Monthly Archives: October 2007

State Finance Commissioner protects taxpayer interests in DeLaSalle Stadium Controversy

Reprinted from the Minnneapolis Issues Listserve with permission from Ms. FitzGerald

DeLaSalle and the MPRB will have to rewrite their Reciprocal Use
Agreement (RUA) to “conform to the requirements of the [State] Finance
department” according to MPRB General Manager Don Siggelkow. The MPRB
and DeLaSalle met with staff of the State Finance Commissioner in
September. The project needs the approval of the State Finance
Commissioner because state bond dollars were used to acquire 201 East
Island, the so-called “tennis court parcel” that DeLaSalle wants for the
athletic facility project.

Friends of the Riverfront learned last week that State Finance staff
proposed two options: 1) the MPRB sell the land to DeLaSalle and sale
proceeds would go back to the State, or 2) restructuring the deal so
that the MPRB leases the DLS land, DLS builds the stadium, and the MPRB
and DLS work out a Reciprocal Use Agreement for use of the stadium. The
MPRB has to have final control of the stadium. This would appear to
quash the Joint Programming Board giving DeLaSalle veto power over what
public events might be held at the facility. Additionally, the term of
the agreement would be reduced to 20 years, not to up-to-70-years in the
current RUA. The MPRB, and not DeLaSalle, would have the option to
renew. Finally, the question of DeLaSalle closing or relocating was
raised and a provision giving the MPRB the option to buy the land and
structures in the event the school closes was suggested.

Major changes may be in the works thanks to State staff advocating for
public interest and public use of taxpayer dollars. I am not clear on
the land sale process but I believe this would have to be approved in
court. I am also not sure if rewriting the RUA to give the MPRB
facility control would change the conditions in the the conditional use
permit and so, open another round of City hearings. Alternately, the
MPRB and DeLaSalle may decide to challenge the State Finance department.

In September, Friends of the Riverfront filed a new lawsuit on the
project. This lawsuit challenges the process by which the MPRB and the
Met Council swapped 201 East Island (the “tennis court parcel”) for
upriver land to be added to the regional park system. A decision in the
lawsuit contesting the City Council override of the Heritage
Preservation Commission’s two denials of certificates of appropriateness
is due at any time – no later than mid-December. When the Friends tried
to file suit in District Court, the judge dismissed the suit saying she
had no jurisdiction – that jurisdiction issue is on appeal but has not
been argued. So, there are three lawsuits pending.

Also in September, a group assumed to be DeLaSalle parents picketed on
the Hennepin Avenue Bridge with signs saying “Enough is Enough.”

City Planning has yet to issue its recommendations for implementing
conditional use permit conditions imposed by the City Council.
Ownership of the parking areas at 6 Eastman Avenue and the small lot off
DeLaSalle Drive remains unresolved. Construction permits have not been
issued as of this week.

On October 16th, DeLaSalle is holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the
proposed athletic facility. In September, MPRB Commissioners required
DeLaSalle to post a $250,000 bond to ensure that funds are available to
restore the parkland and the street should DeLaSalle start construction
and the court rules against the project.

On October 23rd, the HPC will hold a public hearing on the required
archeology plan. Either side has the option of appealing the HPC
decision – the appeal process to the City Council Z & P Committee and
the full Council takes almost two months (so December when the first of
the court decisions is due).

Shawne FitzGerald


When the Park Board’s revision of its Citizen Participation Ordinance was recently proposed, it was criticized by citizens for limiting and discouraging citizen participation. But Chairman Bob Fine and the Planning Committee did approve it at the October 3 Park Board meeting. It is on the agenda for full Board approval at the October 17 Park Board meeting.

Because of the reduction of citizen participation in the Park Board’s revised Citizen Participation Ordinance, four citizens from three neighborhoods spent considerable time in redoing the the ordinance so it would be respectful of citizen participation. This carefully crafted citizen friendly version was e-mailed to all of the Commissioners on October 12, with snail-mail letters delivered later in the day, with the hope that the Commissioners will seriously consider it at the October 17 meeting. A copy has been attached for your viewing pleasure.

Revised Citizen Participation Ord.pdf

Committee of the Whole Meeting

Details for
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Committee of the Whole Meeting

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

Date: 10/17/2007
Time: 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Type: Committee of the Whole
Location: MPRB Administrative Offices
Address: 2117 West River Road, Minneapolis

Park Board Agenda

Proposed Citizens Participation Ordinance

As justification for the ordinance revision, the claim has been that if they ( the MPRB) need to change a light bulb, they need to hold a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).
They have come up with a new DRAFT that you can visit, click on the staff report for the proposed ordinance.

I find the new version…… not so citizen participation friendly

First- they want to change it from all projects to major new or
significant redevelopment projects…. no definitions of significant
attached, like a cost or size…. nothing. This should be defined, as
most development in the parks will be redevelopment as the MPRB
acquisition fund seems to be tapped. As to repair or replacement this
ordinance is not applicable – unless the MPRB so deems it. So if the
MPRB chooses to tear down the Lake Harriet Bandshell to build a BIGGER
BETTER BEIGER BANDSHELL they do not need a CAC unless they say so.

Second -they only want citizen involvement after a project is
funded… I find this one hilarious. When meetings were delayed over
the bike trails along St Anthony Parkway over 2 years ago we were told
an agreement on the plan had to reached. Why? They had to have the
plans written practically in stone in order to submit them to the Met
Council just to get in line for funding. This would make a citizen
advisory committee a rubber stamp… oops I may have hit the nail on
the head there.

and my favorite…. notification will be reduced from 3 blocks to
1000 ft. This, by my not so technical measure of steps, makes it just a
little over a block. If the parks in our system are “advertised” as
being within 6 blocks of every resident in Minneapolis, shouldn’t we go
by that measure to make sure that folks are notified about changes to
the park closest to their home?

Committee of the Whole 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: 10/10/2007
Time: 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Type: Regular
Location: MPRB Administrative Offices, Board Room Suite 255
Address: 2117 West River Road

Park Board Agenda


It appears that this week’s meeting will not be the marathon meeting that the last one was. The 4:00 P.M. study session on Crown Hydro was cancelled. Here are a couple of highlights:

5:45 PLANNING COMMITTEE. There will be a vote to approve the Comprehensive Plan as revised after the public meetings. But more important is the vote to approve the badly revised CITIZEN PARTICIPATION ORDINANCE. The proposed revisions will limit citizen involvement to MAJOR new park facilities or SIGNIFICANT redevelopment of existing park facilities, and only AFTER the projects have been proposed and FUNDED. Appeal times are shortened and there will be fees for citizen appeals.

So, essentially, all meaningful citizen participation is being discouraged and/or eliminated. What this means is that in the not-so-distant future Superintendent Gurban will not have to bother with convening a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for his new road at Parade.

What I have observed is that when the Park Board’s administrative staff does not want to be bothered by a Park Board law or policy, the pesky law or policy is either revised or eliminated–and not in the best interest of transparent or accountable government.

Superintendent Gurban has publicly stated (in a speech at the Minneapolis Club) that citizen participation is “cumbersome.” So it should be no surprise that the Citizen Participation Ordinance is being gutted. After all, the democratic process is a cumbersome one.

I participated in a Park Board CAC for the Cedar Lake Parkway Bridge a few years ago and it was an example of successful citizen participation.

I urge everyone who believes in a fair and open government process to contact his/her Park Board representatives and tell them that we want MORE transparency, MORE accountability and MORE citizen participation–not less.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch.