May 14, 2013 Minutes

West Calhoun Neighborhood Council Board Meeting Minutes
Annual Meeting  – 5:30 p.m., Bakken Museum

Board Members:  Kathy Cobb, Meg Forney, Ian Kees, Gary Knutson, Richard Logan, David Rhees, Aaron Shaffer, Mary Underwood, John Abraham-Watne.  Staff:  Rhea Sullivan.  In attendance:  Jeff Peltola, Carol Logan, Jay Mutschler, Jenny Mutschler, Josh Neiman, Linea Palmisano, Haydee D. Peterson, Thatcher Imboden, George Effrem, Jon Fagerson, Sophia Ginis, Bruce Chamberlain, Mike Wilson

Secretary’s Report:  The April minutes were approved as read.

Treasurer’s Report:  Treasurer John Abraham-Watne reported that there is a $14,045.27 balance in the NCEC account and a $562.93 balance in the NRP account.  

Reschedule Earth Day:  David Rhees proposed a weekday clean up in the late afternoon.  Kathy Cobb suggested an August clean up, since we have no meeting that month.  Meg suggested that we contact the Park Board to see if there’s something we could do to help in August, e.g., buckthorn removal or other project.  Rhea is charged with contacting the Park Board to find out if there’s something we could do to help in August.  We will set a date later.

Board Elections:  The current Board members are all willing to serve another term.  The floor was opened up to other potential candidates.  No one expressed interest.  Jeff Peltola moved the slate of nine Board members.  Carol Logan seconded.  The motion carried.  Kathy Cobb, Meg Forney, Ian Keys, Gary Knutson, Richard Logan, David Rhees, Aaron Shaffer, Mary Underwood and John Abraham-Watne were re-elected for another term.  David Rhees mentioned that we could have committees.  Non Board members can participate in committees.  One committee that we currently have is the Edge Business Association.  David mentioned that we may want to update our bylaws at some point.

Retreat:  Our retreat has been rescheduled to Thursday, June 27.  

Metro Transit’s Community Outreach Coordinator for the Southwest LRT Sophia Ginis:  Sophia explained that we are currently in the preliminary engineering phase of the project.  That is where we define the bigger project elements like where the stations are, trail connections, parking near the stations.  Transitional Station Area Action Planning is also going on.  There was an open house on May 2.  

There are 25 technical issues that the project has identified.  One of the issues is the Operations and Maintenance Facility.  They need to find a space.  There were originally 18 sites, 2 were added.  It has now been narrowed down to 7 sites.  There will be several open houses on this topic, all in suburban locations because the 2 Minneapolis sites were not selected.

On June 6 there will be a meeting of the Joint Community Advisory and Business Advisory Committee to discuss co-location and relocation of the freight rail line.  They will be looking at designs for both options.  There will be a community open house at some point following that meeting.  In May/June they will be developing preliminary station designs – looking at the location of the stations and walking routes.  They have learned a lot from committees, open houses, the “walk about” that will help inform the design.  This summer, after all the stations go to advisory committees, they will have more open houses.  The West Lake Station has not been located yet.  It currently takes more than 10 minutes to get from the station area to Lake Calhoun.  The big question is how to get safely to the lake from the station.

David Rhees asked about the funding situation of the project.  Sophia said that they won’t know until the last day of the legislative session.  They are confident it will work out.  They will approach the Federal government in another year.

Good Neighbor Award:  Whole Foods Market generously donated five pizzas for our annual meeting.  The Board moved to give them a Good Neighbor Award in thanks.

MPRB Assistant Superintendent for Planning Bruce Chamberlain:  In October of 2012, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board held the North Calhoun South Lake of the Isles Design Charrette.  This area where the lakes come together has not been addressed in unison for many years.  They invited the community to help understand the values and possibilities.  They are about to go back to the MPRB on June 5 and ask them for next steps over the next several years.  

Bruce showed a PowerPoint presentation of images of the area under consideration.  They have been working with the City and the County about the future of Lake St.    

