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East Phillips Park Cultural And Community Center Opens Its Doors

The following news release has been issued by the MPRB:

East Phillips Park Cultural And Community Center Opens Its Doors

A six-year dream will become a reality when the East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center (EPPCCC) opens its doors to the public on Monday, Feb. 28. A sneak peak of the building on Jan. 22 drew in hundreds of visitors from community members to state legislators hoping to get a glimpse of the new recreation center.

“The East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center’s open house in January demonstrated the support and interest for the project in the East Phillips community,” said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Commissioner Scott Vreeland. “The opening of the center provides a beautiful space for community members of all ages and cultures to share. I’m very grateful to all who helped this project become a success.”

The newest addition to the MPRB’s community centers, located at 2307 17th Ave. S., is also the most energy efficient and features a high school-sized gymnasium and adjacent kitchenette, two multipurpose rooms, a computer lab and a teen space. The building will be open from 1 – 9 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays.

The gymnasium, which is the size of a high-school gym, includes a basketball court and bleachers. The gym will be open for public use during scheduled open gym times, for scheduled EPPCCC programs and can be rented to community groups and individuals. Open gym times will be announced in conjunction with spring programming, slated to begin in April. The adjacent kitchenette features a refrigerator, freezer, microwave and dishwasher.

The Bloomington and Cedar multipurpose rooms can be used for meetings and classes. The rooms have tables, chairs, a sink and a room divider to create a larger space when needed.

Teens looking for a place to hang out will find fun and friends in the teen space. The room offers a television and gaming system, computers and a foosball table during building hours.

Young and old alike can browse the internet or brush up on their computer skills with the eight computers available in the EPPCCC computer lab, open during building hours.

When not in use for EPPCCC programs, the gymnasium, kitchenette and meeting rooms are available for reservation. Facility rental information, including rental forms, procedures and policies, is available at the EPPCCC or by calling 612-370-4888.

A variety of programming will be available at the center. Spring program information will be available March 1 with registration starting March 7, and spring programs beginning in April. Individuals and families are encouraged to register for activities, programs and sports and can do so online or by filling out forms available at EPPCCC or at http://www.activenet.com/minneapolisparks, the MPRB’s online registration system. Prior to the spring programming launch in April, EPCCC will offer limited activities in March, including arts and crafts, after school gym activities and teen center activities.

The EPPCCC project, which included site improvements as well as the new building, has been funded by the state legislature ($3.5 million), the MPRB’s 2008 Capital Improvement Program ($319,000), the East Phillips Improvement Coalition NRP funding ($180,000 plus $50,000 for fundraising and consulting), Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association ($5,000), Toyota Environmental Funds ($100,000), the Marbrook Foundation ($10,000), the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development ($300,000) and Hennepin County Environmental Response Fund ($271,328).

Theodore Wirth C A C to Meet March 1, 2011

The following news release has been issued by the MPRB:

Theodore Wirth CAC to Meet March 1, 2011

The MinneapolisPark and Recreation Board (MPRB) will convene the fourth Theodore Wirth Park Citizen Advisory Committee public meeting March 1. The appointed CAC members will continue to discuss and review improvements to WirthPark, considering previously approved plans and working to develop an overall concept that updates the 1980 master plan; they will also develop funding priority recommendations. The meeting will be posted online at http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1265 by February 26.

All are welcome to attend the meeting; time will be set aside for public comment.

Date: March 1, 2011
Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Place: Board Room MPRB Headquarters, 2117 W River Road

POSTSCRIPT TO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 M P R B MEETING

POSTSCRIPT TO FEBRUARY 16, 2011 MPRB MEETING

At the February 16, 2011 Park Board meeting, the Administration and Finance Committee was slated to vote on the Coke contract as follows:

RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING BOARD TO ENTER INTO A FIVE YEAR BEVERAGE
AGREEMENT WITH COCA-COLA REFRESHMENTS USA, INC.

However, it was removed from the agenda. So no action was taken.

NOTABLE 2010 PARK BOARD ACCOMPLISHMENTS

MPRB President John Erwin has assembled and recently distributed the following list of

NOTABLE 2010 PARK BOARD ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Expanded Parks and Amenities:
– Purchased Scherer Bros. Site
– Purchased 2220 Marshall St. Site
– Purchased – North Sites (get addresses. . .)
– Approved site for 35W Bridge Memorial
– Increased public access to Superintendent’s House
– Added 2 new artificial fields in neighborhood parks (Twins Funding)
– Renovated 6 athletic fields in neighborhood parks (Twins Funding)
– Approved Victory Memorial Replacement with Hennepin County

Replaced Infrastructure:
– Replaced plank road with internal funds
– Completed Bryant Ave Bridge
– Repaired Linden Hills Wading Pool

Generated New Revenue:
– Park Dedication Fee (approx. additional $1 million per year)
– Altered legislation to allow Scherer purchase utilizing Legacy Funding sources only
– Storm Water Fee agreement opening fund to MPRB Access
– Approved new Restaurant at Lake Harriet
– Approved new River Boat Operator for Mississippi River
– Rearranged tenants in Superintendent’s House and Longfellow House to generate an additional $6,000 per year in revenue
– Exploring new revenue generation models including conservancies

Resolved Legal Issues and Other Conflict:
– Significantly better relationship with City Council and Mayor
– Approved agreements with City and County to facilitate Central Rail
Corridor Construction
– Agreement with MCWD to complete Minnehaha Creek Project
– Defended free speech in Loring Park in Federal Court with Twin Cities
Pride vs MPRB and won
– Fuji ya case resolution (won)

Changed Leadership and Reorganized to Reduce Costs:
– Identified new Board Goals
– Identified a Search Firm and initiated a New Superintendent Search
– Appointed Interim Superintendent Fisher
– Hired new Superintendent Miller on schedule
– Reorganized to simplify structure, reduce administrative staff (21 positions), reduce costs, while maintaining the best parts of the CSA system to not significantly impact the system
– Added an addition Republican lobbyist to our team ($20,000 approved, actual cost will be between $5,000-10,000)

Redirected Funds to Reduce Property Tax Reliance and Invest in Neighborhood Parks:
– Allocated $1,000,000 to neighborhood CIP in 2010
– Reduced Budget by $1.6 million due to State unalotment in 2010
– Reorganization and internal savings measures generated an additional $3.3 million per year for Neighborhood Capital Improvement in 2011 (beyond $1 million allocated in 2010)
– Taken together these three items represent a $5.9 million dollar shift with a $5.3 million reinvestment (1 million from 2010 unspent + 4.3 million for 2011 Available in 2011 total) into neighborhood parks. This is similar to the reduction that the 2002 Board dealt with after 9/11 ($6 million). We accomplished this proactively. This also represents a 8% new allocation into neighborhood parks.

Increased Citizen Engagement:
– Initiated Wirth CAC
– Completed BF Nelson/Boom Island CAC
– Initiated SW LRT CAC
– Initiated MLK Dog Park CAC
– Initiated MLK Memorial Review
– Initiated Brownie Lake CAC
– Initiated the Riverfront Design Competition and a citizen input process

Significant Other Initiatives:
– Increased tree planting from 4,000 to 5.500 trees (highest since 1970’s) in 2010.
– Hosted the National NRPA Conference
– Initiated Riverfront Design Competition
– Reinvesting into a sustainable plan to support the Parks Foundation.
– Partnering with the Downtown Improvement District on Library Park and other greening Initiatives Downtown

DOG PARK SITES UNDER PROTEST AGAIN THIS TIME BY BIRD GROUPS

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the February 17, 2011 online issue of the Southwest Journal:

DOG PARK SITES UNDER PROTEST AGAIN THIS TIME BY BIRD GROUPS

Finding a site for an off-leash dog area in the Minneapolis Park Board’s Sixth District is proving to be a difficult task.

