Monthly Archives: June 2014

Heads-up for the July 2, 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”

With only the regular meeting plus the Planning Committee on the agenda, it looks like it will be a shorter meeting.

Some agenda items of interest:

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Concerns About SWLRT

The following item by S. Brenner, a resident of Minneapolis’ Kenilworth neighborhood, was posted on June 29, 2014 on mpls@forums.e-democracy.org

CONCERNS ABOUT SWLRT

Congressman Martin Sabo, a former almost 30-year [U. S. Representative] who was a ranking U.S. House member and chaired the transportation committee came out strongly against the SWLRT. He stated numerous concerns, including environmental concerns, as well as debunking the equity claims made by the Met council and others.  In his prepared statement he says, “The current proposal does very little for the mobility of the people in Minneapolis. The Penn, Van White and Royalston stations all have hardly any people living near them. In fact, the Met Council’s own projections — for as far in the future as 2030 — show very low ridership there.”

In fact, at the news conference, he stated that the way the Met Council and other SWLRT boosters were using north Minneapolis to promote this project was “disgusting”. He represented north and southwest Minneapolis in the 5th district, a seat now held by Keith Ellison.

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Legality of Light Rail Approval Process Questioned

The following article by Dylan Thomas was posted in the Southwest Journal on June 24, 2014.

Legality of Light Rail Approval Process Questioned

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A sign on the Kenilworth Corridor.

Attorneys for Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis argue environmental questions must be answered prior to municipal consent process

Attorneys representing a group calling themselves the Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis argue in a letter to local officials that the municipal consent process for Southwest light rail is out of compliance with state law.

That law requires a preliminary study of the environmental impact of the project, known as a draft environmental impact statement or DEIS. But the attorneys argue the design approved in April by the Metropolitan Council, which includes two shallow tunnels through Minneapolis’ Kenilworth Corridor, was never evaluated in the 2012 DEIS.

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Sabo joins opposition to Southwest light rail

The following article by Pat Doyle was published in the Star Tribune on June 20, 2014:
Former Rep. Sabo joins opposition to Southwest light rail

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Sabo’s criticism came as city officials are negotiating a possible compromise with the Metropolitan Council.

Former U.S. Rep. Martin Olav Sabo has joined vocal opponents of the Southwest Corridor light-rail — including a daughter — in urging Minneapolis officials to reject plans for the line.
He said the $1.68 billion price tag outweighs the benefits. Continue reading

Cam Gordon Speaks Out About “The Yard”

The following post contains excerpts from the blog created by Cam Gordon, second ward Minneapolis City Council Member.  These excerpts are from a blog titled “Whose Yard Is It?” which was posted on June 6, 2014.  Here is the link to the entire blog: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2014/06/whose-yard-is-it.html

“Whose Yard is it?

“SHOULD SERVE ALL MINNEAPOLITANS

“I agree (in part) with a recent Star Tribune editorial: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/261324051.htm that it is time “tackle the Yard.” David Brauer : http://www.southwestjournal.com/voices/voices/downtown-easts-yard-gets-increasingly-privatized and former Mayor Rybak: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/261320871.html  are right to be worried about the future of this new downtown east park.

“So far it looks like the Vikings are ahead 21 – 3 midway through the third quarter and if we don’t up our game now this park will fall far short of its potential to be a real public jewel that would serve all Minneapolitans – and not just as an extension of the large commercial enterprise venue now under construction.

“Yes, the Yard must welcome game-day visitors, tourists, and people who work downtown.  But if these are the only people who feel welcome there and use the park, we will have missed an enormous opportunity to improve the lives of our residents.

“NOT A FREE PARK

“And let’s be crystal clear, unlike what the Star Tribune indicated when they wrote, “The city is getting, essentially, a free park…” the City and the people of Minneapolis are paying for this park. The Yard is not some gift from Wells Fargo, Ryan Corporation or the Vikings. We are using revenue from parking, in a ramp we are paying to build, to buy the land as an extension of the Vikings Stadium deal that will cost Minneapolis millions and millions of dollars. Minneapolis taxpayers are taking on risk for the Yard, and will have most, if not all, of our sales tax revenue obligated, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, for decades to come because of the stadium deal that made it possible.

“WE NEED TO REVERSE THE GIVEAWAY OF PARK TIME TO THE COMMERCIAL USES OF THE SPORTS TEAMS

“We need to  halt and reverse the giveaway of park time to the commercial uses of the sports teams and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. Granting them exclusive use and access to a minimum number of events makes some sense, but additional days beyond the maximum of 62 already approved by the City Council is unacceptable. Letting them apply for additional days and events and compete with other alternatives within a fair and open process like everyone else makes more sense. Allowing one user to tie up the space for 3 days for one 2 hour event is unnecessary, inefficient and inequitable. Last December the Council approved a term sheet that (by my math at the time) would have granted use of the park area to the Vikings or the Sports Authority for 62 days out of the year.  In February Ryan and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority signed an agreement that appears to give a possible them exclusive rights to a whopping 118 days. This is unacceptable and is not what City policymakers approved. Let’s fix this now.”

Bob Carney Reports on Sabo’s News Conference on SWLRT

The following notes were taken by Bob Carney Jr., East Lake Harriet resident and former candidate for mayor of Minneapolis, who attended Congressman Martin Sabo’s news conference on June 19, 2014.  They are posted here with permission.

Congressman Sabo’s news conference and opposition to Southwest LRT

As a “candidate-journalist”, I attended Congressman Sabo’s 10 AM news conference today, held in front of the “Father of Waters” statue inside City Hall.  Unfortunately, I ended up rushing out the door (to catch a bus, of course!), and didn’t bring a video camera to record it, so I’m relying on my horrible and slow handwriting for quotes, which must be treated as paraphrases unless noted.

We were supplied an advance copy of his written remarks, which I have requested as an e-mail – I’ll post it as an attachment when I receive it.  As he spoke before the Q and A period, I followed the transcript, and noted some variations, but nothing that changed the substance of the printed statement.

One aspect of the news conference that struck me was the relatively small number of journalists covering it.  The Star Tribune sent Pat Doyle, who in my opinion seems to slant his coverage in favor of the proposed Southwest Light Rail plan.  MPR sent Curtis Gilbert, who in my assessment produced the best reporting, although it seems obvious that “space constraints” limited all of the coverage from all sources.

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A Park Watch Commentary about “The Yard”

There are many visions and expectations as well as inaccurate assertions and assumptions for “The Yard;” but at this point, the only known facts about the use of “The Yard” are those associated with the NFL and the 2018 Super Bowl.  Some of  the requirements dictated by the NFL for “The Yard” during the Super Bowl were outlined during the June 12, 2014 Park Committee meeting.  For example, “The Yard” and, I believe, its proximity will be totally off limits to anyone not associated with the Super Bowl.  There will be a gigantic tent encasing the area to ensure that the public will have no access. The “Peoples’ Park” will be totally privatized during the Super Bowl.  And the public will not benefit from any profits from any Super Bowl enterprises situated within the Super Bowl tent.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of  Minneapolis Park Watch  www.mplsparkwatch.org

Sabo Urges Minneapolis City Leaders to “Say No” to SWLRT

The following story was aired on KARE 11 on June 19, 2014.  The original broadcast can be viewed at http://www.kare11.com/story/news/local/2014/06/19/sabo-light-rail-southwest-adams-willis/10940667/

SABO URGES MINNEAPOLIS CITY LEADERS TO “SAY NO” TO SWLRT

MINNEAPOLIS – A former member of Congress from Minneapolis got on board efforts to derail the Southwest Corridor Light Rail (SWLRT) project. Martin Sabo represented Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District from 1979-2007. The SWLRT would run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

Speaking in the Minneapolis City Hall rotunda, Sabo called on city leaders to be “heroes…and say ‘no’ to Southwest light rail.”

Sabo argued that the SWLRT plan does little for the “mobility of the people in Minneapolis.” “I know the downtown business community is pushing hard for this plan’s approval,” said Sabo.

“To them I simply say that doing a $25 million Nicollet Mall rehab will have greater impact on people wanting to live, work and visit downtown than the planned $1.7 billion LRT project.”

Sabo told a small assemblage of SWLRT opponents that his daughter lives in the Kenilworth Corridor area. That is the narrow isthmus between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake in South Minneapolis. The SWLRT plan calls for putting light rail trains into two shallow tunnels under existing bike and walking trails, while keeping an existing freight rail track.

The Kenilworth plan has drawn criticism from a number of residents along the trail area and it has become the most contentious issue along the entire SWLRT route. Sabo’s comments drew criticism from proponents of the project.
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Southwest LRT funders balk at cities’ wish lists

The following article by Pat Doyle was published in the June 19, 2014 issue of the StarTribune:

Southwest LRT funders balk at cities’ wish lists

Public bankrollers of Twin Cities area transit projects worry they’ll be paying for extras requested by cities.

Bankrollers of the future Southwest Corridor light rail balked Wednesday at paying for extras at the request of cities along the route being asked to approve the project.

“They’re just digging deeper and deeper into our coffers,” said Anoka County Commissioner Scott Schulte, a member of a transit board that helps fund Twin Cities area projects with sales taxes.

The concern was triggered in part by a recent decision by Eden Prairie to draft a resolution that approves plans for the area’s most expensive transit project but asks the Met Council to consider spending any surplus funds from the project on a better station design, a trail and other items.

Five cities are being asked to give their consent to the $1.68 billion Southwest line linking downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie. Hopkins became the first to consent Tuesday.

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