Monthly Archives: January 2010

Park Board Selects Officers, Committees, Representatives for 2010

The following information is from a MPRB press release

PARK BOARD SELECTS OFFICERS, COMMITTEES, REPRESENTATIVES FOR 2010

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board held their annual meeting on Monday, Jan. 4, and elected their officers for 2010. John Erwin was unanimously selected as President, as was Annie Young for Vice President. The Board also unanimously reappointed General Manager Don Siggelkow as Secretary to the Board, and Brian Rice as General Counsel.

Newly-elected Commissioners are:
Brad Bourn – District 6
John Erwin – At-large
Anita Tabb – District 4
Liz Wielinski – District 1

Re-elected Commissioners are:
Bob Fine – At-large
Carol Kummer – District 5
Jon Olson – District 2
Scott Vreeland – District 3
Annie Young – At-large

President Erwin appointed the following Commissioners to serve on Standing Committees of the Board (one-year terms):

· Administration and Finance Committee – Chair Scott Vreeland, Vice Chair Anita Tabb, Jon Olson, Bob Fine, Liz Wielinski

· Recreation Committee – Chair Liz Wielinski, Vice Chair Carol Kummer, Bob Fine, Anita Tabb, Brad Bourn

· Planning Committee – Chair Annie Young, Vice Chair Bob Fine, Scott Vreeland, Jon Olson, Liz Wielinski

· Operations and Environment Committee – Chair Jon Olson, Vice Chair Brad Bourn, Annie Young, Carol Kummer, Scott Vreeland

· Legislation and Inter-Governmental Committee – Chair Carol Kummer, Vice Chair Jon Olson, Anita Tabb, Liz Wielinski, Brad Bourn

· Committee on Standards and Conduct – Chair Brad Bourn, Vice Chair Liz Wielinski, Anita Tabb, Carol Kummer, Annie Young

President Erwin also appointed commissioners and three citizens to serve on the following external boards, commissions and panels:

· Planning Commission – Brad Bourn, alternate Annie Young (two-year term)

· Board of Estimate and Taxation – Bob Fine, alternate Anita Tabb (one-year term)

· Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission (citizen appointments) – Ami Thompson (second year of two-year term); alternate Carol Pass (two-year term)

· Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program – Liz Wielinski, alternate Scott Vreeland (one-year term)

· St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board – Scott Vreeland, Bob Fine, Liz Wielinski, citizen appointee Stephanie Gruber (one-year term)

· Youth Coordinating Board – Bob Fine, Park Board Brad Bourn (one-year term)

· Minneapolis Institute of Arts Board – Anita Tabb, alternate John Erwin (one-year term)

· Public Art Design Advisory Panel – Carol Kummer, alternate Brad Bourn (one-year term)

· Mississippi Watershed Management Organization – Scott Vreeland, alternate Liz Wielinski (one-year term)

· John H. Stevens House Organization – Carol Kummer, alternate Anita Tabb (one-year term)

· Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee – Brad Bourn, alternate Jon Olson (one-year term)

· Minneapolis Parks Foundation – John Erwin, alternate Anita Tabb (one-year term)

· Minneapolis Tree Advisory Committee – John Erwin, alternate Carol Kummer (one-year term)

· Riverfront Corporation – Scott Vreeland, Jon Olson, Bob Fine, alternates Carol Kummer, Liz Wielinski, Anita Tabb (one-year term)

· Liaison to the 2010 NRPA Conference – Former Commissioners Mary Merrill Anderson and Tracy Nordstrom (one-year term)

Erwin Wins Minneapolis Park Board President Seat

The following article by Steve Brandt appeared in the January 6, 2010 issue of the Star Tribune:

ERWIN WINS MINNEAPOLIS PARK BOARD PRESIDENT SEAT

John Erwin, who returns to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board after sitting out a term, has won unanimous election as the board’s president.

Erwin, 48, is a horticultural science professor at the University of Minnesota. He was elected eight years ago, then sat out a term for family reasons before winning a seat in November. Erwin, elected at a board meeting Monday, said he thinks he represents a centrist viewpoint among park commissioners.

Erwin plans to establish two ad hoc committees at Wednesday’s board meeting. One is to recommend to the board by Feb. 18 how to handle the parks superintendency. Erwin said that includes recommending whether to extend current chief executive Jon Gurban’s contract and for how long, or whether to search for a new leader. Commissioner Jon Olson will chair that panel.

Erwin also plans to have Commissioner Bob Fine head a committee on new ideas for the park system that don’t fit readily into the work of an existing panel.

Erwin said he is open to City Council President Barbara Johnson’s suggestion of a “green ribbon” commission to discuss potential savings through sharing city and park services. He said he also wants to have similar conversations with other government entities such as Hennepin County and the Minneapolis public schools.

He listed his top five priorities as refocusing on core services such as greening the city, offering recreation for all ages and maintaining green space; increasing transparency in decision-making; working with the city; diversifying parks funding; and expanding where parks or programs are needed.

Annie Young was elected vice president of the board, and Erwin named the following committee chairs: Administration and Finance, Scott Vreeland; Recreation, Liz Wielinski; Planning, Young; Operations and Environment, Olson; Legislation and Intergovernmental, Carol Kummer; Standards and Conduct, Brad Bourn.

Anita Tabb, Bourn, Wielinski and Erwin were seated as newly elected commissioners.

Lumberyard Eyed As Possible New Park Along Mississippi

The following article by Cristof Traudes appeared in the January 4, 2010 issue of the Downtown Journal:

LUMBERYARD EYED AS POSSIBLE NEW PARK ALONG MISSISSIPPI

What currently is mostly concrete, a parking lot and a lumberyard could someday be a park.

That’s the hope, anyway, at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, where in their last meeting of 2009, commissioners voted to begin the process of purchasing the almost 14-acre 9th Avenue Northeast site of Scherer Bros. Lumber Co.

The draw for the Park Board: The property borders the Mississippi River.

Possible negatives: Chemical contamination and economic pressures.

The purchase would fit in with several adopted Park Board plans, Planning Director Judd Rietkerk said. There’s the city, Metropolitan Council and Park Board-approved Above the Falls Master Plan — which calls for redevelopment along the river — and there’s the parks’ own comprehensive plan, which lays out an increased focus on the north and northeast parts of the city. It also matches goals of the recently formed Minneapolis Riverfront Corp., a nonprofit that tracks and promotes targets for and along the Mississippi.

There are no exact plans for what the Park Board would do with the land, but staff suggestions include developing trails and open space.

Up front, the Park Board is making a $400,000 earnest money down payment on the property, an amount that will be covered by money the parks received from the Minnesota Department of Transportation after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse.

Rietkerk said the purchase agreement comes with few strings attached — the board has until the end of March to gather further information and develop a final arrangement for the site, and if commissioners were to decide buying the property isn’t a good idea, they could back out and have the $400,000 returned.

One Abstention

That contingency arrangement pleased Commissioner-Elect John Erwin, the likely next Park Board president. He said he’s intrigued by the prospect of more riverfront land, but he said much more information would be needed for him to feel comfortable signing on. For example, the cost of the property was not yet known. (Appraisals were ongoing, Rietkerk said.) And there’s also the factor that the Park Board shouldn’t hurt its ability to maintain what it has now by picking up an additional responsibility, Erwin said.

“A potential park on the river that size I think is exciting,” he said. “However, we need to look at all of the existing parks we have … and look at our needs.”

On the sitting board, most commissioners were ready to move ahead on Dec. 15, as evidenced by a unanimous 7–0 vote. They said they were eager to turn urban property back into a piece of nature.

But Commissioner Annie Young, often a champion of green efforts, was the sole board member not to vote “yes.” She said she was troubled by a report she’d received — reportedly from watchdog group Park Watch — that traces of chemicals, possibly including the cancer-linked vermiculite, had been found at the site.

Rietkerk disputed those results, but Young decided to abstain from the vote.

After the meeting, Erwin said the conflicting vermiculite reports are an issue that will need to be tackled going forward.

“My first thought was, ‘Let’s get in there and do some independent testing,’” Erwin said.

A Quick Arrival

The purchase agreement motion arrived fairly quickly before the board, going directly to a full meeting rather than through the usual committee process. Rietkerk said it was a matter of timing, which led members of watchdog group Park Watch to balk.

“It is egregious that staff has advanced this project to the point of a purchase agreement without following Park Board protocol,” Park Watch co-founder Arlene Fried said.

Rietkerk’s response: If there are concerns about a lack of a public hearing, people should remember the amount of testimony taken while developing the comprehensive and Above the Falls plans.

But Park Watch warned that the board should be very careful, especially considering several recent real estate situations — in particular, property near the Mill City Museum currently in legal limbo and the ownership and sale of what is now a building owned by the Boy Scouts of America — that didn’t prove fruitful for the parks system.

Outgoing President Tom Nordyke appeared hesitant before ultimately voting with the majority. He made it a point to ask that the agreement be reviewed and signed off on by Planning Committee Chairman Bob Fine, and he requested that the new Park Board see the final purchase arrangement no later than March 3, allowing commissioners several weeks before the March 31 deadline to make an educated decision.

“It’s an incredibly important acquisition,” Nordyke said.