Absent from Wednesday night’s Park Board meeting were dozens of black community members who successfully petitioned the board to remove Martin Luther King Jr. Park as possible site for a dog area, saying it disrespected the civil rights leader.

Present at the meeting was a small handful of Audubon Society members who asked the board to remove two of the three sites that the Park Board suggested as a replacement to MLK Park.

That group said that if the Park Board selects one of the two sites at Lyndale Park, migrating birds would be scared to land at the nearby Robert’s Bird Sanctuary.

Kit Healy, chair of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis’s Conservation Committee, said birds are frightened by dogs, and if they see or sense them in the area they will not land in the sanctuary. Also, the increased traffic and pedestrians that a dog park brings would only add stress to an already stressed sanctuary.

Healy said Robert’s Bird Sanctuary is an important piece of land for birds migrating from the south. After the birds fly over southern Minnesota’s vast farmland and then through a developed urban Twin Cities area, the sanctuary provides a much-needed pit stop for the tired birds.

Some birds continue to northern Minnesota and Canada, while others use the sanctuary as their summer home.

Healy said the Audubon Society has been working with the Park Board on a management plan for the sanctuary, in hopes of creating a better buffer zone for the birds. Putting a dog park nearby would ruin that plan’s progress, she said.

Healy and Audubon Society member Connie Pepin said they support the idea of a dog park in Southwest Minneapolis, but said the Park Board should not have limited its suggestions to three sites.

“The Park Board needs to slow down and consider all stakeholders,” Healy said.

Several Minneapolis groups, including the bird sanctuary, are in the process of appointing a 19-member citizens advisory committee that will be tasked with recommending a site to the Park Board.

The third recommended site is at Lyndale Farmstead Park where there is currently a parking lot for the Park Board’s Southside Operations Center. That site is less than half the size of the two sites near the bird sanctuary.

PARK BOARD WANTS INPUT ON LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT

The following item by Nick Halter was published in the
February 7, 2011 issue of the Southwest Journal:

PARK BOARD WANTS INPUT
ON LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation
Board is asking the public to take an
online survey in order to get the public’s
thoughts and ideas about how the
proposed Light Rail Transit corridor in
Southwest will affect parks.

Surveys can be completed through Feb.
28. Visit http://www.minneapolisparks.org to fill out
the survey.

A Park Board Citizens Advisory
Committee will use the results to make
recommendations on the proposed corridor.

SEWAGE LINE REPLACEMENT PROJECT PENDING FOR CALHOUN – ISLES AREA

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the February 7, 2011 issue of the Southwest Journal:

SEWAGE LINE REPLACEMENT PROJECT PENDING FOR CALHOUN-ISLES AREA

A corroding sewage line on the north side of Lake Calhoun has to go, and the work needed to replace it over the next three summers will re-route traffic, tear up segments of the Midtown Greenway and may even close the channel that connects Lake Calhoun with Lake of the Isles.

If not addressed in a timely manner, the 40-year-old concrete line is in jeopardy of springing a leak that could send raw sewage into back yards or parks, according to officials from the Metropolitan Council, the agency in charge of metro wastewater treatment.

The new line would run northeast on Sunset Boulevard, cross the Kenilworth Trail on 28th Street before zigzagging to the Midtown Greenway Trail and following it to Irving Avenue.

Neighbors are keeping a watchful eye on the process, but say that so far they’ve been pleased with how Metropolitan Council engineer Adam Gordon has listened to their demands and planned a route that will disrupt the neighborhood and summer activities as little as possible.

“The crux of the issue is we have to replace sewer lines,” said Anita Tabb, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner that represents the district where the line will go. “It’s not like we can do without them. It’s an issue that has to be addressed. We have to get those replaced. So the issue is where is the best location to dig up and put in the new ones.”

Tabb said she’s been pleased by how much the Metropolitan Council has worked with the Park Board on the plan over the past year to protect park amenities.

