LAKE HARRIET COMMUNITY MEETING
Here’s a very brief capsule review of the Lake Harriet community meeting that was held on July 30, 2009, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Linden Hills. The meeting was well attended and Matt Perry and the Lake Harriet Citizens’ Advisory Council (CAC) members did a stellar job with the informational materials. It was an emotional meeting and Matt did an excellent job of responding to the requests for a Q and A period. The restaurant idea was not flying nor was the idea of a new building. People really care about Lake Harriet and the band shell area and expressed numerous concerns about the idea of a restaurant on the site and the problems that it would bring. They also offered a quite a few constructive ideas–some in writing and some orally.
The following unofficial notes were taken during the meeting by Cynthia Callanan from the Kingfield neighborhood:
Lake Harriet Community Meeting
July 30, 2009
Matt Perry opened with a powerpoint presentation (see handout of presentation slides from meeting, or look on CAC ning website for a copy)
(slide title) How we got here: concessions fund youth programs and facilities
(slide title) Lake Harriet CAC – all proposals off the table, start over from scratch with new recommendations
(slide title) CAC Key Questions – Matt is committed to community participation.
(slide title) CAC work to date – stakeholder engagement plan; provided information to the public; gathered input and information
(slide title) Operations: Future Food Choices – public contribution will influence the CAC recommendation but they are not asking about food choices, that will be up to the vendor who is chosen in the bidding process.
(slide title) Current food choices – Park Board is committed to keeping the current food choices – particularly ice cream and popcorn
Matt Perry comment: Alcohol – elephant in the room, CAC notified by Don Siggelkow that if alcohol is going to be considered at Lake Harriet, it will only be after several years of successful business operations.
George – liquor license representative from the city, also resident of the neighborhood was present to answer questions.
(slide title) Structural Considerations –( blue form handed out at meeting, maybe also available on CAC ning website) – CAC has not determined if any of them are feasible, except for # 6, which is what the Park Board already proposed. That one has feasibility.
(SOME IMPROMPTU QUESTIONS)
Q 1: If you are asking us for feedback on structural issues, it seems that you have already made your mind up.
Matt: This meeting is to expand the CAC – we want to get ideas from you.
Q 2: Why did the previous concessionaire pull out? We need to know before we start a new concession there.
Shane: The lease was up, they are renewed every 5-10 years, we don’t know why he chose not to renew. Private enterprise. He chose to concentrate on his other business.
10-15 SLIDE PRESENTATION FINISHES
Matt then explains how the evening was designed: It is time for everyone to go to the various tables and write down their input. There are CAC members at each table to talk to.There will be no more Q and A.
Comment 3: This meeting is designed NOT to be open to hear from people except in writing.The website has no discussion board, public cannot speak when they attend the CAC meetings.
At this point Matt opened up the meeting to allow various people to comment and ask questions. Each comment below is from a different member of the audience.
Comment 4: Nothing in the slides that talks about the impact on the neighborhood or environmental impacts
Comment 5: we are talking about traffic, people, debris.
Anne: We went out and surveyed people around the lake.
Comment 6: Did those people surveyed have the facts first?
Comment 7: People don’t want to ask questions (of Matt and other CAC members tonight), we want to give input. Very concerned about congestion that already exists. Not enough handicapped spaces to park. This would create more congestion around lake Harriet.
Comment 8: Nothing in the plans about increased seating, and would tables be restricted to patrons of the concessionaire?
Comment 9: Concerned about green space, visibility toward the lake, no way we can put in a building without losing that.
Comment 10: How do we have input to the website and meetings going forward:? Separate issue – going forward, can we have a discussion board on website, input at the CAC meetings?
Comment 11: Not considering alcohol now, but Sea Salt and Tin Fish got alcohol within a few years. It is a reasonable assumption that it will be part of the future.
Matt: There is a public process when liquor is considered.
Comment 12: If you stand down there at Tin Fish or Sea Salt, it smells like grease. If you live close, depending on how it’s vented, that’s what you are going to smell.
Comment 13: What have you done so far at CAC meetings?
Matt: – organize themselves, stakeholder engagement plan, what are the economics of concessions, structural considerations and response from park board staff.
Started thinking that they would have 4 meetings, but because they wanted community input, they expanded to six meetings.
Comment 14: Negative energy in the room. I’m glad that we are considering some changes to the concessions. We need healthier food options at LH. Doesn’t have to smell like grease, glad we are looking at this.
Comment 15: Sailor on Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun. The other night friends called to see if they could use my driveway to go to a concert. Why do we need to draw more people from the suburbs I do not believe the Park Board, they lie. 2 million dollar bldg on the river that no one ever asked us about.
Comment 16: What is wrong with what we have? Why do anything new?
Comment 17: Very concerned about the impact on generating more garbage, more grease, less green space. Clancy’s Meats. Makes meat sandwiches, paper that is compostable. Would like to be in the running for a lease to concession in the refectory. Increasing food offerings to healthier options in an educational way.
Comment 18: Build on the comment on food – local and sustainable. Is there anything we need to know about – limits, no national chains, are there any regulations? Make sure park board commissioners know how you feel.
Matt: CAC will not be making a recommendation with that specificity. We will submit your recommendations with our recommendations. Go to website and write or call. 612-839-3320 call Matt Perry personally.
Comment 19: What is the status for 2009? How long a lease do they have?
Matt: Wheel Fun – same guys who do the rentals, have a 1 year lease – that’s who is in there now. Park Board wanted to have public participation process, so we will have someone there while we work on this process.
Comment 20: How many people come to the bandshell.
Matt: About 2.3 million a year. Our data from our survey is mirroring the park board. 30% from neighborhood and 60% from outside.
Comment 21: What is the Goal – better food options? Restaurant is not needed, it has been successful without a restaurant in that location.
Comment 22: Opposed to new building, but must thank the CAC members who are volunteers – applause
Comment 23: WheelFun – operates concessions do not have food experience, others who bid to do food this year were not considered for this one year.
Matt: Talk to Shane about that.
Comment 24: Concern – lack of publicity and public relations. Had to go through several SW Journals to find notices of the CAC meetings. Need to have someone designated to make sure that everything you are doing is reported to the community.
Comment 25: Part of what you are feeling is that things with the park board disappear into a black hole. I want to know that you will not lose this feedback.
Matt: Our relationship with Park Board is not adversarial.
Comment 26: Option of looking for another person to lease to maintain the present level of service needs to be out there. Many reasons – my reason it is a small site, cannot bear a restaurant, not enough parking, not enough space. Picnic tradition is what we want to maintain. Not compatible with a restaurant.
Comment 27: When we looked at the various options and costs – anything that costs money. The more money invested, the more money is expected in return. Concessionaire wants more flexibility Once a lot of money has been put into expansion, park board is going to expect more revenue. Then the business that is in there is going to ask for more – like a liquor license. We need to be very cautious about any expansion. A very slippery slope.
Comment 28: We are the vocal minority. Cards went out to 6,000 to 6,500 homes. Number of people who haven’t shown up. Lots who come to the lakes. Park dept has done a good job with other two restaurants. Clean sites, food is well made, Enjoy the smell of grease. I hope we have something similar but unique , alcohol would be great. Lake Harriet is an adult neighborhood it will not turn into another Uptown, will increase property value. [some boos from the audience]
Arlene – the park board does have guidelines, after the report comes in, there will be a public hearing available to everyone in the city, that will be another opportunity to react to the CAC has presented. There will be that opportunity as well.
The meeting broke up to allow people to write comments on post it notes.