Monthly Archives: January 2015

Dayton, Republican Leaders Say Southwest Light Rail Not A Priority

The following story was reported on MPR by Tom Scheck on January 7, 2015.

Dayton, Republican Leaders Say Southwest Light Rail Not A Priority

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The planned Southwest light rail line from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie has run into a major hurdles at the state Capitol, with Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislators backing away from the project.

Dayton said Tuesday that he is not willing to back the state share of the $1.6 billion project until a lawsuit over its route and a move by the Minneapolis Park Board to consider digging a deeper tunnel for the train are settled.

Citing ongoing disagreements over running the line through Minneapolis’s upscale Kenwood neighborhood, Dayton said he’s also not going to ask the federal government for funding for the project this year or next year.
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City Staff Recommends San Francisco Design Firm for Downtown East Park

The following article by Sam Black was published in the January 9, 2015 edition of the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.

City Staff Recommends San Francisco Design Firm for Downtown East Park


downtown east

A rendering from Ryan Cos. US Inc. of the Downtown East development site plan.

The city of Minneapolis staff has selected Hargreaves Associates to design the Downtown East Commons, a 4.2-acre park that will be built near the new Vikings stadium. Hargreaves beat out 13 other contenders for the project.

The staff pick of San Francisco-based Hargreaves is only a recommendation to the Minneapolis City Council, which must approve the selection. The item is on the Jan. 14 agenda of the city’s Community Development and Regulatory Services Committee.
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The purpose of this synopsis is to provide a succinct summary of the terms of the MOU agreement, which the Park Board approved on December 17, 2014.

Currently Ryan owns the Downtown East land and will own it until 2016 when it turns the Downtown East land over to the the City. The City will then “sell” the land to the Park Board for $1. The Park Board will then lease the land rent free to the City for 30 years with options to extend the lease to 50 years. In so doing, the Park Board will relinquish all control of the land.

As lessee, the City will be responsible for the Downtown East land. The City may create a conservancy with a governing board to oversee the development, maintenance and operation of the Downtown East land.

The City, the MSFA and the Vikings will have total control of the land. The Vikings and the MSFA can use the land whenever and as often as they want without having to pay either rent or license fees. At the end of the 30-50-year lease, the lease will terminate and the land is supposed to revert back to the Park Board as developed parkland.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch
Harvey Ettinger
Member of Park Watch

Park Board May Look To Federal Officials To End Kenilworth Dispute

The following article by Eric Best was published in the January 5, 2015 edition of the Southwest Journal.

Park Board May Look To Federal Officials To End Kenilworth Dispute

A wooden railroad bridge currently sits at the Kenilworth channel.

The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board may ask federal transit officials to put an end to its dispute with the Metropolitan Council over the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project’s Kenilworth crossing.

The Park Board is scheduled to vote on two resolutions during its meeting Wednesday regarding the SWLRT project.

If approved, one resolution would double the board’s investment with an engineering firm to study if there is a reasonable alternative to the Met Council’s proposed bridge for the Kenilworth channel.

The other resolution would approve sending a letter to the regional office of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requesting a meeting to discuss “legal jeopardy” because the Park Board is concerned that current project circumvents federal law, according to the resolution. The meeting would outline the board’s concern that the council hasn’t sufficiently studied alternatives. A sample letter in Wednesday’s agenda packet is available here.
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Letter-to-the-editor by Katherine Low was published in a recent issue of the Star Tribune

The following letter-to-the-editor by Katherine Low was published in a recent issue of the Star Tribune.


Letter-to-the-editor by Katherine Low was published in a recent issue of the Star Tribune



Why the opposition to Park Board suit?

A recent letter to the editor points to the falsehood that “thousands of working families” will be served by a Southwest light-rail 21st Street station. That was just one of many distortions presented in the Dec. 27 commentary “Lawsuit on light-rail tunnel not worth the risks” promoting the $1.7 billion public investment in SWLRT.

Here are a few others:

1) The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has never opposed SWLRT. The fact is that the Metropolitan Council has refused to treat the Park Board as a serious stakeholder, even though it is attempting to fulfill its duty under federal and state law.

2) While the Southwest metro may be “entirely dependent on roads and motor vehicles,” it has one of the finest commuter express bus services in the region. SWLRT planners hope to lure half of those highly satisfied bus riders onto the train, at a tremendous cost.

3) The proposed route was not chosen in order to connect low-income communities to economic opportunities. Reverse commuting is projected to be low, and mostly coming from the West Lake station. The Met Council projects that the number of daily rides from and to the three stations closest to Minneapolis will be in the hundreds, not thousands.

The commentary makes it pretty clear that the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce’s concern with progressive issues surfaces only when federal construction dollars are threatened.

Katherine Low, Minneapolis

Heads-Up for the January 7, 2015 Park Board Meeting

Heads-Up for the January 7, 2015 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. Visitors to Park Board meetings can find at the back of the meeting room the agenda book with all the printed materials for the meeting This is the first regular MPRB Board Meeting for 2015.

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”

Listed below are some agenda items of interest:

–Approving Extension to Employment Agreement with Jayne Miller as Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

–Authorizing an Amendment to Professional Services Agreement with Brierley Associates for Engineering Services Related to the Feasibility and Prudence of Kenilworth Channel Crossing Alternatives in the Amount of $248,275 for a New Contract Total of $493,775

–Approving a Letter Requesting a Meeting to Discuss Legal Jeopardy to the Federal Transit Administraton (FTA) New Starts Program Created by the illegal Implementation of the Program for the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project in Minneapolis, Minnesota by the FTA and the Metropolitan Council

–Approving a License Agreement with the Trust for Public Land for Beta Use of ParkScore Park Access Evaluator and ParkScore Park Optimizer Model

–Approving the Thomas Sadler Roberts Bird Sanctuary Management Plan 2015-2025

–Community Engagement Plan for Windom Northeast Park Playground Improvements
The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners meeting on January 7, 2015 is at . Board meeting agendas and related information are posted on this web page two business days prior to meetings. 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.

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.

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:

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.

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

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch