Monthly Archives: March 2014

Heads-up for the March 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.”

Some agenda items of interest:

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Eric Larson’s March 10, 2014 filing with FERC

On 3/10/2014, the attached Filing was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Washington D.C. by Eric Larson.  Mr. Larson makes several significant points.  He quotes Crown as saying that they have only performed preliminary engineering on the project as presently proposed.  Mr. Larson points out that the lack of detailed engineering work shows that this proposed project is entirely new, rather than a modification of the one they have been working on for ten years, as Crown claims.

Read the complete filing here:
Crown_EricLarsontoFERC

Latest Vote has Southwest LRT on Shaky Ground

The following article by Eric Roper and Pat Doyle was published in the March 6, 2014 issue of the StarTribune:

LATEST VOTE HAS SOUTHWEST LRT ON SHAKY GROUND

Minneapolis City Council opposes digging tunnels for contentious light-rail line.

The Southwest Corridor light- rail project took another blow Wednesday after the Minneapolis City Council formally stated its opposition to digging tunnels in a recreational corridor to make room for freight and transit alongside the Chain of Lakes.

The council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the tunnels but stopped short of supporting an earlier proposal threatening to deny municipal consent for the project. The Metropolitan Council, the agency overseeing the project, must seek consent from cities along the line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie.

It marked the first time that the City Council explicitly opposed digging tunnels for the light-rail transit, which the Met Council offered to satisfy the city’s objection to running the light rail at ground level next to the freight traffic in the Kenilworth corridor.

Minneapolis instead has pushed to relocate the freight out of the corridor, but a plan for rerouting it in St. Louis Park is opposed by that community.

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Council Committee Rejects Co-location of Southwest LRT

The following article by Dylan Thomas was published in the March 5, 2014 issue of the Southwest Journal:

COUNCIL COMMITTEE REJECTS CO-LOCATION OF SOUTHWEST LRT

2014_03_07_SWLRT0801_5

A resolution makes clear Minneapolis won’t accept shallow tunnels

The Minneapolis City Council Committee of the Whole on Wednesday approved a resolution: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/@clerk/documents/webcontent/wcms1p-121478.pdf rejecting any plan to co-locate freight rail and a future Southwest Light Rail Transit line in the Kenilworth Corridor.

The resolution, authored by Ward 1 Council Member Kevin Reich and passed on a voice vote, reiterates the city’s longstanding position that freight rail must be rerouted out of Minneapolis to St. Louis Park before light rail arrives in 2018. It also makes clear that Minneapolis will not accept construction of two shallow tunnels to carry light rail beneath the Kenilworth Corridor’s existing freight rail line, an option proposed by Metropolitan Council planners.

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Park Board and Minneapolis Parks Foundation to Redefine Mississippi Area

The following article by Meara Cummings was published in the March 6, issue of the Minnesota Daily:

SCAPE Landscape Architecture designs new Mississippi waterfront parks

Photo courtesy of SCAPE Landscape Architecture

A 5.5-mile stretch of the riverfront will be home to ‘a park for all of Minneapolis.’

The Mississippi River defines the Twin Cities, winding alongside downtown Minneapolis and cutting through the University of Minnesota campus.

The Minneapolis Parks Foundation is aiming to redefine the city’s relationship with the riverfront over the next 20 years, starting with building an immersive waterfront park in the heart of the city, about a mile upriver from campus.

The Minneapolis Parks Foundation, in cooperation with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, has commissioned architects to redesign the waterfront area adjacent to the West River Parkway overlooking St. Anthony Falls. A rough draft of the design was presented to community members last month, and the design team is working to build a 3D model to present in April.

This area, called Water Works, is a priority project of RiverFirst, a 20-year vision for the Mississippi riverfront area. The initiative looks to revamp the 5.5-mile waterfront from Interstate 35W to the Plymouth Avenue Bridge with parks and paths to create a greater sense of community. The Water Works plan will come before the park board in August with the hopes of breaking ground in the next year.

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Heads-Up for the March 5, 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.”

Some agenda items of interest:

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Crown Hydro Letter to FERC February 25, 2014

CROWN HYDRO LETTER TO FERC ON 2/25/14

On February 25, 2014 Crown Hydro’s attorneys submitted a six-page letter to FERC entitled “Schedule for Development of License Amendment.”  According to Doug Verdier, the letter lists concerns raised by various entities and individuals and Crown’s response to those concerns.   Here is the link to the letter: Crown_to_FERC_2-25-14_29155682

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

Doug Verdier’s Letter to FERC, December 23, 2013

The following letter was sent to FERC on December 23, 2013:

Douglas L. Verdier
401 S. 1st St., #222
Minneapolis, MN 55401
December 23, 2013

Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE
Washington, D.C. 20426

SUBJECT: Crown Mill Hydroelectric Project, Project No. 11175-024-Minnesota

Dear Ms. Bose:

I attended a public “information meeting” on November 26, 2013 scheduled by Crown Hydro LLC at the Hennepin County Central Library in Minneapolis. The alleged purpose of the meeting, according to the published meeting announcement, was to “provide an opportunity for individuals to learn more about the proposed changes to the planned Upper Saint Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Project,” and to answer questions by and address concerns of area residents, business owners and other interested members of the public.

The result of this meeting was anything but an effort to provide information, answer questions or address concerns.

On the contrary, the real purpose of the meeting (scheduled, by the way, for 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving) appeared to be a shameful effort by Crown Hydro to give the appearance of engaging the public and to check off one of the requirements of FERC to fully consult with all resource agencies, tribes and the public, and to address concerns that have repeatedly been voiced by the public, the Corps of Engineers, and numerous interested stakeholders.

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Southwest LRT: Four Paragraphs Worth Pondering

The following item is an excerpt from an article by Jeremy Mendelson that was posted in its entirety on Park Watch earlier.  As more information about SWLRT becomes available, this excerpt is worth reviewing.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch
_____________________

FOUR PARAGRAPHS WORTH PONDERING

Now is a perfect time to step back and ask ourselves why we’re building light rail in the first place. I love trains more than most people (call me a railfan if you like), but it seems to me that we got caught up in the idea of building a rail network for the sake of building a rail network.

Instead, we can make it easier to get around by thinking critically and following these basic steps:
1. Review the current system to ensure it is running as smoothly as possible.
2. Identify deficiencies in the transit network (general and specific routes/locations).
3. Develop short- and long-term plans to address these deficiencies (improve service).

A good plan strikes a balance between large expensive projects and much smaller improvements spread over a large area. Los Angeles Metro: http://www.metro.net/ is using a hybrid strategy of building new rapid transit lines at the same time as it makes incremental improvements to speed up its high-frequency Metro Rapid bus routes: http://www.metro.net/riding/maps/700-799/

When you undertake a comprehensive service analysis you can understand the trade-offs involved in various potential projects. The opportunity cost of building Southwest Light Rail is whatever other improvements could have been made but cannot happen if all the money is spent on one megaproject. For example, the $1.5 billion dollar SW LRT budget could buy us 3,000 hybrid buses (more than we can dream of), 25,000 heated shelters (enough for three per stop), free fares for 2 years (!!), or 15 million hours of service (about 6.5 times what Metro Transit currently operates). Right now the entire annual budget for all Metro Transit service is only $310 million: http://www.metrotransit.org/

To be fair, this is not an honest question in our current situation because funding decisions are not made this way and non-rail options were never part of the studies. But if you were in charge, which plan would you choose?

Good long-range transit planning is about identifying significant mobility problems and setting priorities for improvements, so that when money becomes available you are ready to move forward.  The current plan for Southwest Light Rail does not even attempt to solve any actual mobility challenges and therefore is a solution in search of a problem.

Note: The original article was published at http://www.impaq.me/l/ewQmdvnMtw

Arlene Fried’s Letter to FERC, February 14, 2014

The following letter from Arlene Fried regarding Crown Hydro was sent to FERC on February 14, 2014.  The Star Tribune article referred to has previously been posted on Park Watch at https://mplsparkwatch.org/2014/01/17/former-fuji-ya-will-yield-its-riverfront-spot-to-even-older-landmarks/

February 14, 2014

Mr. Edward A. Abrams, Director
Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20426

Re: Crown Mill Hydroelectric Project License, Project No.11175

Dear Mr. Abrams:

I am submitting to FERC the following article by Bill McAuliffe which was published in the January 14, 2014 issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  I believe that this article demonstrates the importance of the Falls and the significant role it plays as the centerpiece of the Central Riverfront Regional Park. The aesthetic consequence of diminished flow over the falls which would be caused by Crown Hydro’s proposed project is of great concern to many citizens and organizations.

For that reason–and many others–please consider the Crown Hydro proposal within the context of its potential negative impacts on the entire regional park, which attracted 1.8 million visitors in 2012.  Minneapolis and the Central Riverfront Regional Park would best be served by the termination of Crown Hydro’s License.

Thank you for your consideration of this letter.

Sincerely,

Arlene Fried
1109 Xerxes Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Co-founder of Park Watch

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