Category Archives: Yacht Club Facility

Yacht Club Facility

KARE-11 TV: Lake Calhoun may get new look

» At the Tin Fish restaurant on Lake Calhoun, the food is made to order, the dress code is non-existent and the lines are usually long. But all that extra business had added more congestion to an already cramped space, shared by the sailing school next door. «

» So the Minneapolis Park Board, which gets a portion of the Tin Fish’s sales, wants to give the restaurant some breathing room by moving the sailing school to the opposite side of the lake. But there’s a problem, life moves at a slower pace on that corner of the lake, and that’s exactly how those who live there, like it. «

Read entire story and see video here.

SW Journal: In irons: Calhoun sailing village may shrink

By Scott Russell

»A sailing village proposed for Lake Calhoun’s south end is being scaled back, said Jon Gurban, superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

“There were too many buildings,” he said. “It was too much for that site.”

The Lake Calhoun Yacht Club and Sailing School proposed last November to move from its current home on Calhoun’s north end and develop a $1.5 million, five-building sailing village on Calhoun shoreland near the archery range.

The proposal included an events center, a sailing school building and retail/concession buildings. The Sailing School building was to top 40 feet, almost as tall as the Lake Harriet Bandshell. Proponents said moving the Yacht Club and Sailing School would address congestion and parking problems at the sailing school’s current location off Lake Street.

Several residents and neighborhood groups oppose the still-nascent plan. At the June 15 Park Board meeting, Gretchen Trygstad read a Linden Hills Neighborhood Council Board resolution opposing the sailing village, and saying: “We feel the lakeshore should be kept as natural as possible.”

Kay Anderson, secretary of the East Calhoun Community Organization read a similar resolution strongly opposing the plan. Nicollet Island resident John Chaffee said he was worried a Calhoun sailing village proposal would come to the Park Board “without warning,” similar to a proposed new DeLaSalle athletic complex in his neighborhood.

Gurban said after the Park Board meeting that there is no “formal proposal,” only a “concept plan.” His staff has done a little analysis and determined that four or five buildings were too much for the area.

Gurban said a smaller development is still under consideration, and his staff likes the idea of adding south-end service buildings – public restrooms and a place to get coffee and a roll.

The plan could still include moving the Yacht Club and Sailing School to the lake’s south end. He called it “a strong principle” to move the boat launch away from Lake Street.«

Read full article here at Southwest Journal Online.

Lake Calhoun Event Center Alert

It is expected that the Park Board will be either considering or acting on a proposal for a building on the south shore (across from the archery range) of Lake Calhoun at either the June 1 or June 15 Park Board meeting.

The original proposal presented by the Calhoun Yacht Club (CYC) — Sailing School was for a 40 foot high structure with event center and three additional retail spaces.

Commissioner Bob Fine has indicated support for this project, which has been opposed by those who feel it will have a negative impact on the lake and the park.

The following is a statement by Marissa Lasky for the Windsurfing Association:

“We, the Windsurfing Association, are concerned about the CYC-Sailing School’s proposed facility and move of their 100 to 140+ buoys and dock and hard surface launch, and overtaking of the parking lot of the South Beach, for the purpose of a ‘Sailing Village,’ and 3 retail spots. We see this as exclusionary to windsurfing, and certainly swimming and other existing recreations in that area. That is not to mention what we would consider an overly intense development and commercialization of that very small land site.”

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.

ECCO: Bob Fine Promotes Yacht Club Facility on Southeast Lake Calhoun

From the official East Calhoun Community Organization (ECCO) Minutes for December 2004:

Proposed Calhoun Yacht Club Site–Bob Fine of the Park Board described a proposed plan for moving the Calhoun Yacht Club room to a facility proposed for the Southeast end of Lake Calhoun. He came to hear comments by ECCO. The Yacht Club claims the current boat ramp area is too congested for them and there’s not enough parking available. They want a building for giving sailing instruction. Bob Fine says that the Yacht Club has met with Commissioner Mason and the Park Board Staff. The Yacht Club gave a presentation to the Park board.

The Park Board does not have money for this project. The club was told that it would have to pay for itself. They were told that the Park Board would not be accepting of adding buildings on the lake. The windsurfers informed the Park Board that they have an interest in that particular area of the shore (“Windsurfing beach”).

Mr. Fine said that a proposal was presented to the Park Planning Department. He did not know whether Planning was working on the subject. He said this may be a project that’s far off–because there are a lot of things to be worked out. It appears that blueprints may have been submitted to the park board planning department. The Yacht Club and the Windsurfers have met at a private home already to discuss the topic.

Mr. Fine said that there could be parking for this project where the maintenance facility currently exists along the Richfield Road highway across from Windsurfer Beach. He said this would work out because the maintenance facility and equipment could move to the site being proposed for a trolley transportation museum at Lake Harriet.