Still, installing twin 24-inch sewage lines through one of the most densely populated and highly recreated areas of the Twin Cities won’t come without challenges.

The Metropolitan Council plans to phase construction out over three years. The first segment — along the Greenway between Dean Parkway and Knox Avenue — will be completed in 2011, if plans go accordingly. Crews are tentatively expected to start working on the project this summer.

The stretch to the west of Dean Parkway will be completed in 2012. Finally, a relining of the pipe from Knox to Irving and north to 27th Street will be completed in 2013.

The Park Board, the Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority and private property owners will have to agree to give the Metropolitan Council easements to lay the pipe.

The total cost of the project, including work that was completed in Hopkins and St. Louis Park in previous years, will cost $64 million and be paid for by a $1.35 per year sewage rate increase per household in the entire metro area as well as a fee increase for new homes that connect to the metro sewer system.

Bicyclists, runners and skaters who use the Midtown Greenway can expect to reach all of their destinations during construction. At some places where crews need to dig under the trail, they will pave a temporary asphalt path around the area, Gordon said.

Greenway users will not, for two months this summer, be able to enter and exit the trail onto Dean Parkway. Crews will need to dig around the ramp there to properly bury the pipe. Gordon said he is asking the Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority about making a temporary entrance one block east at Thomas Avenue.

Without the Dean Parkway ramp, bicyclists will have to go west to Whole Foods or east to the Lagoon to get on or off the trail.

Boaters who like to paddle between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles may have to portage between the two lakes next fall.

The new sewage line must be buried below the channel that connects the two lengths. That will require crews to dredge the channel.

Gordon said he hopes the dredging and other work can be done while keeping the channel open to boats. But environmental issues may prevent that, and in that case crews would have to clear a path on land for boaters to portage.

Work on the channel will begin after Labor Day so as to avoid disruption during the busiest months for boat traffic.

Traffic will mostly be unaffected until 2012. That’s when crews will need to install the new sewage lines below city streets in the Cedar-Isles-Dean neighborhood.

Gordon said the crews will work in one-block increments that will require one side of Sunset Parkway to be closed to traffic for approximately one month each.

The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association is working with the Met Council and the city to have sidewalks constructed as part of the project along Sunset between Chowen and Depot, where there are none, said board member Ed Bell, who lives at the Sunset and Depot intersection.

In 2013, crews will be re-lining the existing pipes from on Irving Avenue from the Greenway to 27th Street and then for one block on 27th Street. This will require a temporary sewage line to be laid across intersections, which Gordon says will have to be buried to allow for traffic to cross.

Originally, the Met Council planned to install the new line through Dean Park and along 28th near the soccer fields.

But then Don Willeke, a 40-year resident of the neighborhood and a tree enthusiast, did a walk-through of the route with Gordon. They determined that using that route would endanger many rare trees in Dean Park as well as a group of 100-year-old oak trees just west of the soccer field by Lake of the Isles.

Gordon agreed to run the route south, which Willeke said will save those trees and instead sacrifice less valuable trees like American ash, cottonwoods and American elms.

The Metropolitan Council had alternative options for the sewage line. One option was to re-route the line down near Shakopee, completely avoiding Minneapolis, but Gordon said that would cost twice as much as the current plan.

The Metropolitan Council plans to hold public meetings later this winter or this spring.

WINNER ANNOUNCED IN MINNEAPOLIS RIVERFRONT DESIGN COMPETITION

The following article by Gregory J. Scott was published in the Southwest Journal on February 10, 2011:

WINNER ANNOUNCED IN MINNEAPOLIS RIVERFRONT DESIGN COMPETITION

Park Board Superintendent Emeritus David Fisher congratulates Sheila Kennedy, of Kennedy & Violich Architecture

TLS/KVA, a design coalition led by California-based Tom Leader Studio and Massachusetts-based Kennedy & Violich Architecture, has beat out 54 teams from around the globe to win the Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition. Their prize? A commission for an ambitious park project, covering 5.5 miles of Minneapolis riverfront, expected to be the crown jewel of the Minneapolis park system and an economic driver for neighborhoods bordering the Mississippi, especially in North and Northeast Minneapolis.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board made the announcement this morning at Nicollet Island Pavilion.

