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Heads-Up for the November 28, 2012 Park Board Meeting

HEADS-UP FOR THE NOVEMBER 28, 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.

Please note that the November 28 meeting will not be broadcasted live on the City of Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 or online at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/tv/79 due to a Minneapolis City Council meeting scheduled during the same time. Those interested in viewing the MPRB meeting are encouraged to attend at MPRB headquarters, located at 2117 West River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55411, or view during the 10:30 p.m. Monday (12/3) rebroadcast on Channel 79.

5:30 P.M. OPEN TIME Speakers can call 612-230-6400 before 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting to sign up or they can sign up at the Board meeting prior to the start of “Open Time.”

6:30 P.M. PUBLIC HEARING Lake Nokomis Concession

The following topics are some agenda highlights:

–Approval of a One Year Lease Agreement Extension with Sea Salt Eatery, LLC, for the Minnehaha Falls Concession

–2013 Budget Public Comment and Board Discussion

–Approving the Master Plan for Keewaydin Park

–Authorizing the Formation and Charge of an Appointed CAC for Dean Parkway and West Cedar Lake Trail Improvements

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners!’ meeting on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 is at http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com

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 http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com

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 http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com

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

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

Dog Park Dilemma – A Parkwatch Observation

DOG PARK DILEMMA–A PARK WATCH OBSERVATION

As outlined in the preceding articles, the Sixth District Dog Park is costing more than expected–and, subsequently making headlines for doing so. However, the fact is that there have been issues with all of the three other sites which were considered and rejected through the process of citizen participation–in this case, an appointed CAC. Many of the advocates for dog parks are individuals who want parks for their dogs, just as individuals with children want–and have–parks for their children. Recently, the Park Board upgraded the Levin Triangle kiddie park. It cost over $200,000 and it is smaller than the site for the Sixth District Dog Park. I don’t recall any headlines pointing out that the Levin Triangle was too costly. Minneapolis parks are for everyone–adults, teens, toddlers and individuals with dogs.

Arlene Fried

Co-Founder of Parkwatch

Minneapolis Park Board OKs $191 K for Off-Leash Dog Park

The following article by Randy Furst was published in the November 8, 2012 issue of the Star Tribune:

MINNEAPOLIS PARK BOARD OKS $191K FOR OFF-LEASH DOG PARK

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted 6-1 on Wednesday night to approve a $191,408 contract with the Derau Construction Co. to construct an off-leash dog park next to Kings Highway, behind a park operation building on W. 38th Street.

The total cost for the park, which was hotly debated for two years, will run about $215,000. The cost estimate doubled from last year because park officials said they need to install a crushed granite base in the dog park rather than wood chips, because the chips could wash into a nearby retention pond and damage pumps used to move the water into storm sewers.

If weather permits, park officials would like to install fences and temporarily open the dog park by early next month, then close it for three to five weeks in the spring for construction. The completed dog park would probably reopen in June 2013.

Dog Park Under Scrutiny as Budget Tops $215K

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the November 12, issue of the Southwest Journal:

DOG PARK UNDER SCRUTINY AS BUDGET TOPS $215K

What started as a $32,500 project to build a dog park at Martin Luther King Jr. Park has now grown into a $215,000 expenditure that has the Minneapolis Park Board looking for money to pay for the project.

The Park Board, after more than two years of debate, has finally received bids on a contract to construct a dog park at Lyndale Farmstead Park, on a 0.64-acre piece of land. The lowest bid recently came in at $191,400, which when combined with design and contingency costs, will well exceed the most recent project budget by about $80,000.

With the new budget, the dog park will cost more to build than all five of the existing Park Board-funded dog parks in Minneapolis combined, drawing concern from community members and Park Board commissioners.

At one point, the Park Board was even considering taking $25,000 from a 35W bridge memorial fund to pay for the project at Lyndale Farmstead Park, but after that idea gained publicity, Park Board President John Erwin said funding would come from other sources.

A Park Board committee was set to vote Nov. 7 on using bridge memorial money and neighborhood park funds to pay for the bulging dog park budget, but Erwin said he would kill that idea and instead use budget reserves. He said that the Park Board would later pay the reserve fund back using dog park permit revenue.

