Monthly Archives: July 2010



Activity and Target Date

 The Waters Consulting Group (WCG) Completes Interviews to Develop Candidate Profile and Recruitment Brochure; MPRB Approves Ad Placement Schedule and Timeline. Completed
 WCG Sends Draft Recruitment Brochure to the MPRB. Completed
 MPRB Returns Draft Recruitment Brochure (with edits) to WCG. Completed
 WCG Commences Executive Recruitment Advertising and Marketing. Completed
 WCG Commences First Review of Resumes. July 30, 2010
 WCG Sends Semi-Final Candidate Books to MPRB with Recommendation for Semi-Finalists. August 9, 2010
 WCG Discusses Recommended Semi-Finalists with MPRB; MPRB Selects Semi-Finalists. August 18, 2010
 WCG Conducts CareerNavigator™ Assessment with Semi-Finalists. 19-24, 2010
 WCG Completes Interviews with Semi-Finalists. August 27, 2010
 WCG Recommends Finalists to the MPRB; MPRB Selects Tentative List Finalists for On-Site Interviews. September 1, 2010
 WCG Completes Reference Checks/Background Checks/Academic Verification for Finalists. Names become public. September 16, 2010
 WCG Sends Final Candidate Books to the MPRB. September 17, 2010
 WCG Conducts On-Site Interviews with Finalists. September 20-22, 2010
 MPRB Extends Conditional Employment Offer to Finalist. October 2010



Everyone knows that Lake Harriet has great sailing and wonderful concerts during the summer. Then there is also fishing. According to an item in the July 28, 2010 issue of the Star Tribune, a monster carp over 3 feet long and weighing over 28 pounds was recently caught in Lake Harriet.

Public restrooms: Minneapolis could learn from Mound

The following letter-to-the-editor from reader Chris Steller appeared in the July 24, 2010 issue of the Star Tribune:


The Three Rivers Park District approved $45,000 to help Mound convert a historic building into public toilets so that regional trail users don’t have to ask to use private businesses’ restrooms (“How do trail users spell relief? R-E-S-T-R-O-O-M” July 19).

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board paid $6.1 million in state funds for the historic property that’s now the Nicollet Island Park Pavilion, which used to offer public toilets for regional park visitors. Now the board lets a private business monopolize the place for private parties — even on July 4th, when fireworks draw crowds who might like to use the facilities.

What is it about providing toilets to regional park users that the city of Mound gets but Minneapolis doesn’t?


Free movies in Minneapolis Parks


Enjoy outdoor cinema at its best! All movies start 15 minutes after sunset.

7/27 Minnehaha Park The Sting – presented by The A.V. Club
7/27 Elliot Park Ghostbusters
7/28 Corcoran Park Sherlock Holmes
7/29 Father Hennepin Bluffs Park Barking Water – Indigenous Series
7/30 Sibley Park Monsters vs Aliens
7/31 Boom Island Field of Dreams
7/31 Hiawatha Park Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
8/2 Sibley Park Men In Black
8/3 Loring Park [To Be Announced] – presented by Lunds & City Pages
8/3 Linden Hills Park Breaking Away
8/4 Pearl Park Astroboy
8/5 Stewart Park Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
8/5 Father Hennepin Bluffs Park Kissed by the Lighting – Indigenous Series
8/6 Bryant Square Park Coraline
8/7 Brackett Park Bee Movie
8/7 Lake Calhoun (south beach) Top Gun
8/9 Kenwood Park The Perfect Storm
8/10 Farview Park Madagascar
8/10 Loring Park [To Be Announced] – presented by Lunds & City Pages
8/11 Powderhorn Park Avatar
8/12 Lyndale Farmstead Park Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
8/12 Father Hennepin Bluffs Park [Youth Produced Shorts] – Indigenous Series
8/13 Bryant Square Park Star Trek
8/14 Longfellow Park The Blind Side
8/14 Lake Calhoun (south beach) The American President
8/16 Dickman Park Journey to the Center of the Earth
8/17 Pershing Park 2001: A Space Odyssey
8/17 Loring Park [To Be Announced] – presented by Lunds & City Pages
8/18 Marshall Terrace Park Up
8/19 Matthews Park Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
8/19 Father Hennepin Bluffs Park 101 Dalmations – Canines for Clean Water Series
8/20 Nokomis Park Hair Spray (new version)
8/21 Hiawatha School Park National Treasure
8/21 Lake Calhoun (south beach) Invasion of the Body Snatchers
8/23 Waite Park Kung Fu Panda
8/24 Loring Park [To Be Announced] – presented by Lunds & City Pages
8/25 Powderhorn Park Up
8/26 Windom Park South Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
8/26 Father Hennepin Bluffs Park Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – Canines for Clean Water Series
8/27 Victory Park The Princess and the Frog
8/27 Pearl Park Wall E
8/28 Victory Memorial Drive [Viewers Choice: Vote at mplsmusicandmovies.]

Parks think green, as in cash

The following article by Alex Ebert was published in the July 26, 2010 edition of the StarTribune:

Brendan Sullivan, Star Tribune

Customers of Tin Fish restaurant have a view of Lake Calhoun spread out in front of them. The Park Board is looking at more eateries in city parks as a way to make up for budget cutbacks. The board is also contemplating peddling some long-stored sculptures.


Faced with a shrunken budget, Minneapolis park leaders hope a combination of bikes, burgers and an Italian sculptor named Brioschi will stave off further cuts to the popular and nationally known park system.

Park board commissioners are talking of raising revenue through selling donated marble sculptures, increasing the number of concession stands and holding more sponsored events as part of a pronounced shift toward business ventures to make up for declining state aid.

“We’ve cut so much, if we cut more deeply moving into the future it would be really obvious to our citizens,” said John Erwin, president of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

One marquee loss for the city that’s home to the Aquatennial is the lack of lifeguards at most park beaches on weekdays.

“We’re the city of lakes with beaches” cutting back on lifeguards, said Commissioner Bob Fine, who was a lifeguard in college. “I don’t want to see us cutting back any more on youth sports or the beaches or maintenance.”

Park-goers seem ready for the business embrace, to a point. Three-quarters of park-goers surveyed in 2009 said the board should partner with business to “support operations,” leading the board to kick around ideas from trinket sales to event management. But they expressed caution about making parks too commercial, such as by adding corporate names to popular venues.

“We’re not entrepreneurs,” Commissioner Scott Vreeland said. But alternatives are quickly disappearing, he added.

Cuts to park services — from lifeguards to senior citizen programs — often mean residents need to travel farther to have needs met.

“We’ve been making cuts in the system that have made it very difficult,” Fine said. “We’re not providing the services we should.”

Minneapolis’ struggle to make up for declining state aid reflects the struggle of many cities around the state.

According to the 2010 budget, “community recreation services” took a nearly $150,000 hit, the largest among any park department. Park police, environmental and customer services departments each took close to $80,000 cuts. Park employment is down more than 100 positions from a high of 951 in 2001.

“This year we reduced costs to make this up,” Erwin said. But the board will need to find more funding if it wants to continue all of its services, he added.

“That’s our only choice,” he said.


At a recent Park Board meeting, commissioners laid out a series of potential business ideas, from annual events to securing one-time funding by selling off some Italian sculptures.

The board talked about adding $50,000 through a corporate-sponsored spring bike race, similar to the successful Minneapolis Bike Tour in September. Other ideas include fishing or curling competitions.

On the food front, more than 10 businesses are bidding to open a new concession stand at Lake Harriet. The board is talking about adding a restaurant on Lake Nokomis. Those moves could add more than $100,000 in revenue annually, Fine said.

Hungry park-goers at Lake Calhoun’s Tin Fish restaurant last Tuesday said they’d be glad to see more concessions in Minneapolis parks.

Roseville residents Louise Miles and Tom Heinz said they came to Lake Calhoun just to eat at the concession stand.

“This works, and I can see more of this working,” Heinz said while waving a hand toward a long line of waiting customers. “This is a nice user fee.”

Others are more hesitant about too much business emphasis. “Some people are of the opinion that parks shouldn’t be commercialized, but I think they’re losing,” said Harvey Ettinger, a city resident who has gone to most board meetings for the last three years. “The question is, can they do it in a tasteful way where it’s not [like a normal] commercial venture?”

Besides commercial partnerships, the board is also contemplating selling a marble sculpture set that has sat in park storage since the 1950s. The delicate statues were modeled in plaster in 1913 by Carlo (Charles) Brioschi, whose company Brioschi-Minuti remodeled sculptures in the White House and several Minnesota landmarks, including the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, according to state records. The board hopes to net at least $50,000 for the set and put the money toward more public park art.

To keep or enhance the park system, the board will have to think more like a business, said Park Board general manager Mike Schmidt.

“People talk about us becoming more entrepreneurial, willing to take a risk. We need to think in those terms,” he said. “There will be some failures and we will learn and grow from those failures.”

Fundraising approved for Whittier China Garden

The following article by Jake Weyer and May Tobar was published in the July 26, 2010 issue of the Southwest Journal:


The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board on July 7 approved a fundraising effort for a Northern-style China garden at Washburn Fair Oaks Park that would be the first of its kind in the city.

The Park Board has worked with the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society and Whittier neighborhood since 2007 on the project, which would be located in the southeast section of the 7.5-acre park. No specific design is in place, but the Northern, or imperial, style garden would feature gradual sloping eaves in its architecture and a harmonious unity with nature, according to a statement from the Park Board.

Plans might include a gateway, seating, roofed structure, paths, bridge and plantings. The Garden Society has estimated a $1.5-$2 million price tag for the garden, money that is expected to come entirely from fundraising.

The plan is to raise 20 percent of the cost during the first year, 40 percent in the second year, 60 percent in the third year and 100 percent by the fourth year. When 60 percent of the funding is reached, the Park Board will form a Citizens Advisory Committee to discuss design details. The city has been working with its sister city of Harbin, China, to help fund the garden.

The Whittier Alliance voted more than a year ago to explore the garden concept, but residents still have concerns about how it would be maintained or whether it would interrupt regular park uses, such as sledding.

“If this moves forward, how is the balance of the park affected? Whether or not the Chinese garden is a good thing or a bad thing, the neighborhood hasn’t taken a position on that yet,” said Whittier Alliance Executive Director Marian Biehn.

Park Board Commissioner Anita Tabb (4th District), said she thinks the garden could be a “potentially lovely addition to the park,” but noted it needs community buy-in to be successful and it should also transition smoothly with its surroundings.

Washburn Fair Oaks Park is at 200 24th St. E.

New Park Police Chief Appointed

The following article by Jake Weyer and May Tobar appeared in the July 26, 2010 issue of the Southwest Journal:


In a sudden restructuring move less than a month after taking the reins of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Interim Superintendent David Fisher has opted for a new park police chief.

The Park Board announced in a brief statement July 19 that Fisher had appointed Lt. Linda Bergstrom to replace nine-year Chief Bradley Johnson. The reason for the move wasn’t clear, but Park Board General Manager Mike Schmidt said it was part of Fisher’s plan to reorganize the park system.

“I’m sure there were a lot of people who were surprised, but superintendent Fisher had talked about making some structural changes,” said Schmidt, who also serves in a superintendent-appointed position, along with about a dozen other employees.

He said Fisher was more comfortable with Bergstrom in the chief role, so he made the change. Fisher could not be reached before press time to comment on the decision.

“Some superintendents make changes that put people into places that they’re more comfortable with or fit within their idea of the structure of the organization,” Schmidt said.

Bergstrom started her law enforcement career with the Park Board in 1979 as a patrol agent, was promoted to park police officer in 1981, to sergeant eight years later and to lieutenant in 2006. She now oversees safety and security for a system that includes 182 park properties and draws roughly 18 million visitors each year.

Park Board OKs Plan for Developers to grow green

The following article by Jake Weyer was published in the July 26, 2010 issue of the Southwest Journal:


The City Council will decide later this summer whether to go along with the plan, which would require developers to contribute land or cash for new parks.

A long-delayed ordinance proposal that stalled more than a year ago when the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and City Council were at odds over the board’s existence is back, retooled and seemingly on its way toward enactment.

With some exceptions, the ordinance would require developers to create parks on new project sites or pay a fee for the creation or enhancement of nearby green space. The ordinance, similar to those used in many metro-area suburbs to develop new parkland, is meant to help the financially strapped Park Board meet the outdoor needs of the city’s population as it grows.

The city projects the addition of 26,350 new households by 2030, creating a demand for an additional 263 acres of park space.

“If you put in a 100-unit condo, those people are all going to have some expectation of park services,” said Park Board President John Erwin. “And Minneapolis has a long tradition of making sure people have access to park services.”

The Park Board passed the ordinance July 7 after Erwin and at-large commissioner Bob Fine negotiated the language with council members Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) and Barbara Johnson (4th Ward). The City Council has to approve the same language to seal the deal and is expected to vote in September, assuming the ordinance winds its way through Planning Commission and council committee meetings on schedule. Both the council and Park Board see the ordinance’s resurrection and progress as a sign of a healing relationship.

