May 12, 2009 Minutes

West Calhoun Neighborhood Council

DRAFT Minutes:  5/12/2009


Present:   George Effrem, Mari Taffe (Chair) Barb Stevens (Treasurer), Rhea Sullivan (Coordinator), Todd Wildermuth (Vice Chair)

Guests:    Rodgers Adams, Brian Elliott (District Director for Keith Ellison), Betsy Hodges (Council Member), Tim Jensen (Mike Otto Construction), David Rhees (Executive Director of The Bakken)


Administrative Items


Secretary’s Report

  • Approval of the minutes of the February 10, 2009 meeting was tabled because we did not have copies of the minutes.
  • The March 14, 2009 minutes were approved as read.


       Treasurer’s Report

  • Treasurer Barb Stevens reported that she received an NRP check for $5,559.31.  Bills are paid up to date, including the newsletter.  She reported a current balance of $6,938.77 in the NRP account and $481.09 for the development account.


Monthly Updates


Keith Ellison’s Office


  • Brian Elliott, the District Director for Keith Ellison, reported that their office is located in North Minneapolis at Penn Avenue North and Plymouth Avenue.  They deal with many issues, including family reunification, Veteran’s benefits, Social Security, Medicare, immigration issues and more.  They can be reached at 612-522-1212.
  • Keith Ellison serves on the Financial Services Committee, which deals with issues of credit card and mortgage debt, foreclosures, etc.  The anti-predatory lending bill passed last week.  This protects renters from being evicted when homes are foreclosed.  
  • Keith also serves on the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee.  He recently visited Saudi Arabia and brought with him 11 Minnesota businesses to market their services there.  
  • The economic stimulus bill will include things for individuals:
  • Social Security/Vets will get a $250 one time increase
  • Funds for home improvements for low income people
  • Tax rebate for improving the energy efficiency of a home
  • Pay 2/3 of COBRA for 9 months.  
  • Small changes in policy can have a big effect.  Brian reported that recently Keith helped change a Medicare law that saved Hennepin County $1 million last year.


Council Member comments

  • Council Member Betsy Hodges reported that we are approaching the end of the legislative session and a lot of the big-ticket items like LGA are on the table now.  
  • No pension reform bill has been introduced this session, but issues will be addressed this summer.  The Downtown Business Council, Building Owners & Managers and Professional Employees support pension reform.  
  • There is a lot of construction going on at the moment, including 2nd and Marquette, Crosstown and Lyndale Avenue.
  • David Rhees asked about the plug-in electric vehicles that the City and County are thinking of purchasing.  Betsy recommended he contact Dan Huff.  The Bakken is looking for an electric vehicle.
  • Regarding SW LRT, they have not decided the route beyond West Calhoun.  Either route would come through West Calhoun.  Rodgers Adams said that there will be public meetings this summer.
  • Betsy has not had a chance to consider possible ideas for the $15,000 that WCNC has for Crime and Safety.  We will send her an e-mail after the legislative session is over.  
  • Ben Hecker has handled the complaints about skeet shooting at the Minikahda Club.  She will ask him for an update.
  • Barb Stevens reported that the street sweeping was done very poorly this year.  A lot of debris remained in the street or was swept up onto the sidewalk.  Betsy will follow up on that.  She said that we could also call 311 to complain.


Lakes District Council Update
  • Todd Wildermuth reported that he attended the meeting of the Lakes District Council two weeks ago.  
  • A Citizen’s Advisory was set up to address the issues surrounding food service (and possible expansion) of the Lake Harriet refectory.  Matt Perry chairs this group.
  • They are trying to broaden the Lakes District Council.  A number of neighborhoods are not near a lake and so they do not participate.  
  • They are still planning to work on a “Lake Calhoun Master Plan,” though there is no money and no defined end product.  There will be two public meetings, the first of which will be in June.  The two components will be:    1) A presentation from the MPRB of the 100 year history of Lake Calhoun and 2) History of plans for the lake.
  • The MPRB has taken a lot of heat about the South Parking Lot improvements.  The windsurfers are concerned and have complained about how the project affects their needs.
  • MPRB has no capital budget this year.  Emerald Ash Borer is coming and that will have a huge financial impact.  
  • Todd will be moving in July, so he will not be able to attend the next meeting of the Council (in August).  We need to find a replacement for the next meeting.


Midtown Greenway Coalition

  • Mari Taffe will contact Tim Springer.  Michael Wagner (who was elected to the Board later in the meeting) would like to represent West Calhoun.  


WCNC Board Member Elections

George Effrem, Barb Stevens, Mari Taffe and Todd Wildermuth agreed to run for re-election.  Todd nominated Michael Wagner to the Board.  Michael accepted the nomination.  George made a motion to accept the slate as nominated for the 2009-2010 Board of Directors.  Barb seconded the motion.  The motion carried.


Other Business


NRP Contract Amendment
  • Rhea Sullivan reported that in taking a closer look at our remaining NRP Phase I funds, she discovered that we have $23,700 remaining uncontracted in our Strategy #10  – Consulting/Administration.  Carsten Slostad, our NRP Specialist, requested that the Board vote on amending the current contract to add in the $23,700.  By adding those funds to the contract, the $4,400.63 (the amount we were over budget) would be replenished, reinstating funds in 3 strategies: Trail Access Upgrades, Buckthorn Removal and Bus Shelter.  This would leave approximately $19,300 available, which should cover administrative expenses for the next few years.
  • Todd Wildermuth moved that we add $23,700 to our existing administrative contract.  Barb seconded the motion.  The motion carried.  Rhea will let Carsten know that the Board approved the motion.



  • Fulton Neighborhood Association has opened up their BLEND Award to all of the Ward 13 neighborhoods this year.  The award recognizes projects remodeling and construction projects that “blend” into the current neighborhood.  
  • If we participate, we would be asked to contribute $75-100 to help cover administrative costs, and we would need to submit a candidate (preferably with a design background) to sit as a juror on the selection committee.
  • The Board discussed the opportunity, but decided to pass this year.  There are only 32 homes in the neighborhood and there have been few remodeling projects since 2004 (and of those we are not sure that any fit with the criteria for the BLEND award.)


NCEC Election Process
  • Thanks to Todd who attended the meeting on April 19 where they determined the selection process for the NCEC.  
  • We need an elector and an alternate to participate in the selection process.  The Citywide candidate forum will be held June 3, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. at Van Cleve Park.  Votes must be cast by 4:00 p.m. on June 16.
  • Barb Stevens agreed to be the elector; Michael Wagner will be the alternate.  Rhea will notify the NCR Department.


Earth Day
  • Mari and Rhea and Rhea’s daughter Brianna staffed the table at Lake Calhoun on Earth Day, April 18.  Aric Rudolph forgot to notify us that there would be a huge contingent of Girl Scout and Brownie troops showing up.  We sent the girls to Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet and Lake of the Isles.  Our count for the day was 200 people.


Neighborhood Coordinator Updates
  • Tree Update:  Rhea reported that Paul Domholt notified her that the MPRB has received $50,000 in grant funds, which could be used to cover the tree planting in West Calhoun that we are doing this year.  The Park Board also passed an action allocating $500,000 for stump removal.  This would cover the stumps that were removed last fall.  So all of the tree work done to date would be covered under these two initiatives.  
  • Paul suggests that he would like someone from the neighborhood to go on a tour with him at the end of June to look at what has been planted and the stumps that have been removed and see where additional trees could be planted.  He said that there might still be some stumps.  He has not addressed the “soccer field” area because of the uncertainty about what was going to happen with that area.  He mentioned that it might make sense to get a Park Board Planner involved in looking at that Park area. He said that this year’s tree planting should be done by the end of next week.
  • Mari Taffe, Barb Stevens and Michael Wagner would like to participate in the tree tour.  Rhea will coordinate a time/date that works for all.


 Update from The Bakken

  • Executive Director David Rhees thanked the Board for including articles from The Bakken in the last issue of our newsletter.  He said they got a great volunteer from the newsletter.
  • David reported that The Bakken wants to expand education about renew-able energy and conservation through exhibits, outreach and efforts outside in the natural environment surrounding the building.  One effort is a monument-style sign that would be lit at night with LED lights using solar power.  The solar panel would be located in the wetland.  The sign will likely require a conditional use permit.
  • Other ideas include: interpreting The Bakken’s green roof with signage, a binocular similar to the one at the Stone Arch bridge to observe the area, a biomass garden and a solar-powered fountain.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.


The next WCNC Board meeting will be held Tuesday, June 9, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. at The Bakken.  


Respectfully submitted,


Rhea Sullivan

WCNC Coordinator