Cliff Swenson, director of design and project management for the Park Board, said the 35W bridge memorial fund was created within the last couple years. The memorial project was built by the city of Minneapolis, not the Park Board, and Swenson said there has been no reason for the Park Board to use the money.

“We had some money that we placed into an individual fund just in case there needed to be any additional plantings or anything else we could do, and of course the city has taken care of any safety issues and completed the entire project,” Swenson said. “So we really didn’t need that money anymore, so it just made sense to transfer it to the dog park project.”

In the summer of 2011, vandals defaced the 35W memorial multiple times. Swenson said the city handled the restoration of the memorial on those occasions, and the Park Board memorial fund was not needed.

Erwin said he wanted to keep the fund intact in case any maintenance needs arose.

DIFFICULT PROJECT

Building a dog park in Southwest Minneapolis has proved to be a difficult project for the Park Board.

Citizens tried to get one built a dozen years ago, but the Park Board never approved a site.

Then, back in 2010, another group of citizens pushed for a dog park at Martin Luther King Park. In May of 2010, the group presented an estimate that the project would cost about $45,000, and members of a dog park task force were planning to raise funds to help offset the costs, said Sarah Linnes-Robinson, who was one of those pushing for the dog park at MLK.

The project, however, ran into protest from the black community about putting a dog park on land dedicated to a civil rights leader. The Park Board voted against using MLK as a site.

In February 2011, the Park Board appointed an 18-member citizens advisory committee to find a new site. The group chose what is now a piece of a parking lot in Lyndale Farmstead Park, near a storm water pond.

The Park Board e stimated the base price for turning the site into a dog park would be $126,000.

The Park Board approved that site in December 2011, and sent out a press release saying the project budget would total $132,500 and that it would have the park open to dogs in 2012. Now, in early November, the Park Board still hasn’t approved a bid, construction hasn’t started and the budget has ballooned to $215,000.

The project had its skeptics back in 2011. Commissioner Bob Fine and citizens advisory committee member Matt Perry both brought up issues with drainage and cost.

They were right. When plans called for spreading woodchips on the new dog park site, the Minneapolis Public Works Department stepped in and said the chips would run off into the storm water pond and break the water pumps.

Now the Park Board must use an expensive crushed granite material, which has increased the project budget, according to a staff report.

In 2011, Perry got a hold of numbers from the Park Board regarding other city dog park projects. The dog park near Lake of the Isles, at 3.6 acres, is fives times the size of the Lyndale Farmstead site. It cost only $62,000 to build. Lake of the Isles was the most expensive of the six existing dog parks in Minneapolis.

“I remember when they presented us with the original number ($126,000), and I remember thinking to myself, with the drainage issues, I figured the cost would be north of $175,000. I never dreamt it would be north of $200,000,” Perry said.

Perry said the Park Board should reconsider its decision, since public money is being used.

“There should be some triggers where you look at the costs for what was budgeted, what was projected, and what they have become, and really ask yourself, is it time to review the decision? Does it make sense to revisit the decision?” Perry said.

Despite the large budget, Park Board Commissioner Brad Bourn, who represents Southwest, said he still supports the project. Bourn said that over time, the dog park will pay for itself and even generate revenue because of increased permit purchases to use the park. Plus, he said, the project turns a parking lot into a green space.

“When I look at the benefits it brings, it’s still a pretty positive piece,” Bourn said.

Price Tag Doubles for Minneapolis Dog Park

The following article by Randy Furst was published in the November 7, 2012 issue of the Star Tribune:

PRICE TAG DOUBLES FOR MINNEAPOLIS DOG PARK

Photo by Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

The estimated cost of a new dog park near Lyndale Farmstead Park in south Minneapolis has doubled since last year to $215,000.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the contract for the park, which could open later this month. The higher cost reflects the need to install an expensive gravel base, rather than wood chips common in other dog parks in the city, said Park Board President John Erwin.

He said park officials found that the wood chips could float into an adjacent water retention pond and damage pumps that move the water into storm sewers.

Sixth District Park Commissioner Brad Bourn said he expected the board will approve the more expensive contract for the park, which is next to Lyndale Farmstead park

“People have been asking for a dog park in my district at a grass-roots level since I was 10 years old,” said Bourn, who is now 33.

If weather permits, the board plans to build some fences and gates and allow the public to use the site late this month or early in December, said Jennifer Ringold, the board’s manager of public engagement and citywide planning.

The dog run would close for construction in the spring and tentatively reopen in June, she said.

The site is not without critics.

Bob Fine, former Sixth District and now at-large commissioner, said he voted against the park and will do so again. “I have serious concerns about the site,” he said. “It’s right inside the walls of a maintenance facility. [The cost] keeps getting bigger. Where’s the end?”

The struggle to build a south Minneapolis off-leash dog park reads like a historical novel:

Proposals considered for more than 10 years culminated in an epic fight two years ago in which civil rights advocates successfully blocked its construction at Martin Luther King Park.

The King Park site was rejected by the board in early 2011. Many black residents said allowing dogs to run free there would denigrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose non-violent demonstrations were attacked by police in the South who sometimes used snarling dogs.

The latest version, to be built behind a park board operations building at 38th Street and Kings Highway, was to open last year, then earlier this year, then this month.

The Park Board has on its agenda Wednesday a proposal to spend $192,000 to construct the park, the lowest bid. The board also has about $23,000 in additional costs related to the dog park.

Bourn said it represents .003 percent of the board’s capital and operating budget of $60 million. “Even at this price, it is less expensive than other amenities we build that serve fewer people. It is cheaper than a baseball field, it’s cheaper than a tennis court, it’s cheaper than a wading pool,” Bourn said.

Erwin said the majority of the cost will come from off-leash dog license fees, with about $50,000 coming from other projects that will be replenished from license fees.

“We’re sensing people are waiting and anxious to get out and use it,” said Ringold, the park official. “We know there have been some significant challenges but our resolve is very high to get it open.”

Sarah Linnes-Robinson, director of the Kingfield Neighborhood Association, said she’s glad to hear the dog park may be close.

Park Board Acquires Key Riverfront Property

The following item was distributed by the Park Board on November 2, 2012:

PARK BOARD ACQUIRES KEY RIVERFRONT PROPERTY

On October 30, 2012, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) purchased 1720 Marshall Street NE, 1.74 acres and over 350 feet of Mississippi riverfront in northeast Minneapolis. The purchase furthers the vision of creating a continuous linear park along both sides of the Mississippi River through Minneapolis.

The property lies within the Above the Falls Regional Park and is part of the visionary park proposal for Minneapolis’ upper riverfront called RiverFirst, adopted by the Park Board and City of Minneapolis in 2012. “This acquisition will help us serve Northeast Minneapolis and the region, and is an opportunity to help ensure that future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the river,” said Liz Wielinski, Park District 1 Commissioner.

RiverFirst–A Design Proposal and Implementation Framework for the Minneapolis Upper Riverfront, was adopted by the Park Board in March, 2012, following almost two years of input, collaboration and support from the public, business community and local, regional and state agencies. RiverFirst encompasses the 5.5 miles of Mississippi River from the Stone Arch Bridge to the northern City limits, and builds upon the Above the Falls Master Plan to develop the land along the Mississippi River.

“Revitalizing the Mississippi Riverfront is a top priority for our Board, and this acquisition is an important part of linking together the parks, trails and green spaces,” said John Erwin, president of the MPRB Board of Commissioners. “In addition, this building gives us needed near-term shelter for our equipment, and allows us to close an antiquated facility to save resources.”

This leadership in preserving land along the city’s lakes, rivers and streams has earned the MPRB national recognition for its exceptional parks and trails. By the early 1900s visionary Park Board leaders had acquired most of the east and west riverfront of the river stretching from St. Paul to St. Anthony Falls for public parkland. Since 1993 the MPRB has led the charge to expand parkland to provide a connection from the downtown area north of the Falls.

“The Park Board wishes to extend its deep appreciation and thanks to two key funders who helped make this acquisition possible,” said Liz Wielinski. “The support of the Metropolitan Council and Mississippi Watershed Management Organization has been invaluable for critical riverfront purchases.”

