Park Watch attended the Thursday, May 8th meeting of the appointed Downtown East Park Committee. After the meeting, our observation was that it would be very difficult for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) to enter into a partnership with the City and the Vikings and the Sports Authority in developing and then taking ownership of The Yard. Previously negotiated commitments by the Vikings, the Sports Authority, the Ryan Company and the City preclude The Yard from being a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board park.
One reason is that the Vikings and the Sports Authority will have exclusive use of The Yard for about 80 days of the year; and the Vikings and the Sports Authority–not the Park Board–get to choose those days. So 80 days of the year The Yard is private.
Another reason is that the Vikings and the Sports Authority have, in their agreement with the City and the Ryan Company, designated specific design elements and design standards to accommodate their specific needs. The Park Board would be bound by this agreement and would be in the difficult position of having to conform to another entity’s design elements and design standards.
Generally, public parks are publicly owned, independent, free-standing parcels of land created for the enjoyment of the public and are free from private interests. The parcel of land known as The Yard will be adjacent to the Vikings’ Stadium and its primary purpose is to serve the requirements of the Vikings and the Sports Authority. Any public enjoyment is secondary,
It would seem that The Yard fits the definition of a plaza, which is “an open area usually located near urban buildings.”
Park Watch was in the courtroom when Judge Dickstein said that the city of Minneapolis could not own The Yard because the Park Board was the governmental unit that owns public parks in Minneapolis and that the City would have to eventually turn The Yard over to the Park Board.
However, it was not known at the time of the hearing that there would be stipulations that would disqualify The Yard from being a public park within the MPRB system.
For the reasons outlined above, The Yard does not qualify as a public park and the MPRB should not accept ownership of The Yard.
Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch
Harvey Ettinger, Member of Park Watch
May 14, 2014