Erwin Creates Ad Hoc Committees

The following article by Cristof Traudes, which recaps a January 4, 2010 Park Board agenda item, appeared in the Southwest Journal:


John Erwin wasted no time in his new role as president of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. In the first regular meeting of the year, Erwin created ad hoc committees to tackle two lingering questions hanging over the Park Board: the fate of the superintendent and the structure of the board’s committees.

The superintendent committee will look into options surrounding Superintendent Jon Gurban’s contract, which currently is up at the end of June. Gurban was hired in 2003 under a cloud of controversy but has since won approval for his work on such projects as the Park Board’s Comprehensive Plan, although he has taken hits over transparency and communication concerns.

The previous Park Board was on the verge of extending Gurban’s contract by a year but ultimately decided to instead allow the new board to decide his future. That could mean a nationwide search for candidates: Erwin and both Southwest commissioners Brad Bourn and Anita Tabb have expressed interest in going that route. New Vice President Annie Young has said the superintendent issue is one of her top 2010 priorities.

Bourn, Tabb and Young will each serve on the ad hoc committee, along with fellow commissioners Carol Kummer and Scott Vreeland. Vreeland will serve as chairman.

Meanwhile, Erwin’s other ad hoc committee seems to have been formed to answer questions presented by the new Park Board back in December, before commissioners were sworn in. Several said at the time that they wanted to look into whether certain tasks and topics would be better discussed in different committees than they are now.

Appointed to that committee were Commissioners Bob Fine, Tabb, Jon Olson, Bourn and Erwin. Fine and Tabb will serve as chairman and vice chairwoman, respectively.