Monthly Archives: February 2014

Railroad nixes reroute to make way for Southwest light-rail line

The following article by Pat Doyle and Rochelle Olson was published in the February 21, 2014 issue of the StarTribune  (This article from StarTribune.com can also be viewed on the paper’s full website: http://www.startribune.com/permalink/246353131.html ):

Railroad nixes reroute to make way for Southwest light-rail line

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With the Southwest Corridor light-rail project facing a make-or-break deadline, a freight train company has rejected the latest proposal to clear space for the transit line in Minneapolis’ Kenilworth recreation corridor.

Thursday’s refusal by Twin Cities & Western to reroute its freight trains in St. Louis Park came as metro county officials who bankroll transit projects sent a letter to Southwest Corridor planners threatening to withhold funding if the conflict over the route isn’t resolved by June 30.

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Yet Another Complication Arises for Southwest LRT Planners

The following article by Dylan Thomas was updated on February 21, 2014 in the online issue of the Southwest Journal: http://www.southwestjournal.com/news/news/railroad-rejects-latest-rerouting-proposal

YET ANOTHER COMPLICATION ARISES FOR SOUTHWEST LRT PLANNERS

Twin Cities & Western Railroad has rejected the latest proposal to shift its rail traffic out of Minneapolis’ Kenilworth Corridor in order to make room for a future Southwest Light Rail Transit line.

The TC&W statement released Thursday was just the latest twist in the troubled planning process for Southwest LRT. On Wednesday, the Counties Transit Improvement Board, or CTIB, a key regional funding partner on the project, stated in a letter to Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh it would withdraw its support if the communities involved can’t come to an agreement by June 30.

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Study proposes third option for Southwest light rail

The following article by Dylan Thomas was published in the February 13, 2014 issue of the Southwest Journal:

Study proposes third option for Southwest light rail
TranSystems has identified another way to reroute Kenilworth Corridor freight traffic

Suddenly, there’s another option on the table  for Southwest light rail.

An independent consultant has proposed a new plan to reroute a Minneapolis freight line through St. Louis Park, and Minneapolis leaders are calling it a viable alternative to prepare the city’s Kenilworth Corridor for the arrival of light rail transit in 2018. It may also be  cheaper than earlier rerouting plans or the option of running light rail through two shallow tunnels beneath the Twin Cities & Western Railroad line.

The contractor, TranSystems of Kansas City, Mo., studied nine different options for freight that had been previously proposed. Then, after its staff members attended community meetings in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, they drew up their own alternative: a $105-million plan to reroute Kenilworth freight traffic on the Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern, or MN&S, track through St. Louis Park, but on a more northerly route than previously proposed.

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Wildlife advocates concerned over planned construction in Roberts Bird Sanctuary

The following article by Ben Johnson was published in the February 13, 2014 issue of the Southwest Journal:

Wildlife advocates concerned over planned construction in Roberts Bird Sanctuary

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A shelter at the Roberts Bird Sanctuary
Photo Courtesy of the MPRB

Birdwatchers are not happy with a plan to rehabilitate a 100-year-old sewer line that runs through the Roberts Bird Sanctuary.

The Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary (FRBS), an organization created to “protect, preserve and enhance” the 31-acre wildlife refuge just north of Lake Harriet, say several concerns raised during the project’s public engagement process have been ignored, and that they’ve been kept in the dark while the project’s plans were finalized by the Met Council and Park Board.

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Presentation on Bassett Creek Restoration Work

The Park Board has issued the following announcement by e-mail.  The project page is http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1431

Reminder: Bassett Creek restoration work presentation:
— Feb. 22, 2014 – Saturday – 10:30-11:30 a.m.
— Wirth Park Pavilion – 3275 Glenwood Ave.
— park in Wirth Lake beach parking lot

Work on Bassett Creek in and downstream of Theodore Wirth Regional Park and Bassett Creek Park will soon begin. The project, titled “Bassett Creek Main Stem Channel Restoration Project, 2012 Golden Valley Road to Irving Ave North,” will identify erosion and waterquality improvements for the creek. Design began in spring 2013, and construction is expected to begin in summer 2014 and continue into2015. The project is funded by the Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission (BCWMC, Commission) and the Clean Water Legacy Amendment.

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Central Mississippi Riverfront Charrette Meetings

The Park Board has issued the following announcement by e-mail:

Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan Charrette Meetings

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board will host a two-day charrette to gather public input for the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan. This is the final charrette of five for the Master Plan and will focus on West River Road from Plymouth Ave to 35W with connections to the River and to the adjacent neighborhoods.  A charrette is an intensive creative session intended to generate alternative approaches to a design problem. It is a way to immerse a project team with key stakeholders and the community in a real-time, iterative learning and creative process. Please join us!

