Press Release from Woodruff, Ostrow, and Cohen

The following item is the statement/press release issued on December 20, 2013 by Stephanie Woodruff, Paul Ostrow and Dan Cohen after Judge Dickstein’s Final Ruling:

Woodruff, Ostrow, Cohen v. Minneapolis Press Release

The Plaintiffs are very pleased with the ruling of Judge Mel Dickstein earlier today.  Although the Court declined the issuance of an injunction at this time, the Court left open the remedy of injuncive relief at a future date if the City does not act in accordance with the ruling.

The Court unequivocally rejected the City’s position that the City Council has the authority to acquire, own, maintain parkland in the City.  In fact, the Court’s ruling makes it clear that this was not a close call.  In critical part, the Court affirms the rights guaranteed under the Charter:  “The rules of statutory construction, logic, common sense, and the advancement of effective government all militate in favor of a reasonable division of responsibility between the Park Board and the City Council – that is what was accomplished in the City Charter, and the Court rejects the City’s assertion to the contrary.”

The Plaintiffs were compelled to bring this lawsuit because we believed basic democratic rights and protections guaranteed citizens of Minneapolis were not being vindicated.  Those rights are fundamental and are a part of the budgeting and priority setting process required by the ordinances and policies of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.  We are hopeful that as a consequence of this decision, the City Council and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board will delay any action that would commit public resources to the proposed park until the critical rights of citizens are vindicated.  Those rights include the citizen participation process, long term planning, land valuation protections and priority setting.

Since the Court’s ruling makes it clear that “the Yard” cannot be used or operated as a park without the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board owning, operating and maintaining the park, it would be reckless to proceed with an expenditure of $20 Million from the Minneapolis taxpayers without the formal approval of the project and its long term capital and maintenance needs by the MPRB.

The lack of transparency and public input on the Downtown East project has been appalling.  Judge Dickstein’s ruling gives the Minneapolis City Council and the Minneapoils Park and Recreation Board a chance to get it right.   We will be hopeful, but also watchful.