Monthly Archives: May 2015

Letter to the Met Council re Violation of Minnesota Statutes‏

The following letter from former Minneapolis City Council President Paul Ostrow was sent on April 17, 2015 to the Met Council urging the Met Council to reject the proposal to expend public funds for the $6M pedestrian bridge because the expenditure would be in violation of Minnesota statutes.  At its last meeting on May 27, the Met Council decided to send the foot bridge issue back to the Vikings and the Stadium Facilities Authority to continue negotiations over the funding.


April 17, 2015

To: Chair Duininck and Board Members:

I am writing you to express my concerns regarding the Transportation Committee recommendation that the Metropolitan Council expend six million dollars in public funds for a walkway to serve the Vikings stadium development on game days. This proposed expenditure is in direct violation of Minnesota statutes.

The Vikings stadium legislation approved in 2012 included clear and unambiguous language limiting the use of public funds for the stadium and surrounding infrastructure. This “cap” on the public’s contribution was critically important to legislative support for the bill. Minnesota Statutes Section 473J.11 limits the state’s share of “stadium costs” to $348,000,000 and further limits the portion of “stadium costs” to be paid by the City of Minneapolis to $150,000,000. Further Minnesota Statutes Section 16A.965 and Minnesota Statutes Section 16A.726 make clear that the legislature intended to limit the public contribution for “stadium costs” to the $498,000,000 in bonds issued to finance the stadium development.

State and local leaders were acutely aware at the time the stadium bill was proposed that the Downtown East location lacked the necessary skyways, parking spaces, green spaces and other ancillary needs critical to the stadium development. As a result the Legislature insisted on language in the stadium bill that precluded public expenditures for stadium infrastructure beyond the statutory spending limit of $498,000,000.
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METROPOLITAN COUNCIL: IT’S TIME TO BECOME TRANSPARENT

The following letter from Douglas Peterson, SWLRT Community Advisory Committee member, was sent on May 17, 2015 to members of the Metropolitan Council and is posted on Park Watch with his permission.

METROPOLITAN COUNCIL: IT’S TIME TO BECOME TRANSPARENT

The Metropolitan Council on April 24, 2015 informed the public that it had identified 341 million dollars in additional costs to construct the Southwest LRT project, bringing the total cost to nearly two billion dollars for 16 miles of light rail transit infrastructure and equipment. Adam Duininck, Chair of the Metropolitan Council and the Southwest Corridor Management Committee said of the increase: “We are receiving strong direction from our partners, including local communities, to identify cost-savings so that light rail will work in the corridor. In the coming weeks our project office will be working with our partners to put forward a range of cost-cutting options for the Corridor Management Committee and other stakeholders to consider. We will also be reviewing the transit options such as enhanced bus service and bus rapid transit.”

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Detailed Plans for New Downtown Park Unveiled

The following report by Curtis Gilbert was aired May 27, 2015 on Minnesota Public Radio.

Detailed Plans for New Downtown Park Unveiled

Landscape architects unveiled the first detailed renderings of their plan for the Downtown East Commons Wednesday.

To continue reading click on the link to MPR.

http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/05/27/downtown-east

Met Council Reconsiders the $6M Vikings Stadium Pedestrian Bridge

Met Council Reconsiders the $6M Vikings Stadium Pedestrian Bridge

This is the link to the video of the Met Council meeting where the $6M Vikings Stadium Pedestrian Bridge is being reconsidered.  The part regarding the Bridge starts about 4:40.

http://metrocouncil.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2235

Gail Dorfman said that she would rather spend the money for transit police for the few days a year.

Wendy Wulff and Jennifer Mundt  and Steven Chavez seemed the most opposed.

Info on the Council Members is here http://metrocouncil.org/About-Us/Who-We-Are/CouncilMembers.aspx  so you can thank the Council Members who reflected your position.

What happened is a little unclear — Basically Chavez wanted to give staff the ability to negotiate an agreement but they were to come back to the Council before spending any money.

Long-awaited Report on Light Rail Impacts Released

The following article by Dylan Thomas was published in the May 21, 2015 issue of the Southwest Journal.

Long-awaited Report on Light Rail Impacts Released

 

An agreement to keep both freight and light rail trains in the Kenilworth Corridor triggered
additional environmental review for the Southwest light rail project.

File photo


.

The supplemental draft environmental impact statement covers changes to the line since a
previous report was released in 2012

The Federal Transit Administration released a long-awaited report on the potential
environmental impacts of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project Thursday morning.

The report is a follow-up on a draft environmental impact statement, or EIS, released in October 2012. Several changes to the 16-mile light rail line made since then were significant enough to warrant a supplemental draft EIS that has been in progress for months.

Those include adjustments to the SWLRT alignment through Eden Prairie that moves stations closer to activity centers; a change in the planned location of an operations and maintenance facility (OMF) to Hopkins; and a number of modifications in St. Louis Park and Minneapolis, mainly intended to accommodate the co-location of freight and light rail in the Kenilworth Corridor.

For a time, the entire project appeared to be in danger because of Minneapolis’ refusal to allow co-location and St. Louis Park’s equally firm stance against taking the rerouted freight traffic from the Kenilworth Corridor, a position backed with the powerful support of the Twin Cities & Western Railroad that operates in the corridor. That sent Minneapolis leaders into mediation with Met Council behind closed doors, and the parties emerged with an agreement to run light rail trains in a tunnel through part of the Kenilworth Corridor, a concession that prevented the loss of a popular bicycle and pedestrian path that otherwise would’ve been squeezed out of the corridor by two sets of rail lines running at-grade.

Co-location is not without its costs, though. The supplemental draft EIS notes potential long-term impacts on the Grand Rounds Historic District and Kenilworth Lagoon, as well as to parkland in both St. Louis Park and Minneapolis.

Just how the line may affect both parkland and historic sites is still under review. Separate impact studies are required under two sections of federal law known as Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act. The Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office are expected to consult with the Federal Transit Administration on measures to mitigate potential impacts, and an agreement with cities along the line will need to be finalized before the FTA grants approval for the project.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and several neighborhoods that have signed on as “consulting parties” in the Section 106 review will have a seat at the table.

Just as controversial as the historic and parkland impacts may be the need to pump groundwater and storm water out of the Kenilworth Tunnel over the long term, a potential noted in the supplemental draft EIS. The tunnel dives below the water table as it cuts across the Chain of Lakes, and the report notes the pumps could encounter “zones of contaminated groundwater.”

Before construction begins, Met Council is required to come up with a groundwater management plan. Both the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have a say on how much groundwater is pumped and how that water is handled.

Spokespersons for both the city and the Park Board declined to comment on the report, which runs to over a thousand pages, saying it arrived unexpectedly Thursday morning and they hadn’t had time to review it, yet.

The public comment period officially opens tomorrow and runs through July 6. Comments can be delivered in-person at one of three open houses scheduled for June, including 5 p.m. June 18 at Dunwoody College of Technology, 818 Dunwoody Boulevard.

Written comments may be submitted via email to swlrt@metrotransit.org or addressed to:
Nani Jacobson, Assistant Director, Environmental and Agreements
Metro Transit — Southwest LRT Project Office
6465 Wayzata Boulevard, Suite 500
St. Louis Park, MN 55426

Good News on City Parks and Population Growth

The following Star Tribune editorial was published in the May 22, 2015 Star Tribune.

Good News on City Parks and Population Growth

Minneapolis, St. Paul have the nation’s best parks and are growing again

This week’s announcements about population growth and parks in Minneapolis and St. Paul seemed twinned. But actually the news of the central cities’ increasing population, and that they have the nation’s best park systems, was separate. And yet there seems to be a correlation — and maybe even causation — between the two.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribune

http://www.startribune.com/good-news-on-city-parks-and-population-growth/304647601/

 

Millions in Cuts Proposed for Southwest LRT Line

The following article by Janet Moore was published in the May 21, 2015 edition of the Star Tribune.

Millions in Cuts Proposed for Southwest LRT Line

 

Metro Transit staff dug deep and presented a list of more than $500 million in possible cuts to the proposed Southwest light-rail line on Wednesday, part of an effort to curb escalating costs that have put the $2 billion transit project at risk.

No decisions were made at the meeting of the Southwest Corridor Management Committee, a group of officials with ties to the five cities along the 16-mile light-rail line linking Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. A final plan for trimming $341 million from the project’s burgeoning bottom line will likely come by early July, when the Metropolitan Council is slated to approve a new slimmed-down budget.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribune.

http://www.startribune.com/500m-in-cuts-proposed-for-southwest-lrt-line/304445241/

Minneapolis and Saint Paul Tie for First Place on The Trust for Public Land’s 2015 ParkScore® Index

The following press release was issued on May 20, 2015 by the MPRB.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul Tie for First Place on The Trust for Public Land’s 2015 ParkScore® Index

 Twin Cities Share Prestigious Title as Nation’s Best Park System,
Edging Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, and Portland

Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN – In a historic finish, the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul tied for first place on The Trust for Public Land’s 4th annual ParkScore® index, with each city earning a perfect 5 “park bench” rating from the nonprofit organization. Saint Paul Mayor Christopher Coleman and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President Liz Wielinski will join Trust for Public Land officials to commemorate this historic achievement at Minneapolis’ East River Parkway at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

Saint Paul was included in the ParkScore rankings for the first time in 2015, as the index expanded from the 60 largest cities in the United States to the 75 largest (Saint Paul is the 66th largest city in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau). Minneapolis is ParkScore’s defending champion and retained its title for the third consecutive year. Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, and Portland rounded out the top six.

“We’re thrilled our park systems are getting the recognition they deserve. But we can’t rest on our laurels. As our cities grow and draw families to new and redeveloping neighborhoods, our park systems must evolve. At The Trust for Public Land, we’re working especially hard to increase safe and vibrant park space in underserved neighborhoods throughout both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, along key opportunity corridors where investment is occurring, in both cities’ downtowns, and along the world class Mississippi riverfront for all of us to forever enjoy. That’s what it will take to stay number one into the future,” said Susan Schmidt, Minnesota Director of The Trust for Public Land.
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Public Hearings Scheduled for Southwest LRT Supplemental Draft EIS

Public Hearings Scheduled for Southwest LRT Supplemental Draft EIS

The following is a schedule for the SWLRT June Public Hearings.

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Southwest LRT Supplemental Draft EIS Available for Public Review and Comment


The Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT) (METRO Green Line Extension) Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement is available for review and comment. An electronic version of the document can be found at http://metrocouncil.org/swlrt/sdeis. Hard copies of the document are available at the local libraries and city halls along the alignment, listed below, as well as at the Southwest LRT Project Office.

The Southwest LRT Project is an approximately 16 mile proposed extension of the METRO Green Line (Central Corridor LRT) that would operate from downtown Minneapolis through the communities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie, passing in close proximity to Edina.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is the federal lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Metropolitan Council (Council) is the state lead agency under the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act for development of the Southwest LRT Supplemental Draft EIS. The Supplemental Draft EIS is needed because the FTA and Council determined that design adjustments made to the project following publication of the Draft EIS in October 2012 needed to be evaluated for environmental impacts that have the potential to result in new adverse impacts.

To request  a CD of the document, contact Nani Jacobson, Southwest LRT Assistant Director for Environmental and Agreements, Metropolitan Council, at nani.jacobson@metrotransit.org.

The Notice of Availability appeared in the Federal Register on May 22 and comments will be accepted through July 6, 2015.   Comments can be submitted by three methods:

  • U.S. Mail: Written comments can be mailed to

Nani Jacobson

Assistant Director, Environmental and Agreements

Metro Transit – Southwest LRT Project Office

6465 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 500

St. Louis Park, MN 55426

  • Public Hearings:

Formal testimony at one of three public hearings in June. The public hearings will each be preceded by an open house, where people can learn more about the Southwest LRT Project and the Supplemental Draft EIS.

The Southwest LRT Supplemental Draft EIS open houses and public hearings will take place as follows:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hopkins Center for the Arts,1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins, MN 55343

Open House: 5:00 PM Public Hearing: 6:00 PM

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Eden Prairie City Hall, 8080 Mitchell Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Open House: 5:00 PM Public Hearing: 6:00 PM

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dunwoody College of Technology, 818 Dunwoody Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Open House: 5:00 PM Public Hearing: 6:00 PM

The Supplemental Draft EIS is available for viewing at the following locations:

Eden Prairie City Hall: 8080 Mitchell Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Eden Prairie Public Library: 565 Prairie Center Drive, Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Minnetonka City Hall: 14600 Minnetonka Blvd, Minnetonka, MN 55345

Minnetonka Public Library: 17524 Excelsior Blvd, Minnetonka, MN 55345

Hopkins City Hall: 1010 First Street South, Hopkins, MN 55343

Hopkins Public Library: 22 Eleventh Avenue North, Hopkins, MN 55343

Edina City Hall: 4801 West 50th Street, Edina, MN 55424

St. Louis Park City Hall: 5005 Minnetonka Blvd, St. Louis Park, MN 55416

St. Louis Park Public Library: 3240 Library Lane, St. Louis Park, MN 55426

Southwest LRT Project Office: 6465 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 500, St. Louis Park, MN 55426

Minneapolis City Hall: City Engineer’s Office, 350 South Fifth Street, Room 203, Minneapolis, MN 55414

Minneapolis Central Library: 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN

Walker Public Library: 2880 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Linden Hills Public Library: 2900 West 43rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55410

Sumner Public Library: 611 Van White Memorial Blvd., Minneapolis, MN 55411

Franklin Public Library: 1314 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404

Metropolitan Council Library: 390 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 55101

Minnesota Department of Transportation Library: 395 John Ireland Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library: 645 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55155

Translation services for non-English speakers and ADA accommodations will be provided on request. To request translation or ADA accommodations, please contact Dan Pfeiffer, Southwest LRT Assistant Public Involvement Manager, at 612-373-3897 orDaniel.pfeiffer@metrotransit.org at least five days prior to the hearing.

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