Monthly Archives: August 2013

PUBLIC HEARING REGARDING THE DRAFT WASHBURN FAIR OAKS PARK MASTER PLAN

PUBLIC HEARING REGARDING THE DRAFT WASHBURN FAIR OAKS PARK MASTER PLAN

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will hold a public hearing to allow individuals to make statements regarding the draft master plan for Washburn Fair Oaks Park. If you already have contributed a written statement regarding the draft park plan, it will be included in the Board agenda packet for this meeting.

The draft plan and other meeting materials are posted to the project page: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1350

Date: Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Time: 6:30 pm

Place: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board headquarters

2117 West River Road N.

Minneapolis, MN 55411

For more information Contact:

Andrew Caddock, Project Manager

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

612-230-6470

acaddock@minneapolisparks.org

CLOSE LOCKS BEFORE ASIAN CARP INFESTATION GROWS

The following article by Dennis Anderson was published in the August 7, 2013 issue of the StarTribune:

CLOSE LOCKS BEFORE ASIAN CARP INFESTATION GROWS

The lock at Ford Dam in St. Paul on Tuesday with gates open not only for boats, but for possible infestations of Asian carp.

Photo: Dennis Anderson

Waiting this long to close some combination of the Upper or Lower St. Anthony locks, or the lock at Ford Dam, on the Mississippi River to stop Asian carp from infesting the state’s northern waters, is among the dumbest stunts Minnesota has pulled.

Every day the locks stay open, the state’s inaction is dumber still.

Or so it seemed Tuesday while passing through the three locks in a small fishing boat, drifting downstream first through the Upper St. Anthony Lock, then the Lower, and finally the lock at Ford Dam.

Each is an engineering marvel that every day pumps unimaginable amounts of water into the locks, then out again, allowing passage of a relative handful of pleasure boats and a few barges carrying sand, gravel and scrap metal.

But an engineering degree isn’t required to see the ease with which the evil Asian carp can tag along as these boats move upstream and down — not just through Minneapolis, but thereafter Coon Rapids and beyond, before setting their sights on the Rum River and Lake Mille Lacs.

Should that happen — and it will if action isn’t taken soon — the state’s water-based character will be lost forever, as Asian carp, including the jumping silver carp, take hold in lakes and rivers that historically have helped define who we are as a people.

Then it’s bye-bye sport fishing.

Bye-bye also pleasure boating.

And bye-bye the billions of dollars these and related activities contribute to the state’s economy.

Credit Democrat U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minneapolis for his persistent attempts to persuade Congress to close one or more of the locks, also Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and others in the state’s congressional delegation.

But so far, their efforts haven’t succeeded.

This morning, a poll will be released in the Twin Cities by the National Wildlife Federation indicating that Minnesotans’ patience has run thin with the glacial pace with which Congress has considered this important matter.

Realizing the state has everything to lose and nothing to gain if it leaves the locks open, Minnesotans, according to the poll, want action.

Said Lance Ness, president of Minnesota Anglers for Habitat, in remarks prepared for a news conference this morning announcing the poll:

“We implore Congress to act as quickly as they can to address this import issue, before it is too late.

“The economic impact of Minnesota fishing exceeds $4.7 billion per year when adjusted for expenditures on gas, lodging, and the services purchased by fishing related business. It is an incomparable economic driver.”

Want to help?

Get off the couch. Write or call your congressional representatives.

Ditto Gov. Dayton.

Tell them to close the locks.

CITY, PARK BOARD ENVISION SEA SALT-STYLE VENDOR FOR DOWNTOWN EAST PARK

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the Southwest Journal on August 1, 2013:

CITY, PARK BOARD ENVISION SEA SALT-STYLE VENDOR FOR DOWNTOWN EAST PARK

On the heels of a City Council green light for a $400 million Downtown East development proposal, Mayor R.T. Rybak today discussed the possibility of a restaurant in a new downtown park that would be in the mold of Sea Salt Eatery or Tin Fish.

“Our idea would be to create a destination restaurant that could generate revenue back to operate The Yard in the spirit of Sea Salt and Tin Fish,” Rybak said.

As part of the development proposal, the city could sell back a small piece of the two blocks of parkland to developer Ryan Cos. for a smaller development. Ryan Cos. would then give the city rights to open up the first floor of the development to a restaurant.

That’s where the Minneapolis Park Board would come in. The Park Board has a history of issuing requests for proposals to allow private vendors to do business on park property.

That model has been a success at several locations. Tin Fish operates on the north shore of Lake Calhoun. Sea Salt Eatery is popular seafood restaurant that is run out of a Park Board building near Minnehaha Falls. Bread & Pickle opened last summer near the Lake Harriet Bandshell.

The Park Board generally takes a cut of vendor revenue. For example, Tin Fish paid the Park Board $169,000 in 2011.

Park Board President John Erwin said the Park Board would be interested in having two vendors at a new park, and he said his conservative estimate is that each would generate $150,000 annually. Maintaining a park downtown would likely cost $300,000, Erwin said.

While Erwin and Rybak are in agreement about the idea of the Park Board opening the downtown park to private restaurants, it’s unclear if they agree about who should own the park.

The city expects to pay about $15 million to buy the two blocks and several million more to green the space and add amenities.

“We don’t have the resources to build the park,” Erwin said. “That would have to be an effort by the city and the developer.”

Erwin said the Park Board should own the land because the Park Board has shown a commitment to keeping green spaces green.

“The Park Board’s position has been that, why wouldn’t the city want the No. 1 rated park system in the nation to run the park?” Erwin said.

Rybak has not said specifically who would own the land.

“The city is the developer of this, and then Park Board would be the operator, whether they eventually get ownership or not,” he said.

Rick Collins, vice president of development for Ryan Cos., said Ryan Cos. is contemplating residential development on that piece of land and is open to the restaurant idea.

“We anticipate inclusion of some space that would be supportive of park retail services or food offerings,” Collins said. “And we are open to conversation about Sea Salt or some similar restaurant.”

Dog Park Now Open

The following article by Michelle Bruch was published in the July 30, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal (and updated on August 2):

Photo by Michelle Bruch

DOG PARK NOW OPEN

Construction is complete at the park off of Kings Highway.

A long-awaited off-leash dog park is now open along Kings Highway between 38th and 40th streets.

The dog park includes a shaded area with benches at Lyndale Farmstead Park.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board built the park with a budget of $215,000, more than the combined cost of all five of its other dog parks.

Dogs must be registered with the city to use the park.

HEADS-UP FOR THE AUGUST 7, 2013 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.”

The following topics are some of the agenda highlights:

–Authorizing a Professional Services Agreement with SRF Consulting Group, Inc. to Provide Final Design, Bid Administration and Construction Administration Services for the Ridgeway Trail and Overlook Project for a Fee Not to Exceed $139,534 Using Funding from MnDOT Agency Agreement No. 97700

–Awarding a Construction Contract to Veit and Company, Inc. in the Amount of $793,232.20 for the Dean Parkway Trail Improvement Project, O.P. No 7833, Pending Approval by the Civil Rights Office of the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Authorizing Administrative Use of a 5% Construction Contingency Up to $44,500 for Necessary Construction Change Orders that May Arise with the Project

–Approving a Memorandum of Understanding with West Bank Community Coalition for Fundraising Related to the Planting and Maintenance of a Native Prairie at Bluff Street Park

–Receiving and File the Annual Financial Report of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the Year Ended December 31, 2012

–Granting Local Approval to Laws of Minnesota 2013, Chapter 85, Article 5, Section 43 Related to Establishment of a Parkland Dedication Ordinance

–Approving the Installation of Public Art Medallions in the New Lake Walk at Powderhorn Park and a Maintenance Agreement for the Artwork with Gita Patina, LLC.

–2012 Annual Financial Audit Exit Meeting

–Requesting the Board of Estimate and Taxation Set the Maximum Certified Tax Levy for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the Year 2014

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday August 7, 2013 is at http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx

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.

View Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board meetings live from 5-9 p.m. on the Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast Cable. You may also view live meetings online on the Channel 79 webpage: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/tv/79

Regular meetings are typically re-telecast on Channel 79 on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 5 p.m. Telecast schedules are subject to change.

Webcasts of MPRB regular board meetings are posted on the MPRB website two to five business days following each meeting and are available for viewing, along with webcasts for the recent two months, at http://www.minneapolisparks.org.

Board meeting agendas and related information are posted on http://www.minneapolisparks.org two business days prior to meetings.

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

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

Two Crown Hydro – Related Letters from June of 2013

The following is a summary introduction by Doug Verdier of the June 12, 2013 letter to FERC from Crown Hydro: (See below for the link to the letter.)

In the June 12, 2013 letter to FERC from Donald H. Clarke, Counsel to Crown Hydropower, LLC–in response to the April 15, 2013 letter from Edward A. Abrams, Director, Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance–it appears that Mr. Clarke is ignoring Mr. Abrams’ statement in the very first paragraph of the April 15 letter, which states: “We have reviewed your request and staff believes for the following reasons [enumerated in detail in the remainder of the letter] that an amendment of license is not the appropriate vehicle for Crown Hydro’s current proposal.”

By titling his letter “Schedule of Consultation and Timeline for Filing Application for Amendment [emphasis added] of License,…” Mr. Clarke attempts to gloss over the fact that FERC has already noted that an amendment is not appropriate.

The proposed “schedule” contained in the June 12 letter can only be described as yet another attempt to delay revocation of the license, as FERC has threatened to do on several occasions.

————-

The following is a summary by Doug Verdier of the June 18, 2013 letter from FERC to Crown Hydro: (See below for the link to the letter.)

On June 18, 2013, Edward A. Abrams, Director, Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance, responded to the June 12, 2013 letter from Donald H. Clarke, Counsel to Crown Hydropower, LLC in a letter to Thomas Griffin, President, Crown Hydro, LLC.

Mr. Abrams stated that the proposed schedule given in Clarke’s June 12 letter was inadequate and does not include the full three-stage consultation steps that are required by federal regulations. He further noted that “…it is not clear that you can accomplish all of these steps in the time you have allocated for completing the pre-filing consultation requirements.” Crown was directed to file a new schedule with the Commission that included all needed pre-filing consultation steps.
CrownHydroResponsetoFERCJune12,2013.pdf
FERCresponse_June18,2013_toCrown’sJune12,2013schedule.pdf