Fine said that there are many issues such as what happens to all the buoys? Are they all going to shift to the south part of the lake? One idea was to move half the buoys to the south east shore and keep half at the north end of the lake.

Fine said the feeling of the Park Board Staff is that they want to keep canoe rentals, they want to keep the current building, they want to keep the Tin Fish… “It’s working out great”.

Fine said that the Yacht club said they could raise $150,000 to $200,000 for the facility. The rest would be financed by bonding. How would the interest on the bonding be paid?

Proposal is to have a rental “Event Center” in this two-story structure. Fine said the Park Board has been running event centers, that the Park Board is getting more entrepreneurial.

He said the facility could be leased for parties and weddings as they now do at the golf courses or at Nicollet Island. Fine said they have given contracts out at most of the Park facilities now. They have become quite profitable, “It has really helped our budget because we have been getting a lot of income. We have signed exclusive contracts with caterers and they arrange for parties.” Fine said they feel this will pay for the interest on the bonding and the Park Board will end up getting excess revenue from it with the added possibility that there could be some “daytime” concession there. Fine said, even something like Tin Fish. Fine said that that’s the way the Park Board is thinking now, “Tin Fish!. Tin Fish is just an example, something that can really serve the community, be nice, and we’re getting a lot of revenue from it.” Fine said, “We’re lucky if we even break even at Lake Calhoun in the past. And now, we’re getting a lot of revenue from it…at some point, when they reach a certain level of sales, which they far exceeded, we get 16% of the gross!…. I don’t know what we got last summer, if it’s like $50,000 in rent, but it’s a lot of money! And, if we have more of those, it helps our situation. We’ve been doing things like that which I think have alleviated our budget cuts. Therefore, people haven’t seen the impact with us like closed libraries and closed schools. We’ve been able to keep away from that.”

Board member Gary Farland asked whether the north end of the lake, where the large bath house previously been located, would be a more logical place for this facility, right in front of the Calhoun Beach Club? Fine could not answer that.

Marissa Lasky, representing area windsurfers, made offered observations…First, the buoys present hazards for people windsurfing. She said that the windsurfers have alternative ideas for the Yacht club. They feel that the development is too intense for that site. Too much parking need for three retail sites, an event site, a Yacht Club, the lasers sail boats, a boat launch, a dock, 80 to 140 buoys or more. Intense development on a very small area.

She also raised the question of what is the neighborhood’s and the community’s attitude toward “vendorizing” our lakes? Particularly, at that small site. As a resident of Minneapolis, she said she did not want to see the Yacht Club get a facility paid for by retail on that site. “There is not going to be lots more parking. There are going to be a lot more boat trailers.” The Yacht Club told Ms. Lasky to expect “a tenfold increase” with the laser boats using this southeast site. She said that she understands that the Tin Fish is going to request a liquor license at their site on Lake Calhoun. “This will be a very commercialized lake. Do we want to pay for Park Board needs by intense development of our lakes?”

Al Anderson, resident, reacted to Fine’s comment about the revenue that the Tin Fish raises, that “It’s a lot of money”. Anderson said he has now heard both the Parks Superintendent and Bob Fine focusing on “the money.” He pointed out that, once food and beverage facilities are installed in the city parks and on the beaches, then the City Council can look at the Park Board increased revenues and say, “Hey, the Park Board’s making money, we can cut back their budget!”

Al said that Windsurfer Beach is a prime piece of beach, whether for windsurfing or other recreational uses. “It’s sandy…probably the nicest piece of beach on the lake and you’re going to put a building, a big building, on that. It’s just a ridiculous idea!”

He said that hearing that the Park Board is getting excess revenue from the Lake Calhoun Tin Fish, he questions why, then, the Park Board closed down the park toilets and the small beaches during the summer. Al said that extra revenue went someplace else. He noted that he had been to the new Park Board headquarters, recently, where about 20 million dollars went. He said, “Making money on the parks is a repulsive idea.”

Board member, Keith Ruddick, observed that one of the things that makes Minneapolis unique is these lakes. He said, “Before you put up any buildings around the lakes, the Park Board should think very carefully. While monetary considerations may help short term budget problems, they are completely irrelevant to this. If you put a building there, it’s hard to tear it down.”

Resident, Lara Norkus-Crampton said she was happy to hear that the Tin Fish was working out so well. She said she hoped that that money will go to preserving our beaches, so that we don’t have a re-play of closing any more beaches. Lara noted that she is very concerned about the loons seen each summer in the South east corner of the lake. She said it’s very special to live in this area and to have a loon family down there. “That’s what so precious about this area. I hate to see every space developed to its maximum potential. Then, you have destroyed what people crave more than anything….space! A place to sit on the grass and look at the water. A place to watch loons and migratory birds. People can live in Uptown and walk to a place–I saw a bald eagle two days in a row down at that part of the lake.”

Brief discussion of what the proposed structure would cost brought comments of one or two million dollars.

Matt Carter, board member, observed that he is around the lake often during the daytime. He observed that the sailing classes take place during the day. “You run by, you see all the kids there in groups…they’re outside! They can be outside, it’s not raining. If it’s raining, they’re not going sailing. I have never seen a traffic jam trying to get boats in. Uptown is quieter during the day. There is a lot of available parking during the day a couple blocks away. People can (park) get out, and walk their kid to the class. If they move it to the spot were they want, then everybody has to get down there and there is no place to park! That’s the hardest spot to get to.”

Bruce Sabatke, board member, said this issue certainly needs an environmental impact study. “We are trying to keep these areas as natural and pristine as we possibly can. But we are approached by every development Pretty soon,we’re going to have ‘Sammy Johns’ is going to have his hot dog wagon down there, saying to the Park Board, ‘Gee, I’ll give you twenty cents on the dollar if I can put a little hot dog stand down there.’ It speaks of a terrible encroachment on the natural edifice that these lakes provide. I think it would be a tragedy, because it’s one more corner….I hope you’re right, that money is not the issue. ”

Kay Anderson said, “I am opposed to commercializing the lakes. The Tin Fish is fine, as long as they stay in that facility, and, clean up the bathrooms, which are in dire need of cleaning. To commercialize more, it just doesn’t go with me. Also, I am a sailor, had a buoy down there with a sailboat. I’m a kayaker, a windsurfer, and canoeist. The Catamaran Beach, which is what it was named about twenty years ago, has become a jewel for the windsurfers. However, when you windsurf across there, there’s a huge sand bar on which sailboats could get hung up. I envision that if they move everything over there, pretty soon you are going to be dredging Lake Calhoun.

President Bruce Grimm asked how we could discuss this further at later date. Bob Fine said the Yacht Club should be contacted instead of meeting with the Park Board. But he would be willing to return for a future meeting.

Report from Dan Niziolek, City Council:

1. Zoning implications of building on the lakeshore–Dan said that he would look into the zoning implications of the proposed building on the SE end of the lake. He will report back.

ACTION: Dan will report on the zoning implications of the proposed building with event facilities, retail stores and serving the special interests of the Calhoun Yacht Club.

Nov. 3 Park Board Meeting Highlights


** Legal Review Committee hearing from Counselor Brian Rice. In theory, he would inform the commissioners about just what it is he does for the Park Board that justifies spending around $400,000 a year, year after year, with his small law firm. While his letter to commissioner Bob Fine provides a bit more detail than his oral presentation, there was very little detail, except in the history of the relationship. Rice has worked for the Park Board for about 20 years, initially while working for another large law firm, and then starting in May, 2000 for his own firm. Interestingly, he mentions a couple of times the hugely expensive litigation involved in the Neiman Sports Complex at Ft. Snelling [the $16 million plus white elephant], without actually putting a price tag on that particular litigation. Rice also mentions twice working directly with commissioner Walt Dziedzic, which stood out as very peculiar in his presentation.

* Commissioner Mason asks about Rice’s ability to handle real estate issues, a large and important part of the Park Board’s legal bill, and a rather specialized are of law. Mason also asks about conflict of interest, when Rice lobbies for other organizations as well as the Park Board [and does not state, but the real problem is, those other organizations are the major campaign contributors to the majority of the Park Board commissioners who hire Rice — that is, Rice is bringing in the largest amount of campaign funds directly to the people who decide whether to hire him or not. This is a text-book example of a conflict of interest]. She also asks if during legislative sessions, if Rice does not run into time conflicts, with trying to lobby for a variety of clients and do legal work for the Park Board at the same time.

* Rice admits that real estate is his biggest challenge, but says he does not hesitate to call on others at other law firms for help when needed. Rice says there are fewer conflicts of interest being in a small firm than in a large firm with more clients [answering Mason’s question literally, rather than the real question]. He says he is very sensitive to representing conflicting interests. Rice states he sees “no conflict” between lobbying for the Minneapolis fire and police pension funds [both major contributors to Park Board commissioner election campaigns] and doing legal work and lobbying for the Park Board. He says their interests never intersect or conflict [which, while lobbying the state legislature is quite believable]. With respect to time constraints, Rice says that having lobbyist Maryann Campo also representing the Park Board has helped, it hasn’t been a serious problem, that it has been a challenge and an opportunity, and that he has always been reachable at the capitol via cell phone.

* Commissioner Erwin asks what his hourly rate is and has it changed over 3 years. He also asks what “Board Business Matters” are [one of the categories on the one page hand-out showing Rice’s legal fees broken into 7 categories] and how does it differ from other things?

* Rice answers that his rate is $125 per hour and it has not changed over 3 years. Rice is not sure of what the “Board Business Matters” are, but believes that items directly brought up by the board and asked of him are included. Rice states that assistant superintendent Don Siggelkow could provide a more accurate answer.

++ Here are the numbers from that handout, titled “Rice Michels Legal Fees”:

Category              2001            2002             2003
Personnel Matters     $41,734.96      $69,069.19       $98,563.39
Board Bus. Matters    $97,992.28     $107,786.50       $75,059.97
Contracts             $36,946.29      $54,684.27       $79,681.17
General Liability     $42,280.32      $57,902.90       $28,206.31
Litigation            $91,867.25      $68,834.62       $33,365.47
Real Estate           $14,671.81      $27,682.97        $6,861.88
Other                  $6,736.59       $5,195.80        $5,881.32
SubTotals            $332,229.50     $391,156.25      $327,619.51
Lobbying             $119,964.23     $101,642.80      $ 76,383.02
TOTALS               $452,193.73     $492,799.05      $404,002.53

* Mason asks what is the plan for the next actions this committee will take regarding the review of the Park Board’s legal services?

* Chair Fine says “I don’t have a plan.” He asks the committee what they want to do.

* Commissioner Kummer asks how the contract with Rice is made and when.

* Fine says it is an annual appointment, not a contract, made at annual meeting in January.

* Rice says he has never had a contract.

* Mason says she would like the details regarding board business matters per Erwin’s question and the 2004 figures before the January meeting.

* Erwin suggests they talk about it and move it to full board in December.

* Commissioner Dziedzic asks Rice if the Park Board is better off at the legislature today than yesterday. Answer: in so many words, yes. [but how do you measure that, especially since the Park Board got zero of what it wanted out of the legislature this year]


Legal Review Committee Adjourns.

** Planning Committee Convenes.

* Dziedic moves 4.1, to place a restrictive covenant on the B. F. Nelson Park site to prevent building on top of capped pollution without further dealing with the state Pollution Control Agency, either by the Park Board or future owners or users of the land.

Some discussion ensues about what this is for, where the pollution is, etc. Motion PASSES.

* Study / Report Items

+ Bassett’s Creek Valley Master Plan (BCVMP) — this report came about as a request stemming from Bob Fine’s attempts to promote unapproved plans for development in the Bryn Mawr Meadows park. Report was made by Tom Leighton of the City Planning department. Leighton describes the creation, approval and highlights of the Bassett’s Creek Valley Master Plan (approved by City council in 2000). He also talks in general about the planned Van White Boulevard which will cut through the property to the east of Bryn Mawr Meadows. He also mentions briefly an LCMR Regional Storm Water facility in this area on city property.

Leighton describes the properties adjoining the Bryn Mawr Meadows, most of which are owned by the city and in use for a variety of things (car impound lot, rock crusher, storage yards, etc.). He talks about city’s plans for the area.

He also talks about the Bassett’s Creek Valley Redevelopment Oversight Committee, which is not a city effort, but a private effort through some committee (not clear who) and the Ryan Companies. This plan is to be completely in October, 2005. He says there is lots of compatibility between the BCVMP and the Park Board “sketches” for the area.

He shows photos and diagrams of the area and planned or potential uses, including a commercial strip along 394 on the southeast side of Bryn Mawr Meadows, and possibly moving the farmers market to somewhere in the redeveloped area.


* Erwin says he is heartened by the suggested move of the farmers market. He asks about the flow rate of Bassett’s Creek. Leighton’s answer is that he does not know about the hydraulics.

* Dziedzic has a couple of questions: (1) Is there a plan to build a parking ramp in place of the impound lot? (2) What is the major issue to doing this development? Leighton answers: (1) City council can’t afford to build a parking ramp, but perhaps as part of other commercial development, (2) aesthetic and other Bryn Maws community issues.

* Hauser wants clarification on the Heritage Project where she thinks the city wanted some park space developed. Leighton answers: No, the city has not and does not give direction to the Park Board. He is here simply to provide information.

* Mason reminds the board that the Bryn Mawr neighborhood association and other Bassett’s Creek Valley residents had asked the Park Board for a formal and specific response to their plans for Bryn Mawr Meadows with respect to how they fit or do not fit with the approved BCV Master Plan.

* Assistant superintendent Judd Rietkerk answers that the Park Board planning department will develop their own master plan for the area, etc. etc.


** Planning Committee Recesses

** Regular Meeting called to order by President Jon Olson.

* Open Time

Mary Lou Hill reads the following letter to the board:

“As members of the public who were present at the August 18 Park Board meeting, we were stunned when commissioner Walt Dziedzic lost his temper and launched an unprovoked attack on some of his fellow commissioners.

We were also present at the October 20 meeting of the Standards and Conduct Committee and were astonished when commissioners Bob Fine and Carol Kummer voted to deny commissioner Vivian Mason’s request for an apology from commissioner Dziedzic for his aggressive behavior. Commissioner John Erwin, a member of the committee voted against the motion and called Dziedzic’s outburst “inappropriate.” Commissioner Fine was not at the August 18 meeting at which Dziedzic’s inappropriate conduct occurred, yet felt qualified to act as a member of the committee.

We want to express our disappointment at this unfortunate outcome. Intimidating words and actions should not be tolerated or condoned by this public body. We believe that commissioner Dziedzic still owes an apology not only to commissioner Mason but also to the other offended commissioners and to the public as well.

Signed by Chris Johnson, Mary Lou Hill and Arlene Fried”


** Recess Regular Meeting

** Reconvene Planning Committee

* Study / Report Item: Calhoun Yacht Club

* Several members of the Calhoun Yacht Club, including Bill Coppage, give a presentation regarding their history and activities, and their concerns about the increasing crowding and density of use at the north east corner of Lake Calhoun — present location of bouys, dock, boat ramp, refectory, Tin Fish, etc. The Yacht Club would like to build a “sailing center” in the southeast corner of Lake Calhoun. They have engaged the Barbour/LaDouceur Architects firm to develop a concept and plan. It contains 3 buildings, with much more space than the Yacht Club needs for its uses, the idea being that concessions/vendors would occupy the other portions. The concept is presented by John Barbour and Janis LaDouceur.

The Yacht Club proposes that the Park Board fund the construction, act as general contractor and would own the sailing center once completed. The Yacht Club proposes to donate $150,000 to $200,000 towards construction costs over 5 years. Retail tenants rent and a percentage of revenue would pay off the remaining construction costs [and eventually become an income stream for the Park Board?].

* Commissioner Young asks a number of questions: (1) How much does sailing cost? Is this something that has a wide enough audience among park users? (2) How much will the buildings cost to build? (3) Has the Yacht Club made any official neighborhood contact? (4) In future neighborhood contact, be sure to include people of color and the numbers of same.

Answers from Club and Barbour: (1) sailing can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars for the type of sailing they do on Lake Calhoun. (2) Building will cost about $1.5 million. (3) No contact yet with neighbors.

* Erwin asks about multiuse of the buildings, e.g. rollerblade rental. Also the possibility of building decking for use by diners out over the water, as the location has a great view of the city, and such an amenity does not exist in Minneapolis.

* Fine answers Erwin’s questions and appears to already know all about this project, though it is the first presentation to the board. He says the Park Board will own the buildings and rent them out.

* Commissioner Berry Graves has done some sailing herself and wonders if Lake Calhoun is not the best place for a “sailing center” in the park system. It is a narrow lake and has more wind obstructions near shore. She suggests that perhaps Lake Nokomis, which is larger and has more wind, might not be a better location. She asks the size of the proposed structures. Answer is 150 feet outside dimension of the 3 buildings and decking.

* Fine points out that this is just a study / report item. It will go to the Park Board planning department before any action is taken on it.

* Commissioner Kummer asks about the height of the buildings and mentions the shoreline ordinance which limits heights to 35 feet. Answer: around 35 to 40 feet, like the Lake Harriet band shell.


* Olson is in favor and thinks it is a wonderful opportunity.

* Fine refers it to staff and asks for a motion to adjourn, but then realizes there is a large crowd of wind surfers in the audience who thought they would have a chance to speak. He gives them a couple minutes.

* Windsurfer Marissa Lasky of Edlin Place and a member of the Minneapolis Zoning Board speaks on their behalf. She is seriously perturbed. The windsurfer contingent complains of just learning about this development and would like to know in advance about Park Board plans that would affect them, even though they consider themselves to be the poor step-child of the parks. They have a number of concerns, and are adamantly opposed to the proposed sailing center being built in the location they presently use for launching and sailing. She explains the nature of their sport — no place to do formal training due to park liability concerns, no ability to adjust the sheet while sailing like boats thus necessitating frequent equipment changs which are not practical to do if one must hike across a busy road carrying a sail board, etc. Bouys in the water for the sailboats pose a serious hazard to windsurfers, who don’t have rudders and keels designed for that kind of tight maneuvering, etc. Lake Calhoun is the only lake in the chain of lakes that they can practically sail on now. If this project goes through, they will have no place to go in the city.

* Fine points out that the board is not voting on anything. It’s just a proposal.


** Planning Committee Adjourns

** Admininistration & Finance Committee called to order by chair Marie Hauser

* Item 7.1 is moved and passes.

* Dziedzic moves Item 7.2, authorize staff to negotiate sale of former Fuji Ya site to Columbia Development LP (formerly Lucky Club LLC).

Staff reviews how the Park Board came into possession of the Fuji Ya property.

Young asks if this site is on top of a mill ruin? Staff answer: Yes, the Columbia Mill.

