Monthly Archives: May 2010

No 14-Foot Fountain / Sculpture For South Calhoun

NO 14-FOOT FOUNTAIN/SCULPTURE FOR SOUTH CALHOUN

At the May 19, 2010 Planning Committee meeting, there was a staff report on “THE PROPOSED PUBLIC ART DRINKING FOUNTAIN AND SMALL SEATING TERRACE AT SOUTH CALHOUN.” The following is a recap of the outcome of the proposal.

During Open Time, windsurfer Jonathan Townsend pointed out to the committee that the windsurfers on Lake Calhoun had been promised by staff and Commissioner Bob Fine last year that the Park Board would not develop the area adjacent to the new south parking lot so that the windsurfers would have adequate open space to rig their boards.

After much discussion, the five member Planning Committee unanimously agreed that this 14-foot art project was not suitable for this site and that it would interfere with the windsurfers rigging their boards. They decided not to support the placement of the sculpture with fountain on the South Shore of Lake Calhoun near the newly constructed parking lot. Both Commissioners Jon Olson and Liz Wielinski suggested that it be placed
in another location, but the project as proposed was not transferable.

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch

Path For New Northeast Trail Is Cleared

The following article by Steve Brandt was published in the May 22, 2010 issue of the Star Tribune:

PATH FOR NEW NORTHEAST TRAIL IS CLEARED

Minneapolis park officials have given the go-ahead to buying the most significant piece of upper Mississippi riverfront parkland up for sale since a plan for developing the area won approval in 1999.

They’ll spend an eye-opening $7.7 million to buy just over 11 acres from Scherer Bros. Lumber, which has closed its yard just upriver from the Plymouth Avenue Bridge.
The purchase bridges a key gap and eventually will allow trails to be developed farther upriver in northeast Minneapolis, even beyond NE. Broadway and perhaps crossing the river at or close to a nearby railroad bridge.

Still, even some commissioners gulped at the price before voting unanimously Wednesday to sign off on the finances of a deal they authorized conceptually in December. But they said they’re going ahead because people living along the upper river deserve waterfront parks just like those in south Minneapolis.

“This is one of the giant pieces that we need,” said Park Board Commissioner Liz Wielinski, who joined the board after it acted last year but has been active on river issues. The “Above the Falls” master plan calls for parkland lining most of the upper river, with higher-density housing and light industry in some nearby areas.

The recession may have worked to the advantage of parks. Scherer has retrenched its operations as home-building plummeted. Commissioner Scott Vreeland said the company once sought $14 million for the site, which has other lots that aren’t part of the deal.

Park officials couldn’t be reached for comment on when development of bike and walking trails between Plymouth Avenue and Broadway might start. Such trails extend to the 26th Avenue rail bridge on the west bank, but only to Plymouth on the east. However, Graco Inc., a neighbor of the Scherer property to the north, has left riverside space for trails, meaning that the Scherer purchase opens the way for an extension to Broadway, when funding permits.

Much of the riverfront between Broadway and the railroad bridge is in public hands. Park officials have spoken of a trail crossing adjacent to the rail bridge, but haven’t been able to negotiate that to date. The next available crossing would be at Lowry Avenue.

The land deal puts $2.4 million down, with the remaining $5.3 million to be paid over four years. An initial $1.7 million will come from state bonds for metro parks, matched by $700,000 the park system garnered when construction of the new Interstate 35W bridge consumed parkland. The remaining $5.3 million will come from state Legacy Act sales tax funding.

Commissioners praised their lobbyist, Brian Rice, and state Reps. Larry Pogemiller and Phyllis Kahn, both Minneapolis DFLers, for legislation clarifying that the purchase is eligible for the funding.

The Park Board had until Monday to opt out of a purchase agreement; the closing is due by June 10.

“Someday people are going to look back and say it’s a good thing the Park Board acquired this land,” said Commissioner Bob Fine, who played a key role in negotiations. Area Council Member Diane Hofstede also praised the acquisition.

The purchase comes as the Park Board and public are discussing what type of park development should occur in two parks just downstream from the Scherer property. They are Boom Island Park and B.F. Nelson Park.

M P R B seeking operators of Lake Harriet Concessions

MPRB SEEKING OPERATORS OF LAKE HARRIET CONCESSIONS

Park Watch has learned that on May 14, 2010, the Park Board issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the management of the Lake Harriet Concessions beginning with the 2011 season. The proposals are due July 9, 2010. For more information, see http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=52&prid=1246

Park Watch will continue to monitor and report on the process of finding and contracting with a new vendor for Lake Harriet.

Currently, the concessions at Lake Harriet are being operated by Wheel Fun which has a one year contract with the Park Board. Park Watch has submitted a Data Practices Request for the signed 2010 season agreement with Wheel Fun, but has not yet received the requested agreement.

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch

May 19 Park Board Meeting

5:00 P.M. REGULAR BOARD MEETING followed by committee meetings. Some topics on the agenda are Scherer Brothers property acquisition, Regional Parks Capital Improvement Plan and the proposed sculpture and fountain slated for the south shore of Lake Calhoun adjacent to the new parking lot.

5:30 P.M. OPEN TIME.

The meeting will be held in the boardroom at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road.

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 of each month. Webcasts for the recent two months are posted two to five business days after the meeting and are available for viewing under “Webcast Archives” at the web site.

The complete agenda is on the Park Board’s website minneapolisparks.org.

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch

Heads-up for the May 19, 2010 Park Board Meeting

HEADS-UP FOR THE MAY 19, 2010 PARK BOARD MEETING

5:00 P.M. REGULAR BOARD MEETING followed by committee meetings. Some topics on the agenda are Scherer Brothers property acquisition, Regional Parks Capital Improvement Plan and the proposed sculpture and fountain slated for the south shore of Lake Calhoun adjacent to the new parking lot.

5:30 P.M. OPEN TIME.

The meeting will be held in the boardroom at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road.

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 of each month. Webcasts for the recent two months are posted two to five business days after the meeting and are available for viewing under “Webcast Archives” at the web site.

The complete agenda is on the Park Board’s website minneapolisparks.org.

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch

Sculpture/Fountain Planned for South Calhoun Lakeshore

SCULPTURE/FOUNTAIN PLANNED FOR SOUTH CALHOUN LAKESHORE

In the agenda material for this coming Wednesday’s Park Board meeting, there is going to be a study report on a sculpture with fountain and seating area for the south shore of Calhoun adjacent to the new parking lot. The circular seating area will be about 30′ to 40′ in diameter.

It is a sculpture with a drinking fountain incorporated into the design. The sculpture is large and very modern. The Park Board will be contributing $15,000 to $20,000 toward this project.

According to the May 13, 2010 memo to the MPRB Planning Committee, Superintendent Gurban and staff met with city representatives Mary Altman and Paul Ogren to discuss the placement of this sculpture at Lake Calhoun. Brad Bourn, commissioner for the area, was not included in this meeting. After the meeting, MPRB staff – without direction of the Board – submitted an application to the City for the placement of this sculpture and fountain at Calhoun. It was selected by the Minneapolis Arts Commissioner’ Public Art Advisory Panel on May 5.

Here are some quotes from the memorandum:

“It will enliven a popular southwest Minneapolis intersection…”

“The bold color and scale will compel pedestrians, bicyclists and automobile users year around.”

“The artwork will be highly visible.”

“The bright and modern aesthetic will complement other contemporary public artworks in the Uptown/Lake Calhoun Areas.”

Fountains are desirable amenities, but I believe that there is reason to be concerned about this project.

1. Lake Calhoun is a well-known Minneapolis landmark and, with Lake Harriet, is the heart of the Chain of Lakes. The sculpture/fountain was designed for another location. Is it appropriate for this location? It was not designed for this specific site, but is being imposed upon it.

2. The area selected for this sculpture is already highly congested. What impact will this “dynamic sculpture that people will seek out to visit” have on the users (bikers, bladers windsurfers, etc.) of the area? I would suggest that anything attracting additional users to this area is bad planning–even dangerous planning. Congestion equals accidents.

3. Why was Commissioner Bourn excluded from the planning meeting? Why were Board members not informed of this project prior to the request for funding?

4. Why is this project going to be presented to the Lakes District Council AFTER Board approval? Why wasn’t the Lakes District Council informed of this proposed project at their last meeting?

5. Why wasn’t there public input on this project BEFORE asking for and receiving approval for funding by the Minneapolis Arts Commission’s Public Art Advisory Panel? Shouldn’t the users of Calhoun have had an opportunity to comment on this project?

6. The memo states that the “MPRB is willing to do the daily maintenance.” Considering that maintenance staff is being reduced, exactly who is left to take responsibility for “daily maintenance”?

7. And, finally, is this sculpture going to be an enhancement to Lake Calhoun or a controversial and unwanted irritant?

For further information, see the following websites:

http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cped/docs/Uptown.pdf

http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=37&calid=626

Anyone having concerns about this project might want to be present at this Wednesday’s Park Board meeting when there will be a presentation to the Planning Committee.

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch

May 12 M P R B Committee of the Whole Meeting

HEADS UP FOR THE MAY 12, 2010 COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING

There will be an extra Park Board meeting on Wednesday, May 12 at 5:00 P.M. The meeting will be held in the Minnehaha Room at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road. It will not be televised or broadcast, but it is open to the public. As of this posting, the agenda lists only the following item:

STUDY/REPORT ITEMS
Commissioner Revenue Priorities.

More information may be posted on Monday. Here’s the agenda posted at the MPRB web site:

minneapolisparks.org/documents/meetings/agendas/uploaded05-12-10cow.pdf

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch

Heads Up for the May 12 M P R B Committee of the Whole Meeting

HEADS UP FOR THE MAY 12, 2010 COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING

There will be an extra Park Board meeting on Wednesday, May 12 at 5:00 P.M. The meeting will be held in the Minnehaha Room at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road. It will not be televised or broadcast, but it is open to the public. As of this posting, the agenda lists only the following item:

STUDY/REPORT ITEMS
Commissioner Revenue Priorities.

More information may be posted on Monday. Here’s the agenda posted at the MPRB web site:

minneapolisparks.org/documents/meetings/agendas/uploaded05-12-10cow.pdf

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch

Park Board Goals for 2010

The following article by Cristof Traudes, which was published in the May 3, 2010 edition of the Southwest Journal, lists the commissioners’ goals for 2010 as decided upon at the April 14 Park Board meeting:

PARK BOARD GOALS FOR 2010

It may already be the middle of spring, but the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board recently adopted its formal list of goals for 2010.

The six-part document spreads itself fairly equally between political and parks and recreation ideas. There’s no doubt, though, that the board is wary of going down the same road as other cities’ parks departments, where neighborhood centers are being closed due to budget cuts. While St. Paul has been forced to slash its number of recreation centers, the Minneapolis Park Board’s No. 1 goal this year is to increase the quality of amenities, services and programs in neighborhood parks.

The commissioners’ No. 2 goal is to organize a citywide, co-sponsored greening event, while goal No. 3 is to increase community engagement.

No. 4 on the list is to host a successful national parks conference — the National Recreation and Park Association will be here in October — and successfully hire a new superintendent.

The board also reiterated its interest in gaining more control over its finances. Having been weeding itself off of local-government aid for the past few years in anticipation of state budget cuts, the board wants to up its budget’s non-property tax-based revenue by 5 percent.

Its sixth and final goal shows a special interest in boosting the parks system’s political standing. A year after talk of the board’s elimination dominated local politics discussions, commissioners have made it a distinct goal to improve their relationship with other governmental bodies while strengthening their own system’s independence.

Skipperliner Filing For Bankruptcy

SKIPPERLINER FILING FOR BANKRUPTCY

Park Watch has learned that SkipperLiner, a Wisconsin boat manufacturer, ceased operations on April 30. In 2004 the Park Board entered into a 10-year agreement with SkipperLiner to provide public cruises and private charters on the Mississippi River, thereby replacing a previous agreement with the Paddelford Company.

Two SkipperLiner boats, the Minneapolis Queen and the Paradise Lady, have been running cruises from the MPRB’s Boom Island Park during the boating season. Both boats have been operated by Lake Minnetonka based Paradise Charter Cruises.

According to an article in the LaCross Tribune, SkipperLiner is filing for Chapter 128 under Wisconsin bankruptcy laws. With the spring boating season just getting under way, it’s not known how SkipperLiner’s default will affect the cruising schedule of the boats from Boom Island. Stay tuned.

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch