A HEADS UP FOR THE SEPTEMBER 19, 2007, PARK BOARD MEETING

Some selected highlights:

1. 4:00 P.M. STUDY SESSION. (Study sessions are not televised.) The Comprehensive Plan will be discussed and also, at 4:15, the Parade Stadium Conceptual Plan.

In the study session materials being provided to the Commissioners, Park Board staff claim that “There is no secret plan” for Parade; but, in fact, it WAS a secret plan until March of last year when Park Watch used the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act to request copies of the colored renderings of Superintendent Gurban’s plans for the $50,000,000 Parade athletic complex that the Commissioners or the public had not seen. See Judd Rietkerk’s memo
dated March 24, 2006, which explains the Data Practices request to the Commissioners.

At a study session on August 2, 2006, Superintendent Gurban displayed publicly for the FIRST TIME the colored renderings of his Parade “Vision” to the Commissioners and the public. (Again, this study session was not televised, but Park Watch was present.)

It is interesting to note that the amount billed by SSV for these Parade complex renderings was $22,000 with $5,000 being paid for by Mintahoe, a Park Board tenant. (Again, this information was obtained through documents acquired through a Data Practices request.)

In reviewing all of the memos and other documents gathered for the Commissioners by staff for the September 19 study session, I was disappointed to discover that staff did not provide a summary statement that clearly explains what really is happening at Parade. There’s a lot of information, but no coherent overview. So the study session fails to achieve the goal it was directed to accomplish. I also was disappointed to note errors in the documents provided.

2. 5:00 P.M. REGULAR MEETING

PARADE. The Board will be voting on whether to deny the citizens’ petition for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for Parade.

DELASALLE. Also on the agenda is the vote on the DeLaSalle land exchange, a complex land deal that will allow DeLaSalle to use valuable public parkland to build an athletic facility that the public will not be able to use as originally intended. Essentially, this land deal is a shell game designed to help DeLaSalle evade its agreement to pay fair value for the parkland that has been appraised at $2,000,000. If the Park Board votes to approve
this deal as it has been crafted, DeLaSalle gains its field at taxpayers’ expense and without providing any benefit to the public. So it’s a very good deal for DeLaSalle and a very bad deal for the taxpayers who own the land.

3. 7:00 P.M. PLANNING COMMITTEE. The Planning Committee is starting the process to gut the Citizen Participation ordinance. The changes proposed pretty much eliminate meaningful citizen participation. But then, of course, with Superintendent Gurban leading the Park Board, what can we expect? He’s failed to implement a Citizen Advisory Committee for the $1,240,000 artificial turf Parade athletic field; and when he’s been challenged by the public, his staff has to defend him with ridiculous
excuses.

Submitted by Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch