Monthly Archives: September 2009

Superintendent Review Committee Meeting

Details for
Superintendent Review Committee

Commissioners Tracy Nordstrom and Walt Dziedzic, Co Chairs; Commissioners Bob Fine, Mary Merrill Anderson, and Annie Young.

Date: 9/29/2009
Time: 5:00-6:00 p.m.
Type: Regular
Address: 2101FRANKLIN AVE.W
Map and Directions

Start times and agendas* are subject to change.

5:00 PM Other Superintendent Review Committee Agenda

Park Board Agenda

Committee of the Whole

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

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

Date: 9/30/2009
Time: 3:45 p.m.
Type: Special
Location: Minnehaha Falls Pavilion
Address: 4801 Minnehaha Ave S.
Map and Directions

Start times and agendas* are subject to change.

5:30 Committee of the Whole

Park Board Agenda


The following article by David Brauer appeared in the September 28, 2009, edition of MINNPOST

In 2005, Jason Stone’s insurgent bid for the Minneapolis Park Board received a boost when the Star Tribune endorsed him over incumbent Carol Kummer.

“Jason Stone is brimming with ideas and gets the clear edge over incumbent Carol Kummer in District 5,” wrote editorialists four years ago. “Stone wants to save money by collaborating with other metro park systems and proposes a more imaginative agenda than Kummer.”

Stone didn’t win that year, but he came within 3 percentage points of Kummer. However, there’s no chance he’ll get similar help this year. That’s because the Strib editorial board has instituted what is effectively an incumbent protection plan, no matter how worthy or chuckleheaded the incumbent.

As editorial writer Denise Johnson explained via email to Stone, “Due to time constraints and much smaller staff, the Star Tribune Editorial Department decided to limit endorsements for the Park Board to open seats only. Thank you for your interest and taking the time to contact me. Good luck with your campaign.”

Editorial page editor Scott Gillespie won’t confirm the policy. “I’m not interested in talking about our coverage plans with you or any other competitor,” he said via email.

That’s a bit of a headscratcher, since the Strib effectively has no competition. Nonprofits like MinnPost can’t endorse candidates, and Minneapolis’ biggest community papers, the Southwest/Downtown Journals, traditionally haven’t.

However, Michael Guest, who is challenging Park Board incumbent Jon Olson in District 2, confirms that he was also turned down for a screening. The policy apparently affects three of six district seats; there are nine overall.

Gillespie’s refusal to engage is also unfortunate because I sympathize with his predicament. Even before more recent cutbacks, editorialists sidestepped certain legislative races; Minneapolis State Rep. Jim Davnie says the editorial page bypassed his race every two years after he was first elected in 2000.

According to Susan Albright, Gillespie’s predecessor (and now a MinnPost editor), “To do endorsements right you need to both research and interview people, and when you’re swamped all the time it’s very difficult to add those interviews to the schedule.

“While I was there we tried interviewing some people in groups, including Park Board and School Board candidates, but that wasn’t entirely satisfactory, either. So I understand the reasoning — do fewer and do them well.”

Still, from this Minneapolis voter’s perspective, the incumbent-protection policy is far too blunt an instrument. The Park Board may seem like an ignorable low-level body, but this year it’s more newsworthy than ever.

Two City Councilmembers made a controversial push this year to eliminate the board, which controls a $58 million budget (not to mention amenities enjoyed by many Twin Citians).
Critics call the board duplicative — for example, the parks have their own police force — at a time when state aid is plunging and property taxes rising. Meanwhile, supporters say a Council takeover would drain parks resources.

Unlike Stone, Kummer and most park board candidates, this Minneapolis voter favors abolition, in part because commissioners fly so far under the radar. I doubt 500 people in Minneapolis can name all nine current commissioners, or even the four who represent them directly.

That’s one reason, come election time, the Strib’s evaluation is especially vital. Despite Stone’s ’05 loss, the editorial page has more influence in lesser-known races than high-profile ones.

What would I do if I were at 425 Portland? I understand the temptation to use a blanket policy that doesn’t take individual races into account, but I’d use a smart bomb instead of a blunt instrument.

Legislative seats like Davnie’s in Minneapolis are one thing — those are usually walkovers. Although I can’t confirm it with Gillespie, I hear the Strib is endorsing in some Minneapolis City Council races that aren’t real contests.

Meanwhile, the Stone-Kummer race (which also includes Steve Barland, Dan Peterson and McClain Looney) clearly merits attention, not only for 2005’s narrow margin and 2009’s stakes, but because Kummer hadn’t even planned on running. She filed on the final day, after another candidate dropped out.

Had that challenger stayed in, and Kummer stayed out, the District 5 seat would’ve been open and the Strib would be working up an endorsement. No incumbent deserves a pass just for being in office.


Park Watch has heard that the Star Tribune will not be endorsing Park Board candidates in races that have incumbents. In other words, they will be endorsing only the Park Board races that have open seats. This has caused a reaction from the public. Park Watch is listing some of the public commentary. The letters from Jason Stone and David Brauer appeared on the Minneapolis Issues List.

From: Jason Stone Date: Sep 22 21:52 UTC Short link

Reaching out to Star Tribune staff to ask about screening dates I was
informed that, due to staff constraints, they would be endorsing only
for Park Board races with open seats. The result is a de facto
endorsement of all incumbents and a lack of impartiality by the paper.

I’m sympathetic to the impact of cuts on Star Tribune staff. Yet I’m
also aware of the power of incumbency and the negative impact this
decision has on all challengers of the status quo.

If you disagree with the editorial board’s decision please let them
know via this online form.

Jason Stone
Diamond Lake

From: Forum Manager (David Brauer) Date: Sep 24 17:41 UTC Short link

Hey Park Board candidates and supporters –

I’m trying to confirm that the Star Tribune editorial page is not doing
endorsements in races with incumbents this year for a story for MinnPost.
Jason Stone has written about it on this forum, but since the Strib
officially refuses to confirm/deny, I’m looking for other sources that can
support Jason’s contention.

Please email me. If you happen to have an email from the Strib that can
provide documentation, all the better.

David Brauer
Not posting as forum manager


The following article by Cristof Traudes appeared in the Sept 21, 2009, issue of the Southwest Journal


The citizens’ advisory committee investigating the future of concessions at Lake Harriet is a meeting away from sharing its views with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The group’s members are expected to get together just one more time, at 7 p.m. Sept. 24.

Goals for the meeting include:
— Deciding whether to expand food options and, if yes, how the concessions would be laid out.
— Approving final recommendations to the board.
— Choosing who will present to the board.

One suggestion that’s unlikely to be made is for the Park Board to build a new concessions building.

Parks staff earlier this year proposed putting a seafood restaurant inside the Lake Harriet refectory while moving popcorn and hot dog sales to a building that would be constructed nearby. General Manager Don Siggelkow said there would be no way that the refectory, in its current condition, could house both a restaurant and concessions.

But at their Sept. 3 meeting, several committee members said there just doesn’t appear to be much support for a new building.

“We could cause a very large shift in what is now a beautiful park,” member Joel Chechik said.

Others disliked the Park Board’s earlier proposed location for the new building, atop a flowerbed near the band shell.

“Is there a world where anybody here wants to put a building on a tulip bed?” committee member Bruce Manning said, while others shook their heads.

The group requested Park Board staff do more research on what’s possible at the current building. Results from that work should influence whatever recommendations are made.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be at the Linden Hills Recreation Center, 3100 W. 43rd St.


Two Park Board commissioners have been appointed to a sustainability work group to ramp up the system’s sustainability efforts.

Commissioners Scott Vreeland and Annie Young will help develop recommendations for putting together a five-year plan for sustainability goals and measures and establishing a sustainability-friendly Park Board structure. They also will develop a statement naming sustainability as a top priority.

Their work will be the direct result of a report received in May from sustainability consulting firm GreenMark. That document contained a slew of ideas, including suggestions that the board specifically seek public-private partnerships with green-focused organizations, that it create a zero-waste policy for all events in the parks and that it set itself up as Minneapolis’ central hub for environmental efforts. Vreeland and Young are expected to help prioritize those suggestions.

Since May, a Park Board task force made up of several departments’ staff representatives has begun meeting to get the ball rolling on sustainability. Staff also has begun looking into options for powering the Park Board with alternative energy sources.

MPRB Board Meeting

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissioners Meeting

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

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board meetings are broadcast live from 5-9 p.m. on the Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast cable and online on the Channel 79 webpage.
Rebroadcast and webcast archive information.

Date: 10/21/2009
Time: 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Webcast: Tune in to see the meeting live online.
Type: Regular
Location: MPRB Administrative Offices, Board Room Suite 255
Address: 2117 West River Road

Park Board Agenda

MPRB Board Meeting

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissioners Meeting

Commissioners Walt Dziedzic, Bob Fine, Carol Kummer, Mary Merrill Anderson, Tracy Nordstrom, Tom Nordyke, Jon Olson, Scott Vreeland and Annie Young
May-October 2009
The first October board meeting is scheduled in Pearl Park and includes a park tour along with a public listening session. Live broadcast of this meeting is not available. Recordings will be posted on the MPRB website as soon as they are available. These recordings are made possible through the generosity of the Institute of Production and Recording.

The second meeting of the month will continue to be held at MPRB Administrative Offices, Board Room, Suite 225, with the normal airing schedule.

More Information

Date: 10/7/2009
Time: 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Type: Regular
Location: Pearl Park gym
Address: 414 E. Diamond Lake Rd.

Park Board Agenda


Dear Friends of Bluff Street Park,

You are welcome to join us in celebrating the establishment of Bluff Street Park! We will be planting native grasses and wild flowers on this precious Mississippi River Bluff Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 from 10 am to 1:30 pm, with a special time for photos and speakers at noon.





