The following story was reported by Beth McDonough for KSTP-TV on February 18, 2015.
Minneapolis Park Board Votes on Taking Back NE Riverfront Property from Graco
Link to video:
A stalemate between the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and manufacturing giant, Graco came to a head Wednesday.
The site is next to Graco’s headquarters in Northeast Minneapolis along the Mississippi River.
At a public meeting Wednesday, the Park Board considered taking the land through eminent domain.
Right now, Graco owns the land. The Minneapolis Park Board wants it as an easement to expand a recreational trail from Boom Island further north. It’s an issue close to home for Northeast resident Jenny Fortman, “it’s a critical piece to connect Minneapolis into the bike trail system and make the river an amenity it should be.”
A 2000 agreement between Graco and the Park Board spells out a deal where Graco gets a subsidy in exchange for providing the land as an easement. A deal never finalized for whatever reason. Fast forward, Graco is offering up the land again, but wants something in return according to Bryce Hallowell, “I want to be very clear, we want to provide the easement. All we ask in return is for the opportunity to acquire at fair market value two acres of land.”
Critics argue Graco isn’t living up to it’s original agreement. The irony is, the Park Board owns the land Graco wants. The board has a longstanding policy not to sell the land, but does lease it.
We asked Park Board President Jayne Miller, “what’s at stake if you don’t get the easement?
“What’s at stake? A $1.1 million grant from the federal government and not being able to build this trail,” Miller said.
There was a sense of urgency at the meeting, because there’s a deadline. The Park Board must get the easement by the end of May, or else they could lose the grant and not get the trail.
At the conclusion of Wednesday’s meeting, the vote was unanimous. They voted to do anything to get a hold of the land for the trail.