“I think this is a good indication that the city and the Park Board want to work together more closely,” said Erwin, who has made building alliances with local government a priority since taking office in January.

The ordinance as approved by the Park Board is a compromise for both the board and city, he said. It’s complex, but would essentially function like this:

Any developer requesting a permit for a project that would bring more residents or jobs to the city would be required to dedicate a “reasonable portion” of land for a public park, playground, recreational facility, wetlands, trails or open space. City staff would consult with the Park Board superintendent or designee on park plans, which the board could decline in lieu of a fee. The annually adjusted fee would start at $1,500 per residential unit and $200 or less per employee.

Fee collections would be placed in a special Park Board-managed fund and used solely for the acquisition, development and improvement of green space and park connections within the neighborhood the development is in or an adjacent neighborhood within a half-mile radius.

“The challenge is we are in very difficult financial times and any additional costs you want to make sure that they’re not so great that they would limit any new development,” Erwin said. “But the Park Board wanted to make sure that the support was enough that they could actually do something.”

Developers of affordable housing projects would be exempt from the ordinance, a provision Goodman was adamant about. She actually refused to participate in any negotiations on the ordinance unless that was part of the deal.

“I am very sensitive to the fact that building affordable housing is both extremely time consuming and expensive in terms of accumulating all of the different private and public sources,” she said. “And adding yet another large fee to an affordabl e housing project would just increase the subsidy needed.”

Goodman staunchly opposed the ordinance when it was initially proposed several years ago with a much higher fee, no exemption for affordable housing and no restrictions tying the fee to new or expanded parks. Making sure the money collected from fees stays tied to the area it came from is still one of her big concerns.

She said the ordinance is the Park Board’s prerogative, but there are parts of town, such as industrial property along the upper riverfront, that could benefit from more park infrastructure.

Developers haven’t weighed in much on the ordinance, but a public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 2 before the Planning Commission.

After briefly reviewing the plan, Southwest developer Stuart Ackerberg, CEO of The Ackerberg Group, said it would just add something new to the game of development.

“I don’t have a problem with it, Ackerberg said. “I think it really promotes cooperation between the city and the Park Board, and the community and development. I think it’s critical that people are working together on those types of issues.”

He said it would be nearly impossible to add green space at some sites surrounded by urban infrastructure, but the ordinance would force developers to get creative about integrating community-oriented spaces, something he already tries to do.

“The environment around our buildings is as critical as the building themselves,” he said.

Complaint Prompts Investigation of Mpls Park Police Lieutenant

The following article by Paul Walsh was published in the July 23, 2010 edition of the Star Tribune:


A Minneapolis Park Police lieutenant is the subject of a complaint and has been put on paid leave, a Park Board spokeswoman said Thursday.

Lt. Rob Goodsell is under investigation and will remain on leave until the probe is complete, said spokeswoman Dawn Sommers.

The complaint against Goodsell has no connection to the hasty departure of Brad Johnson as head of the park’s police force, Sommers said.

Sommers said that privacy issues prevent her from saying more about the complaint against Goodsell.

On Monday, Lt. Linda Bergstrom was appointed to immediately replace Johnson, a 34-year Minneapolis police veteran, took over as chief nine years ago.

Johnson’s departure appears to be part of department restructuring plans and is not linked to any wrongdoing on his part, said his attorney, Marshall Tanick.

Internal Investigations in Mpls Park Police Department

The following KMSP-TV 9 report was aired during the July 21, 2010 10 p.m. newscast:

Internal Investigations in Mpls Park Police Department

MINNEAPOLIS – A day after the Minneapolis Park Police Chief Brad Johnson is let go, the number two man is on leave.

FOX 9 has learned the department’s Lieutenant Robert Goodsell is on leave Tuesday, pending an internal affairs investigation.

The commissioners have not been willing to say a word about the sudden departure of their top two cops or why.

The decisions were made by Park Board Superintendent David Fisher, who will not comment.

There may be good reason for their silence. These are internal affairs matters, and that means there always could be a lawsuit. If there is anything the commissioners or superintendent say could be used against them.

Fisher formerly held the job for 17 years, leaving in 1998. He was brought back under a four-month contract to right the ship after the controversial tenure of Superintendent Jon Gurban.

Under the city charter, the park board is completely autonomous, in charge of running the city’s 170 parks, and protecting those parks with its own police force.

And yet, over the years there’ve been suggestions Minneapolis police could and should take over the job to save money.