I'm glad to hear someone else's comments on the Oct. 5 Park Board Meeting. 
It all seemed so incredible that I was beginning to doubt my senses.

Yes, they were talking about renting out the STONE ARCH BRIDGE for maybe 
$1000 - $1500!

Now, being in the business of renting out spaces for events (Van Dusen 
Center, 1900 La Salle in Mpls.), I know at least something about the 
subject. Any of our three buildings rent for $1200 on a Friday or Saturday.

I believe they said an event would require the time of two Park Police. And 
then there's clean-up. Plus the area would likely be shut down for 24 hour 

In other words, they'd be hardpressed to break even at those prices. 

Of course it's the public's resources that they'd be renting out, and likely 
only for big special events like those of the GMVCC that promote Minneapolis.

I didn't realize that the Minneapolis Park System is a service to underwrite 
the efforts of the Convention Center. Silly deluded me.

CM Berry Graves questioned the whole thing, also pointing out that they were 
moving ahead without citizen input. In this case, it affects all the city's 
citizens, plus very specifically the residents along W. River Parkway.

"Don't tell me that ...," she asked repeatedly, as they proceeded with the 
usual modus operandi: staff comes forward with a proposal that presents 
shallow information that only supports a pre-selected course of action.

It's unclear if the staff is running the show by presenting such selective 
info. or whether there are those on the board who are working with them 
and "advisors" from private enterprise.

Staff said one caterer was chosen who offered the largest percentage of 
proceeds. However, that info. is really meaningless without the entire 
context, as 15% of a low cost caterer's proceeds may net significantly lower 
amounts than 10% from a high-end caterer.

Just what criteria and what business analysis is being offered here?

In this day of budget shortfalls, privatization must be considered out of 
necessity. But this rush to privatize our public park resources is being 
handled without any real cost/return analysis, let alone an opportunity for 
the impacted public to weigh in.

I'm so glad that there are these public broadcasts. It means I don't have to 
buy movie tickets to experience incredible chills and absolutely frightening 

Christine Viken
Loring Heights-Stevens Square
On Thu, 06 Oct 2005 02:35:55 -0500, Shawne FitzGerald wrote
> 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
> Powderhorn
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