TVS/KVA, along with three other design team finalists, presented its vision for the Minneapolis riverfront two weeks ago to a capacity crowd at Walker Ar t Center. Principal Tom Leader described plans for wetlands and an aquatic garden just south of the Lowry Avenue Bridge and a great urban beach near the Plymouth Avenue Bridge. The team also proposed covering Interstate 94 with a land bridge, part of a “great plane of green” that would link North Minneapolis’ Farview Park to the Riverfront.

But organizers stressed that the actual project has yet to be defined.

“No particular location, project or feature has been selected,” said Cecily Hines, president of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, a co-sponsor of the competition.

Hines described a four-month “transition phase,” starting tomorrow, during which the Park Board and the Parks Foundation will meet with the design team to determine an implementation strategy. A steering committee, yet to be created, will help guide the process. In mid-June, Hines said, the Parks Foundation “will present a rec ommendation on how we’ll move forward.”

But the biggest question is how to pay for such a project. TVS/KLA’s grandiose visions for the Mississippi Riverfront will have to be tempered by fiscal realism. The Park Board, still reeling from the first layoffs in its history, faces a limited budget in coming years.

Asked if he had any specific funding ideas for a riverfront park project, Mayor R. T. Ryback said, “No, not yet. The first priority is to lay out the vision.”

But he added that the project’s big ideas must include financing, not just design.

“How we’re going to get this done is going to be tough,” he said.

February 16, 2011 Park Board Meeting

HEADS-UP FOR THE FEBRUARY 16, 2011 PARK BOARD MEETING

5:00 P.M. REGULAR BOARD MEETING. The meeting will be held in the boardroom at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road, just north of Broadway Pizza.

5:30 P.M. OPEN TIME. Speakers need to sign up before 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting.

With four committee meetings scheduled in addition to the regular meeting, this could be a long meeting. One of the agenda items to be voted on in committee is the 5-year vendor contract with Coca Cola. The previous Coke contract expired last September and the new vendor contract was supposed to be completed by then. Curiously, while there is reference to other beverage vendor proposals, there is no chart of these other proposals for the commissioners or the public to see. Park Watch is suggesting that, before the committee votes on the Coke contract, the staff provide the competing proposals for the commissioners and the public to review.

The complete agenda, with staff reports including the Coke contract, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting for Wednesday, February 16, 2011 is at:
http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=37&calid=706

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 http://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 http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/webcasts.

The Park Board’s website is http://www.minneapolisparks.org. The phone number is 612-230-6400.

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch

HEADS-UP FOR THE FEBRUARY 16, 2011 PARK BOARD MEETING

HEADS-UP FOR THE FEBRUARY 16, 2011 PARK BOARD MEETING

5:00 P.M. REGULAR BOARD MEETING. The meeting will be held in the boardroom at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road, just north of Broadway Pizza.

5:30 P.M. OPEN TIME. Speakers need to sign up before 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting.

With four committee meetings scheduled in addition to the regular meeting, this could be a long meeting. One of the agenda items to be voted on in committee is the 5-year vendor contract with Coca Cola. The previous Coke contract expired last September and the new vendor contract was supposed to be completed by then. Curiously, while there is reference to other beverage vendor proposals, there is no chart of these other proposals for the commissioners or the public to see. Park Watch is suggesting that, before the committee votes on the Coke contract, the staff provide the competing proposals for the commissioners and the public to review.

The complete agenda, with staff reports including the Coke contract, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting for Wednesday, February 16, 2011 is at:
http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=37&calid=706

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 http://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 http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/webcasts.

The Park Board’s website is http://www.minneapolisparks.org. The phone number is 612-230-6400.

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch