Category Archives: Park Board HQ Building



5:00 P.M. REGULAR BOARD MEETING. Committee meetings to follow. The meetings 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 need to sign up before 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting.

This meeting is the last meeting that David Fisher will be attending as Superintendent. His four month stint as interim superintendent ends on October 31. We are grateful that he accepted the invitation to come to Minneapolis to fill this position.

This meeting is a meeting with many significant agenda items. The most important item on the agenda is the vote to approve the employment agreement with Jayne Miller, who–at the last meeting–was selected by a unanimous vote to be the new MPRB Superintendent.

Some highlights of the meetings that will be voted on :

The I-35 Bridge Memorial.
The concession agreement with Bread & Pickle at Lake Harriet.
The reconvening of the CAC for the Wirth Beach Project III.
The non-appointed CACs for two playgrounds at Lake Harriet.

There will be a presentation of the Superintendent’s 2011 Recommended Budget. This is a report item and will not be voted on at this time.

The following is the link to the complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting of Wednesday, October 20:

MPRB meetings are broadcast live from 5-9 p.m. on the City of Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast cable and online at

The regular meetings are rebroadcast on Channel 79 at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. Webcasts for the recent two months are posted two to five business days after the meeting and are available for viewing under “Webcast Archives” at

The Park Board’s website is

Arlene Fried, Co-founder of Park Watch



At the upcoming 5/21/08 Park Board meeting, General Manager Don Siggelkow is asking the commissioners permission to renegotiate the Park Board’s lease with Twin City Catering. Twin City Catering is the sole tenant in the Park Board’s headquarters building. It rents approximately one-third of the building for its corporate operations. It also has use of the Park Board’s parking lot for its catering vehicles.

The reason that Twin City Catering wants to renegotiate its lease is because it has been told that it has to pay property taxes. For the past four years, Twin City Catering has avoided paying personal property taxes because neither the Park Board administration or Twin City Catering bothered to notify Hennepin County that a corporate for-profit business was operating in a tax exempt building.

So while all of us law abiding citizens and businesses were dropping our property tax checks in the mail twice a year, Twin City Catering was not.

And, ironically, while the Park Board administration was enabling the Park Board’s tenant to dodge its responsibility to pay taxes, the commissioners of the cash-strapped Park Board were asking the Board of Estimate and Taxation to raise taxes on the tax-paying citizens and businesses of Minneapolis. The commissioners were also raising the user fees on the non-profit organizations who use the parks for fundraising activities.

When the city assessor recently learned that Twin City Catering was being sheltered from its tax obligations, it billed Twin City Catering $65,000 for this year’s taxes.

And now the tax delinquent tenant wants to alter the lease in order to preserve its profit margins at the expense of the Park Board and the public. The question here is: Whose interest is the Park Board’s general manager representing? Is it the Park Board’s interest or is it the tenant’s interest?

We’ve read the lease and it clearly states on page one that the tenant is to pay personal property taxes. If the tenant chose not to pay the required taxes, it’s not the fault of the lease or the commissioners.

There should be no renegotiation of the lease, nor any modifications to it.

District managers

After spending over $6 million in 2002 to purchase and renovate a new headquarters building in order to centralize staff and save money, the Park Board is now decentralizing staff and adding a new layer of governance to the Park Board administration.

Three new area district manager positions have been created. Each position pays $90,000 for a total of $270,000, plus staff and office expenses. These area district managers will have offices that are located away from the headquarters building.

How essential are these three positions? Wouldn’t $270,000 plus costs have been better spent in supporting the Park Board’s underfunded battle against Dutch elm disease?

Pulse: Minneapolis Parks, Inc. — Recent commercialization effort draws criticism

by Elaine Klaassen

Anyone who has been to the South Dakota Badlands and Black Hills realizes that it’s one of the most beautiful areas in the country. Anyone who has been there also has noted that it’s horribly commercialized, from signs in the roadways to cheap souvenir stands to fees just for driving down the highway. You leave the area with two thoughts: one, this is a special place, and two, it didn’t take us long to ruin it.

Visitors to Minneapolis for a century have been amazed by its park system. This urban forest is vast, unique, egalitarian, user-friendly, poetic-and, in 2005, short of funds. Federal and Minnesota state budgets have been tight the last few years, and aid to local government agencies, including the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB), has been reduced.

Read entire article here.

Star Tribune: Park Board headquarters is over budget

Park Board headquarters is over budget
The newly acquired building on the Minneapolis riverfront is costing $400,000 more than expected – so far.
Published on May 10, 2003
By Rochelle Olson

Staff Writer
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will spend at least $400,000 more than expected on its new headquarters on the upper Mississippi riverfront at a time when the board is scraping to keep park toilets and wading pools open.

The board initially budgeted $5.4 million to buy and renovate the office building on N. West River Road between Broadway Pizza and the defunct Riverview Supper Club. But unexpected renovation expenses have pushed the cost to $5.8 million, primarily

Sept. 15 Park Board Meeting Highlights

The September 15 meeting of the Park Board was more notable for its parliamentary and political maneuvering, than for outright fireworks.

At 5:00pm, the Administration and Finance Committee met and approved a variety of items with little discussion, except the purchase of 4 parking pay station machines. After some discussion about malfunction, ticketing, profitability and the public’s uneasiness with the newer technology, this item also passed with comr. Walt Dziedzic voting no with the comment that there were “too many complaints.”

Then the Admin & Fin Com heard the reports for two study items.

Item #1 was the mayor’s budget proposal and how it would affect the Park Board. Comr. Dziedzic took this opportunity to complain that there were no capital projects listed for the “east side” of Minneapolis. He also asked Asst. Super. Siggelkow what the latest state forecast was. Answer: about a $1 billion biannual deficit at the state.

Item #2 was a report on the Preplanning Fund by Asst. Super. Siggelkow. Chairperson Marie Hauser allowed Comr. Vivian Mason, who does not sit on this committee, to make some remarks. Mason noted that what she had asked for was an update on all reserve funds [not just this one], and that she was told by Siggelkow that he had that data and that it would be in the information packets for the commissioners the coming Friday. Mason would like the board to review that information at their next meeting. Siggelkow then held forth with a bunch of background on the fund, how it was sometimes reimbursed from projects that proceeded, how it was sometimes funded in years not so lean as recent ones, how it was used to react to plans by other government agencies, or to plan projects to take to other agencies that the Park Board wanted done. It’s also used for “testing.” The balance was $214,000 in mid-August this year. The low was $15,000 in 1992, and the high was $600,000 at the end of 2003. [So we’ve spent $600k – $214k = $386,000 from it this year already?] There is a state law capping the amount the staff can spend without elected board approval at $50,000.

Comr. Annie Young wants to know who decides when this fund is used. Siggelkow answers but never really says who. Young notes that larger amounts than $50,000 appear to have been spent, but Siggelkow insists that the board has always approved all amounts over $50,000. Young tries to press her question, but…

Chair Hauser interrupts Young, and cuts her off saying her 3 minutes are up and then calls on Comr. Rochelle Berry Graves.

Berry Graves immediately yields her first 30 seconds to Young, who finishes her remarks. Berry Graves then asks about the discretionary fund, and also wants to know when the previous long-standing limit of $25,000 before board approval was changed and how? Siggelkow says he has never heard of a discretionary fund, and that the Park Board has always been audited.

Hauser asks if the discretionary fund is the same place the money was going to be found to fund the skate park at Elliot Park [at the time, there was no money but the claim was made that some could be found someplace].

Hauser adjourns the Admin & Fin Committee


Operations and Environment Committee called to order by Young. The only item on the agenda is an item to increase the number of voting members on the Minneapolis Water Quality Monitoring Task Force. Presently there are 5 voting members: 2 city council, 2 Park Board and 1 mayoral. Proposal is to add 4 members for the 4 watershed districts which impact Minneapolis surface water quality. Comr. Carol Kummer and Young have been serving as the Park Board reps. Kummer and Young speak in favor of this action.

Comr. Dziedzic wants to point out to the public that this is not about drinking water for the public.

The item (5.1) is passed unanimously and moved to the full board.

Young adjourns the Op & Env Committee.


Commissioner President Chairman Jon Olson calls the Regular meeting to order. Comr. Bob Fine is absent.

* The agenda is updated and approved.

* Petitions and communications.

Dziedzic talks about some brochure from a 1960s-era De La Salle program, that he passes around, Vikings coach Mike Tice presenting $5,000 to some program, etc.

Hauser says someone spoke to her about banning smoking in the parks, even outdoors.

Mason received comments from a number of citizens concerned that diseased elm trees were not being removed quickly enough, about the fate of the Wirth and Longfellow houses, and about meeting agendas not being mailed to citizens at all or on time.

Comr. John Erwin mentions the success of traffic calming on West River Parkway, and that he met with Jim Parsons of People For Parks and that he believes they will reach some sort of agreement. Erwin also remarks that a discussion of the disposition of the Wirth House is overdue since the tenant (Mn. Rec. and Parks Assoc.) will be vacating by end of this month.

Kummer mentions Tobacco Free Minnesota regarding smoking in parks, and also notes that Mason has requested that the Standards and Conduct Committee, of which Kummer is chair, meet [to discuss Dziedzic’s outrageous verbal assault at the August 18 meeting].


Olson moves meeting to Open Time so public can speak.

* Liz Wielinksi of Northeast:

“President Olson and commissioners,

During the past 18 months I have been coming to meetings of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. At first I was very impressed with hose the meetings were conducted. The Superintendent, Assistant Superintendents and staff made frequent reports to the board which were very informative and kept the commissioners abreast of happenings within the system. Sounds recommendations were given and the board made reasonable decisions based on this information. In fact, the only thing I found hard to handle (as a speed talker myself) was Dr. Merrirfield’s charming yet exquisitely slow Southern drawl.

This has all changed. Since the appointment of Interim Superintendent Gurban, the meetings and activities of this board have become soap-operaesque. Clandestine planning, hidden agendas and all out hostilities have become the norm. Much as this may make for entertaining television, this does not make for good governing. A prime example is Commissioner Dziedzic’s behavior at the August 18th meeting.

Commissioner Mason asked reasonable questions of Interim Superintendent Gurban about the plans for moving the park police. He gave her some mumbo jumbo about tentative plans written on napkins and suggestions made in passing. When she confronted him about the professional plans she had seen, he was defended by Commissioner Dziedzic. He proceeded to get into a temper over her picking on staff. He even made what appeared to be threats that only those familiar with School Board history would know referred to when Commissioner Mason’s late husband was attacked by a disgruntled staff member at a meeting.

I am a constituent of Commissioner Dziedzic’s and I am not only embarrassed by this but very disappointed. I thought I had voted for him to represent myself and my neighbors to oversee the workings of this fabulous system. Questioning staff on their plans and expenditures is part of his job as a supervisory board member just as it is for Commissioner Mason and the other elected members of this board. How else would making decisions which provide excellent services while keeping costs contained be achieved?

Today I see a return to the boring and yet productive and well intentioned board of last year. Please continue. I believe an apology from Commissioner Dziedzic to Commissioner Mason is also necessary to improve the working relations of the board. The next step would be for Interim Superintendent Gurban to do the job he was hired to do, including making his reports or at least deferring to the experienced Assistant Superintendents who are very familiar with the system. In fact I hope that if Interim Superintendent Gurban is actively pursuing the position of Superintendent he would make an effort between now and December to demonstrate he has the necessary abilities to do the job. Not just to the commissioners but to the citizens of Minneapolis who are through their tax dollars paying his salary.

Minneapolis has a stellar park system. A gem which needs to be maintained and kept intact for future generations. This can best be accomplished with cooperation between a dedicated staff and board devoted to sound management.”

* Arlene Fried of Bryn Mawr:

[Regarding the superintendent search which was originally not on the agenda for tonight’s meeting, but now has been added.]

“This matter is important and it deserves close public scrutiny. The public wants and needs to be kept informed of the search progress.

On behalf of other interested citizens, I am asking the following questions:

1. In what specific publications and websites have the ads for superintendent been placed?

2. Have you received any applications so far and, if so, how many? [roughly 10 says Andrea Sims of the Oldani Group]

3. On what date will the public be invited to question the finalists? [tentative date of December 1]

Thank you for your prompt response.”

Pres. Olson refers her to Asst. Super. Siggelkow for answers.

* Back to Petitions and Communications

Berry Graves encourages attendance at the annual Peace Ball, and wonders how a no smoking outdoors in the parks law would be enforced.

* Reports from Officers gets SKIPPED [Gurban once again does not report.]

Items from standing committees all get passed without discussion except item 7.2 from Admin & Fin, an authorization to accept bids from St. Croix Recreation Company, Inc to build skate parks at Armatage, Creekview and Elliot Parks:

* 7.2 – Young has a number of questions. Berry Graves asks why the first park to request a skate park years ago is not on this list of 3 parks being approved for construction bids. President Olson says that park is “next.” Berry Graves thinks that $50/hour for meeting with the community is too high. She has also heard there might be a conflict of interest in that the significant other of a staff person works at the company which has the bid.


* Unfinished Business

Items 8.1 and 8.2 pass.

* 8.3 – That the board authorize the capital project appropriation of $350,000 for the [added] renovation of the headquarters building and the moving expenses associated with relocating the park police operations… The board further authorizes the finance manager to process a LOAN of $350,000 from either the self-insurance fund or the tax fund balance as appropriately determined at year end.

Mason remarks that she will not be voting yes because a complete estimate, etc. was not done. Mason reiterates the issue is not about the police department, but about proper process. She says “any project worth moving forward with can withstand public scrutiny.”

Berry Graves is concerned about this much money coming out of the self insurance fund. What is the balance?

Erwin supports the project but the original motion at the last meeting, which he himself made, was to move forward but to get better estimates before approval. He needs to know those estimates before he can vote.

Hauser asks if exact dollar amounts can be gotten.

Assistant Superintendent Judd Rietkerk circumlocutes about how all estimates and bids are subject to change orders, contingencies, etc., essentially saying no number is ever exact. He has some rough guesses that he just got from a contractor this morning [why so late in the game?]: framing and finishing, $125,000[?], HVAC, etc. $117,000[?], electrical $55,000 and IT/phones $35,000 for a total of $342,000 and thus $350,000 is a good ball park figure.

Young is also concerned about the income [lost] from the lease on the same area, and remarks that they have not yet discussed the funds.

Berry Graves withdraws her motion.

Olson is about to move on without 8.3 passing.

Dziedzic makes motion to pass 8.3 It dies for lack of a second.

The half a dozen or so Park Police officers who showed up for this moment, start to file out and Dziedzic blurts out to them “thank you for coming officers” to which a few respond, interrupting the meeting that Olson is trying to conduct.

* 8.4, that the board authorize staff to execute a letter of intent on the 201 Building [the building at Ft. Snelling which was to be the location of the failed “The Fort” sports complex which has not payed its contractors, and who as a result have filed $1.7 to $2.0 million in liens against the Park Board] and/or adjoining property.

8.4 is moved for discussion.

Berry Graves wants to know if one of the groups that Siggelkow described as being interested would come to the board and make a presentation. Siggelkow says no, neither group knows if a project is viable at that location. [so why the letter of intent?]

8.4 passes.

** Meeting ADJOURNS at 6:40PM **

Several people from the audience remark aloud “what about the superintendent’s report.” Olson [I believe, in the post meeting hubbub] says something to the effect it was an oversight, but it’s too late, they’re adjourned.

August 18 Meeting Highlights

The meeting started at 5:00pm with the Planning Committee. Comr. Dziedzic is chairing it in Comr. Bob Fine’s absence.

** The first item of interest on the agenda was a report by staff on a proposed University of Minnesota rowing facility to be built on the east river flats, which the Park Board has owned since 1883, and had leased in the early 1970s to the University.

There is an approved master plan for a park on this property, designed around open space, open play areas and open vistas.

The original plans by the University were for a NCAA Women’s rowing team facility, and those were the plans which were presented to, discussed with and approved by the CAC (Community Advisory Committee, not sure). Since then, the University has doubled the size of the building (a 2-story flat roofed structure of fairly large size) to include a facility for the men’s rowing Club.

The University has not finalized their proposal to the Park Board, so this report was only a status report. The plans may change from those presented.

The lease arrangements have not been worked out, but there were a number of programs and scholarships proposed by the University, apparently as in-kind services in lieu of actual lease payments, including one rather strange item: a Polar Bear Plunge at Lake Calhoun.

Commissioner Berry Graves has some questions about those in lieu services. She is “insulted” by one overnight high school scholarship and is likewise insulted by another meager offer of only 3 slots in another such opportunity. She wants to see numbers for the actual number of children per clinic, activity, etc. will actually be accommodated by the University’s proposal.

Comr. Young is concerned about the appearance of the building, agreeing with some neighborhood comments about its extremely boxy appearance. She states the U has a good architecture school; why not hold a design contest? And if it’s going to have a flat roof, why not look at something like solar or green roof technology.

Comr. Erwin mentions he will have recuse himself from any votes as he works at the U but says this is a good opportunity to work more closely with U now and in the future, and that the U is likewise interested in doing that. He suggests among the items in the lease that the U be required to support 2 graduate student assistantships at the Park Board in perpetuity. He also suggests any redesign consider a more traditional boathouse such as might be seen at Yale or Harvard.

Comr. Hauser agrees with Berry Graves, Young and Erwin. Wants more city kids to benefit and thinks the building (computer drawing) is ugly.

Comr. Dziedzic says that due to Title IX, with 80 women on the NCAA rowing team and 95 men on the football team, the U really wants to do this project because it will help them meet the law. He thinks the Park Board can get a lot more from the U because of that incentive.

Comr. Berry Graves asks staff how and when did the change to include the men’s club get made.

Staff answers that the change was made right after the CAC meetings.

** Next item on the agenda was a presentation by CM Don Samuels and CM President Paul Ostrow on the two part proposal they have for getting the Salvation Army to choose Minneapolis as a location for Kroc Community Centers. [Background: McDonald’s hamburgers “heiress” Joan Kroc died and left $2 Billion to the Salvation Army for this purpose, to be divided up into $20 million “project grants.” At the last meeting, CM Ostrow presented a proposal for one such Kroc Center in Northeast Minneapolis adjacent to the Northeast Athletic Fields and Lupient Water Park.]

CM Samuels emphasized that what he was proposing was not an alternate to CM Ostrow’s previous plan, but a second half of a joint project for North Minneapolis, that is, 2 Kroc Centers in Minneapolis. His proposed location was the Jordan Park and Jordan School property along with about 13 houses to the east, in order to reach the 12 acre minimum required parcel size for the Kroc Center grant application.

Landing these centers will need to be a joint Park Board, School Board and City effort. CM Samuels says this is not a rivalry between North and Northeast, and that the Salvation Army has encouraged the city to propose both as a solution.

CM Ostrow says this is an incredible opportunity, and both Samuels and Ostrow ask the Park Board to partner with them, and support the proposal as outlined. Ostrow says the Salvation Army will provide $10 million in capital for building and construction and $10 in operating costs, but requires a matching $10 million to be raised privately. [total for such a center is thus a minimum of $30 million it appears.]

Comr. Erwin makes motion to approve the concept as presented.

Comr. Young asks how many houses will be torn down? Answer is 13. She asks if they have talked to the community about this yet. The answer is no, but CM Samuels discusses why he believes the sacrifice of the homes is worth it.

Comr. Young comments that it will cost $2 million plus to acquire and remove the homes. She asks CM Ostrow about homes at Northeast site. CM Ostrow replies by describing how Northeast has talked about a community center for years, but does not really answer the question, particularly in light of the size of a Kroc Center being so large.

Comr. Berry Graves asks about the use of the school and seconds Erwin’s motion.

Comr. Olson asks if the school board has agreed to use of Jordan school? Answer: No, but they have talked to a few of the board members. He asks if they have considered any other North Minneapolis sites. Answer: No, only Jordan Park/School site. Olson asks if Park Board will be partner in the programming. He also mentions that Salvation Army is a faith-based organization and the Park Board needs to know what they are getting into.

CM Samuels says Salvation Army will have a separate facility for worship services.

Comr. Hauser asks what commitment the city council members are asking the Park Board for. Answer: approve in concept the sites proposed, not just the idea of a Kroc Center. She asks who retains control of the land? Ostrow answers: it can be worked out.

Comr. Kummer asks what the property tax loss to the city is. Someone answers about $25,000 a year. [It seems it was a highly speculative, inexact guess to me.]

Comr. Erwin asks who will hire the staff? Ostrow answers the Salvation Army will own and operate the facilities, and thus will hire staff. Erwin says this may be a problem given the City’s equality-based hiring regulations versus the Salvation Army’s anti-homosexual policies.

Comr. Berry Graves calls the question. Says we have worked with faith-based organizations before, such as the YWCA.

Comr. Young says but the YWCA has an equality statement. She is very concerned about the Salvation Army owning and operating a facility on Park Board property.

Comr. Erwin amends his motion to move the North Minneapolis site to the North Commons in the event the Minneapolis School Board denies the usage of the Jordan School.

The Motion PASSES out of this committee.

** 6:00pm **

Planning Committee is recessed.

Regular meeting is called to order for Public Open comment time.

** First public speaker is Phil Duran of east 38th street. He is a representative of OutFront Minnesota, Minnesota’s leading GLBT organization. He wants a Park Board regulation regarding members of the opposite sex using restrooms to be revised to be in-line with a similar revision the City made to their regulation. The general wording is problematic for transgender individuals, as well as to others such as people who have opposite sex personal care attendants, and people with children of the opposite sex. Duran’s case is well prepared and he has legal information from the city’s change available. He is referred to assist. super. Mike Schmidt.

** Gary “Farland” (sp?) representing the ECCO neighborhood urges the Park Board to uphold and enforce the shoreland ordinance of the shoreland overlay district, designed to protect shore lines. ECCO has concerns about the Edgewater development. The ordinance says any development within 1000 feet of the shoreline must be no more than 35 feet high. Edgewater is 400 feet away, and they want to build much higher than 35 feet. They are asking for a variance. ECCO is opposed. The building will be highly visible, and he has some illustrations to show what it will look like from places around Lake Calhoun. He believes the ordinance should be upheld and Edgewater not be allowed to exceed the height limitation. He is referred to asst. super. Judd Rietkerk.

** Joan Berthiaume of the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society describes the Society’s continued interest, support and backing for providing a public interpretive center to teach the public and especially children about this history of our park system in the Theodore Wirth Historic Superintendent’s House, and wants to be a part of the discussion for future use of the house.

** 6:12pm **

Regular meeting is recessed and Planning Committee is rejoined.

* Bryn Mawr Meadows planning update report by asst. super. Judd Rietkerk.

Rietkerk goes through the history of the plans, and pulls in all kinds of other plans, including former Superintendent David Fisher’s plans in 1998 to build more sports facilities in the parks, including the Ft. Snelling facility that exists today, the many and varied plans for Parade Stadium and the areas around it, the city’s north-south connector (Van White Boulevard), use of artificial turf in some of the mentioned locations, and an NFL grant used at North Commons and applied for at Parade. In 1998-1999, Brauer and Associates, Ltd. was hired and drew up plans for Ft. Snelling. In 1999-2000, the Guthrie announced it was moving, and that triggered the creation of new plans for Parade, created by Cunningham and Associates. Then somewhere in there, the City approved the north-south connector idea, but the exact location is not firm. This triggered the Park Board to hire Brauer and Associates again, this time to draw up 2 concepts for Bryn Mawr. Then there was a plan to use artificial turf at Parade Stadium. Then another contract was let to Ingraham(?) and Associates to evaluate Parade and Bryn Mawr due to the Guthrie moving to the riverside.

Much, much more detail about the various iterations of plans and NFL grants at North Commons and Parade, and the number of ball fields at Bryn Mawr, etc. were reported. Some plans emphasized softball, others emphasized youth soccer, still others had mixed adult/youth field usage. Other plans had a new stadium with Astroturf and bleachers built next to Parade and the ice arenas. There is also a plan for a banquet facility near Parade. The north-south connector has been moved since the 2000 plan. New road location resulted in having the consultants relook at plans. New plan supposedly emphasizes “quality not quantity” of sports facilities, including 3 adult/youth softball fields located on the current city impound lot. In the past 2 months, a consulting firm was paid $10,630 out of a “pre-planning” “slush” fund which had contained $303,000.

* Comr. Mason reviews the history:
— the Bryn Mawr plans were dropped several years ago when the city indicated it would not give up the impound lot and the rock crusher site (both on east side of Bryn Mawr Meadows).
— the plans were not ready to be presented to the board at this time.
— from her years of experience on planning and zoning commission, and as Park Board liaison to it in subsequent years, she learned that preliminary plans do not leave the Park Board without being marked as “DRAFT”. She has copies of the plans that Comr. Bob Fine presented to city council members, and they are not so marked.
— at least 4 commissioners had no idea the plans existed, that money was being spent on developing them.
— Bryn Mawr is in Mason’s district and Fine nor staff bothered to communicate the plans to her.
— Interim superintendent Jon Gurban initiated the discussion of the Bryn Mawr plans after a “dry run” of a staff presentation to commissioners, i.e. in their absence.
— Comr. Bob Fine “hangs around” the Park Board planning department and Rietkerk says this is how he learned about the plans which he then took to his meeting with several city council members to discuss.
— Mason was told the $303,000 “pre-planning” fund had $30,000 a year added to it until last year when money was short, yet she can find no mention of that expense, nor the fund itself in any of her many financial documents dating back years.

Comr. Bob Fine is not present, and Mason wants him to have an opportunity to explain to the full board what he was doing and why.

** 6:42pm **

Comr. Erwin says this situation could have been avoided with a few ground rules: etiquette for commissioner conduct, and the Board should be determining major new expenditures, not staff. He comments the Park Board is losing money on the Ft. Snelling athletic complex and he is hesitant to do it again.

Comr. Berry Graves comments that a reduction in the number of softball fields at Bryn Mawr, as per the most recent plan, is a bad idea. They are used intensively by adults. She also points out how mixing youth and adult field usage has been problematic in the past, and how the board has had a long term goal since 1997 of getting away from combined adult/youth field usage. She also has questions about whether the city will give up the land at the impound lot and rock crusher, and about putting kids recreation facilities on top of the known ground contamination in those areas. She wants the Park Board to set their own standard of pollution mitigation and not just use the minimum standard from some outside agency.

Comr. Young says the Heritage Park and Van White Boulevard discussions never included Bryn Mawr to her recollection. She has a number of concerns: (1) commissioners not talking to the district commissioner for the district that the plan is in, (2) talk about new development when we can’t even maintain the parks we have, (3) reserve funds usage, (4) wants a superintendent’s report at every meeting about what is going in the park departments, and (5) there are too many questions around this Bryn Mawr plan.

Comr. Olson says the board is not breaking ground at Bryn Mawr, but needs to look to the future. He believes people will support it because they need to recreate and get healthy.

Comr. Hauser asks if the artificial turf discussion mentioned by Mason was part of the pro-soccer discussion. Answer: No. Hauser thinks we need a lot more soccer fields. Hauser says a lot of words but not much of anything in substance, while playing the “it’s for the kids” card [a tactic used by a few commissioners to block off any criticism of a project
since of course, no one wants to “harm” the “kids.”] She is also worried about the loss of parking revenue from the Guthrie and about the cost of maintaining the Sculpture Garden.

Comr. Young says the issue is timing, disrespect to commissioners and a lack of reports from the superintendent. She asks what the deadline is on the NFL grant. Answer: mid September. Young points out that the land north of the Park Board HQ building (now becoming townhouses) was a lost opportunity because the Park Board did not have the money, and where will the money come from for this project?

Comr. Olson says NFL funds are for Parade, not Bryn Mawr.

Comr. Dziedzic says that staff [Gurban and Rietkerk] was taken to the woodshed tonight and he defends them, wants them to “stay creative” in spending money on project plans like this.

* Xcel’s Aesthetic Flow Plan Survey report by asst. super. Rietkerk. Staff has a number of changes they want Xcel to make to their survey which they want to use for deciding what an aesthetic flow (amount of water) over St. Anthony Falls would be. Park Board staff has a number of reasonable and intelligent suggestions on how to improve it to make it more representative of the public’s view as a whole, and how to keep it focused on the subject of the survey. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) apparently has something to do with this, as well, perhaps requiring Xcel to complete this survey.

Comr. Kummer comments on a previous Park Board resolution requiring some minimum desired flow over the falls, and apparently completely confuses the changes the staff wants to request from Xcel over Xcel’s survey to determine a “public” number with that resolution.

** 7:20pm **

Planning Committee adjourns.

Administration and Finance Committee, chaired by Hauser, is called to order.

* Item 7.1 asking that the board adopt a resolution requesting the maximum certified tax levy increase for 2005 (4%).

Comr. Dziedzic says that is 4% on top of full market value as limited market value is going away, along with the assessor raising the value of homes, and to keep that in mind during the budgeting process.

Asking for the maximum, can’t go above it, but can go below it.


* Organization Restructuring Report by Jeff Schoenbauer, a consultant from Brauer and Associates, Ltd., presented on behalf of Interim superintendent Jon Gurban. Schoenbauer has been working on this plan for 4 years. He says they are doing the “heavy lifting” to change the organization. His most key point of his 30 minute presentation is that the “plan had to be organization driven and able to stand on its own.” He clearly positions himself to continue in his role, and likewise positions current executive management of the Park Board to stay in place. Much of what he says sounds very good, but much of it is also standard operating procedure for any competent executive, and is well known in the corporate world. His descriptions are very much “buzz word compliant” and full of the emotional strokes that people need to hear to feel good about what they are hearing. He sells the commissioners on the big reorganization plan that has been developed. There is a lot of good and valid information and change contained within it. He outlines what the new management organization chart will look like with cross-discipline teams under 3 district managers, beneath 2 general managers beneath the superintendent, instead of functional “silos” which discourage communication and cooperation between employees in different departments. He talks about how employee morale has increased since Gurban rekindled interest in this reorg plan (remember, he’s been working on it 4 years).

