Monthly Archives: April 2012

Keeping the Tin Fish: More Citizen Input on Tin Fish Contract


The following letters are a string of e-mails regarding the Tin Fish lease that were exchanged between long time ECCO resident Al McMurchie and a couple of Park Board commissioners. The e-mails are being posted here with Mr. McMurchie’s permission.

In the original letter dated Sun., March 18, 2012 at 8:13 PM, Al McMurchie wrote to Commissioner Anita Tabb:

“My wife and I reside one block from the Tin Fish Restaurant. In our travels this Saturday, we were distressed to learn that there is a negotiating problem between the operators of the restaurant and what appears to be certain segments of the Park Board and/or Park Board staff.

Generations of my family have had a long-term relationship with this neighborhood. My grandparents lived and are buried here, my father graduated from West High School, and my daughters grew up here. We love the dynamics of our community. We are quiet by nature, choosing to enjoy living here without political involvement. We’re not complainers and we trust in government officials to do their best and we respect, and even have sympathy for, the challenges that confront them. There however comes a point when we need to express our concern.

Based on what we heard from neighbors, other citizens, and commissioners present, this development is distressing to us from a variety of perspectives:

1. The professional conduct of at least one Commissioner. Reported to us by a fellow citizen, a confrontational, even bullying, tone was observed and commented on by observers during a previous meeting. This is extremely disappointing. For any of you that have bullied, that is not why you were elected.

2. There appears to be a question of park staff’s ability to organize and facilitate an effective agreement on your behalf.

3. All independent operators that have taken distressed and poorly functioning assets of the City and turned them into strong community assets need to be respected and rewarded in good faith for taking that action and assuming that risk. The Tin Fish operators have certainly demonstrated that commitment. As a result the community now has a strong centerpiece for this portion of our park system. Remember that previously those same assets languished for decades.

4. After reading the contract in question on your website there is a fundamental question of fairness for this operator and other operators. Rent seems to have been accelerated at an inordinate rate and is inconsistent with commercial options. Even recognizing the value of the location, the rent amount and other obligations would be viewed by fair-minded people as unreasonable.

5. Loss of this operator and this recreational asset represents risk to the City. Loss of the financial energy this asset represents to the taxpayer appears to have been pushed to the brink. Further, based on your treatment of this operator, replacement with a qualified operator would, at best, be problematic.

6. We view the Tin Fish Restaurant, its operators, and its employees as a tremendous community asset. Legitimate jobs have been created for young people in a positive environment and involving them in an entrepreneurial effort. It is evident whenever we visit this restaurant that this is the case. This benefit is an intangible but nevertheless deserves your close consideration.

We realize that often times in a position such as yours the overriding mission of the organization, the reason you exist in the first place, can get lost due to the details and stresses that you face on an on-going basis. However your mission, as most of your constituents would view it, would be to create positive recreational amenities that contribute to the community. This you have done for the most part and the Park Board has a grand history we are all proud of.

However, the conversations and information we heard this past Saturday lead us to wonder whether or not good faith and professionalism by the public’s representatives have been a part of this particular process. It would be extremely disappointing to us if this were not the case. Not withstanding the other reasons listed, for this reason alone we encourage you to come to a fair and equitable solution to this issue as soon as possible.

We would expect, as a professional courtesy on your part and in your fiduciary role as a public servant, a response to our concerns.

Al and Kelley McMurchie”


Commissioner Tabb responded on Sun., March 18, 2012 at 9:11 PM:

“Dear Mr. McMurchie,

Thanks for your input. I was one of the two votes in the Admin and Finance Committee against the proposed increase to 20% (from 17%) for the Tin Fish contract. The Tin Fish owners were willing to sign the contract at 17% and I was in favor of that proposed contract. The Tin Fish is asking to pay a lower rent than their original contract and the Park Board is trying hard to find a rate in which the majority of the commissioners feel comfortable supporting a new arrangement.

My reason for being willing to sacrifice a small percentage of revenue (17% vs 20%) is that I believe the Park Board has an obligation to provide amenities in its system. We are not tasked with generating revenue but with providing a park experience that can be enjoyed by all. Given that the Tin Fish tries to provide a healthy menu with pricing that is financially accessible to a vast number of park users, I believe they are serving that purpose. They have been good partners and good stewards of our park. The surrounding neighborhoods see them as a good and welcome neighbor.

Of course, other commissioners have differing points of view so you should probably reach out other commissioner, too. It takes 5 of 9 votes to approve the contract. Due to open meeting laws, we are not allowed to have private discussions about Park Board business so I am not aware of the concerns of all our commissioners.

Because we are a public body, the Park Board cannot discuss issues before us in private. So we discuss and try to come to resolution in public. The “sausage-making” can be eye-opening. And in defense of staff, they try to understand “the will of the board” before they negotiate. But we (the board) doesn’t always make it clear what the majority wants. I get frustrated when, at times, my fellow commissioners don’t see things as I do- especially when I find things so obvious. That’s the messy part of democracy that we live with.

I am hopeful that the Park Board and Tin Fish will come to a resolution that works for everyone. I believe that we will.

Anita Tabb”


Al McMurchie then wrote on Mon., March 19, 2012 at 5:38 PM:

“Dear Commissioner Tabb,

Thank you for getting back to us so quickly.

We appreciate your approach and your support of this amenity for our neighborhood. Since they arrived the change in dynamic for our neighborhood, and specifically that area around the building, has been tremendous. We believe that the restaurant’s presence has been a positive, both tangible and intangible, in many regards. As property owners, we would hate to see it all unravel at this point.

We are glad we can count on your positive vote as our representative.

Thank you for your support and your service to our neighborhood.

Al and Kelley McMurchie”


Also, on March 19, 2012 at 9:33 AM, Commissioner Bob Fine wrote:

“Al and Kelley,

The Park Board is not trying to get rid of Tin Fish. The item passed in committee changes their commission paid to an of average 15%. The capital is 5%. That is less than the contract they had to date. They elected not to take up their option not to renew. The want to pay less.

The rest of the story is not being told.

We are reducing their capital requirements. But they also want their commission they pay to the park board reduced.

Do you think the park board should reduce what they pay when they make in the range of $300,000 plus for less than 6 months?

As an elected official, do you think it is responsible to reduce by so much, when they are doing so extremely well, and we would have to make immediate cuts to our programming budget?



Al McMurchie responded on Mon., March 19, 2012 at 2:09 PM:

“Commissioner Fine,

Thank you for getting back to us so quickly.

We are glad you are not trying to get rid of the Tin Fish. Since they arrived the change in dynamic for our neighborhood, and specifically that area around the building, has been tremendous. We believe that the restaurant’s presence has been a positive, both tangible and intangible, in many regards.

You have been the one that has responded in terms of the numbers and that is helpful. For our further perspective, could you give us an idea of some of the other numbers regarding this issue. We assume that you could only share what is public information.

Could you please provide us with the past couple of years of gross revenue, the rent amount paid to the City from that revenue, and the previous capital (improvement?) percentage.

That would be very helpful for our full understanding.

Thanks again,

Al McMurchie”


On March 19, 2012 at 4:31 PM Commissioner Fine answered:


Briefly their revenue last year was 1.1 million. They paid the park board about 164,000. Their previous contract which did not change all of the years they have been there, which they elected not to take up the option under identical terms was a graduated percentage that reaches 17% plus they were expected to pay 10% into capital. The capital was reduced by half in committee.”


Al McMurchie wrote back to Commissioner Fine on Tue., March 20, 2012 at 1:02 PM:

“Commissioner Fine,

Thank you for providing this information as it helps to clarify the situation.

I’m afraid your estimation of their income is high. With $1.1 million in sales, your perception of them making $300,000 would be very difficult to accomplish. Restaurants are among the most difficult businesses to run. Restaurants operate with low margins and require intense managerial ability to succeed.

To help you be fair with this operator, and other operators, the following financial model should help you understand the realities:


1. Cost of Sales…………….385,000…….35%

2. Personnel…………………385,000…….35%

3. Other Expenses………….165,000…….15%

4. Rent………………………..110,000…….10%

Total Operating Expense..1,045,000…….95%

Net Income / Margin…………55,000…….5%

1. Cost of Sales. The typical percentage of purchases of food and beverage products for resale on an operation this size would be a fairly fixed 35 percent of sales.

2. All personnel costs including hourly wages, payroll taxes and costs, supervisory staff, and owner’s salaries need to be in the range of 35 percent of sales. Hourly staff to cover 2,500 hours with 12 employees required at $10 per hour and an additional 15% assumed for payroll costs would equal $345,000. Adjusting this number down by 15% to account for bad weather days brings us to an adjusted staff cost of $293,000. This would leave around $92,000 available for the two owner’s salaries, $46,000 per owner.