Erwin asks counsel Rice if selling this land will undermine the Park Board’s position with respect to Crown Hydro’s use of eminent domain to take part of Mill Ruins Park, directly across the street from this site.

Rice says he does not think so.

[It occurs to me as I write this, why doesn’t Crown Hydro just cut a deal with Columbia Development / Lucky Club to build their hydro power plant in the basement of their new development on this site?]

Dziedzic asks how much parking does the Park Board get, how much money does the board get, and can get they get restaurant in that space. Answers: about 60 spaces, $2.5 million minus $750,000 for the parking facility [then why not just call it $1.75 million net?], and No Restaurant.

Kummer asks about the height of the building, shoreland ordinance, view of other buildings, etc.

Jeff Arandel of Columbia Development / Lucky Club mentions that there is a restuarant at the Mill City Museum. He then says that they are limiting the height of their proposed structure to as much as 30 feet lower than what zoning allows.

Kummer says State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is not going to like the ruin removal. She’s nervous about “it.” [the sale? SHPO?]

Assistant superintendent Siggelkow says that SHPO has much less authority over private parties like Columbia than they do over government entities like the Park Board and City.

Someone else mentions that historic preservation involves preserving examples of kinds of structures and uses, such that removing Columbia’s ruins, just one of several such examples, some of which are already preserved, is not usually a problem for preservation regulations.

Mason mentions that the Park Board’s land acquisition fund has been depleted to a balance of about $6,000 [thanks to the Taj Mahal HQ and the White Elephant Neiman Sports Complex?], and would like to see the proceeds from this sale get placed back into that fund.

Young is concerned about the parking loss at Mill Ruins Park, being replaced by parking in Columbia Development’s building across the street [problem for handicapped parkers, for one] and the parking ramp rates versus the surface lot rates. She is also concerned about Crown Hydro using this sale as a reason to file a lawsuit.

Counsel Rice reiterates this question is like Erwin’s and that he is “very confident” it will not pose a risk.

7.2 passes to full board.

Young moves 7.3 and 7.4, which spend an additional $150,000 plus $525,000 (respectively) for additional stump grinding and equipment rental.

Assistant superintendent or general manager Mike Schmidt says the money is needed to grind 9,000 stumps [the number was 8,000 last meeting], and needed to pay the vendors so that work can continue.

Motion passes. [and just like that the Park Board spends another $675,000 that was not in this year’s budget — where will they get it from?]


Admin & Finance continued

* 2005 Preliminary Budget Review

Asst. super. Siggelkow presents the proposed budget:

  • Most of the operational budget comes from property taxes and an ever diminishing amount comes for state LGA (local government aid).
  • Cost of maintaining current service levels is a 4.7% increase over 2004 budget.
  • Maximum property tax levy increase will only generate 2.6%.
  • Need a 2.1% reduction in operating expense or $1.02 million to balance the budget as part of the Interim Superintendent’s recommended budget.
  • One time sources cannot be used as a direct funding source to balance ongoing expenses [thankfully, or we’d see accounting tricks like they do in the Pawlenty administration].
  • 2005 recommended budget is $49,901,888 compared to 2004 of $48,631,091.
  • 2005 superintendent’s budget does not include any impacts that WILL result from Minneapolis pulic school closures.
  • Estimates on current positions that will be held vacant next year provide $353,000 in savings. Remaining budget gap is $667,000.
  • A total of $345,000 in service reductions, service eliminations and fee increases are proposed which reduce the budget gap to $322,000. These proposals are:
    1. Environmental Education Program service reductions and fee increases for $135,000.
    2. Eliminate park police horse patrol: $36,000.
    3. Reduce Summer Playgrounds by 50%: $85,000.
    4. Increase adult sports fees by 15%: $21,000.
    5. Charge field use fee of $500 to traveling teams: $25,000 [currently FREE??]
    6. Eliminate contributions to Midtown Greenway $25,000 and the Coyle Center $18,000.

Last strategy to balance remaining gap of $322,000 is to use one-time money
to reduce ongoing operating costs through investments and debt service pay

downs. They are:

  1. Create an Investment Fund to provide funding for projects that reduce operating costs or increase operating revenues. Initial projects for 2005: –1. Energy management systems update at rec centers: cost $75,000, annual savings $15,000, 5 year pay back.
  2. Install well at White Elephant Neiman Complex: cost $85,000, annual savings $45,000, 2 year pay back [then why did they spend $2 million to run a water line out there from the city? Why not just build the well in the first place and save $1,915,000?]
  3. Build a mini golf center at Lupient Water Park: cost $100,000, annual income $80,000 [really?], less than 2 year pay back.
  4. Invest in aquatics operations to improve operations, increase income and reduce operating costs: invest up to $75,000; annual operating savings and income of $75,000; 1 year pay back [really? just like magic?]
  5. Reduce operating costs by $256,000, the payment amount on mortgage on the Taj Mahal HQ building, by paying mortgage off with one time sources. [and you got a mortgage in the first place because why?] Payoff of mortgage will save $1,500,000 over scheduled interest payments over next 13 years.

Other uses of one time funding:

  1. $500,000 emergency stump removal in 2005.
  2. $500,000 to establish emergency tree removal fund in addition to 5% operating reserve.
  3. “The reserve for the Tax Operating Fund after these changes is $2.5 or a 5% reserve level” [you figure it out, that’s a literal quote]

Remaining Steps in the Budget Process

  • PUBLIC INPUT on the interim superintendent’s recommended 2005 budget will be held November 10 at 5:30pm.
  • 2005 budget preliminary approval on November 17 by Admin & Finance Committee.
  • Preliminary 2005 budget approval at full board on December 1.
  • Truth in Taxation Public Hearing December 6.
  • Full board review, budget approval and taxy levy approval on December 13.

* Commissioner Mason has several remarks: (1) Should move this before the full board instead of just admin & fin. on November 17. (2) Find other ways to pay off Ft. Snelling [the White Elephant Neiman Complex] rather than using the system-wide golf course revenues as they do now, and then redirect those golf course enterprise revenues to other programs. Need an innovative solution as we are losing $75,000 a year at Ft. Snelling. [I know, why don’t you sell it to a private developer? Know anyone who will pay $16 million for it? Cut your losses and get out now.] (3) Tin Fish is a good example of innovative new revenue source. (4) Total fund balances are $17 million, but need details, especially on how much and where much of that balance is already allocated. (5) Preplanning Fund could be used for VIP projects.

* Commissioner Young has several remarks: (1) Is opposed to cutting Environmental Education program. (2) Is against eliminating mobile recreation center in the summer. (3) Better use of funds, do we need a new ??? [can’t read my own writing!] and can the Foundation help somewhere? (4) Mini golf location doesn’t seem right. Lots of golf in north and northeast, and nothing in Phillips or surrounds. (5) No discussion of Wind Energy Project? (6) Placement of buildings, possible rec center closures as some areas have many and others none.

* Chair Hauser cuts Young off before she finishes citing time constraints.

* Comr. Erwin says he would like more information, not just the numbers in the proposed budget, but those last year and last 5 years and the change. He believes they should make Ft. Snelling [White Elephant] a zero loss operation, by making it stand on its own [its own revenue pays its own operating expenses, I assume]. He also wants more details on the fund balances that Mason mentioned, and says that solar lighting might be another one time investment that would pay off in operational cost savings.

* Comr. Dziedzic has some questions. (1) Page 4, maximum property tax revenue increase is 2.6%. Does that include increase in assessed values? (2) City covers independent boards with 10% budget reserve, why do we have one? (3) Do we need reserve for Standard & Poore’s rating?

* Siggelkow answers: (1) Yes. (2) No, city does not cover Park Board. (3) No, staff recommends a reserve of 5% but commissioners can make it whatever they feel is prudent.

* Kummer suggests increasing and using Minnehaha Park revenue via food sales and parking fees to LRT users.

* Olson is concerned about the 50% cut in Summer Playgrounds program. Lots of kids have no other place to go. Cutting it is “out of the question.”

* Berrgy Graves concurs with Olson and with Young on the Environmental Education program. Says they need to brainstorm to find ways not to cut such crucial programs.

* Hauser is also concerned about Summer Playgrounds. She asks what are better places to cut?

** Administration & Finance Committee Adjourns


** Regular Meeting is reconvened.

8.1 is removed from the agenda.

8.2 to approve policies and procedures for Superintendent Search [this was a circus]

* Young: when are we going to discuss criteria, etc. We are short on time [before hire date].

* Olson: we will discuss it tonight to avoid getting behind.

* Hauser asks for staff presentation.

* Asst. super. Siggelkow sits in for Mary Page of Human Resources. Staff needs answers to a variety of questions: 1. How long will each finalist inteview be, and what are the questions that will be asked? 2. Public Input Process – suggests that public submit questions in writing to Mary Page who will filter them for the December 1 presenting to finalists. 3. Need to decide whether commissioners will or will not contact finalists directly. 4. Appointment date is December 8, some blanks need to be filled in.

* Erwin states the decisions need to be made tonight. Suggests deciding on how many finalists board can vote for before getting into the process, maybe 4 or 5.

* Olson says there are currently 8 semi-finalists and there will be 3 to 5 finalists.

* Young says in the public input process, she wants to see all of the public’s questions sent to Mary Page, even if only some of them can or will be asked. She says commissioners should not contact finalists.

* Olson conducts a straw poll on contacting finalists. 5 in favor of NOT contacting, so there will be no contact.

* Berry Graves wants a records and background check done on the 3 to 5 finalists.

* Olson thinks it is an excellent idea and conducts another straw poll. 5 in favor, so that is the policy.

* Mason says she heard there were 14 semi-finalists, but Olson said 8. Clarify who are the 8.

Answer: the 8 semi-finalists are in the superintendent search report handed out tonight.

* Hauser wants to group questions [from the public] together into similar questions and only ask one/once. It will take 3 days for Mary Page to do so.
Friday before the interviews [Dec. 1?] will be deadline for public input.

* Dziedzic asks if they can get a list of questions they are NOT allowed to ask?

* Olson says no, but Mary Page will handle it. Someone else mentions they had
been given data practices guidelines before and can go by those.

* Erwin suggests setting half an hour per finalist for public questions to keep it from going too long. He asks if they can get a copy of the video interviews that Oldani did.

* Olson says whether a video exists or not depends on circumstances, not all on video.

** Superintendent Search discussion continued.

* Olson says all finalists will be in room to interview at same time, thus a
fixed time period of say 2 hours for public questions. [while short, it at
least eliminates the problem of trying to ask the exact same question in the
exact same way. I bet they only get through 3 or 4 questions, however, if
they have 5 finalists.]

* Young believs the superintendent search committee should have done some of this work.

* Olson says they should have done it sooner. [but he is clearly intent upon getting through all of this tonight, and seems to have forgottent that he specifically charged the committee with coming up with only a timeline for the search and none of the rest of these obviously needed ground rules]

* Erwin suggests 2 hours for public questions.

* Olson takes straw poll and 5 favor this, so policy is 2 hours for public questions.

* Staff wants to know how long the board will interview each candidate? [the board will question the candidates the day before the public questions]

* 1 hour each, by show of hands straw poll.

* Staff will try to get interviews on cable TV, and will definitely web broadcast the interviews.

* Counsel Rice asks about question list and numbers[?] from Young’s folder from last year’s aborted search.

* Erwin asks when and how will finalists be disclosed to public.

* Staff says in a press release when board members know who they are.

* Kummer asks which questions do “we” ask? How do we maintain control of public questions?

* Mason does not want to be limited to asking candidates the questions from last year. She has her own question she would like to ask.

* Hauser wants board to ask public questions.

* Mason says Mary Page or someone should ask the public questions.

* Olson asks for show of hands. The “Usual Five” want the board to ask the questions. Or do they want to have the public read the questions from script so they cannot deviate?

* Dziedzic wants to get this straight.

* Olson describes how it works again.

* Dziedzic asks how do we pick which public member gets to read the question?
Don’t want to have all members from one part of town.

* Olson says Mary Page will decide how to pick.

* Hauser asks how?

* Fine mumbles something inaudible out of turn — something he recently and frequently jumps on the other board members for, calling it worse than Dziedzic’s angry assault at the August 18 meeting.

* Olson says Mary Page will read the question if the person from the public is not present.

* Asst. super. Siggelkow will draft up the conclusions made just now on the process.

* Dziedzic begins to talk about something but is interrupted by Olson who bangs his gavel and says he is out of order.


** Reports of Officers

** No verbal report from interim superintendent Jon Gurban whose father died recently and is not present.

** Asst. super. Schmidt reports on Halloween parties at rec centers. Had a large turnout and successful night.

* Kummer says she went to Lake Hiawatha center in costume and handed out candy.

* Berry Graves thanks the staff for a job very well done.

* Dziedzic says the turnout of 15,700 (kids and adult, mostly kids) is about one-third of Minneapolis schools.

* Erwin mentions a Halloween parade in Seward lead by Park Police.

* Fine says he hit five different parks and that attendance was slightly down.

* Olson says they missed the best haunted house in the city at Creekview.

** Asst. super. Rietkerk reports on solar panels and lighting, or would have had any been installed. They are just starting at Matthews.

** Asst. super. Siggelkow reports on the City’s proposed storm water sewer fee which could cost the Park Board $500,000 a year in new fees. He mentions how Columbia Park seems to be a storm water holding place. He says they will be seeking an exemption from the fee based on the idea of the parks being more a part of the storm sewer system, rather than a contributor to storm water run off.

*** Consent business.

2.1, 7.1 and 7.2 are all moved and approved. (7.1 & 7.2 are spending increase items from Admin & Finance)

*** Communications and Petitions

* Berry Graves talks about something to do with art at Heritage Park. [at this point, left over Halloween candy is being passed around the commissioners
and a bit of noise is being made]

* Fine says that staff says that the crinkling of candy wrappers is interfering with the sound on the video recording, which is done to DVD even when they are not on cable TV, and that they should turn off their “speakers” [microphones] when not in use.

* Dziedzic talks about visiting the Star Tribune Editorial Board and twisiting their arms about covering the Park Board. He thinks they should give the Editorial Board a tour between 11am and 2pm to eliminate some of the negative publicity and image the Park Board has gotten.


Meeting Adjourned.