I only caught part of the MPRB meeting tonight but that section included, incredibly, a committee considering shutting down the Stone Arch Bridge and W River Road (the plank road), just south of the old Whitney Hotel, to the public for private rentals at a rate of $1000-$1500. Not sure how much time the fee covers. Also, from what I saw, rental of these spaces would not be available to local residents, especially not for weddings, nor local businesses, unions or clubs except for the Mill City Museum (MHS). Rental of these sites would be open to conventions - and staff was working with GMVCA. During rentals, a pedestrian path would remain open for bikers, runners, walkers, tourists, guided tours, trolleys?, etc.

Staff has already chosen a private caterer to initially receive an exclusive three year trial contract to cater all events on the Stone Arch Bridge and the Plank/W River Road. When asked if this was a no-bid contract, staff sort of dodged the answer but said that staff prefers that only a single caterer receive the contract.

Comm. Young sought to clarify and amend the staff proposal. She was shut down with an accusation of micromanagement. Comm. Erwin opposed the proposal. This proposal passed out of committee with Young and Erwin opposed and Berry Graves, Dziedzic, and Hauser in favor. I believe the proposal will go before full MPRB board at the next meeting.

Some commissioner suggested contacting immediate neighbors about this proposal. That suggestion went nowhere. I don't recall any commissioners insisting that the proposal be submitted to local neighborhood groups, or advertised, or to be reviewed by a CAC. (I suggest that changing these sites from transportation and/or historic preservation/interpretation to shutting out the general public so as to assist the GMVCA with recruiting conventions is a major shift in use - one that requires reviews of earlier contracts with grantors who provided development funds for the Stone Arch and West River Road, so a citizen study/review committee seems in order.) Since I only saw a portion of the MPRB meeting without my full attention, I welcome corrections and clarification.

Shawne FitzGerald

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