a manner that would add housing units to the property and includes any owner and subdivider.

Districts means the three geographical districts as organized by the Park Board to serve distinct neighborhoods and communities.

Historic area means an area which has significant historic meaning or value to the city or state.

Land means real property upon which an owner, developer or subdivider plans to add additional housing units.

Natural areas means land which has not been subject to development or are areas designated as having significant or unique ecological or wildlife habitat qualities or features.

Neighborhood means those certain eighty-one (81) officially recognized distinct areas of the City of Minneapolis that have historically been designated to have a common geographic location.

Open space means land, bodies of water, rivers or streams that are owned in fee or through easements whose acreage does not primarily consist of structures or facilities and can include natural areas.

Park Board means the Park and Recreation Board of the City of Minneapolis.

Parks means any land owned or proposed to be owned by the Park Board within or outside the corporation limits of the City of Minneapolis used for recreational purposes, playgrounds, trails, wetlands, or open space.

Recreational Facility means lands, buildings or structures that are designed primarily to facilitate recreational activities.

PB14-3. Parkland dedication requirements, residential developments (MPRB) .
(a) Generally. Pursuant to Laws of Minnesota 2006, Chapter 269, Section 2 and Minn. Stat. Sec. 462.358, as amended, and as otherwise provided below, the owners, subdividers, or developers of any land within the City who develop land for residential housing that will result in an increase in the number of housing units on the land shall convey or dedicate to the public use a reasonable portion of the land for public use for parks, recreation facilities, playgrounds, trails, wetlands, open space, or conservation purposes. This requirement shall not apply to development or redevelopment of land that does not increase the overall number of dwelling units on a particular parcel of land. The Park Board and City shall agree on the location and configuration of any land dedicated, taking into consideration the suitability and adaptability of the land for its intended purpose, future needs of the proposed development and following criteria:
(1) conformance with the Park Board’s and city’s adopted comprehensive plans and development or project and small area plans for neighborhoods or portions thereof of the city;
(2) areas identified for park, parkway, recreation, open space and/or conservation purposes that are included in the City or Park Board comprehensive plan;
(3) areas that connect existing components of the parks and open space network;
(4) areas adjacent to existing public parks, trails, or open space;
(5) areas representing significant landforms, native plant communities, sensitive habitat, or historical events;
(6) areas containing vegetation identified as endangered or threatened, or that provide habitat for animals identified as endangered, threatened, or of special concern under 15 U.S.C. §1531 et. seq. or Minn. Stat. §84.0895, and rules adopted under these respective laws;
(7) Areas that are under-served by parks due to distance to existing parks, population density, inadequate facilities or inadequate size of existing nearby parks;
(8) land to be dedicated shall be large enough for its intended purpose;
(9) land dedicated solely for non-Park Board owned roadways, stormwater retention, or utility purposes, or otherwise unsuitable for the purposes listed above, shall not be accepted under this chapter;
(10) dedicated land shall be accessible to the public served unless the Park Board determines that the dedicated land is an environmentally or ecologically sensitive area for which public access would be detrimental; and,
(11) parks reconstructed with park dedication funds.

PB14-4. Park dedication formula. For development or redevelopment of parcels of land for residential housing that will increase the number of dwelling units, the property owners, subdividers or developers of the parcel shall dedicate a minimum of one one hundredth (.01) acre of land per additional housing unit within the proposed development to a maximum of twelve (12%) of the total acreage of the land being developed, on a one time basis, for the purposes listed in PB14-3 of this section.

PB14-5. Park dedication fee option.
(a) A property owner, developer or subdivider who chooses not to or cannot abide by the requirements of PB14-3 and PB14-4 shall contribute $3,000.00 as a park dedication fee for each new non-affordable housing unit to be constructed to the Park Dedication Special Fund created under PB14-7. Affordable housing units shall be subject to a park dedication fee of $1,500.00 for each new housing unit to be constructed. All park dedication fees shall be adjusted for inflation every five (5) years according to the Key Economic Indicators of the _Bureau of Economic Analysis _ (http://www.bea.gov/) and the _U.S. Census Bureau_ (http://www.census.gov/) , provided to the _Economics and Statistics Administration_ (https://www.esa.doc.gov/) at the _U.S. Department of Commerce_ (http://home.doc.gov/) .

(b) The park dedication fees paid under this section shall be used for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction or improvement of parks, recreational facilities, playgrounds, trails, wetlands, and open space as set forth in the Park Board comprehensive plan. Park dedication fees paid under this section in lieu of a land dedication under PB14-3 and PB14-4 shall not be used for, nor waived for, a development’s plazas, terraces, gardens, yards, entries, walks, parking, recreation areas and planted areas that are meant to enhance the development, are part of the development, and for use by only the development.

(c) Park dedication funds paid under this section in lieu of a land dedication under PB14-3 may be used for all functions related to new development, rehabilitation, and acquisition of parks, recreational facilities, playgrounds, trails, wetlands and open space in the neighborhood, community, or district where the new housing unit is located. Park dedication fees may also be expended for such purposes including, but not limited to planning, design, cleanup, appraisals, surveys, legal work, project management, engineering, appropriate professional development, contract administration, public advisory process meetings, predesign, conceptual and schematic plans, design development, contract documents, bidding, related travel environmental impact statements and worksheets, demolition, removal and relocations, matching grant applications and grant administration, construction, contract closeout and warranty enforcement, as well as related expenses that are specifically related to a park project which has a nexus to the housing unit.

(d) There shall be an essential nexus between the fee imposed and the expenditures made from the Park Dedication Special Fund. The expenditure shall be specifically and uniquely attributable to the new housing units.

PB14-6. Parkland dedication; conveyance standards. Where the provisions of PB14-3 and PB14-4 apply, prior to final approval of a project that would result in additional housing units, the owners, developer or subdivider of the property shall provide the Park and Recreation Board with an acceptable abstract of title or registered property abstract for all land dedicated for park purposes, evidencing good and marketable title without liens or encumbrances of any kind except those encumbrances which the Park and Recreation Board has approved or required in connection with the proposed development or development. The foregoing abstracts shall evidence good and marketable title free and clear of any mortgages, liens, encumbrances, assessments and taxes. For any required dedication of land that is not formally dedicated to the Park and Recreation Board, the landowner shall record all deeds for conveyance of the property to the Park and Recreation Board prior to or at the same time as the recording the final plat.

PB14-7. Park Dedication Special Fund created. There is hereby established a Park Board park development special fund. All funds collected pursuant to the park dedication process by the City shall be immediately deposited in the “park development special fund” which shall be used solely for the acquisition, development, redevelopment or improvement of lands or facilities dedicated to public use as parks, recreational facilities, playgrounds, trails, wetlands or open space purposes. Such funds must be collected by the City prior to issuance of a building permit. The City shall notify the Park Board of the proposed development upon submittal by the developer of the first concept plan for the proposed project. Funds collected under this section must be accounted for separately, and used solely within the city recognized neighborhood, community or district where the new housing units are located or in a regional park as defined by Minn. Stat. §473.121, subdivision 14 located within the Park Board’s jurisdiction that are proximate to the new housing units. Funds may also be partially used in other parks that serve the community where the development occurs. Such parks would include those parks that serve a city wide purpose, such as an athletic complex. Such funds may not be used for ongoing operations or maintenance.

PB14-8. Approval of Expenditures; Conditions of Approval. All expenditures from the park development special fund shall be approved by the Park Board and the City consistent with the Park Board’s comprehensive plan and citizen advisory committee process. All park dedication fees shall be paid as a condition of final City approval of a housing project, except, when approved by the City, in the case of a development or redevelopment constructed in “phases,” funds otherwise required for each construction phase of the development or redevelopment shall be collected prior to obtaining the first building permit for that phase. Payments made to satisfy the requirements of this section shall be made separately from any payments for building permits or any other payment. Funds shall accrue in Park Board park dedication accounts in order to more efficiently provide for acquisitions, development or rehabilitation.

PB14-9. Adherence to Policies. All parks developed must closely adhere to the designations, definitions, and description in all Park Board official policies and ordinances, as may be revised from time to time by the Park Board and the Park Board’s comprehensive planning process. Section 2. That this ordinance shall take effect and be in force as of ­­­­­­­­­­­ day after the last publication by the the city of Minneapolis and the Park Board and applies to all permits issued for housing units after that date. Passed and adopted on this _____ day of ___________________, 2006. [insert signature blocks]

st_paul_park_fee_ordinance.pdf

Water stewardship? Not on the Park Board

The April 22 Star Tribune Letter of the Day describes how the Park Board are poor stewards of the Mississippi River water quality:

» • While effectively turning a formerly public facility, the park pavilion on Nicollet Island, over to private management, the Park Board has constructed or allowed the private group to construct a private paved parking lot and a paved path behind the building draining directly into the river.

• To counteract slippery streets from the recent one-day snow, the authorities (Park Board or city?) dumped such massive amounts of salt that caked salt patches are still visible (check out approaches to the Hennepin Avenue bridge), waiting for a heavy rain to drain into the river.

• Finally, their proposed facility on Nicollet Island will replace a grass field and a grassy hill with 32 trees with an artificial-turf-surfaced stadium along with further hard-surfaced construction.

Good private practices would be helpful, but bad public practices are unconscionable.

REP. PHYLLIS KAHN, DFL-MINNEAPOLIS; NICOLLET ISLAND RESIDENT «

To read the full letter, visit the Star Tribune website.

Board Meeting

Details for
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: 5/2/2007
Time: 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Type: Regular
Location: MPRB Administrative Offices, Board Room Suite 255
Address: 2117 West River Road

There will be a public hearing regarding the Park Dedication Fee at this meeting. NOTE: This has been postponed until the May 16th meeting.

Park Board Agenda

Work Begins at Parade Stadium


Photo courtesy of Dorothy Childers.

Construction for the new Parade Stadium started on Monday, April 2. There’s a lot of heavy equipment at work moving mountains of dirt. I’ve been told that the lighting and installation of the artificial turf is scheduled to be completed by July 4. I assume that there is some urgency because, according to information Park Watch acquired through the Data Practices Act, June 30 is the date that the $200,000 NFL field grant expires. As of this posting, MPRB Superintendent Jon Gurban still has not convened a Citizens Advisory Committee as mandated by Park Board Ordinance 99-101. And now I am wondering if the Park Board has a building permit. When I was at the site, I did not see any permit postings. Did the Park Board forget to apply for a building permit?
WorkBeginsatParadeStadium.jpg

Paint It Beige

(with apologies to Jagger/Richards)

I see a blue bandshell and I want it painted beige
No colors anymore I want them to turn beige
I see town folks walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to build something beige until my budget goes
I see a line of cars headed for the stage
With dollars for parking and I want them beige
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a park land transfer it just happens every day
I cover up my ears – free speech makes me rage
I see the blue pavilion and it has been painted beige
My detractors should be locked away and kept in a cage
It’s not easy facing the public when your whole world is beige
I wanna see it painted, painted beige
Beige as slacks, beige as a couch
I wanna see the sun blotted by a brand new picnic shelter
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted beige

Yeah!

“Paint It Beige” Park Board parody by an anonymous donor

Board Meeting

Details for
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:
4/18/2007
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

Star Tribune Letter of the day: Wirth Park: Enjoy it — don't destroy it

Minneapolis resident Laura Wade writes, in part:

“I see and use, as do my neighbors, the great gift that was set aside for all of us in our amazing park system so many years ago.

But this year, there is something different. There is no wildlife. No deer, fox, owls, pileated woodpeckers, wild turkeys, indigo buntings, or occasional bald eagle or coyote. The ever-increasing skate-ski trails and the daily maintenance they require have had a profound effect on our once-abundant wildlife.

Since the Loppet ski race began five years ago, the south end of the park has been bulldozed to accommodate ski racers for one weekend a year. Cutting down 100-year-old trees and destroying native habitat for a two-day event is not what Loring and Wirth had in mind when they set aside this land to be maintained as a wilderness retreat within city limits.”

See the full letter on the Star Tribune website.