November 10, 2009 Minutes

West Calhoun Neighborhood Council

DRAFT Minutes: 11/10/2009


Present:   Barb Stevens (Treasurer), Mari Taffe (Chair), Michael Wagner (Vice Chair), Rhea Sullivan (Coordinator)


Guests:    Betsy Hodges (Council Member), David Rhees (Executive Director of The Bakken Museum)


Administrative Items


Secretary’s Report

  • The minutes of the October WCNC meeting were approved as amended: will include WCNC letter regarding our position on Southwest Transitway.


       Treasurer’s Report

  • Barb Stevens reported $4,364.54 in NRP account.  She has paid the bills for the October newsletter.  She will talk to Carsten about NRP reimbursement requests that still need to be submitted.


Monthly Updates


Council Member comments

  • Council Member Betsy Hodges announced that she was re-elected as Ward 13 Council Member.
  • RCV went smoothly in Minneapolis.  Some hand counting was necessary.  Ward 13 was the first to be counted.  
  • Brad Bourn is likely to win the District 6 Park Board Commissioner seat.  
  • Dec. 7 will be the final vote on the annual City budget.  
  • The trial regarding the City pension issue has been completed.  The court found in the City’s favor on the major points.  They ruled that the funds have been overpaying benefits.  The judge will make final rulings and remedies.
  • Mari Taffe expressed that WCNC wants to add value to the process and be proactive regarding the proposed Midtown Greenway rezoning.  Betsy said that our letter was a good start and that she will be an advocate for us.


Lakes District Council Update/MPRB
  • Barb attended the October 22 Lakes District Council meeting.
  • Sergeant Fred McCormick of the Park Police spoke at the meeting about keeping crime down this summer.  
  • Matt Perry talked about the Lake Harriet CAC process and recording input.
  • Next meeting is in late January.  Barb plans to attend.


Midtown Greenway Coalition

  • No updates.  Next meeting is in the beginning of December.


       Board Member Updates

  • A motion was made by Michael Wagner to appoint David Rhees as an interim Board member to serve until the next WCNC Board election at the May annual meeting.  Barb seconded the motion.  The motion carried.
  • George Effrem has resigned from the Board.
  • This is Mari Taffe’s last meeting.  Michael Wagner will step in as Acting Chair going forward.
  • David Rhees stated that he would like to help with recruitment to the Board.  A full WCNC Board has 9 members.  We can add 6 more people.
  • Betsy said she could look at her campaign notes to find possible Board candidates in West Calhoun.  
  • We will consider doing the neighborhood postcard suggested by Thad at and follow up with door knocking in the spring (perhaps April/May).  The postcard could highlight some neighborhood businesses.  
  • December Board meeting:  We will meet at 6:30 p.m. at The Bakken Museum for the Board meeting.  The holiday party will follow at 7:00 p.m. at The Bakken Evening Out.


Southwest Transitway Presentation – Community Meeting

Presentation by Gail Dorfman (Hennepin County Commissioner) with Kathie Doty (Consultant) and Adele Hall (Transit Planner)


  • The SW Transitway planning process began 8 years ago.  They have looked at 35 possible alignments.  The projected date for opening is 2015/2016.
  • Commissioner Dorfmain explained the proposed trail alignment (3A).  The goal for the SW LRT is that it will be seamless with Central, Downtown.  The SW train becomes the Central train and you can also transfer there to Hiawatha.
  • She stated that there are “fatal flaws” with Ralph Remington’s proposed alignment.  It would cost $600,000 more to build and 4 million more to operate.  Uptown and Midtown are already served by a vibrant transit system.  It doesn’t make sense to duplicate existing systems. The Nicollet Avenue part of the route required a tunnel.
  • On the Kenilworth alignment, the freight rail will get bumped.  
  • Near the Cedar Shore Town homes, the Kenilworth corridor is most narrow, which makes it a more challenging site.  One option may be to use a single track in that area.
  • Commissioner Dorfman said that she would be meeting with the Lake City Town Homes, located 50 feet from the proposed West Lake Station.  Residents at Lake City don’t want to be barricaded.  They want good access to Lake Calhoun.  It was suggested to go underground, but that is expensive.
  • 30% of the budget is for mitigation.  Residents are concerned about light coming from the station.
  • The SW LRT and the proposed streetcar on the Midtown Greenway corridor (to Hiawatha) would intersect at the West Lake Station.
  • Station planning will begin early next year.  Hennepin County owns the property immediately behind Whole Foods.     
  • A Park & Ride is still being considered.  Council Member Betsy Hodges commented that people will either park in a Park & Ride or on our streets.  A Metro Transit survey found that 75% of cars at the Hiawatha station were from a 10-block radius from the station.
  • Steve Ocvirek, manager of the Calhoun Towers, said that his residents’ number one concern is how they going to get out onto Excelsior Blvd. It’s already very difficult. Traffic backs up at 32nd and Excelsior. Commissioner Dorfman responded that they would be doing a very broad look at transportation impacts, including the Lake Street Bridge and possibly bringing it down to grade.  Minnetonka Blvd., Lake St. and Excelsior are county roads.  
  • Concerns were expressed about how folks would access the West Lake station from Calhoun Village.  Traffic gets backed up all the way to Highway 100 during rush hour in that area.  It’s a huge bottleneck.
  • Commissioner Dorfman said that they will be coming out to meet with us to discuss the areas where we have issues.
  • Freight rail will be bumped to St. Louis Park – which would increase the trains there.
  • The alignment decision will go the Met Council in January/February.  The draft Environmental Impact statement will be in the next year and a half.  We have 1-1/2 years to figure out the design, station location and mitigation.
  • Michael Wagner stated that WCNC wants to have an impact on the station planning and how it looks.  West Calhoun would like to be the gateway into the City of Minneapolis.
  • Regarding the streetcar alignment on the Midtown Greenway, they are working with someone at the Humphrey Institute to find out how to fund it as a city/county partnership.  This will require grassroots organizing to make it happen.
  • Kathie Doty is the point person for outreach.  
  • Regarding station planning, they will be issuing an RFP early next year for station planning in the City of Minneapolis.  The timeline is to submit the RFP in December/January and hire the consultant in February.  
  • Commissioner Dorfman stated that they will design the station the way we want it.  They will involve city staff, business owners and neighbors in the planning process.  The suburban station planning focus was on how to grow development.   It won’t be the same focus in the City.  
  • Two questions that need to be considered are 1) “Where do you want people to park?” and 2) “What is the number of designated spaces?”  City policy is that there are no Park & Rides in the City, but this is a policy, not a law.  
  • Commissioner Dorfman toured San Diego where high-end condos were located right on the track.  It added value to the homes because of access to transit.
  • Residents wonder hat will happen to the property values of homes right on the LRT?   Do people really want to live near it?
  • David Rhees suggested having a rent-a-bike at the station.
  • Mari Taffe stated that WCNC wants to improve pedestrian/bike access to Lake Calhoun to ensure that there’s a safe way to get to the lake.
  • Tim Springer of the Midtown Greenway Coalition would like to work with us on planning for the SW LRT.  Michael Wagner, WCNC Acting Chair, is on the MGC Board as WCNC’s representative.
  • Katie Walker can respond to more technical questions.  The design process for the station will look at access and circulation for a ½ mile radius for bikes, pedestrians, and a potential Park and Ride or Kiss and Ride.  


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


The next WCNC Board meeting will be held Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at The Bakken Museum, starting at 6:30 p.m.  The Holiday party will begin at 7 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Rhea Sullivan

WCNC Coordinator