June 14, 2011 Minutes

West Calhoun Neighborhood Council

Minutes: 6/14/11 Meeting


Present:    Kathy Cobb, Gary Knutson, David Rhees (Vice Chair), Rhea Sullivan (Coordinator), Michael Wagner (Chair)


Guests:   Rodgers Adams, Brad Bourn (MPRB Commissioner District 6), Matt Perry


Administrative Items


Secretary’s Report

  • The minutes of the 5/10/2011 meeting were approved as read.


       Treasurer’s Report

  • Seth Doorn was not present.  Reported via emal:  Our NRP funds are at $7,989.12 and we received our NCEC check this month of $4,140, which Seth put in a separate checking account.   Check to Coordinator for $495 for May invoice.


Monthly Updates


Council Member comments

  • Betsy Hodges was not present.


          Midtown Greenway Coalition

  • Seth Doorn was not present.


          Minneapolis SW LRT Coalition – Kathy Cobb

  • Kathy Cobb reported that many neighborhoods are further ahead in thinking about how the SWLRT will affect them.  Other neighborhoods include Harrison, Bryn Mawr, Kenwood and CIDNA.  One neighborhood has done a design charette for the station.  
  • St. Louis Park will hear testimony on the movement of the rail line.  
  • There is a proposal for a resolution not to disrupt the Kenilworth Trail.  
  • There is a lot of development at the Van White station where there will be a maintenance shed for LRT cars.  It’s a wasteland there for people getting on and off the train.


Other Business


        Capstone Traffic Study Follow-up

  • Michael Wagner has drafted thank you notes to Jeff Peltola, Ed Terharr and the students from WCNC.  
  • The SW LRT Stakeholders group met yesterday, on June 13.  Jeff Peltola will be meeting with county and city people about how to implement the short-term elements proposed in the study.  
  • There have recently been traffic counting strips in the neighborhood on Lake St., Excelsior, Market Plaza.  It probably doesn’t have anything to do with the study.  It was likely a coincidence.  


         MRPB District 6 Commissioner, Brad Bourn

  • District 6 Commissioner Brad Bourn introduced himself and reported on the following items:  
    • Speed radar wagon – Commissioner Bourn offered that we could have a speed wagon in the neighborhood again on West Calhoun Parkway.  Gary Knutson felt we don’t need it.  He says that the traffic is slower in the summer and is probably self regulating.
    • Fishing docks – Commissioners Cummer and Bourn were able to negotiate a return of the fishing dock to West Calhoun.  The dock probably won’t be installed until August or September.  
    • Tornado clean-up – MPRB staff have been dedicating time to Tornado clean up on the North side of Minneapolis.  There were $2.9 million in park-related damages.  The MPRB has committed to divert 2012 tree planting to North Minneapolis.  They will plant next spring.  FEMA approved relief for private property damage.  
    • Budget – The MPRB receives 10% of its budget from State funds.  LGA will likely be reduced or cut entirely.  State parks will be closed in the event of a government shutdown.  That will mean a huge increase in use of regional parks.  
    • MPRB restructuring – There was a huge restructuring of the MPRB this past year.  They established neighborhood Community Service Areas.
    • Projects Commissioner Bourn is working on:
      • Low maintenance and low cost recreational opportunities like fishing docks and swim docks.
      • Updating swimming regulations – Open swimming, swim lanes at North beach.  
      • Recreational community building- Like Dodgeball tournament that was held this spring.  Perhaps beach volleyball would entice West Calhoun folks?
      • Working with the Minnesota Twins and Comcast re: live broadcast of Twins games at Movies in the Parks
    • Volunteerism – Finding meaningful volunteers opportunities for people.
    • Greening Initiatives – Impact of bottled beverages and waste.  MPRB just started a Greening Committee, including solar heaters and Zero Waste events at Lake Harriet (working with Bread & Pickle owner Kim Bartmann.)
    • Charitable giving – Small donation opportunities like $1 donation at Tin Fish to help remove milfoil.  Also working to standardize how the MPRB receives gifts.  Also standardizing how businesses are recognized at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.  
  • Potential renaming of Lake Calhoun – The MPRB received a petition to rename Lake Calhoun as Lake Humphrey because of Calhoun’s stance on slavery and cessation from the Union.  A legal opinion was made by the MPRB Attorney that the MPRB does not have the right to change the name of a lake, but could rename a park.  It would require a legislative waiver to rename.  The MPRB has a process for responding to petitions.  The petitioner could try a ballot petition to let the matter be decided by voters or could seek a legislative waiver.   Michael noted that it is a good opportunity to educate people about who John C. Calhoun was.  Gary Knutson read letters from other West Calhoun residents supporting keeping the name the same and noted facts about Calhoun.  WCNC will not take a position on this issue at this time.  Brad Bourn will keep us informed if there are further developments regarding the proposed renaming.
  • David Rhees announced that The Bakken Museum is forming a partnership with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.  He asked for contacts at the MPRB about environmental issues.


      August WCNC meeting

  • The Board voted to cancel the August 2012 WCNC Board meeting.  Rhea will post the change on the website, include in the July eblast and notify Betsy Hodges, Rodgers Adams and Matt Perry.


     3100 Excelsior Blvd.

  • Michael Wagner reported that construction is in progress at 3100 Excelsior Blvd., the previous site of Boulevard Gardens.  They have tenants and will be announcing them in a few weeks.  The new Project Manager would be willing to come to our meeting.


      Zoning Variance Issues

  • 3408 Zenith – John & Margarita Johannson are seeking a Steep Slope Variance in the Shoreland Overlay district in order rebuild their garage at 3408 Zenith.  David Rhees walked to the site.  It’s a new home with new excavation.  New structure will match the existing footprint.   It’s on a steep slope so it’s part of the Shore Land Overlay District that’s designed to prevent people from building near waterways on steep slopes because the runoff will drain into the nearby waterway.  The consensus of the Board was that the structure probably won’t be seen from the street.
  • Minikahda Club (3205 Excelsior Blvd. & 3241 Zenith Ave. S.) – Scott Newland of Newland Architecture, on behalf of the Minikahda Club, has applied for a variance to allow for development, including a new accessory structure, site grading, landscaping, tree removal and new tree plantings on or within 40 feet of the top of a steep slope.  This property is also part of the Shoreland Overlay District.  Public hearing will be June 30.  Neighbors within 50 feet will be notified.  It was also felt that the new structure won’t be seen from street level.  
  • Matt Perry said that neighborhood associations  can have a value add to the zoning process in terms of whether a proposed structure fits within the character of the neighborhood.  Matt sits on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, which considers variances, non-conforming rights and disputes regarding the way the city Zoning Code is being interpreted.  The Planning Commission oversees larger projects, road vacations and lot splits.


     SW LRT Stakeholders Group/Starting a Business Association

  • The last SW LRT Stakeholders Group meeting was held yesterday, June 13.  Brenda Thomas from Doran Properties and Jack Pfaff attended the last meeting.   We have been encouraged by property owners attending the meetings.
  • A letter will be drafted from the SW LRT Stakeholders group to Betsy Hodges and Gail Dorfman (with many cc’s) to thank them for attending the Capstone Project Final presentation at the WCNC Board meeting and CIDNA Board meeting, respectively.  The hope is that this will help encourage the City and County to move forward to make the short term recommendations from the Capstone report.  Thank you notes will also be written to Jeff Peltola, Ed Terharr and the students from the Stakeholders group.  
  • Meg Forney, Kathy Cobb and Rhea Sullivan have been working toward starting a business association in the neighborhood.  They propose that the next SW LRT Stakeholders Group meeting be a brainstorming session to help develop a cohesive identify for the businesses on both sides of Lake Street working with &Partners.  The Board voted to allocate $800 in Community Participation Program funds for the brainstorming effort, pending Robert Thompson’s approval.  Rhea will contact Robert Thompson.  (Note: Robert Thompson approved the strategy because it fits with our CPP plan.)
  • The hope is that organizing businesses will help the area have more political clout.  We are hoping that the brainstorming effort with act as a hook to get businesses involved in starting the new business association and help us create a brand identity for the area like Uptown, Eat Street and 50th & France all have unique identities.


     Community Participation Program

  • The Board reviewed our CPP application.  We stated in our CPP application that we are going to coordinate a neighborhood event.   Rhea suggested that we consider having a neighborhood picnic.  The Board agreed to schedule a September neighborhood picnic.  We will coordinate details at the July WCNC meeting.

      Officer Elections

  • A slate of new officers were elected to serve for the next year:  Chair – Michael Wagner, Vice Chair – David Rhees and Treasurer – Seth Doorn.  Rhea will notify Seth.


The meeting was adjourned at 7:10 p.m.


The next WCNC Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 12 at The Bakken Museum at 5:30 p.m.  


Respectfully submitted,


Rhea Sullivan, WCNC Coordinator