Commissioner Jon Olson concurred, but in a more positive sense. Riverfront land, he said, “just doesn’t come along very often.”

Heads Up For January 6, 2010 Park Board Meeting

HEADS UP FOR THE JANUARY 6, 2010 PARK BOARD MEETING

The regular MPRB meeting will be held at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 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 January 6 Park Board meeting is the first regular meeting for 2010. There will be four new commissioners making their debuts at this meeting: Brad Bourn, John Erwin, Anita Tabb and Liz Wielinski. Five commissioners are reelected incumbents: Bob Fine, Carol Kummer, Jon Olson, Scott Vreeland and Annie Young.

The board will be voting on a resolution presumably written by Nikki Carlson for Bill Hawks of Crown Hydro and submitted to the board at the December 2, 2009 meeting by Commissioner Jon Olson.

The resolution, which contains a number of false assumptions, was designed to get the Park Board to buy out Crown Hydro and assume responsibility for a risky, over-hyped and over-lobbied hydro power project.

Of all the Park Board commissioners who have voted on Crown Hydro agenda items since 2004, only three commissioners have consistently supported Crown Hydro: Bob Fine, Carol Kummer and Jon Olson.

The six commissioners who have opposed Crown Hydro are Rochelle Berry-Graves, Walt Dziedzic, John Erwin, Vivian Mason, Scott Vreeland and Annie Young.

Since 2004, Crown Hydro has been the subject of many Park Board discussions, studies, reports, presentations, letters and open time speeches. The Park Watch website http://www.mplsparkwatch.org has ten pages of postings devoted to Crown Hydro. For six years, staff has devoted an egregious number of hours to this controversial project. If this project had legitimate merit and was without risk, it would have been approved long ago.

It is time for closure. The Crown Hydro resolution should be voted down by the new board at the January 6 meeting.

***

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 www.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” on the site above.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

M P R B Board Meeting January 6, 2010

The regular MPRB meeting will be held at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 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 January 6 Park Board meeting is the first regular meeting for 2010. There will be four new commissioners making their debuts at this meeting: Brad Bourn, John Erwin, Anita Tabb and Liz Wielinski. Five commissioners are reelected incumbents: Bob Fine, Carol Kummer, Jon Olson, Scott Vreeland and Annie Young.

The board will be voting on a resolution presumably written by Nikki Carlson for Bill Hawks of Crown Hydro and submitted to the board at the December 2, 2009 meeting by Commissioner Jon Olson.

The resolution, which contains a number of false assumptions, was designed to get the Park Board to buy out Crown Hydro and assume responsibility for a risky, over-hyped and over-lobbied hydro power project.

Of all the Park Board commissioners who have voted on Crown Hydro agenda items since 2004, only three commissioners have consistently supported Crown Hydro: Bob Fine, Carol Kummer and Jon Olson.

The six commissioners who have opposed Crown Hydro are Rochelle Berry-Graves, Walt Dziedzic, John Erwin, Vivian Mason, Scott Vreeland and Annie Young.

Since 2004, Crown Hydro has been the subject of many Park Board discussions, studies, reports, presentations, letters and open time speeches. The Park Watch website http://www.mplsparkwatch.org has ten pages of postings devoted to Crown Hydro. For six years, staff has devoted an egregious number of hours to this controversial project. If this project had legitimate merit and was without risk, it would have been approved long ago.

It is time for closure. The Crown Hydro resolution should be voted down by the new board at the January 6 meeting.

***

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 www.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” on the site above.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

FUJI YA LITIGATION NOT OVER YET

FUJI YA LITIGATION NOT OVER YET

Park Watch has just learned that on December 21 Columbia Development filed an appeal of the November 12 ruling which had been in favor of the Park Board regarding the Columbia/Wave condo development on the Fuji Ya site. So, unfortunately, the litigation over this failed project continues. (See December 8 post on Park Watch for background.)

M P R B Board Annual Meeting: Monday, January 4, 2010

PARK BOARD ANNUAL MEETING: MONDAY, JANUARY 4, 2010

The annual meeting begins at 5:00 p.m. at Park Board Headquarters, 2117 W. River Road. The business to be conducted is the election of officers and appointments to various committees. The meeting, which is a brief one, will be broadcast and streamed live on the City Of Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast cable and at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/webcasts.

M P R B Board Annual Meeting

PARK BOARD ANNUAL MEETING: MONDAY, JANUARY 4, 2010

The annual meeting begins at 5:00 p.m. The business to be conducted is the election of officers and appointments to various committees. The meeting, which is a brief one, will be broadcast and streamed live on the City Of Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast cable and at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/webcasts.