A number of Park Board staff members then give their personal testimonials about how excited and positive they feel about the process and proposed changes, including Deb Pilger from operations, Jennifer Ringold from planning, assistant superintendent Mike Schmidt, Mary Lyn Pulscher, assistant superintendent Don Siggelkow, and Eileen Kilpatrick.

Consultant Schoenbauer says it will take 2 to 3 years from adoption to complete the entire reorganization effort. Once it is completely, then work on a Comprehensive Plan can be begun.

* Comr. Olson thanks Schoenbauer and staff, and support the re-org effort.

Comr. Erwin supports the re-org effort but says commissioners need to be involved early on in these kinds of proposed changes. Suggests a staff/commissioner retreat.

Comr. Mason supports the re-org efforts in all ways, and keeping the board in the loop is the one issue she has.

Comr. Kummer applauds their efforts and has a question about the 3 district map.

Comr. Young commends the staff and is also concerned about keeping the commissioners in the loop. Changes must be approved by the board.

Comr. Dziedzic holds up a sign that says “9.7”

Comr. Berry Graves says the plan needs discussion, in particular the 3 district arrangement.

Comr. Young moves acceptance of report and move plan to full board. Comr. Dziedzic seconds.

Motion PASSES with 2 opposed, Berry Graves and 1 other that I did not catch.

** 8:30pm **

[by this time, reporters from the Star Tribune and SW Journal were long gone and missed the following fireworks.]

Admin & Fin Committee adjourns.

Regular meeting is rejoined.

Comr. Olson calls for modifications to agenda.

Comr. Mason has a number of items, including those not addressed at the canceled meeting.

Olson gets into a heated discussion with Mason and Young about which items can be included, and which ones he is going to delay further by pushing them through committees.

Comr. Dziedzic comments “we will be here all night.”

Mason points out it would not have been a problem if the last meeting had not been canceled by a virtual boycott by 5 commissioners.

Olson disagrees about what the calendar said about last week’s meeting. Not all items get put on tonight’s agenda.

Comr. Erwin states that staff should have had the items on the agenda since they were brought up in the last committee before the full board.

Agenda approved.

** 8:40pm **

* Petitions and Communications

Commissioners described letters and petitions they had received, nothing earth shattering here.

* Reports From Officers — none.

* Consent Business. Fairly perfunctory approval of all items, including re-org plan, change to ordinance to allow liquor license at Calhoun Refectory (Tin Fish), and maximum levy.

* Superintendent Search Update by Mary Page.
1. Public Input at last meeting — Oldani Group’s Andrea Sims took copious notes
2. Recruitment draft materials sent to board for review
3. Contact with commissioners coming Thursday/Friday(?)
4. Time line — moved back 2 weeks with Nov. 29 suggested final selection date instead of first week of November.

Comr. Mason says all looks ok except the draft ad from the recruitment materials.

Comr. Dziedzic objects to the “turmoil on the board” phrase in the recruitment brochure, but Oldani will tell any serious applicant what the situation is.

Comr. Young says ad is lousy and the “turmoil” phrase needs rewording.

** 9:08pm **

* New Business

* Comr. Berry Graves discusses a letter to the board from People For Parks. There seems to be a staff memo associated with this referring to some problems with release of funds and a disputed problem that goes back 3 and a half years. People For Parks is a non-profit 501(c)3 independent organization which has raised money for specific projects in the parks with approval of the Park Board. The recent letter is asking for specific approval of 3 small projects in Longfellow Gardens for which fund raising has started. But staff wants to resolve the old issue about getting funds released to pay for work the Park Board did in the past and for which People For Parks was presumably going to pay.

Jim Parsons, current president of People For Parks is present and addresses the situation at the request of the commissioners. He describes some of the history of the situation, making it clear that he was not involved with People For Parks, having resigned, during the time the unpaid work was done, and that he only recently came back to the organization and became its president. He appeared at the last meeting of the Park Board requesting action on the approval of the 3 projects in Longfellow Gardens because [apparently] requests to the staff were going no where. And that is what he was prepared to talk about tonight. He had no idea that the issue of the past 3.5 years would be brought up and associated with his request.
[It seems to me that what happened is that staff, probably Mike Schmidt or at his direction, attached a memo to the letter that Parsons wrote when it was distributed to commissioners and the interim superintendent. It appears this memo outlines complaints about not getting paid for the historical work. It’s not exactly clear. What is clear is that there has been some sort of impasse between the Park Board and People For Parks for some time.]

Parsons makes a number of points about the actions he has taken. Parsons met with interim super. Jon Gurban and asst. super. Mike Schmidt regarding the 3 projects in Longfellow, and at that time Gurban resurrected the past problems. However, Parsons points out that at no time has the Park Board ever been able to put anything in writing quantifying the amount due and what for, that is, there have never been any invoices or documentation. Further, all of this was during a time when Parsons was not a part of the organization. Parsons wants the current project addressed, not held up while a problem which has not been resolved for 3.5 years continues to not be resolved.

Comr. Olson cuts Parsons off saying the hour is late.

Comr. Erwin proposes two meetings between the two organizations, one to address solely the past problem with release of funds for completed projects, and one to solely address the current proposed projects for Longfellow Gardens.

Asst. super. Mike Schmidt wants an agreement on past before moving forward, and wants details in 3 parts on new project before approving.

Comr. Olson asks if Parsons knows where the money is [money in People For Parks control].

Parsons points out that until February of this year [if I remember correctly], all of the accounting for People For Parks was actually done by the Park Board accounting department, but ultimately yes, he does know.

Comr. Kummer thinks the plans for Longfellow are great but didn’t know about the past problems.

Comr. Young states the board needs a working agreement between the two organizations. She suggests that comr. Kummer and asst. super. Schmidt be part of a team to negotiate such an agreement, cognizant of what the Parks Foundation is doing, as well.

Comr. Olson appoints comr. Erwin and comr. Kummer to take on this effort.

** 9:30pm **

* Discussion of the Park Police move to the HQ building:

Interim super. Gurban drones about the “memo of August 10 which addresses this” and apologizes for not being able to be at the August 4 meeting [where this issue came up]. He says it is a space situation [current police facilities are over-crowded] and that a “couple of commissioners had stopped by the office” and were “polled.” The plans for this move range from back of napkins to more. He formed a couple of “focus groups” to figure out the problem. He states no construction work downstairs in the HQ building has been done for such a move [several commissioners and members of the public heard rumors that such had happened].

Comr. Mason says that she has actually seen formal plans drawn up by an outside contractor for offices on the lower level of the HQ building for the Park Police. She wants to know the cost of the plans and the cost of actually doing the construction work and moving the police. Staff had told Mason that the work was to start on August 2 but did not know why it had not started.

Gurban says he is not prepared to answer those questions tonight but can prepare a report and answers. He claims he has always communicated the same information to all commissioners.

Comr. Olson defends Gurban’s activities.

Comr. Young is concerned about money being spent on plans. Where is the fund from which this money is coming? How much is in it? How is it being spent?

Comr. Dziedzic [agitatedly] states that he has been in elected office since 197? (198?) and has never seen so much disrespect to [agency] staff. He says if it happens again, “I’m gonna get loud.” Then he raises his voice and loudly and angrily says, “I’m gonna get real loud.” Dziedzic then continues to loudly and angrily relate, “I remember a fistfight at a school board meeting…” making a fist with his own hand.

Comr. Berry Graves interjects: “Is that a threat?”

Dziedzic [now bellowing and pounding the table with his fist] shouts, “That’s a fact!”

Meanwhile Berry Graves is repeating her question, Comr. Olson is calling for order, ultimately having to bang the gavel repeatedly to get people’s attention. There is a moment of pandemonium before quiet and order is restored.

Comr. Kummer says she thinks Gurban’s action is fine, it is what he should do to do his job.

Berry Graves points out that the question is not whether solving office space problems is appropriate but rather that the whole financial deal approved by the board for the purchase of the HQ building was built upon the idea that the entire lower level would be leased out to other organizations/companies so that the lease revenue would pay off the loan (mortgage) on the building. To then remove that lease income by moving the police into the building without board approval is the problem.

Comr. Olson says they will get the figures for the building from staff.

Berry Graves says this problem could have been avoided had staff communicated with the board.

Comr. Hauser defends the move of the police department, and says the idea of having the police in the new HQ building was talked about [informally] in the past [but was not formalized as the lease arrangement was].

Comr. Dziedzic gives his “second speech” as he puts it, about trust being a two way street [and another characteristic is also a two way street — was it respect? not sure]. He criticizes some elected officials without naming names.

** Meeting adjourns at 9:48pm **

Request for Information about the new Park Board headquarters building

At the Wednesday, May 5 meeting, during open time for public comment, Arlene Fried made the following statement:

  1. When the new Park Board building was purchased in 2002, money was borrowed from both the Park Board’s land acquisition fund and the self-insurance fund to help finance the purchase and rehabing of the new building. When and how will the Park Board begin repaying the land acquisition fund and the self-insurance fund for the money borrowed in 2002?
  2. Also, when the building was purchased, it was expected that the lower level would be rented out and generating revenues. I would like to know the following:
    • When will the prospective tenant — Twin Cities Catering — be moving in?
    • When will they begin paying rent?
    • How much rent will they be paying (monthly and over the life of the lease)?
    • How many square feet will they be occupying?
    • How long is their lease?
    • And are there any escape clauses in the lease?

2002 Superintendent's Report Published

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board’s Superintendent’s Report 2002 was distributed this past week.

  • Yes, this is March 24, 2004 and the report is for 2002. There is no error in that date.
  • Despite having mortgaged the future of the Board to buy a new headquarters building in 2002, this $5.7 million transaction isn’t even mentioned in the report.