Monthly Archives: May 2013

Park Board, City Council at Odds Over Parkway Funding

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the May 13, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal:

PARK BOARD, CITY COUNCIL AT ODDS OVER PARKWAY FUNDING

Correction: Brad Bourn cited a lack of information about possible effects to parkway paving projects as his reason for abstaining from the vote.

Because of a rift between the Minneapolis Park Board and City Council, repairs to the Theodore Wirth Parkway scheduled for this summer have been cancelled.

Some Park Board Commissioners last week blasted the City Council for playing politics with $7 million that city staff found in unspent 2012 funds. Council members voted to put that money into a property tax savings fund, saying it would allow them to keep property taxes flat next year.

The Park Board was prepared to send the city just over $1 million to be used for parkway paving and lighting projects this summer, but instead cut out $300,000 that will instead be used for the Sheridan Memorial Park project: http://www.journalmpls.com/news-feed/memorial-on-northeast-riverfront-will-honor-veterans along the Northeast riverfront. That project, a memorial to veterans, was supposed to cost $1 million, but bids came in $300,000 higher than expected.

“Why would we short change the residents of this neighborhood right across the river who have waited forever for a neighborhood park so that the city can make a political statement and try to gain favor in an election year by saying ‘we’re not going to raise your taxes at all?” said Park Board Commissioner Jon Olson, who represents North Minneapolis.

From a taxpayer standpoint, whether the city or Park Board spends the $300,000 makes no difference, since the property tax jurisdictions are the same. However, because of the Park Board move, the city had to alter its construction schedule and repairs to the Theodore Wirth Parkway were cancelled, said city spokesman Matt Laible. New lighting along West River Road was also cut, Laible said.

The $300,000 reduction, which passed on a 6-2 vote, has apparently taken City Council members by surprise.

Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy, who chairs the Transportation and Public Works Committee, only learned of the decision while watching a broadcast of the Park Board meeting on TV.

“If you listen to the Park Board, they talk about ‘these are our parkways, these are our parks.’ But then at some points, they say ‘these are roads, so the city should pave them.’ They kind of try to have it both ways,” Colvin Roy said.

Council Member Betsy Hodges, who chairs the city budget committee, said no one from the Park Board contacted her to ask for $300,000.

“Someone certainly could have called and had that conversation,” Hodges said.

The Park Board and city disagree about who should be responsible for parkways. Park Board commissioners have cited a 1999 “redesign” agreement: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/documents/caring/parkway_repairs.pdf between the two parties that had the city assuming responsibility for parkway maintenance and repairs.

According to a document provided by the Park Board, the City Council voted 11-1 to assume parkway responsibility:

“It was very clear that the city was doing not just our repairs, but replacement work. Any council member who says that wasn’t the agreement does not know what the agreement was,” Fine said.

Colvin Roy said the agreement was much more vague than that.

“His memory of what the redesign is different than anyone’s here,” Colvin Roy said.

As a result of a 2011 study that showed failing parkways —  their pavement index condition had fallen to a score of 60 — the Park Board decided to start sending the city money in order to speed up parkway paving.  This year it was planning to send the Park Board just over $1 million for paving and lighting.

“Our primary and first concern is the park system,” Erwin said. “It’s great that we’re helping the city out with the roads, but I have a concern when we’re shorting parks to pay for things that … the city agreed to do to begin with.”

Erwin said it’s not too late for the city to free up money for Theodore Wirth Parkway repairs.

Not all Park Board commissioners agreed with the move. Anita Tabb and Carol Kummer voted against the motion, but ultimately Tabb voted for the larger parkway paving resolution, which included the reduction. Brad Bourn abstained from the vote, saying that he needed more information on how the cut would affect parkway projects, paticularly Kings Highway.
 
 “I feel uncomfortable vilifying the city for trying to do something that they thought was right,” Tabb said. “I would hope that maybe we could sit down and talk to them about using some of those additional funds.”

Colvin Roy said the people who lose in the fight are those who live near and use the parkway that won’t be funded.

“Property taxpayers would scratch their heads and go, ‘what do you mean the park or the city? We’re the same taxpayers,’” Colvin Roy said. “That’s how I feel.”

RiverFirst Recap/Update and 3D Video

Park Board staff has issued the following item:

RiverFirst Recap/Update and 3D Video

Last week the Park Board held several public meetings to share schematic designs for RiverFirst priority projects, including a proposed beach and restored Hall’s Island at the Scherer site. Please visit the MPRB RiverFirst project page to see a 3D video animation of the vision for the Scherer site: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1352 and to download meeting materials.  You may also visit the RiverFirst home page: http://riverfirst.com/ to see additional project information.

CONTACT:

Andrew Caddock, Project Manager

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

612-230-6470

acaddock@minneapolisparks.org

Next Generation of Parks™ Spring Lecture Series

The Minneapolis Parks Foundation has announced the following event:

Next Generation of Parks™

Spring Lecture Series Begins Thursday, May 9

Eelco Hooftman, co-founder of Edinborough, Scotland-based GROSS.MAX, stands out among a new generation of contemporary European landscape designers. His firm has designed award-winning projects in the Middle- and Far East and Europe, including Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. Berlin’s airport-to-park transformation of Tempelhofer Freiheit will be the evening’s featured project.

Read our Tempelhof Design Case Study: http://mplsparksfoundation.org/2013/05/06/next-generation-of-parks-tempelhof-berlin-case-study/

Event Details – Take Note!

7-9:00PM at the Walker Art Center

Free + Open Seating

Ticketing begins at 6:00PM

at the Walker’s Bazinet desk only

Tickets Go Fast!

The Next

Next Gen Lecture

is Just Next Week!

Adriaan Gueze

WEST 8

Thursday, May 16

7-9:00PM

Walker Art Center

Presented in Partnership with Walker Art Center, U. of M. College of Design, and U. of M. School of Landscape Architecture

Park Board Hires Deputy Superintendent

PARK BOARD HIRES DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT

It was announced at the May 1, 2013 Park Board meeting that Jody Tableporter has been hired as the Park Board’s new Deputy Superintendent. Her first day at the Park Board will be May 28. More details later.

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

Park Board Incumbents Facing Competition

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE BY NICK HALTER WAS PUBLISHED IN THE APRIL 29, 2013 EDITION OF THE SOUTHWEST JOURNAL.

PARK BOARD INCUMBENTS FACING COMPETITION

With six weeks left until the DFL conventions, candidates are stepping up to challenge current Minneapolis Park Board commissioners.

Most notably for Southwest voters, Josh Neiman, a 29-year-old Kenny resident, is running against Brad Bourn in the Sixth Park District.

Neiman grew up in Southwest, worked as a supervisor for the Park Board during high school and college and is now seeking the DFL endorsement.

Neiman would be a third-generation Park Board commissioner if elected. His father, Scott Neiman, was a commissioner from 1982 to 2002, and his grandfather, Leonard Neiman, was a commissioner from 1967 to 1978. The Neiman Sports Complex is named after Leonard.

“I’m very proud of all that they did, but I am also working for my own opportunities to contribute,” said Neiman, who works at Best Buy’s corporate headquarters.

Bourn was elected for the first time in 2009, securing a second ballot win over Meg Forney on a 51 percent to 42 percent split.

Bourn, 34, runs an AmeriCorps program for the Council on Crime and Justice, working with veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Since his election, Bourn said the Park Board has become more inclusive, improved relationships with the city and residents, planted more trees, increased inspections for aquatic invasive species and cut administrative costs.

“I believe our parks are for everyone, and I am really proud about what we’ve been able to accomplish,” said Bourn, who lives in the Kingfield neighborhood. “But I think we still have a lot to accomplish.”

The Sixth District is bounded by Lake Street to the north, 35W to the east, Highway 62 to the South and the Edina border to the west.

Park Board Commissioner Bob Fine also lives in the Sixth District, but he won one of three at-large seats in the 2009 election.

Fine has been contemplating a run for mayor, but so far has not participated in any of the mayoral forums or filed a mayoral fundraising committee. He has not said for certain if he will run for mayor, Park Board at-large or in the Sixth District, but did say he will run for office of some sort.

The race for three at-large seats also has a challenger.

Tom Nordyke, who served one term on the Park Board from 2006 to 2010, is running again.

Nordyke lost his re-election bid for an at-large seat in 2009 to Fine, John Erwin and Annie Young.

Erwin later appointed Nordyke to head up the citizens advisory committee that eventually selected Lyndale Farmstead Park as the site of a new off-leash dog area that will open this summer.

Nordyke, who lives in the Cedar-Isles-Dean neighborhood, spoke highly of new superintendent Jayne Miller, and sees more cooperation on the Park Board than when he served. He says he would focus on dealing with infrastructure and capital improvements.

“I think with the current staff and the current board, I think that’s the team to do it, and I want to go back and be a part of that,” Nordyke said.

The only current Park Board commissioner to announce she is not running is Carol Kummer, a 10-year veteran of the Park Board. The board is made up of nine members; six represent a district and three are citywide seats.

Kummer represents the Fifth District of South Minneapolis. Steffanie Musich is running unopposed so far for Kummer’s seat.