3. Other Expenses. Items here would include accounting/legal, advertising/promotion, bank/credit card charges, insurance, licenses, repairs/maintenance, supplies, uniforms, utilities, etc. The percentage here is typically in the range of 15 percent.

4. Rent is the final piece of the expense structure in the range of 5 to 10 percent. This would be a reasonable estimation of the financial dynamics of this restaurant operation.

Combining the owner’s salaries with the net income would provide them with a total pre-tax income of $147,000, 73,500 apiece. This does not seem unreasonable in light of the advancement they have made to the park system due to their daily attentiveness. In addition, even when factoring for the location, the Park Board is getting a rent amount that is well above what would be a target figure for any experienced operator.

It is also important to recognize that this business effort contains no balance sheet energy for the operator. This is not an appreciating asset that they can one day sell. Their equity position, other than the Tin Fish name and its good will, would be virtually zero.

Overall it appears that the Park Board has a had a very good deal under the current arrangement.

Lastly, as a landlord myself, I really don’t understand the method, and resulting confusion, surrounding the issue of capital improvements. We collect a fair rent and then strategically invest a proportionate percentage of that rent into improving the physical property.

I hope this helps as you go forward on the negotiations for this and other comparable City amenities. I have copied your fellow Commissioners in order to aid in their understanding as well.

Good Luck,

Al McMurchie”


Commissioner Fine asked on Tues., March 20, 2012 at 1:51 PM:

“Al, Where are you getting the numbers from. Why is their a 50,000 contribution by the company to their 401k?”


Al McMurchie answered on Wed., 21, 2012 at 9:25 AM:

“Commissioner Fine,

Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you quicker. I know the clock is ticking to some extent.

I have been involved in the general management of country clubs, public golf courses, and restaurants for many years. The percentages are basic metrics utilized to analyze food and beverage operations. While there can be slight variances to the actual performance of each expense category, the model they represent should be considered a good working framework for your understanding.

In terms of the 401K, they are probably able to max-out the contribution level as a result of low personal spending for half of every year. However, I’m not sure I see how placing the status of their 401K into the public realm is a good faith move on your part. That makes me uncomfortable even knowing. The numbers I have provided are accurate enough for your negotiating purposes.

The bottom line is that this has been a win-win relationship for the community and the operators. I see nothing wrong with that and in fact I like it. You are to be congratulated for helping to create that positive change years ago. I encourage you to continue that approach and renew that win-win situation.

I hope that adequately answers your questions. If you should have any other questions, feel free to let me know.
Once again I have copied your fellow commissioners in order to help keep them informed. I will be most interested to see the outcome of this process.


Al McMurchie”


Al McMurchie wrote again to Commissioner Tabb on Thurs., March 22, 2012 at 8:14 PM:

“Subject: Tin Fish Resolution

Commissioner Tabb,

In attending the meeting yesterday evening, I wanted to follow-up my previous e-mails by commending you on resolving the Tin Fish contract in a positive manner. While I realize that you were unable to attend, we know that you contributed and were supportive throughout the process.

Based on the interest shown by the public and the press, the presence of quality food and beverage services in our parks has certainly elevated the park experience for people. Also, as our representative, it is apparent that you understand that our neighborhood experience would not be the same without the Tin Fish as an informal gathering point. We are very happy with the outcome.

I am sure there will be challenges going forward, but I encourage you to continue to improve all similar assets throughout the park system.

Thank you,

Al McMurchie”


Commissioner Tabb responded on Mon., March 26, 2012 at 1:48 AM:

“Dear Al,

Thanks so much for your interest and carefully considered input. It was very helpful and I really appreciate all of the communication provided by the community to all of the commissioners. You cannot underestimate the impression that those letters had on the board. I am going to meet with Sheff and Athena tomorrow to make sure everything is on track for their opening.

You wrote such a compelling letter earlier. Am wondering if I can share it? Arlene Fried, who follows park issues and has a website ( / ) and would like to post some of the thoughtful input received. I will follow your wishes….

Again, thanks for your kind words and confidence in me!

Anita Tabb”


The string of e-mails concluded with Al McMurchie’s reply on Mon., March 26, 2012 at 12:02 PM:

“Commissioner Tabb,

Thanks for your response.

You are welcome to share the e-mails as you wish. If we are going to have a transparent and participatory government at this very local level, I don’t see how it hurts.

