January 13, 2009 Minutes

West Calhoun Neighborhood Council

DRAFT Minutes:  1/13/2009


Present:   George Effrem, Rosemary Lundell, Mari Taffe, Barb Stevens, Rhea Sullivan (Coordinator), Todd Wildermuth

Guests:    Rodgers Adams, Ben Hecker (Council Member Hodges’s aide), Julie Perrus (attorney M.G.M. Liquors), Paul Setter (President M.G.M. Liquors)

M.G.M. Liquor Stores Conditional Use Permit

  • M.G.M. Liquor Stores President, Paul Setter, and their attorney, Julie Perrus of Larkin and Hoffman, were present to answer questions about M.G.M.’s proposed move from Calhoun Village to the space adjacent to Whole Foods at Calhoun Commons.  M.G.M. will be subleasing the space from Whole Foods.  There will be a hearing on the conditional use permit on February 2nd with Zoning and Planning.
  • M.G.M. is requesting no variances.  They meet the parking requirements.  There was a traffic demand management study done when the property was originally developed which included a retail store in the space that M.G.M. will occupy, so the traffic should be what was originally expected of the development.  Paul Setter noted that currently there is a lot of traffic that moves between Whole Foods and M.G.M. across West Lake Street.  The move should reduce that traffic.
  • Whole Foods Manager Dan Blackburn is supportive of the move.  He feels that it will save their customers a trip and will allow Whole Foods to be more competitive with Trader Joe’s and Lunds, which have liquor stores nearby.
  • The main concerns of the Board were about how the store’s presence will increase traffic and congestion, especially on Market Plaza, which has become the main egress to Calhoun Commons.  
  • Rosemary Lundell suggested that they look at the timing of the left turn light that provides access to the parking lot from Excelsior Blvd.  If that light were timed differently, more traffic might be diverted off of Market Plaza.  Ben Hecker noted that he has brought up that light with the traffic planner a number of times, but he will bring it up to him again.  He said there are some issues with changing the timing of that light that affect the traffic flow on Excelsior.
  • Todd Wildermuth recommended that someone from M.G.M. should take the time to formally observe the traffic flow in and out of the parking lot after the store has opened.  They might want to consider if a sign should be added to increase safety, like “Do not block cross traffic” or “Watch for pedestrians.”  He noted that sometimes a small change can make a big difference in how traffic flows.


Administrative Items


Secretary’s Report

  • The minutes of the December 9, 2008 meeting were approved with one correction:  Rosemary Lundell noted that she had talked to someone who recommended that we talk to Steve, the Property Manager of 3430 List Place.  Rosemary agreed to contact Steve.


       Treasurer’s Report

  • Treasurer Barb Stevens reported that there is $481.09 in the NRP Development account and $1,830.87 in the NRP account.  The Post Net annual fee for the mailbox ($240) is currently due.  Barb will complete the Citizen Participation grant award paperwork for 2009.  She will also submit a CORF report to draw down more NRP funds.

Monthly Updates


Council Member comments

  • Council Member Aide Ben Hecker reported that the 2009 City Budget passed in December, but the city then lost 13 million in LGA funds.  The city is experiencing a budget shortfall and LGA will likely be cut again next year.  LGA is money from sales tax revenue and income tax revenue in Minneapolis that comes back to the city.  Ben said that residential taxes pay a much larger share of the city budget than they did ten years ago.  Mayor Rybak is planning to present an amended budget to the Council in February with cuts.  Everything is on the table.


Lakes District Council Update
  • The Lakes District Council’s quarterly meeting is coming up next month.  The Lake Calhoun Master Plan is on the agenda for the next meeting.
  • Todd Wildermuth reported that he met with Tracy Nordstrom and Bob Fine in December.  He said that there is still no money for a Lake Calhoun Master Plan.  Tracy and Bob wonder how to make people happy.  There is a lack of trust in the Park Board, aggravated by the activities of groups like Park Watch that stir up discontent.  
  • Tracy and Bob propose that we hold a big public meeting to talk about the list of things that need to be done at Lake Calhoun.   The Board discussed their concerns and they remain the same:
    • Traffic control on West Calhoun Parkway
    • Restore the fishing pier
    • Shoreline restoration/stabilization
  • Todd stated that he believes that in order to fund any improvements at Lake Calhoun, there needs to be an organization or coalition like Friends of the MPRB that seeks funds from businesses and residents near the lake.  The MPRB will not be providing funding or leadership to move forward on proposed improvements on the lake.  Todd said that he thinks they should consider drafting a capital improvement plan.
  • There was some discussion about why the Park Board cannot use the funds that we have to make some progress on our goals, like shoreline restoration.  We have offered funds in the past and have been turned down because the amounts weren’t large enough.  We wonder if there are possibly less expensive options to help address the problem of shoreline erosion.
  • Tracy e-mailed a summary/FAQ about the Parking Lot Project on the south side of Lake Calhoun.  Park Watch had stated that they thought this was the beginning of a sailing village.  The MPRB claims that it is simply maintenance of the lot and the addition of an entry plaza that would include an overlook for viewing the lake and downtown skyline.  The reconstruction would also change the relationship of the current bike and pedestrian paths.  
  • The Board was concerned that the FAQ mentions moving the West Calhoun Parkway right of way further from the shoreline.  Todd is going to ask Tracy and Bob about this.  


Other Business


NRP Resolution

  • Rhea Sullivan reported that NRP has requested a formal resolution of support and participation in a meeting to discuss the process that will be used to select the eight members from neighborhood organizations of the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission.
  • Rosemary Lundell made a motion to approve the following resolution (seconded by Barb Stevens):  


“The West Calhoun Neighborhood Council accepts the invitation to participate in the process development meeting for selecting representatives to the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission and will send at least one representative from our organization to the session meeting.”


  • Todd Wildermuth agreed to attend the meeting (currently scheduled for February 21, 2009).


Promoting neighborhood businesses/outreach
  • The Minikahda Club would like to connect with the neighborhood.  We will profile them in the March issue of the newsletter.  In an effort to support neighborhood businesses, Rhea will contact all neighborhood businesses and offer them an opportunity to list their name, phone number, address and website address on the WCNC website (preferably a local, site-specific website, if possible).  
  • It was suggested that we also profile the M.G.M. Liquor Store in the March issue as a welcome to the neighborhood.  The newsletter should be delivered at the end of March, in time to promote our Earth Day Clean-up at Lake Calhoun.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.


The next WCNC Board meeting will be held Tuesday, February 10, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. at The Bakken.


Respectfully submitted,


Rhea Sullivan

WCNC Coordinator