Crown Hydro failed to obtain legislative support for the senate bill which would have forced the MPRB to turn over parkland for the controversial hydro plant.

In February, legislation drafted by proponents of the Crown Hydro project was introduced in the Minnesota Senate as bill SF 840. Essentially, this bill mandated that the Minneapolis Park Board relinquish local control and step aside and give Crown Hydro access to the land in Mill Ruins Park that they have failed to obtain using normal channels. THIS BILL WOULD HAVE SET A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT IN MINNESOTA BY PROVIDING UNLIMITED ACCESS TO PUBLIC LAND FOR HYDROELECTRIC PLANTS WITHOUT REGARD FOR ANY OTHER FACTORS OR RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PROJECT.

This bill was opposed by many including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, the National Park Service, Friends of the Mississippi, Friends of the Riverfront, the League of Cities, the legislative representatives for District 58 and 58B (Linda Higgins and Bobby Joe Champion) along with other residents of Minneapolis that support local control of such important issues.

At the request of a Park Board representative, these groups rallied behind the Park Board to oppose this legislation and participated in a stakeholder meeting held at the State Capital on Tuesday, March 3, 2009. At the end of the meeting, there was agreement that the legislation was a bad idea and it was withdrawn. The legislation had not been introduced at the House so there was no companion bill to withdraw.

The following quotation is from the statement of opposition prepared jointly by the National Trust for Preservation and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) that was presented at the meeting by Bonnie McDonald, Executive Director of PAM:

“The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are deeply concerned to learn about the proposal of S.F. No. 840, which requires municipal boards to approve any lease agreement for a hydroelectric facility of less than 100 megawatts. It is our opinion that this legislation will only harm Minnesota’s natural resources, and could have unintended consequences on proven and effective local government regulatory processes.

The Crown Hydro hydroelectric project is obviously one of the intended beneficiaries of this legislation, since this project’s request for use of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (“Park Board”) property located in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District near Mill Ruins Park was denied. Repeated challenges to this decision have only reinforced the appropriateness of the Park Board’s original determination to deny a permit for a new hydroelectric facility on Park Board land in a highly-visible and sensitive area of the riverfront that contains many natural and historic resources.

A study of the Crown Hydro project has determined that it would adversely affect important historic archaeological resources in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District. For this reason, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota placed the archaeological resources of the St. Anthony Falls Historic District on our 2008 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places List. While we strongly support renewable energy production through alternative sources such as wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric power, we do not support the destruction of our state’s limited and nonrenewable cultural resources for the creation of renewable energy.”