For more info contact us at 612.339.8255 x 222

Please RSVP – if possible – by emailing us at

Sponsored by:

the west bank community coalition

the bluff street park task force

Groundwork Minneapolis

CHANCE – Cedar-Humphrey Action for Neighborhood Collaborative Engagement


The following article by Erin Carlyle appeared in the September 9, 2009, issue of City Pages

Neighborhood advocate says they’re being red-lined.

In late July, Bob Albee heard a rumor. The Phillips Pool and Gym, where Ventura Village teens gather to play basketball and hang out, was closing down. The gym had a bad boiler, and according to Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board staff, there was no money to fix it.

Albee was furious. As secretary of the Ventura Village neighborhood association, he was well aware that his neighborhood—one of four that make up Phillips in south Minneapolis—was among the youngest, poorest, and at one time most crime-ridden in the city. Why was a resource that kept kids off the streets being mothballed?

“We’re essentially being red-lined,” Albee complained. “When you visit the other parks and see what facilities there are—especially on the outer ring—I have a lot of really angry kids…. Who would do this to inner-city people?”

Albee’s feelings echoed those of Kristy Clemons, a Phillips community organizer who works with Sustainable Progress Through Engaging Active Citizens. She recalls that back in 1999, residents worked with an architect to design a community and cultural center for Peavey Park in Phillips. The center was to have educational and afterschool programs, and serve as a beacon of hope for the neighborhood. Now eight years have passed, and nothing has been built.

Clemons says services at Peavey Park are lacking compared to those available at the equally sized Linden Hills Park. “Their facilities are much more upkept,” Clemons says. “It makes you wonder how the park board is distributing the money.”

Until the 1960s, many Minneapolis parks were developed and funded based on surrounding property tax values. Under what is known as the Elwell law, richer areas got nicer facilities because they could pay for them. The law is still on the books, but policy has changed. As part of its long-term planning in the 1960s, the park board decided to redirect resources to less-affluent areas. But the legacy of inequality is still visible in places like Phillips and north Minneapolis. It’s a point that hasn’t been part of the political brouhaha currently raging over who should control the parks.

“People—it’s the really important part, and it can get lost in the shuffle,” says Shelley Martin, an organizer who works with Clemons.

Earlier this year, a handful of City Council members moved to eliminate the park board and bring the parks under city control. That effort died down, but the park board is now pushing to levy its own taxes. If the park board gets its way, the proposal will be on the ballot this fall.

The city has its own ideas. Currently, the Board of Estimate and Taxation—made up of two City Council members, the mayor, one park commissioner, and two public members—determines how much property tax revenue goes to the city and how much goes to parks. If the city’s initiative passes, the board would be eliminated and the city would decide unilaterally.

“I do think there needs to be one group of people where the buck stops with them, with regard to the city’s tax policy,” says Ward Seven City Councilmember Lisa Goodman. “That’s the problem with the independently elected park board. No one knows who is accountable.”

That perspective irritates park board members, who are still incensed about a broken funding promise. Back in 2001, the City Council struck a long-term deal with the park board to provide money for capital projects such as the community center planned for Peavey. But in 2003, when Mayor R.T. Rybak took office amid state budget cuts to local government, he killed the deal. Over the next seven years, parks got about $40.7 million less than planned.

Park commissioners say that taxing authority is needed because the city doesn’t give them enough money. “We have aging infrastructure that is not getting funded,” Vreeland says. “For me, the biggest issue is the city does not think it is important enough to maintain our current park structures to bond for their repair and replacement.”

The park’s ability to levy taxes would be limited by the Legislature. “We’re not looking to try to do something that would put an undue burden on the city taxpayer, but really to try to create some reasonableness in being able to maintain our infrastructure,” says Mary Merrill Anderson, park board commissioner.

City Council members counter that giving parks the authority to tax is not the most efficient way for local government to run.

Neither addresses the root of the problem: a simple lack of money to go around. Peavey won’t be built next week, admits Anderson—”essentially, because we have not had any funding available for that to happen.”

Although Phillips has gotten $4.1 million for a new community center about 10 blocks away from Peavey Park, most of it came from the state, not the local parks budget.

Commissioners say that parks in low-income neighborhoods—such as Farview in north Minneapolis and Whittier in south Minneapolis—receive comparable funding to tonier areas such as Linden Hills.

But the park board hasn’t kept track of the total funding for each park, so it’s hard to know how much money has been channeled to each neighborhood.

Where is the money going and who is being served? That’s the information I’ve been trying to get for years,” says Ward Six Councilmember Robert Lilligren, who represents Phillips.

It doesn’t really matter who is in charge, says Albee, as long as he knows who to complain to. And, at least recently, his complaints have been heard: The park board has asked the city for money to keep the Phillips Gym and Pool open.

“If we have what we consider to be deliberate or coincidental or accidental or consequential red-lining of our community,” Albee says, “we want to kick some butts.”