Kim Eslinger
Editor
612-321-8040
kim@millcitymedia.org

David Tinjum
Publisher
612-321-8020
dave@millcitymedia.org

Rachel Kahn
Contributor
646-594-0595
rachel@loveself.org

Mill City Times is a not-for-profit community service.  We do not sell advertising on this site.

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Covering life, work, and play in the Historic Mill District and Downtown Minneapolis Riverfront neighborhoods. Have an opinion, local news or events to share?  Contact us.

Friday
Oct242014

Public Comment Opportunities on Proposed 2015 MPRB Budget Scheduled for Nov. 5 and 19, Dec. 10

Via an October 23 e-newsletter from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board:

PROPOSED 2015 MINNEAPOLIS PARK BOARD BUDGET CONTINUES FOCUS ON FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, SERVICE DELIVERY AND MAINTAINING PARK SYSTEM
 
The Superintendent’s Recommended 2015 Budget for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) focuses on maintaining park services and facilities, strategically addressing financial and operational challenges, improving organizational efficiency and service delivery, and addressing Emerald Ash Borer and other threats to the urban tree canopy.
 
“The proposed budget includes the General Fund operating budget that reflects a 4 percent property tax increase and focuses on establishing a financially sustainable funding model, supporting ongoing operations, addressing threats to the urban tree canopy, continuing our work on equity across the park system, including racial equity, and implementing organizational changes that will improve efficiency and enhance service delivery. It reflects the MPRB’s commitment to sound financial management and strategic long-term planning,” explained Superintendent Jayne Miller. “It also includes the second year of a special levy dedicated to the removal and replacement of infested and distressed ash trees and replanting of trees lost during storms. The combined levies reflect a 4.9 percent property tax increase over 2014.”
 
In 2015, of every dollar Minneapolis residents pay for property taxes, eight cents will go to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
 
The Superintendent’s Recommended 2015 Budget totals $68,241,007 for the general operating fund, $1,445,500 for the special revenue fund dedicated to trees, $7,858,849 for the enterprise operating fund and $11,462,000 for capital project funding.
 
“In June, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board was named the number one park system in the nation for the second year in a row and earned the another “five park bench” rating on The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore® index,” said Miller. “It is because of the vision and commitment of those who have been here before us, and everyone who is committed to the Minneapolis park system today, that we received this prestigious honor from The Trust for Public Land. It’s a wonderful tribute to all the dedication and hard work over our 131 year history and a great responsibility to continue that work moving forward.”
 
The proposed budget and related documents are available for viewing at www.minneapolisparks.org/budget or by calling 612-230-6400.

The public may comment on the proposed budget during the following times:
 •Nov. 5, Public Comment Session – Administration and Finance Committee meeting, MPRB Headquarters, 2117 West River Road, Minneapolis. The Committee meeting will follow the Board’s regular meeting at 5 pm.
 •Nov. 19, Public Comment Session – Regular Board meeting, MPRB Headquarters, 2117 West River Road, Minneapolis, at 5 pm.
 •Dec. 10, Public Hearing and Board Approval of 2015 Budget – City of Minneapolis public hearing on 2015 tax levy and 2015 Budget, City Hall, Council Chambers Room 317, 350 South 5th Street, Minneapolis, at 6:05 pm.
 
According to Miller, organizational performance initiatives implemented in 2012-2014, including equipment optimization and improved labor distribution in forestry and maintenance, have resulted in $2.3 million in annual savings. She cautions however, that even with these operational savings and the 4.9 percent levy increase, there are significant financial and service challenges facing the MPRB.
 
“The Park Board is committed to establishing long-term financial sustainability in operations and capital infrastructure. Despite significant budget reductions, efficiency improvements, and expansion of creative revenue generating opportunities, rising costs and increased usage continue to strain our ability to meet all of the demands placed on the park system,” Miller explained. “Couple the operational pressures with the continued under-funding of park capital infrastructure; the MPRB has reached a critical juncture requiring significant attention to address the gap between available resources and the demand on and needs of the park system.”
 
Key financial challenges include inadequate funding for general park maintenance and for delivery of quality recreation services, particularly youth services. The proposed 2015 budget includes initiatives to identify standard service levels for park maintenance and an assessment of community needs at recreation centers.
 
Other key financial challenges include minimum wage increases, Affordable Care Act impacts, rising health care costs, and inflationary increases, especially in construction costs.
 
The proposed budget also begins to address staff capacity issues and past operating budget reductions that negatively impact service delivery. The MPRB currently has 19% fewer employees, or the equivalent of 115 full-time employees, than it did in 2003. The 2015 proposed budget includes staff increases to begin to meet basic organizational needs.
 
Initiatives and changes for 2015 include:
 •Asset Management – establish trades apprentice program, add operations and maintenance for Webber Natural Filtration Pool and Ice Rink
 •Communications and Marketing – continue enhancements of new MPRB website, add writer
 •Community Outreach – expand racial equity work
 •Customer Service – add customer service representative to enhance call response times, eliminate summer seasonal staffing and operations of the Longfellow House Visitor’s Center
 •Environmental Management – enhance regional service area maintenance funding, add Webber pool water quality monitoring, add part-time staffing for Lyndale Park gardens, expand environmental education staff
 •Forestry – purchase expanded variety of trees, collaborate with City of Minneapolis to develop Tree Preservation position
 •Human Resources – add three positions to meet needs of organization
 •Park Police – add two police officers, expand patrol hours
 •Recreation –  ◦Athletic Programs & Aquatics – add funding for recreational operations at Webber Natural Filtration Pool and Ice Rink, expand Lake Nokomis open swim program with additional day
 ◦Golf – pursue FEMA and other recovery funding for rain and storm damage to Hiawatha and Meadowbrook courses, with likely continued closure of both courses through 2015
 ◦Recreation Centers & Programs – launch MPRB scholarship program and, based on data reflecting low visitation time periods, adjust all recreation building hours as follows:

 ■ During May and late August, adjust recreation center opening time to 3 pm versus noon to coincide with Minneapolis Public School schedule
 ■ On Saturdays, adjust hours at 17 recreation centers to close at 4 pm versus 6 pm; Nite Owlz evening program for teens will continue as in 2014 at same sites with same hours
 ■ On Fridays, close recreation centers at 6 pm versus 9 pm; Nite Owlz evening program for teens will continue as in 2014 at same sites with same hours
 
◦Youth Development – expand Pop Up Parks program, expand full-day summer camps and Freedom School, expand Recreation Plus program, add Therapeutic Recreation position

In 2015, there are no fee increases for the vast majority of activities, permits and programs. There are market-rate increases for select activities and services.
 
Following her recommended budget presentation to the Board, Miller stressed the need to address the growing funding shortfall for neighborhood park capital.
 
“The parks are the gems of the city but capital investments for maintaining the parks, particularly the neighborhood parks, have not kept pace with the growing use of, and demands on, the park system,” Miller said. “Since becoming Superintendent four years ago, there have been tremendous efforts by the Board and the staff to address this issue, but we are facing a stark reality; unless we deal with the growing capital shortfall, the parks will continue to deteriorate.”

Thursday
Oct232014

Tonight: Water Works Public Open House at Mill City Museum

Water Works Park Vision Presentation and Public Open House

October 23,  6:00pm-7:30pm, at the Mill City Museum, 704 2nd Street South

It’s been more than 50 years since the Mississippi River thundered through the 34-ft deep and 50-ft wide “great canal,” a feat of engineering that made Minneapolis the world’s milling powerhouse over 100 years ago. Now in the 21st century, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation (MPF) has underwritten the creation of a new vision for excavating and experiencing the historic canal, the prominent feature in an experiential future Water Works park.

MPF and the Park Board invite the public to see the Water Works design and meet the designers on Thursday, October 23, when MPF also will officially debut a 3D flythrough animation of the future park. Water Works is a Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board-owned site located on the Mississippi River adjacent to its only true waterfall – St. Anthony Falls. It is also on the edge of downtown Minneapolis within both a growing mixed-use neighborhood and the St. Anthony Falls Heritage District. The area has long been significant to First Nations, and, because of its milling past, has several important historic features.

For more information on these presentations: http://mplsparksfoundation.org/2014/10/14/mpf-to-present-vision-for-water-works-park-to-minneapolis-park-recreation-board-october-22/.

For more on the Water Works park process and to subscribe to news about the project, please visit http://mplsparksfoundation.org/category/projects/water-works.

Major funding for the Water Works design project is provided by Pentair Foundation, St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board and General Mills Foundation. Additional support is provided by The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation and many generous individuals.

Thursday
Oct232014

Extended Absentee Voting Hours for November 4 Election

Via an October 22 Hennepin County News Release:

Hennepin County will offer extended hours for absentee voting in the upcoming general election. Any eligible voter may submit an absentee ballot for any reason, and absentee ballots can be submitted by mail, in person, or by having someone you know pick up and deliver the ballot.

This year Minnesotans will elect a U.S. senator, U.S. representatives, the governor and a wide variety of state, county, city and school district offices. In Hennepin County, residents will elect three commissioners, the sheriff and the county attorney.

Where to absentee vote

Hennepin County Government Center
300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis (map)
Skyway level

In addition, some cities may offer extended hours for absentee voting. Check with your city for more information.

Extended absentee voting hours

  • Saturday, October 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • MondayFriday, October 27 - October 31 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Monday, November 3 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you aren’t able to submit an absentee ballot, be sure to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To find your polling location, use the Minnesota Secretary of State polling place finder available at http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/.

For more voting information, go to www.hennepin.us/elections or call the Hennepin County Elections Division at 612-348-5151.

Wednesday
Oct222014

Learn About the New Webster School at an October Friends of Webster Play Date

See the Facebook page for more info. Webster School is located at 425 5th Street NE.

Tuesday
Oct212014

Tonight / Mill City Times Endorses 4 Candidates for the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Election on October 21

What: Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA) Election & Annual Meeting

Where: The Depot, 225 3rd Ave S

When: Tuesday, October 21, 6:30PM

Early Bird Voting: 6:00PM-7:00PM

From redevelopment of the area surrounding the new Vikings Stadium, to the creation of a new Central Riverfront Master Plan, the complete makeover of Nicollet Mall, and the threat of hydropower drying up St. Anthony Falls, the next few years will reshape Downtown Minneapolis for decades to come.

Last year saw 4 new members join the DMNA Board, and they’ve made great strides revitalizing the organization.  Our endorsed candidates - 2 who would be new & 2 existing members - will complete the transformation and build on the momentum gained over the past 12 months. 

A seat on the DMNA Board should not be viewed as a career enhancing networking tool or a resume builder.  It is an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and serve the community. These four Downtown residents & business owners, all extraordinarily engaged at the neighborhood level, will serve the Downtown neighborhoods well:

Nick Cichowicz is the current Board Chair on the DMNA and has served on the board for two years. His professional background includes experience in both the corporate and nonprofit spheres.  He is currently the Executive Director of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and previously worked at Target and at the Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin in community outreach roles. In his most recent professional positions he has prepared grant proposals and funding requests while also implementing community outreach strategic plans targeting public, private and nonprofit organizations.

Nick has lived in Minneapolis since 2008 and has a passion for the city.  His focus on the DMNA Board has been on making Downtown MPLS vibrant, safe and livable. In the next two years Nick’s goal is for the DMNA to become, “with the help and input of residents, businesses and visitors alike” a key contributor to the strengthening of both Downtown East and Downtown West.

- Ken Searl is a businessman, entrepreneur and community leader.  He grew his first company from one office and $500,000 in sales to a 20-office, $35 million business, and most recently founded a start-up software company that attracted strong interest and support from venture capitalists. He has a long history of serving on both industry and nonprofit boards of directors.

Ken lives in Minneapolis and organized the Safety and Prevention Group of 15 condominiums in the riverfront as part of the Mill District Neighborhood Association. He devotes considerable time to volunteer work in the city, including working with grade school children at Ascension school and serving on the board of Mill City Commons.

- Carletta Sweet is a homeowner at RiverWest Condominiums in the Downtown West neighborhood of Minneapolis and an editor for a small business consultancy also located in the Downtown West neighborhood.

Carletta promotes public and private sector collaborative relationships that foster affordable housing, business development, and cultural as well as educational opportunities for the residents, businesses, employees and visitors to downtown Minneapolis.  To accomplish these goals she has been instrumental in forging relationships between DMNA and:  Aeon on whose board she served as chair; the East Downtown Council on whose board she currently serves as vice president; 2020 Partners as the DMNA representative; the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership on whose board she currently serves as secretary/treasurer; and the Above the Falls Citizen Advisory Committee on whose board she currently serves as the downtown neighborhood representative.

Carletta joined the DMNA to assist in making the downtown neighborhood attractive, safe, economically viable, and a great place to live, work, play and visit, similar to what she experienced during the renaissance in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the South Loop (Burnham Park Neighborhood) downtown community of Chicago, Illinois. Carletta has been a DMNA board member since 1998 and brings a rich historical perspective of the issues that impact the community.

- David Tinjum grew up in North Minneapolis and now lives in the Mill District.  Seeing a need for better communication and community action among Mill District residents, he founded and publishes the Mill City Times website and weekly newsletter, which has mobilized the Mill District residents on important civic issues, such as the proposed Crown Hydro project.  He is Chair of the Mill District Neighborhood Association, he is a member of the Central Riverfront Regional Park Master Planning Citizens Advisory Committee, and he served as Campaign Chair for Jacob Frey’s successful run for the Minneapolis City Council.

David is also a businessman and community activist who would bring enormous energy and passion to the DMNA board. He is a self-made CEO, who started a software company at his kitchen table and grew it into a company with annual revenue of $9 million, employing 75 software engineers.

David will use his experience with Mill City Times and the Mill District Neighborhood Association to build real community engagement Downtown, so that everyone who lives or works Downtown has a seat at the table on the issues and projects that will shape our neighborhood for decades to come.

Call to action - we need your votes. There are four seats up for election to the DMNA Board of Directors. This means if you live or work in the Downtown East/Mill District or Downtown West neighborhoods you have 4 votes, one for each seat.

Make Sure We Have a Seat at the Table.  From redevelopment of the area surrounding the new Vikings Stadium, to the creation of a new Central Riverfront Master Plan, and the infill development already planned, you can ensure our neighborhoods have a seat at the table.  Make note of their names – Nick, Ken, Carletta & David – and use all four votes!

Monday
Oct202014

The Week Ahead in Mill City

The World's Most Dangerous Port-A-Potty

Each week we provide an easy to reference list of events and activities for the week ahead in the Historic Mill District and Minneapolis Riverfront Neighborhoods.  Have an event to share?  Submit your events here...

Monday, October 20

Tuesday, October 21

Wednesday, October 22

Thursday, October 23

Friday, October 24

Saturday, October 25

Sunday, October 26