Charrette Public Meeting Day 1:
Date – 2/26/14 – Wednesday
Time – 8:00am to 10:00am
Location – MPRB Board Room – 2117 West River Road North, Minneapolis. Map link: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=2117+West+River+Road,+Minneapolis,+MN+55411&ie=UTF-8&ei=mr08UqviJqGCyQGf-IHgBw&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAg
Teams – Central Riverfront Master Plan Team
Meeting Info: Comment and feedback to define key site program issues, possibilities, and limitations for West River Road

Charrette Public Meeting Day 2:
Date – 2/27/14 – Thursday
Time – 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Location – MPRB Board Room – 2117 West River Road North, Minneapolis
Teams – Central Riverfront Master Plan Team
Meeting Info: Review preliminary design framework plan and concepts for West River Road completed during the charrette.

The Park Board encourages the public to stop by MPRB Headquarters to share ideas, concerns and priorities with the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park design team.  Later in January, ideas from this two-day charrette will be presented to the project advisory committees for discussion.

For more information, please go to the MPRB project page http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1396

Contact: Tyler Pederson, Landscape Architect
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
612-230-6418
tpederson@minneapolisparks.org

Price tag for below-par Minneapolis golf course upgrades: $34 million

The following article by Bill McAuliffe was published in the Star Tribune on February 14, 2014:

Price tag for below-par Minneapolis golf course upgrades: $34 million

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Minneapolis’ seven public golf courses have suffered from years of neglect, and now feature bald greens, fairways sinking into saturated soil, ineffective websites, demoralized staff, “dated and disgusting” clubhouses and even a directional sign on which parks pioneer Theodore Wirth’s name is misspelled.

The cost to fix it all? $34 million, according to a consultant’s report that the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board got a first look at this week.

But that’s money the board is unlikely to spend, much less find, for facilities fewer and fewer people are using, said John Erwin, the board’s recreation committee chairman.

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Southwest LRT reroute plan draws fire in St. Louis Park

The following article by Pat Doyle was published in the Star Tribune on February 13, 2014:

Southwest LRT reroute plan draws fire in St. Louis Park

Some St. Louis Park homeowners shouted at officials to express anger at the effort to move freight trains for Southwest light-rail line.

An angry crowd of St. Louis Park homeowners on Wednesday demanded that transit planners drop their latest proposal for rerouting freight trains in their community to make room for the Southwest Corridor light-rail in a recreational corridor of Minneapolis.

Shouting criticism at officials overseeing the light-rail project, many in the crowd of 200 insisted that planners move bike trails from the Kenilworth corridor instead of rerouting freight train traffic from there to St. Louis Park.

At one point, a man stood and led a chant: “Hell no, get out, we don’t want no reroute.”

Some accused the Metropolitan Council, the agency overseeing the project, of favoring more affluent residents along the Kenilworth corridor by not moving the bike paths.

“You have caved to political pandering,” Meg McCormick told them. “Moving the bike path has got to be part of your final comparison.”

The Met Council is expected to decide next month whether to approve rerouting the freight trains from the Kenilworth corridor to St. Louis Park or keep them in the corridor and dig light rail tunnels nearby under bike and pedestrian trails.

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Heads-Up For The February 19, 2014 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.”

6:30 P.M. PUBLIC HEARING–Kenwood Community Center Building Improvements

Some agenda items of interest:

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Comment on Crown Hydro, LLC’s “Consultation Meeting” with the Public

The following item by MPRB Commissioner Scott Vreeland was posted on mpls@forums.e-democracy.org on November 29, 2013.   Unfortunately, it did not get posted on Park Watch back in December.  However, it is still very timely.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

CROWN HYDRO LLC’s “CONSULTATION MEETING” WITH THE PUBLIC…

I was not expecting a production of Waiting for Godot in lieu of a public meeting about the details of a new Crown Hydro project. It was certainly one of the oddest public meetings I have ever attended.

My expectation was that after FERC provided a letter on April 15th 2013 containing eight pages of reasons that a license amendment “is not theappropriate vehicle for Crown Hydro’s current proposal”,  that Crown Hydro would use this public meeting to provide answers to the concerns and requirements contained in that letter and be prepared to provide details about the project to garner public support.

They presented no new information and appeared unprepared or unwilling to actually answer questions about the project and their project engineer left the meeting early to go to a party.

With a project of this magnitude the devil is in the details. The issue isn’t an issue about whether hydro power is good or bad.

Some of the issues:

Protecting the falls and assuring minimal flow of water in low flow times:  There is additional capacity approved for the existing Xcel hydro plant which means less water available in low flow and no assurances that Crown will agree to a minimum flow.

Potential damage to infrastructure, historical resources, or future central riverfront improvements: The potential damage to the stone arch bridge,navigation and lock operation, and Mill Ruins Park are significantly greater than any of the previous proposed locations with less known about existing tunnels at this new location.

Who is Crown Hydro? Are they reliable? Are they able finance this project?  Have they ever done a successful project? What is their past history and how do they conduct business?

There is already a hydro plant at the falls and a plan to use the tunnelson the East side of the river for hydro thermal and potentially a turbinefor electric generation.

This is not about hydro power, it is about the details of a project in a very important economic, ecologic, and historical location.

Thanks,
Scott Vreeland