The Metropolitan Council, through its Park Acquisition Opportunity Fund provided nearly $609,000. A complementary grant from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization of more than $202,000 was combined with the Metropolitan Council grant to cover the cost of acquiring the land portion of the site. Together, these grants were vital in matching MPRB capital funds earmarked for this acquisition.

The industrial building on the property will be used for MPRB operations and equipment storage in the short term, and eventually a park will be developed on the property as part of a larger green corridor within Above the Falls Regional Park.

Lake Nokomis Concessions C A C: A Flawed Process

The following letter was presented at a MPRB Public Hearing before the Administration and Finance Committee:

November 7, 2012

Commissioners,

THE LAKE NOKOMIS CONCESSIONS CAC: A FLAWED PROCESS

First of all, I want to express my appreciation to our new superintendent for her leadership. I also want to mention that I do not want my comments here to be construed in any way to be a criticism of this board; and I am not disparaging the members of the CAC. My comments are only intended to reflect on the Lake Nokomis Concessions CAC process.

As a co-founder of Park Watch in 2004, I have followed the process of many Park Board CAC’s–Brownie Lake CAC, Lake Harriet CAC, Theodore Wirth CAC, the 6th District Dog Park CAC and the Cedar Lake Bridge CAC on which I was a member.

All of these CAC’s had this one commonality: They were all well-run and very transparent. They all had an appointed chair person to conduct the meetings and share responsibilities with staff to keep the CAC on track. Experts were invited to present specialized information to the CAC members. And meeting minutes were maintained. The Lake Harriet CAC even had informal working committees.

The Lake Nokomis CAC, however, was unlike the other CACs in several ways. First of all, there was no chair person appointed to conduct the meetings and to share responsibilities with staff to set the agenda and keep the CAC on track. There were no experts invited to speak about restaurant/vendor guidelines (i.e. metrics). There were no handouts or resource materials from experts. There were no meeting minutes. All information presented flowed through one person, and that was a consultant who was hired to work on an hourly basis. Unlike the other CACs mentioned, the process of this CAC was flawed.

When I spoke at the August 15 Park Board meeting about my concerns regarding the Lake Nokomis CAC, I stated that the Board would “need additional time, additional information and additional expertise before committing to any binding agreement…” What I have observed since August 15 has not given me the confidence that this CAC will be able to provide you, the Commissioners, with the essential information you will need to make an informed decision. Unlike the other CACs mentioned, unfortunately, the process of this CAC was flawed.

Thank you.

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

http://www.mplsparkwatch.org

Lake Nokomis Update

LAKE NOKOMIS UPDATE

On October 24, 2012, the Park Board issued a press release stating that the Lake Nokomis Concession CAC’s recommendation for a food vendor would be presented at the November 7 Planning Committee meeting. It also stated that there would be a Public Hearing regarding the CAC’s recommendation.

However, when the agenda for the November 7 meeting was posted last Friday, the Public Hearing was changed to the Administration and Finance Committee; no time was scheduled for the Public Hearing. There also were no supporting documents for the public to review prior to the hearing.

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

Heads-Up for the November 7, 2012 Park Board Meeting

HEADS-UP FOR THE NOVEMBER 7, 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. Speakers can call 612-230-6400 before 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting to sign up or they can sign up at the Board meeting prior to the start of “Open Time.”

5:45 P.M. PUBLIC HEARING Tree Removal Assessments

6:30 P.M. PUBLIC HEARING Keewaydin Park Master Plan

The following topics are some agenda highlights:

–The Financial Status Report of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as of the Third Quarter, 2012

–Committee approval of a One Year Lease Agreement Extension with Sea Salt Eatery, LLC, for the Minnehaha Falls Concession

–2013 Budget Public Comment and Committee Discussion

–Authorizing the Formation and Charge of an Appointed CAC for Dean Parkway and West Cedar Lake Trail Improvements

–A Public Hearing for the Lake Nokomis Concession is listed but with no time and no supporting documents

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners!’ meeting on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 is at http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com

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 http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com

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 http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com

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

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch