The following article by Nick Halter was published in the February 27, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal:
Park Board: Sex Offender Amendment is a Deal Killer to Park Dedication Fee
UPDATE: Bill author Frank Hornstein said that once the Senate passes a version of the park dedication fee bill, the legislation will go to a conference committee where amendments, such as Scott’s, could be removed. “This is what is known as a gotcha amendment,” Hornstein said.
Last week, we wrote about a bill: http://www.journalmpls.com/news-feed/bill-calls-on-developers-to-chip-in-for-new-parks that would allow Minneapolis to use money from new development to build parks in surging residential areas.
The Minnesota House voted overwhelmingly in favor of that bill on Monday evening, but a surprise amendment from Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) may have killed the deal.
Scott’s amendment would not allow the Minneapolis Park Board to use the fee revenue to build new parks within 1,500 feet of where a level 3 sex offender lives.
Scott got 86 votes, including a few from DFLers. All Minneapolis lawmakers voted against Scott’s amendment.
Because many sex offenders in Minneapolis are homeless and list only zip codes for their address, the amendment would prevent new park construction in many areas, including the North Loop, according to Park Board Attorney Brian Rice.
“1,500 feet is 5 blocks. Most existing parks in neighborhoods are within 6 blocks,” Rice wrote in an e-mail. “Limiting new park locations based on this standard is a deal killer.”
The park dedication fee requires developers to pay the Park Board $1,500 for every new residential unit they build. That money could only be spent on building new parks or making capital improvements to parks within six blocks of where the fee was collected.
The bill would help fund new and improved parks in some of the surging areas of Minneapolis, such as the North Loop, the U of M area, Uptown and along the Hiawatha LRT line. Rice’s estimates have revenue citywide at roughly $1.5 million annually.
The North Loop would like to build a new park somewhere just west of Washington Avenue http://static.squarespace.com/static/502d491524ac98ff79e26443/t/5109a0fbe4b0086d33c2eb41/1359585531564/NorthLoopScopingStudy_Final.pdf between 7thth and 9th avenues. Several sex offenders report being homeless in downtown zip codes that are within a few blocks of that area.
Two years ago, the Journal studied where the state’s sex offenders live and found that Minneapolis is home to over half of the state’s level 3 sex offenders http://www.journalmpls.com/node/16562 even though it only represents 7 percent of the state population.
According to the Department of Correction, 34 level 3 sex offenders currently live in the 55411 zip code of North Minneapolis, so the amendment could also prevent park dedication fee funding in many areas of North Minneapolis.
A Senate version of the bill has passed through a committee, but hasn’t been scheduled for a full Senate vote.
You can search registered sex offenders by zip code, city or county on this website: https://www.doc.state.mn.us/level3/search.asp