The core principles are:

  • Respect current uses (like the sailing school)
  • Solve problems (like trail crossings of roadways)
  • Envision a positive inter-relationship between parks and development (for example, the Weisman property, which will likely be developed in the near future)
  • Reweave the landscape (that is sliced in half by transportation corridors)

The goals are:

  • Safe trails and crossings
  • Environmental quality
  • Beautification of Lake St.
  • How to keep the energy and success of the Tin Fish area while reducing the conflict and danger.
  • Support for the sailing school and club
  • Better connections between Calhoun/Greenway/Lake of the Isles
  • Better visitor facilities (e.g. restrooms)

 

Bruce showed several different images of options:

  1. Possibility of moving the sailing school to a different part of the lake.
  2. Reconfiguration of Tin Fish.  Create plaza around Tin Fish, add a new building for the sailing school and keep the beachfront in the same place.
  3. Creating a grade separate bike and pedestrian path.  Create a bike bridge structure that separates uses.
  4. Look at adding beachfront in front of Tin Fish.
  5. Create another bridge across the channel.
  6. New Lake Street bridge.  Shrink traffic lanes and add more space for bikes and pedestrians.
  7. Move the sailing school and club to this side of the lake.  Add picnic pavilion, new boat launch.  Have structured parking lot near the Lake Calhoun Center. Create a street linkage to Market Plaza.  This may be worth exploring.  It would need to be part of a multi-agency approach.
  8. Pedestrian bridge over Lake St.  Take advantage of new development at Weisman property.
  9. Drop Lake Street down.  Take cars underground near Lake of the Isles and up near the Calhoun Beach Club.  Use it as a “lid” or land bridge.
  10. Reduced version of the same idea.  300 ft. land bridge.  Put the Greenway on the bridge.  Create a new visitor facility.  Shared parking with Weisman site.
  11. 150 ft. wide trail crossing over the top of Lake Street.

They have been seriously looking at #10.  Hennepin County is on board.  They need to do a feasibility study.  The Park Board will lead it and will look at the design of Lake Street from East Calhoun Parkway to Dean Parkway.  It was suggested that they expand the study to Market Plaza.  It is currently an issue of funding.  Hennepin County will contribute $50,000-$100,000.  The City probably won’t contribute.  The Park Board will have Regional Park funds to use, but not until July of 2014.  Could also possibly use Legacy funds that are now in the legislature.

Mike Wilson, CIDNA:  Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority owns the Greenway and the Kenilworth Corridor.  The walking paths are considered an interim use.  Co-location of the Southwest Transitway in the Kenilworth Corridor would put 3 tracks in that area – 2 for light rail and one for freight rail.  Mike expressed that they do not want co-location.  Mike also reported on the Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis, which is an effort by Metro Transit to determine the benefits, costs and impacts of implementing a new transitway along either the Midtown Greenway or Lake St. in Minneapolis.  The Community Advisory Council has met twice.  They are considering two options: 1) arterial bus rapid transit on Lake Street and 2) a streetcar on a turf track on the Greenway.  There will be open houses to share the project’s progress with the public on May 21 and 23.  They are still in the data collection phase of the process.

Jeff Peltola – Capstone Video:  Jeff Peltola reviewed the timeline of Capstone projects and showed the new video that summarizes the five Capstone studies.

Thatcher Imboden – Sign variance:  Thatcher Imboden of the Ackerberg Group made a presentation regarding sign variances they are seeking for a new sign at the Lake Calhoun Center.  He said that many people don’t know where the building is.  They want to have an identifiable sign to help mitigate the confusion.  The current sign is 7-feet tall.  They are proposing a freestanding sign that incorporates art.  The sign is inspired by windsurfers.  They are seeking three variances: 1) variance of height from 8 feet to 20 feet, 2) variance to increase the square footage from 32 square feet to 208 square feet, 3) variance of the permitted sign type (monument sign) to a freestanding sign.  The variances will go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on June 6.  The West Calhoun Neighborhood Council voted to not oppose the application for three variances.  Rhea will communicate this to the Planner, Shanna Sether.

Neighborhood Priority Plan Questions:  WCNC has $5,000 set aside for a Neighborhood Priority Plan.  We have agreed to keep asking these questions to get feedback from the community on what improvements the neighborhood would like to see.

  1. If you could change one thing about West Calhoun neighborhood, what would it be?
  2. If WCNC had money to invest in a project in West Calhoun neighborhood, what should they do?

Responses:

  • Eliminate the “Y” intersection
  • Make West Calhoun Parkway safer to cross
  • Better connection from Market Plaza to Lake Calhoun
  • Structured parking ramp at Lake Calhoun Center

The Bakken Update:  David Rhees reported that Nice Ride will install a bike station on West 36th St. near The Bakken’s monument sign.

Next meeting:  Our next meeting will be Tuesday, June 11.  

The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 p.m.