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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE JUNE 6 PARK BOARD MEETING

Excerpted from the June 18, 2007, Southwest Journal By Mary O’Regan

Lake Calhoun facelift

The Park and Recreation Board has decided to meet with neighborhood groups before finalizing the Lake Calhoun Master Plan. The proposal has been in the works for over a decade, with many residents worried about the effect of new structures around the lake. “The less stuff around the lake, the better,” Park Board Commissioner Scott Vreeland said at the June 6 board meeting. “It really needs to be protected as much as possible.” The overall scale of the project has been modified and reduced, but it still includes a sailing refectory, traffic flow improvements and bank restoration.

Superintendent Gurban’s new contract

Park Board members discussed the terms of Superintendent Jon Gurban’s new three-year contract at the June 6 board meeting. The contract is still in draft form, but as it stands Gurban would receive an annual salary of $139,817, at least 30 days of vacation each year, a $500 monthly car allowance and 10 days for professional development annually. He would also be expected to provide the board with an annual work plan based on a list of priorities that the board creates. Gurban’s proposed car allowance was one of the most contested parts of the contract. Commissioner Kummer felt that it was unfair to award an allowance to the superintendent when no other employees receive the same level of compensation. Because Gurban drives so much, Commissioner Merrill Anderson pointed out, his mileage would be at least that amount. Commissioner Nordstrom suggested leasing a hybrid car, but the board agreed that it would be too expensive.

The board expects to reach a final decision on the terms of the contract before the end of June

MORE CONSTRUCTION PLANNED FOR PARADE

Construction at Parade continues. Park Watch has learned through the Data Practices Act that Superintendent Gurban is planning additional construction at Parade. Park Board staff has submitted plans for review by the city for a new road which will bisect the Parade site just east of the new Parade Stadium. Because the road is on Park Board property, it is a Park Board project using Park Board funds, but Park Watch has seen no financial estimates for this project nor has it learned how it will be funded. Park Watch has heard that construction could begin as early as this summer.

Superintendent Gurban is again violating Park Board ordinances and process by circumventing the Park Board’s own legal framework. With this project, he is circumventing the Park Board’s committee process, the Park Board’s approval process and citizen input/participation.

There are many questions to be answered before this project moves ahead. And with the Park Board’s Comprehensive Plan still forthcoming, there should be a Park Board moratorium on this project, which is just one component of Superintendent Gurban’s grandiose plans for a $50,000,000 sports complex at Parade. Because the Board has not reviewed or approved the concept of a $50,000,000 sports complex at Parade, there should also be a moratorium on the distribution of the brochure promoting the unapproved sports complex.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

Southwest Journal: Parks notebook

From the Southwest Journal Parks Notebook by Mary O’Regan and Dylan Thomas

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Park Board superintendent reelected

On May 16, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted to reelect Superintendent Jon Gurban, extending his term another three years. Park Board Commissioner Annie Young, who did not support Gurban’s initial election in 2003, proposed that his new contract include an annual performance review and work plan.

The board compromised and will include her suggestions in the negotiations with Park Board President Jon Olson, but not in Gurban’s contract. Young also asked that the board review his contract before its presentation to the superintendent, but her request was denied.

Gurban’s reelection took place in the wake of a civil liberties controversy. Arlene Fried, co-founder of the citizen group Minneapolis Park Watch, was cut off during the open forum section of the May 2 board meeting. She attempted to recite a list of 10 “poor management practices” under Gurban’s authority, but midway through the fifth item, Olson interrupted and moved on to the next issue without allowing Fried to continue. An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the Park Board – on Fried’s behalf – accusing them of violating her First Amendment rights.

During the open session at the May 16 meeting, Fried was allowed to speak, but by then the board had already reelected Gurban.

“Allowing me to speak after you have voted is an insult to me and to freedom of speech,” she told the board. “What you are conveying to your constituents is that what we have to say is not important.”

In this instance, Olson interrupted Fried’s speech multiple times and attempted to end early her allotted three minutes.

Don’t rain on my Parade Stadium

The city of Minneapolis has issued a stop-work order on the reconstruction of Parade Stadium, claiming that a conditional-use permit is needed for the project to continue. The Park and Recreation Board, which is overseeing the plan, insists that it has applied for all of the necessary permits and that the stop-work order was a mistake.

“I think that was a very regrettable piece of action by some uninformed bureaucrats,” said Superintendent Jon Gurban. “We have done much more work elsewhere in this city and never had a conditional-use permit.”

Construction on the stadium is continuing despite the city’s order. The $1.2 million project – which sits just west of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – includes stadium seating, grandstands, and a $48,000 electronic scoreboard. The Park Board and Public Works are in the process of designing a new road that will stretch from Dunwoody Boulevard to Kenwood Parkway, cutting through the stadium parking lot.

Though the board had received a proposal from the Minnesota Thunder about using the stadium for soccer games, Gurban insists that the site will exist primarily for youth sporting events.

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Also included in the Parks notebook were reports on the transfomation of Hidden Beach on Cedar Lake, and the buckthorn removal and follow-up work at Brownie Lake. To see these reports and the entire original notebook, visit the Southwest Journal website.

MPRB Regular Board Meeting

NOTE: The MPRB is meeting the 2nd Wednesday due to the July 4th Holiday on the first Wednesday and the Torchlight Parade on the third Wednesday.

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: 7/11/2007
Time: 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Type: Regular
Location: MPRB Administrative Offices, Board Room Suite 255
Address: 2117 West River Road Minneapolis

Park Board Agenda

A Heads-Up for the June 6, 2007 Minneapolis park board meeting

There will be a 20 minute Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board study session on the CALHOUN MASTER PLAN UPDATE beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the Minnehaha Room on the second floor of the MPRB Headquarters Building at 2117 W. River Road prior to the regular Board meeting this Wednesday. This meeting is open to the public.

Also on the study session agenda will be the Grand Rounds Missing Link
and Net Debt Bonding from State.

The Superintendent’s Review Committee will meet at 7:15 p.m. for a review of RECOMMENDED TERMS FOR THE SUPERINTENDENT’S NEW CONTRACT. This meeting will be in the Board room and also is open to the public. The regular MPRB meeting will be at 5:00 p.m.

If you have any questions, you can call the Park Board at 230-6400.