LETTER TO FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION (FTA) REGARDING SWLRT
On July 24, 2014 attorneys for the Lakes and Parks Alliance sent a letter regarding SWLRT to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Here is both a link to the letter and the letter’s introduction by Stuart Chazin of the Lakes and Parks Alliance.
“I am attaching a copy of a letter delivered last week to Marisol Simon (Federal Transit Administration) & Kenneth Westlake (NEPA Implementation Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance U.S. Environmental Protect Agency) . It was drafted by the lawyers for the Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis, Inc. that has been created to conduct litigation on behalf of all of those who care about protecting our lakes and parks.
You will note that the letter contains two law firm letterheads – Gray Plant Mooty and Bassford Remele. This is because Lew Remele has agreed to join the legal team in his role as a seasoned trial lawyer. Lew, who lives in the neighborhood, is a highly respected litigator. A former president of the State Bar Association, he has been intimately involved in LRT litigation having actually represented the Met Council in litigation with Xcel energy related to the construction of the Hiawatha line. He won. So, we are represented by two exceptional lawyers and firms who are working collaboratively and who are very conscious of the need to control expenses.”
The following article by Jeanette Colby was published in the July issue of the Hill and Lake Press.
SOUTHWEST LRT MEETING DRAWS LARGE CROWD
Stuart Chazin, of Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis, expressing his concerns at the LRT hearing at Anwatin Middle School.
On Tuesday, July 7th, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and the Minneapolis City Council’s Transportation and Public Works committee held a community meeting to unveil the “compromise” agreement it had reached with the Metropolitan Council over the $1.65 billion Southwest Light Rail proposal. Despite little advance notice, about 300 people attended the meeting at Anwatin Middle School.
Though moving the freight train out of the corridor was integral to the choice of Kenilworth over an Uptown alignment, the “compromise” agreement leaves freight trains in the Kenilworth Corridor. It seeks to ensure, however, that a public entity continue to own the tracks. Without this guarantee, Hennepin County could sell ownership to the highest bidder – and Minneapolis could see greater increases in freight carrying dangerous cargo (long trains currently carry ethanol).
REVISED SWLRT PLAN HEARING SCHEDULED
The Met Council and Hennepin County will hold a joint hearing on the revised SWLRT plan on August 13th at 5:30 p.m. at the Minneapolis Central Library.
The following article by Dylan Thomas & Sarah McKenzie was published in the July 17, 2014 edition of the Southwest Journal. The main text is given below. To read the complete article, which includes sidebars and additional graphics, go to http://www.southwestjournal.com/sites/default/files/images/pdf/SWJ_071714_web.pdf
“A group of Kenilworth-area residents calling themselves the Lakes and Parks Alliance argues voting before the DEIS is completed violates state and federal laws, and is threatening to take legal action that could delay the project.”
SOUTHWEST LRT ON TRACK FOR FINAL APPROVAL
Southwest Journal Graphic
A new agreement on Southwest Light Rail Transit negotiated between Minneapolis and the Metropolitan Council eliminates one of two tunnels proposed for the Kenilworth Corridor and adds a 21st Street Station back into the plan. Continue reading
The following StarTribune editorial was published in the July 9, 2014 edition of the StarTribune.
A Park Watch Comment: Park Watch is disappointed that the editorial supports co-location in the Kenilworth corridor for SWLRT. Again, the economic argument for moving ahead with SWLRT is pitted against the environmental argument. According to a recent letter to the city from attorneys for the citizens’ organization The Lakes and Parks Alliance (and posted on Park Watch), the city is violating state laws governing the construction of light rail transit by approving SWLRT plans before the Environmental Impact Assessment is completed.
SOUTHWEST LIGHT RAIL GAINS CRITICAL BOOST
By design, the Metropolitan Council prioritizes regional interests. City politics, conversely, are naturally more local, if not parochial. So it’s commendable that Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and key City Council leaders thought regionally when they struck a deal with the Met Council to advance the proposed Southwest light-rail line (also called the Green Line Extension).
City officials failed in their politically expedient but unrealistic efforts to reroute freight rail out of the Kenilworth corridor. But they stayed open to compromise, and the result ultimately will benefit the city and the Twin Cities region.
Community Advisory Committee Will Discuss Designs for Focus Areas and the Whole Park
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is continuing its planning process for Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park with a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Tuesday, July 29, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Nokomis Community Center. This is the fourth of five planned CAC meetings this year.
The general public is welcome to attend and will have the opportunity to comment on the master plan.
At the July 29 meeting, the CAC will look at and discuss initial ideas for the Regional Park as a whole and for focus areas including the Nokomis main beach, the Hiawatha recreation area, and Cedar Avenue crossings. MPRB consultants will also provide a primer on water quality in Lakes Nokomis and Hiawatha.
THURSDAY NIGHT — MINNEAPOLIS UPPER HARBOR TERMINAL – WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE RIVERFRONT?
Reminder: July 24 Public Forum
Time: 6pm to 7:30
Location: Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, 2522 Marshall Street NE: http://www.mwmo.org/
On July 6, 2014, David Smith, author of City of Parks: The Story of Minneapolis Parks, posted on his blog the following cautionary article about “The Yard.” citing previous Park Board disasters.
“THE YARD” — OR DOWNTOWN EAST PARK: A CAUTION FROM MINNEAPOLIS PARK HISTORY”
Here is the link to his article: www:http://minneapolisparkhistory.com/2014/07/06/the-yard-or-downtown-east-park-a-caution-from-minneapolis-park-history/
MAP SHOWING KENILWORTH TRAIL AND TRAIN TRACKS
Here is a map of the Kenilworth Trail and the existing railroad tracks. It is here into this narrow, environmentally sensitive area that the proponents of SWLRT want to squeeze light rail.
REQUEST FOR MANDATED ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW FOR SWLRT
Park Watch has learned that on June 23, 2014, The Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis sent a letter to Mayor Hodges and Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson. According to state law, the environmental impact study must be completed before cities give their consent to SWLRT!
The letter, which is signed by attorneys Tom Johnson and Lewis Remele, concludes with this paragraph:
“Accordingly, the Lakes and Parks Alliance requests that the City require that the necessary environmental review be performed before the Metropolitan Council asks the City to consent to the preliminary plans. The decision to approve the plans before that review is complete would not only endanger the environment, but would also violate the state laws governing the construction of light rail transit.”
Click here to view the letter in its entirety.
Co-founder of Park Watch