All of this seems to illustrate what a great added amenity these heightened food and beverage services have become for our centerpiece parks. I would encourage the board to think more in terms of future opportunities on an aggregate basis across the park system rather than the existing one by one approach. The existing approach seemed to slip in to controversy very easily. Once that happens, the public is forced to take sides and no one really wins in that dynamic.

One last point. It might be helpful to view this issue through the lens of Opportunity Cost. In other words, are there more positive ways to capitalize on these facilities in terms of public relations, vendor relations, and investment in facility re-development. The cost of not doing so over time would represent a negative Opportunity Cost.

Thanks again and best of luck,

Al McMurchie”

5/1/12 Theodore Wirth C A C Meeting


The Park Board has issued a notice that the next meeting of the Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will be held May 1 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the board room of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board headquarters building, 2117 W River Rd.

The CAC will continue its work on setting funding priorities. In addition, the final revision of the concept master plan will be presented. The meeting agenda will be posted on the project web page: by Monday, April 30.

All are welcome to attend. Time will be set aside for questions and comments from the public.
For further information on the master planning process, visit the project page: on the MPRB website.

Wirth Master Plan C A C Meeting on 4/24/12

The following item has been circulated by the Park Board:


The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) will hold the next meeting of the Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan Citizen Advisory Committee April 24 from 6:30 to 8:45 in the board room of the MPRB Administrative Offices, 2117 W River Rd.
For further information visit the Theodore Wirth Park project page: on the MPRB website.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Hosts Screening of " The Interrupters "

An invitation to the following event has been issued by the Park Board:

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Hosts Screening of “The Interrupters”

Award-Winning Film Tackles Subject of Violence in Urban Areas

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) will host a screening of The Interrupters from 6 to 9 PM on Monday, April 23, at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road, just north of Broadway Pizza.

Minneapolis joins Chicago, Milwaukee, New York and other urban cities who have screened the film. The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising story of three dedicated individuals who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they themselves once employed. These “violence interrupters” (their job title) – who have credibility on the street because of their own personal histories – intervene in conflicts before the incidents explode into violence.

Minneapolis community leaders, youth workers and any adult who wants to help reduce violence in their community is invited to this special showing. Immediately following, Chicago Interrupter and cast member Ricardo “Cobe” Williams will lead a discussion about interrupting violence in our community.

The movie is free and open to the public (note: the movie contains strong language). Please RSVP to attend by emailing [email protected]. To learn more about the film, visit

The screening is sponsored by the MPRB’s Community Outreach Department as part of the Park Board’s goal to provide safe places to play, recreate, contemplate and celebrate.


Heads-Up for the April 18, 2012 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.

Some items of interest are:

–A Pilot Program to Permit Food Truck and Mobile Food Operators for 2012

–A Cooperative Funding Agreement in the Amount of $31,000 for Calendar Year 2012 with the Minnesota Historical Society and the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board for Interpretive Planning and Implementation in the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Interpretative Zone

–Amending the Lease Agreement with the Acky-Calhoun, LLC for the Calhoun Executive Center; Extending the Lease to July 19, 2031, Adding the Surface Parking Lot at Calhoun Executive Center to the Regional Park System Pay Parking Lots and Approving Electronic Signage to Improve Communications with Parking Patrons

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 is at

Also of interest and now available to the commissioners and the public are the monthly reports that Superintendent Miller has initiated for construction permits and for Planning Department projects. The availability of these reports is one of the important changes instituted by Superintendent Miller. Look for the links to these reports under Petitions and Communications in the agenda for the first Regular Meeting of the month.

MPRB meetings are telecast live from 5-9 p.m. on the City of Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast cable and online at

The regular meetings are retelecast 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 Park Board’s website is The phone number is 612-230-6400.

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

Request to Terminate Crown Hydro's License


The following letter is from Douglas Verdier, a private citizen, regarding Crown Hydro. According to Mr. Verdier, Crown has not provided a detailed map of the new proposed project area, and Crown’s recent submittal contains contradictory information about whether or not the project is subject to Park Board easements. He also recounts the tunnel collapse of 1869 in the area and urges FERC to terminate Crown’s license. The letter is posted on the FERC website.

Douglas L. Verdier

401 S. 1st St., #222

Minneapolis, MN 55401

March 17, 2012

Kimberly Bose, Secretary

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

888 First Street NE

Washington, D.C. 20426

SUBJECT: Crown Mill Hydroelectric Project, Project No. 11175-024-Minnesota


1. FERC Letter, Subject: Project Development Progress Report for the Crown Mill Hydroelectric Project, dated Feb. 13, 2012 to Mr. Thomas Griffin, President, Crown Hydro, LLC

2. Law Offices of GKRSE Letter, dated Mar. 12, 2012 to FERC

3. Comment on filing submitted to FERC by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, Mar. 15, 2012

Dear Ms. Bose:

I have reviewed the above referenced documents and wish to submit comments regarding their content and the project in general.

