HEADS UP FOR DECEMBER 16, 2009 PARK BOARD MEETING
The regular MPRB meeting will be held at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at Park Board Headquarters, 2117 W. River Road. For the meeting agenda and other information, go to the Park Board’s website, minneapolisparks.org
The December 16th Park Board meeting is the last meeting for 2009, as well as the last one for the current board. There is one item of major interest on the agenda for this meeting. It is under “New Business” and is a vote to acquire 13 acres of land assessed at $8M. It is a multimillion dollar commitment and the planning staff and Superintendent Gurban want the commissioners to vote on this acquisition the very same night it is presented to the commissioners for the first time. See below:
ACTION: THAT THE BOARD AUTHORIZE THE EXECUTION OF A PURCHASE AGREEMENT WITH SCHERER BROTHERS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP AND AN EARNEST MONEY DOWN PAYMENT OF $400,000 FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SCHERER BROTHERS LUMBER FACILITIES LOCATED AT 8TH AVENUE NORTHEAST IN MINNEAPOLIS CONTINGENT UPON THE BOARD’S APPROVAL OF THE FINAL ACQUISITION FINANCE PLAN.
By bringing the purchase agreement vote directly to the full board, the planning staff and Superintendent Gurban have circumvented the required review and action by the Administration and Finance Committee, thereby violating Park Board procedures. It is egregious that staff has advanced this project to the point of a purchase agreement without following Park Board protocol.
And what is even more outrageous is the fact that staff has not provided the commissioners and the public with a purchase price. The superintendent and his staff are requesting that the commissioners enter into a major real estate transaction without providing the commissioners and the public with complete and detailed information–not even a purchase price.
The justification for this transaction is that it falls within the boundary of the Above the Falls Master Plan. Nevertheless, there needs to be a much more thorough study of a transaction of this magnitude.
There are many questions to be answered BEFORE this proposed project moves forward. Here are a few:
* Why is there no mention of the purchase price? What is it?
* It is customary to negotiate a purchase price before executing a purchase agreement. So why is staff executing a purchase agreement prior to negotiating a purchase price?
* The assessed value of the properly is $8M. What is the appraised value?
* Where is the $400,000 down payment going to come from?
* Why has staff entered into purchase negotiations with Scherer Brothers without any direction from the commissioners?
* Isn’t it premature for staff to approach the Met Council regarding funding options before being directed to do so by the Park Board commissioners?
* Why has this matter been placed on the December 16, 2009, agenda as “new business” and why has a purchase agreement not yet been brought–as required–to the the Administration and Finance Committee first?
* Why is this matter appearing on the agenda of the very last meeting of the year and of the very last meeting of the lame duck 2006 board? Isn’t this a matter for the new board to consider?
* Why is this matter being advanced so quickly in authorizing the “execution of a purchase agreement” that there is no opportunity for the public to make any comment before the commitment is made?
* Who owns the piece of land next to 8th Avenue?
* What is the Park Board going to do with the seven buildings on the property? And what condition are they in? What will be the cost of maintaining them or tearing them down?
* Who owns the shorefront between Scherer Brothers and 10th Avenue?
* What kind of storm water fees are there on the property?
* Who is responsible for the railroad spur?
* Why does staff state that “staff and Scherer Brothers are committed to closing on the sale within 90 day (sic) after the full execution of the Purchase Agreement”? Why does staff think it is it so urgent to do so?
As the Park Board commissioners are considering this major real estate transaction, it is a good idea to reflect upon two of the Park Board’s previous real estate acquisitions (Fuji Ya and the 201 Building) which were financial failures that became entangled in costly litigation. Park Board staff does not have a successful track record with major real estate transactions. Therefore, it would be wise for the commissioners to avoid another real estate disaster by instructing the staff to send this matter to Administration and Finance first, thereby postponing any decision until the new board is seated and a more thorough study has been conducted. It is the appropriate action to take at this time.
MPRB meetings are broadcast live from 5-9 p.m. on the City of Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast cable and online at ci.minneapolis.mn.us/webcasts.
The regular meetings are rebroadcast on Channel 79 at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays. Webcasts for the recent two months are posted two to five business days after the meeting and are available for viewing at Webcast Archives.