Monthly Archives: July 2014

Change to Agenda for July 16 MPRB Meeting

RE: MPRB 7/16 AGENDA

Park Watch has learned that there has been an alteration to the MPRB 7/16 agenda. See the following notice:

Resolution 2014-243 has been removed from the July 16 Regular agenda.

The resolution authorized the start of the 45 day public review and comment period to the Draft Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan. The Draft Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan was not ready and was not attached to the resolution. Resolution 2014-243 is targeted to appear on the August 6 Regular Board meeting agenda with the draft plan attached.

Resolution 2014-243 was as follows:

X. UNFINISHED BUSINESS

10.1 That the Board adopt Resolution 2014-243 captioned as follows:

Resolution 2014-243

Resolution Authorizing a Forty-Five (45) Day Public Review and Comment Period of the Draft Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan

John Goodrich
Executive Assistant/Office of the Superintendent
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

HOW MINNEAPOLIS ACCEPTED SOUTHWEST CORRIDOR LIGHT-RAIL DEAL

The following article by Pat Doyle was published in the on-line StarTribune on July 12, 2014.

HOW MINNEAPOLIS ACCEPTED SOUTHWEST CORRIDOR LIGHT-RAIL DEAL

Prodded by a mediator, Minneapolis officials agreed to the light-rail route with promises of money for improvements.

ows_140262412418317

Photo by Renee Jones Schneider

A view of the Kenilworth corridor neighborhood, where trains now run and where the Southwest light-rail line is proposed to also run in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis officials long insisted they wouldn’t stomach a light-rail line next to freight tracks in a part of the city popular with bicyclists, hikers and canoeists.

But with no palatable alternatives and time running out for action, they agreed to just that. The Southwest Corridor light-rail deal accepted this week by city negotiators and Mayor Betsy Hodges sacrifices the interests of a small and well-connected group of opponents for promises to make the line more accessible and appealing to other Minneapolis residents. The City Council is expected to vote on it in late August.

Final approval would keep the Southwest project, the most expensive transit venture in the Twin Cities at $1.6 billion, on track to win federal approval this fall to advance in competition for funding. The nearly 16-mile line would run from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

Continue reading

THE $1.6 BILLION PRICE TAG FOR SWLRT IS EXCESSIVE

The following letter-to-the-editor from Mary Pattock of Minneapolis was published in the July 11, 2014 edition of the StarTribune.

THE $1.6 BILLION PRICE TAG FOR SWLRT IS EXCESSIVE

2014_07_13_photo_1-6_billion_SWLRT

Photo: DAVID JOLES • Star Tribune

I’m flabbergasted at how blithely many people are accepting the $1.6 billion price tag for Southwest light rail. Maybe the number is just too large to comprehend — so here are some comparisons. It represents more than $300 for every man, woman and child in Minnesota. It is 20 times the annual construction budget of all 400 parks in the National Park Service program. It is 70 percent more than President Obama’s budget to help the 50 states prepare for climate change. It exceeds, according to World Bank statistics, the last reported U.S. foreign aid to Iraq.

For an investment of this stunning magnitude, we need a far better return than what the Met Council is projecting: taking 4,000 cars off the road — by 2030! — and providing train service to 12,000 Eden Prairie commuters, the route’s largest user group, who already have access to fine and faster bus service.

Let’s get past the ugliness, name-calling and municipal enmities that have come to characterize this public debate. And let’s stop dancing to the jingle of coins in Washington. We need to open our minds to all the facts and make a rational decision about whether promised benefits — meager at best — are worth the environmental damage and safety risks they entail, and whether they justify paying the highest price for any public-works project in Minnesota history.

 

SOUTHWEST LRT CLOSER TO APPROVAL AFTER MET COUNCIL VOTE

The following article by Pat Doyle was published in the July 10, 2014 issue of the StarTribune.

SOUTHWEST LRT CLOSER TO APPROVAL AFTER MET COUNCIL VOTE

But some suburban officials question the $30 million set aside by Met Council for Minneapolis improvements.

The Metropolitan Council on Wednesday approved a $1.6 billion agreement with Minneapolis that could trigger a new debate between the city and suburbs over who is getting a better deal from the Southwest Corridor light rail project.

Signs already are emerging of another rift between Minneapolis and suburbs along the nearly 16-mile route. At a meeting of metro leaders, officials from Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Eden Prairie questioned a provision committing up to $30 million for improvements in Minneapolis.

In so many words, the suburbs asked: “Where’s mine?”

With the approval of all but an absent member of the Met Council, the agency overseeing the project, the stage is set for the Minneapolis City Council to take final action on the deal Aug. 29, although a vote could be delayed until late September.

Continue reading

Heads-up for the July 16, 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 HEARINGS

–Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park 54th Street Play Area Improvements
–Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Playground Concept Design

Some agenda items of interest:

–Accepting Recommendation from the Appointed Community Advisory Committee and approval of the concept Plan for the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park 54th Street Play Area Improvements

–Approving the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Playground Concept Design

–Authorizing a forty-Five (45) Day Public Review and Comment Period of the Draft Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan

–Direction to Superintendent Regarding Framework For Development of 2015 Budget

–2013 Annual Financial Audit Exit Meeting

–Receiving and Filing the Annual Financial Report of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the Year Ended December 31, 2013

–Approving the Urban Agriculture Activity Plan and Authorizing Establishment of a Plan Implementation Team

–Authorizing Actions to Proceed with Development of the Phillips Community Center Aquatic Facility with the Intention that the MPRB Will Construct and Operate the Facility Upon the Commitment and Board of Commissioners Acceptance of Necessary Capital Funds by March 31, 2015

–Capital Improvement Program Development

–Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) Rule-making Comments

Also of interest and now available to the commissioners and the public are the monthly reports that Superintendent Miller has initiated for construction permits and for Planning Department projects. The availability of these reports is one of the important changes instituted by Superintendent Miller. They are normally in the agenda packet for the first regular meeting of the month.

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on July 16, 2014 is at http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx Board meeting agendas and related information are posted on the above web page two business days prior to meetings.

View Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board meetings live from 5-9 p.m. on the Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast Cable. You may also view live meetings online on the Channel 79 webpage: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/tv/79

Regular meetings are typically re-telecast on Channel 79 on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 5 p.m. Telecast schedules are subject to change.

Webcasts of MPRB regular board meetings are posted on the same web page two to five business days following each meeting and are available for viewing, along with webcasts for the previous two months.

The Park Board’s website is www.minneapolisparks.org. The phone number is 612-230-6400.

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

In Mpls., LRT Deal Gets a Cool Reception

The following article by Pat Doyle was published in the July 9, 2014 issue of the StarTribune.

IN MPLS., LRT DEAL GETS A COOL RECEPTION

A new plan for the proposed Southwest Corridor light rail line through a critical area of Minneapolis, crafted to clear the way for local approvals of the $1.68 billion project, got a stormy reception Tuesday.

Mary Pattock, who lives a few blocks from the future light rail route in the Minneapolis Kenilworth corridor, saw the project as victory for suburban interests with long-range consequences for the city.

“It seems to set a precedent,” she told Minneapolis City Council members.

One man called the project “a billion-dollar boondoggle.”

But Gerald Savage, another Minneapolis resident, said rejecting the light-rail project would reduce tax revenue for the city.

“Focus on the majority of property owners and not just the .01 percent in Kenilworth,” Savage said.

About 250 people attended the hearing at Anwatin Middle School, some holding banners and placards warning that the light rail might harm nearby lakes and recreation land.

Continue reading

Constant Growth–The Cancer Model: Southwest LRT v. Democracy

The following article by Susu Jeffrey was published in the July 6, 2014 issue of the Daily Planet under Community Voices.

CONSTANT GROWTH — THE CANCER MODEL: SOUTHWEST LRT V. DEMOCRACY

2014_07_10_1_image_st_louis_tunnel
Shallow tunnel construction, St. Louis MO, 1/7/2005

I can’t help thinking about the easiest, cheapest, action to mitigate climate change: plant trees.

We would lose 10,000 inner city trees with the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit shallow tunnels plan through the Cedar Lake Park and Kenilworth bike trails. In the current but ever-morphing Met Council plan only 480 “significant” trees would be cut—the largest trees.

The other almost 90 percent of the vegetation is “not significant.” In Met Council/Hennepin County Commission SWLRT development plans, not all trees or people count equally.

The Equity Sell

Martin Sabo, retired 14-term Minneapolis congressman, called a rare press conference (6/19/14) to comment on the propaganda pitch for the SWLRT. They tried “to sell it for a while that this is something that did great things for the North Side, which I thought was just despicable and, frankly, so blatantly untrue it was laughable. It wasn’t designed for that.”

The SWLRT was designed “to provide time-saving one-seat rides to people living in suburbs and exurbs,” former state Senator Julie Sabo wrote in Minn Post (4/2/14). It was designed under the George W. Bush Administration criteria to promote sprawl and to avoid “urban density and economically stressed communities.”

At the combined Hennepin County Commission/Met Council Public Hearing on Southwest LRT (5/29/14), African-American spokesman Mel Reeves said equity proposals must be effective and not just more proposals that look good on paper. Several African American spokespeople commented that SWLRT is not near North Side housing, a quarter to half-mile away. Continue reading

JULY 8, 2014 SWLRT PUBLIC MEETING AT ANWATIN–A BRIEF REPORT

JULY 8, 2014 SWLRT PUBLIC MEETING AT ANWATIN–A BRIEF REPORT

Tonight’s meeting was a good one with many thoughtful comments. There was a very large crowd with a total of 95 speakers.  I was 41.  Most, but not all, were against SWLRT.  One of the themes was the need for the environmental impact statement.  Another theme was concern about dewatering and the high water table under the Kenilworth Trail.  There was a heavy media presence–many TV cameras.  The meeting lasted until 10:30.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch

RE: DETAILS ON PROPOSED AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE MET COUNCIL AND CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS

The following is a comment by Ted Kiesselbach in response to the announcement by the City of Minneapolis and the Metropolitan Council that a compromise had been reached on the SWLRT.

RE: DETAILS ON PROPOSED AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE MET COUNCIL AND CITY OF MINNEAPOLIS

If I’m reading this correctly (and I pray that I’m not), this seems like the worst of both worlds: co-location of freight and rail, side by side, through one of the most fragile and important strips of park land in the region. Those of us who got on board with the LPA years ago, when removal of the freight line was a GIVEN, appear to have been the victims of a classic bait and switch. Mayor Hodges caving is disgraceful. Here’s hoping the Parks Board holds the line!