September 10, 2013 Minutes

West Calhoun Neighborhood Council Board Meeting Minutes
September 10, 2013 – 5:30 p.m., Bakken Museum

Board Members:  Meg Forney, Ian Kees, Gary Knutson, Richard Logan, David Rhees, Mary Underwood, John Abraham-Watne.  Staff:  Rhea Sullivan.  In attendance:  Stephen Wilson, Tim Springer, Jeff Peltola, Jack Whitehurst, Haydee Peterson

Secretary’s Report:  Rhea reported that the Attorney General’s report was accepted.  We had initially forgotten to send the Federal tax e-postcard with the report, so it was sent after the fact.  There was a $50 fine.  The Board approved the July 9 minutes as read.  We also discussed a Fall newsletter.  David and Rhea will draft a list of articles.  We should include the Ward 13 Candidate Forum and results from our upcoming retreat.   

Treasurer’s Report:  Treasurer John Abraham-Watne reported that there is a $10,731.20 balance in the NCEC account and a $1,562.93 balance in the NRP account.  

Tim Springer (Minneapolis Energy Options volunteer):  Minneapolis Energy Options is advocating for a municipal utility in Minneapolis.  Their goal is to create a utility that maintains or improves affordability, reliability, clean energy and local energy.  The City Council recently adopted a framework for renewing the franchise agreements with Centerpoint and Xcel Energy.  The City Council also authorized $250,000 for a Pathways study to look at legal options and to sketch in how it could serve the needs of Minneapolis energy customers as a municipal utility.  Minneapolis Energy Options will watch the City’s Pathways study and will serve as a watch dog and a team member.  The study is due to be finished in February 2014.  There needs to be voter authorization to form a municipal utility, so the issue would have to go on the ballot if it is to become a reality.  One major goal of a municipal utility would be to wean the City off of fossil fuels.  

Stephen Wilson (Xcel Energy):  Stephen maintained that Xcel is working to wean off of fossil fuels.  The current coal mix is at 36%; it was 55% five years ago.  They are also adding more renewable energy.  Wind is currently at 11-14%.  He spoke about the Minnesota Resource Plan.  The goal of the plan is to provide economical, fuel efficient, environmentally friendly and least cost energy.  There are currently 130-150 municipal utilities in Minnesota, most of which began before World War II.  Most are in small towns.  That is very different than the 3.5 million customers in the Metro area.  Stephen said that Xcel’s rates are 10% below the national average.  One benefit of the current situation is that it has made people more educated about energy.  David Rhees expressed an interest in seeing the letter from Xcel to the Mayor.  

Jack Whitehurst (Neighborhood and Community Relations):  Jack Whitehurst was present at the meeting to address our questions about changing our Phase I NRP Plan.  He explained the plan modification process.  21-day notification in required to those affected in plan changes of $25,000 or under.  Over $25,000 – $100,000 – requires broad notice, but can be approved by the NCR Director.  Brand new strategies need broad notice and need to go before the Policy Board and City Council.  Jack reported that our Phase II allocation is $258,994.  $88,013.88 is frozen, leaving $170,980.72.  70% of Phase II funds have to be used for Housing initiatives.  Housing projects can be anywhere in the City of Minneapolis.  Many neighborhoods have done loan programs.  When we write our Phase II Plan, we want to be sure not to make the language too specific.

SW LRT: The deep tunnel is off the table.  Meg Forney reported that the County has requested an independent contractor to find an alternative for the freight rail.  She may write a letter in support of that.  She will circulate it via email.  

Resignation:  Gary Knutson has resigned from the Board.  Many thanks to Gary for his service on the Board.

Logo Project:  Creation of a new logo for WCNC could be paid for using CPP funds.  Gary likes the Linden Hills logo.  Ian will forward him the contact information for the designer.

Ward 13 Candidate Forum:  Linden Hills is planning a Ward 13 Candidate Forum and is looking for partners to help.  The Board voted to participate in the Candidate Forum.  Rhea will contact Beth Forsythe and move forward with planning.

Retreat Agenda:  The Board reviewed the proposed retreat agenda.  The only change is to take off “launch with joint 13th Ward Candidate forum.”

Access Point Sign:  Mary Underwood reported about the damaged sign at the Access Point park.  It has graffiti on it and needs new plexiglas.  Mary called the City’s Graffiti Hotline number and they assured her that the graffiti will be taken care of.  The Board talked about repairing the sign.  Meg suggested that the Midtown Greenway Coalition help with the sign.  Mary said she will also mention it to Katie Eiser from Whole Foods this weekend because Whole Foods helped fund the original sign.  Mary and John will continue to work on this.

Midtown Greenway Clean Up September 14:  Mary connected with Katie Eiser at Whole Foods.  There are currently 7 people signed up.  Richard Logan volunteered to bring Caribou Coffee if Katie can bring a table.  The clean up starts at 10:00 a.m. at the Greenway access point behind Punch Pizza.  Lunch will be from 12-1 p.m. at Whole Foods.  

Other Business:  We invited Peter Wagenius, Mayor Rybak’s Policy Aide, to attend our meeting to talk about SW LRT.  He has not responded to Rhea’s email or phone call.  Meg reminded us that a big administrative change is coming after the election.  

Richard asked that we post links to Xcel and Minneapolis Energy Options information on our website.  

Next meeting:  Our next meeting will be Tuesday, October 8.  

The meeting was adjourned at 7:02 p.m.