The Compliance Directive (Ref. 1) issued by FERC to Crown Hydro required the developer to “(1)affirmatively demonstrate, with a detailed map and proposed project
description, that no MPRB [Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board] lands (to include any subsurface rights, easements, or other legal claims) would be affected or included in the
new proposed scheme of project development and boundary and (2) provide a plan and schedule, including all efforts and steps needed, to complete the development of this
project. ”

Ref. 1 also notes that “…based on your preliminary plans, that your new proposed location for the powerhouse is situated outside the existing license project boundary. ”

I would submit that Crown Hydro has failed to provide a “detailed map” of the proposed new project location. The aerial photograph with lines drawn on it depicting the location that is listed as Exhibit A in Ref. 2 hardly constitutes a detailed map.

Furthermore, comparison of Crown Hydro’s Exhibit A “Concept Sketch” with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Permanent Easement for Trail and Parkway granted to MPRB on April 28, 1999 and revised on May 21, 1999(Ref. 3) clearly shows that the proposed location of the powerhouse and the new tunnel for tailrace and outlet to the river encroach on the permanent easement granted to the MPRB. This conflict is contrary to Crown Hydro’s claim that “this location will not require the use of lands or subsurface rights owned or controlled by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.” Additionally, the claim by Crown Hydro that the land in question “is the subject of a non-exclusive easement in favor of the MPRB” is not supported by the Corps of Engineers’ Easement document. There is no mention of “non-exclusive” in the easement.

Crown Hydro’s letter contains contradictory statements:

“This location will not require the use of lands or subsurface rights owned or controlled by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB).”

The following paragraph states:

“The developer will undertake its best efforts to work with the MPRB to secure consent to use a portion of the southwest quadrant Easement during the construction phase. ”

It is interesting to note that in the proposed Development Schedule (Exhibit B) submitted by Crown Hydro, there is no mention of any activities to secure consent from MPRB to
use any portion of the easement. The Development Schedule likewise omits any mention of coordination with a number of agencies, including the National Park Service, the
National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the State Historic Preservation Office, among others. Omission of securing consent from MPRB
and other agencies with an interest in the location calls the rest of the Development Schedule into serious question.

Perhaps more troubling than the failure of Crown Hydro to provide FERC with detailed documentation as required by the Compliance Directive and the contradictions, omissions
and misleading statements contained in their submission is the following from their March 12, 2012 letter:

“The discharge tunnel would be tunnel-bored well below-grade so as to not interfere with ACE operation or the Easement. “And later: “The tunnel will be mined through the soft
sandstone layer.”

FERC may not be aware of the catastrophic collapse on Oct. 5, 1869 of what was known as the Eastman Tunnel. The St. Paul District Corps of Engineers should have historical
records of this event, as the District was established three years prior to the disaster. The plans for the tunnel called for a six-foot by six-foot tunnel to be cut through 2,500 feet of sandstone near St. Anthony Falls. When the tunnel collapsed, the river broke through the limestone at the upper end of the project, forming a large whirlpool. The six-foot by six-foot tunnel quickly expanded to as much as 90 feet wide and as deep as 16 feet, causing the tunnel to collapse and threatening Hennepin Island. The force of the river threatened further deterioration of the limestone bedrock and St. Anthony Falls itself. From the date
of the tunnel collapse until 1885, the Corps of Engineers worked with mill owners and private citizens to construct dikes and aprons to control the river and save the Falls. The event is well documented.

I relate this historical event so that FERC is aware of the potential dangers posed by Crown Hydro’s intent to drill a much larger tunnel through “the soft sandstone layer” that
lies beneath several significant structures, not least of which is the historic Stone Arch Bridge. Another catastrophic collapse anywhere along the proposed route of Crown Hydro’s 16-foot diameter new tunnel for a tailrace and outlet to the river would threaten the fragile Mill Ruins’ limestone foundation, any number of the existing former Mill
District tunnels that honeycomb the area, new condominiums along West River Parkway, the Parkway itself and, possibly, the St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam #1. The potential for
disaster caused by any excavation such as proposed by Crown Hydro is great and unacceptable.

I urge FERC to immediately terminate License No. 11175-024. No progress has been made on this project since 1999 when the license was originally issued. The developer’s continued efforts to avoid termination of the license and ask for extension after extension and modification after modification of the project’s boundaries are tedious. Our
community and the thousands of residents who live along the Mill District corridor want to move on — without the constant harassment by a developer with a bad idea and
virtually no local support.


Douglas L. Verdier

Corps of Engineers Submits Comment on Crown Hydro Filing

COMMENT ON CROWN HYDRO FILING SUBMITTED IN FERC P-11175-024 by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, March 15, 2012

The following link is from FERC showing the Park Board’s easements in the park area where Crown is proposing its facility.

Begin forwarded message:

From: “‘FERC eSubscription'”
Date: March 15, 2012 11:31:27 AM CDT
Subject: Comment on Filing submitted in FERC P-11175-024 by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District,et al.
On 3/15/2012, the following Filing was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Washington D.C.:

Filer: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (as Agent)

Docket(s): P-11175-024

Filing Type: Comment on Filing

Description: MPRB easement on lands owned by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District in the vicinity of St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis, MN under P-11175.

To view the document for this Filing, click here:

Two Letters in Support of Tin Fish


Park Board Commissioners received numerous letters in support of the Tin Fish during the lease negotiations between Tin Fish and the Park Board. Here are a couple of the letters which are being posted with the authors’ permission:


“As a ten year resident of Uptown, I am sending this email to convey my concerns about the current committee recommendation to the Park Board about the Tin Fish contract:

1. Contract Consistency – Any contract with Tin Fish should be consistent with other contracts entered for similar spaces such as Sea Salt and Bread and Pickle. Unless you have benchmarking that clearly indicates that a different arrangement is necessary for one of the spots, there is no reason to treat them differently. Each spot has its unique benefits and challenges. Tin Fish may have more foot traffic, but it is also has much more challenging parking and significant competition from restaurants in Uptown, Calhoun Village and the Calhoun Beach Club. In fact, we understand that JJ’s Coffee and Wine Bistro will open “kitty corner” from it in May with new food offerings. It seems inappropriate to charge 12% to the other two establishments and then demand a 15% plus a 5% upkeep fee from Tin Fish.

2. Financial Parity – There appears to be some concern that Tin Fish is not paying an adequate amount for this space. However, the Park Board has addressed this concern by proposing a contract which requires payment of a percent of gross revenues, not a flat amount. The more the Tin Fish grosses, the more the Park Board receives. If the space is as lucrative as you believe, Tin Fish will pay more than the other establishments based upon their gross revenues. According to MPR this morning, the Park Board’s revenues from the space have quadrupled from $40,000 before Tin Fish to $170,000 last year.

3. Good Partnerships – Tin Fish is a local business with a high quality product (I have not heard the same glowing reviews about Bread and Pickle)and it appears to have been a good tenant for the Park Board (the physical area around the restaurant has significantly improved since their arrival). This type of partnership should be rewarded and applauded. It is certainly possible that the Park Board could find someone who will pay them more money, but you (and the community) may not receive the same financial or community benefits. A good partner is hard to find. Do not blithely assume that your next partner will easily meet your (and the community’s) expectations.

4. Remember Your Mission – While I appreciate your desire to maximize income, your mission is broader than profitability. Per your Mission statement “The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board exists to provide places and recreation opportunities for all people to gather, celebrate, contemplate, and engage in activities that promote health, well-being, community , and the environment.” Your choice of a partner must extend beyond who pays the most rent. Do not let a discussion about money (particularly when it is the extent of the revenue, rather than the amount of the loss) corrupt your core obligations.

Thank you.

Terry Harris”



Maura Lynch’s letter was directed to the board. Included here is her original letter, a response from Commissioner Bob Fine; and then her concluding response.

In the original letter dated Sun, Mar 18, 2012 at 8:56 PM, Maura Lynch wrote:

“I am a resident of the CARAG neighborhood and long-time patron of Tin Fish, the greatest asset to come to the Uptown area in a long time, precisely because the Park Board had the wisdom to bring them on board.

Please do not make it impossible for a business that draws thousands of visitors to not only their establishment but into the Uptown area in general to maintain their lease. We don’t need or want another (expensive) version of the place at Minnehaha Falls to come here. Tin Fish has built an incredible community and it is your job to KEEP such a business here, not drive it out.

Yes, money is the issue, but your job is to be creative and figure out how to make it work. Situations like this are what make entrepreneurs hate government. Don’t offer one more reason. KEEP TIN FISH. Do what it takes and get the deal done—FAIRLY.


Maura K. Lynch”

In Commissioner Fine’s response to Maura dated Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 9:28 AM, he wrote:

“The Park Board is not trying to get rid of Tin Fish. The item passed in committee changes their commission paid to an of average 15%. The capital is 5%. That is less than the contract they had to date. They elected not to take up their option not to renew. They want to pay less.

The rest of the story is not being told.

We are reducing their capital requirements. But they also want their commission they pay to the park board reduced.

Do you think the park board should reduce what they pay when they make in the range of $300,000 plus for less than 6 months?

As an elected official, do you think it is responsible to reduce by so much, when they are doing so extremely well, and we would have to make immediate cuts to our programming budget?


In Maura’s concluding response to Commissioner Fine, and copied to the board, dated Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 9:14 AM, she wrote:

“Mr. Fine,

Indeed, I do not know the rest of the story, so I will only speak to the one point of yours:

How much Tin Fish make in 6 months should be celebrated, not berated. What kind of elected official would begrudge a business the extent of its success (especially when, among other things, their greater success directly adds to our tax base)?

Who cares if they work four or six or seven months of the year—that is a red herring argument, if you’ll pardon the unintended pun (not mention the fact that they make their money selling a far higher volume of inexpensive fare that is affordable and accessible to far more people than the concession at Minnehaha Falls, for example). They also work their asses off, in case you never noticed.

You should also consider what anyone who runs a seasonal business knows, namely that just because the hustle stops in the ‘off’ season doesn’t mean the switch isn’t still flipped to on to wrap up and and prepare for each season. It is specious of you to imply, whether intended or not, that somehow their revenues generated in 6 months merit a harder hit. You are missing the point.

Tin Fish is an amenity as much as warming houses are in winter—part time amenities themselves (and if you want to split hairs, what happens there is arguably just programming of a different sort).

As I understand it, the charge of Park Board commissioners is not to generate revenue but provide amenities. Your job is to do everything to help ensure the success of this diamond in our park system, not drive it away.

I am entirely unimpressed by your response.


Maura Lynch”

Crown Hydro's March 12, 2012 Letter to F E R C


On March 12, attorneys from the law offices of GKRSE submitted on Crown Hydro’s behalf the following letter to FERC:

Ms. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

888 First Street, NE

Washington, D.C. 20426

Re: Crown Hydro, LLC, Crown Mill Upper St. Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project, FERC Project No. 11175-024; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Dear Ms. Bose:

With this progress report, Crown Hydro, LLC (“Crown Hydro”) provides the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) with the current status of Crown Hydro’s progress in the development of the Crown Mill Upper St. Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project, FERC Project No. 11175. This report is specifically in response to the request for
information contained in the Commission’s letter of William Guey-Lee Dated February 13, 2012.


Crown Hydro has undertaken further concept analysis of the development of the project within the current licensed project boundaries, and in a location owned by the U.S. Government under the control of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District Office (“USACE”). This work has been ongoing since the third quarter of 2011. Please find attached hereto as Exhibit A a depiction of the proposal to locate the hydroelectric project works entirely on USACE lands within the campus of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam.

The principal plan modifications since the report of January 20, 2012, are as follows:

1. The powerhouse has been located at the northwest bank of the dam headwall, eliminating the encroachment on the USACE parking lot; and

2. The discharge tunnel would be in a newly constructed tunnel beneath the USACE parking lot access road.

This location will not require the use of lands or subsurface rights owned or controlled by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (“MPRB”). Construction access and staging is proposed on a portion of the upper USACE parking lot that is partially the subject of a nonexclusive
easement in favor of the MPRB. More specifically, the west bank of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam campus owned by the U.S. Government is the subject of a nonexclusive
easement in favor of the MPRB for the purpose of “the construction, operation and maintenance of a public access drive for the benefit of the United States and the general public” as referenced in DACW 37-00-0044.

As noted in the description above, the powerhouse would be located on the upriver side of the headwall. The discharge tunnel would be tunnel-bored well below-grade so as to not
interfere with ACE operation or the Easement. There is a portion of the Easement located on approximately 20-25% the southwest quadrant of the ACE upper parking lot that is in an area that would be conveniently utilized during project construction and used for staging, access, and lay down areas. The developer will undertake its best efforts to work with the MPRB to secure consent to use a portion of the southwest quadrant Easement during the construction phase. In
the event such best efforts are not successful, Crown Hydro is prepared to incur the additional expense necessary to work around the Easement, provided all other necessary consents are granted by the ACE.

• Project Overview

The proposed Crown Hydro Facility is a run-of-the-river, 3.2 megawatt, hydroelectric facility designed to operate with a 45-foot hydraulic head, utilizing up to 1000 cubic feet
per second (cfs) of river water. The facility will be located on the west bank of the Mississippi River at Upper St. Anthony Falls in the headrace canal adjacent to the Corps
of Engineers lock in Minneapolis. The plant will produce an average of 21,000 megawatt hours per year operating approximately 65 percent of the time on an annual basis.

The facility will consist of an intake structure; and two 8-foot, 6-inch diameter penstocks (pipes) which will deliver the water to the powerhouse and turbines. A 16-foot diameter
or equivalent shape tunnel will be constructed in the sandstone formation to convey the turbine discharge to the river below the lock on the west bank of the river. The Crown
Hydro discharge structure will be located upstream from the existing location of the Minneapolis Park Board Tailrace discharge as shown in the attached figure

• Intake Structure

The intake structure is approximately 24-feet by 40-feet in plan and 25-feet deep; built with reinforced concrete and constructed below grade level at the edge of the existing
lock intake headrace canal. Water will enter the structure and split into the two penstocks extending to the turbines. The intake will be protected with a heavy steel bar screen to
keep out trash and debris from the river. The intake will also contain two automatically controlled 9-foot square steel slide gates to provide the capability to stop the flow to each turbine.

• Penstocks

The two penstocks will be welded steel pipes to convey water from the intake structure to the turbines located below grade. Each penstock will be capable of delivering 500 cfs of
water at a velocity of 8.8-feet-per-second.

• Powerhouse

The powerhouse maintenance will likely be accessed from a stairway located near the existing parking lot to the south. The powerhouse will be constructed at or below grade,
on the west side of the headrace canal. The powerhouse will be a reinforced concrete structure approximately 45-feet by 35-feet in plan and 50-feet deep. The turbines and
miscellaneous mechanical/electrical equipment will be located at the lowest level of the powerhouse. The generators are located on an intermediate floor 29 feet above the turbines. The electrical switchgear and control room is located on the mezzanine level 41 feet above the turbine level. The powerhouse will contain two 1.75 meter diameter Kaplan turbines with a capacity of 500 cfs, and two 1,575-kilowatt, 360-revolutions-per-minute generators.

• Discharge Tunnel

The flow from the two turbines will converge and enter a new concrete-lined tunnel and exit through a new discharge structure to the river. The discharge tunnel would be in the
location depicted on the attached Exhibit A. Flow velocity will be reduced to a maximum of 4 to 5-feet-per-second and be directed to align with the river flow. The
tunnel will be mined through the soft sandstone layer.


Please find attached hereto as Exhibit B a project development schedule setting forth the key development stages, permits, entitlements, approvals and authorizations. In addition to FERC approval of a license amendment, commencement of development activities is also predicated upon agreements with USACE, including a site access agreement (development phase agreement and license agreement for access to federal property) and a site license and use
agreement. Crown Hydro will proceed with its license amendment application upon completion of the site access agreement with USACE, which is anticipated in May 2012.


Crown Hydro requests a teleconference or meeting with FERC staff to review the project development schedule and discuss the extent of consultation and coordination with the Corps of
Engineers and other agencies in the approval and development of the proposed relocated project.

Should you have any questions, please contact me at (202) 408-5400 or Tim Keane at (612) 455-6633.

Respectfully submitted,

Donald H. Clarke

Counsel to Crown Hydro, LLC


cc: Nanette Bischoff, PE, Dept. of the Army, St. Paul District, Corps of Engineers

Paul J. Williams, PE; Kleinschmidt Associates


The following is a link to copies of this letter on the FERC site, including the attachments:

Theodore Wirth Citizen Advisory Committee Meeting Scheduled for April 10

The Park Board has issued the following notice:


The next Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting to review a revised master plan concept and prioritize needed improvements for Theodore Wirth Park has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road.

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

Recent and future improvements are made possible due to grants from the Parks and Trails fund of Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed by Minnesota voters in 2008 and from the Metropolitan Council. Over the past two years, the playground has been replaced and beach improvements and a new trail loop around Wirth Lake have been completed. The Wirth Pavilion Rehabilitation will be under construction this year.

For more information regarding Theodore Wirth Park planning, visit the park’s project page: