Letters to the editor

Transformation will take time 

As a co-founder of Park Watch, I read with interest the February 20 article about employee criticisms of the the Park Board.  Yes, we have also been aware of  MPRB employee dissatisfaction; but, as quoted inSuperintendent Miller’s memo to employees, "many of the deficiencies and issues noted are not new but have been present for years."

In the years prior to Superintendent Miller’s arrival, there were many stories about long time employees who mysteriously disappeared from their positions at the Park Board.  There is the one story about an employee who simply went in on a weekend, emptied his/her desk and resigned.

The current administration inherited a dysfunctional organization that was known for its tactics of intimidation and retaliation.  As for Commissioner Bob Fine’s comment that Superintendent Miller’s memo "unfairly places the blame on former Superintendent Jon Gurban,"  I refer readers to a City Pages article entitled "Angry Management" that was extremely critical of the former superintendent.   The March 3, 2010 article can be found on the Park Watch website   www.mplsparkwatch.org.  This is the first paragraph of the article:

"When the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted last month not to rehire its top employee, park superintendent Jon Gurban, it marked the beginning of the end for one of the city’s most controversial public officials. For six years, Gurban has kept the park board in near-constant tumult, drawing fire from critics for an inexplicable inability to work with the public and a hair-trigger temper that has made him the first target of anyone hoping to see change in the park board."

Radical change does not happen overnight; we have observed recent staff hirings that indicate Superintendent Miller is serious about her role in transforming the Park Board.  

We believe that her contracting with a consulting firm to conduct an organizational analysis of the MPRB demonstrates her intention to foster positive changes within the Park Board and the community it serves by implementing a proactive strategy to address and resolve long-standing problems.

Arlene Fried
Co-founder of Park Watch
www.mplsparkwatch.org

 

 

Hypocrisy in Linden Hills

I have a small comment to make about the Linden Corner controversy.

I originally sided with the anti-development group, since I agree that the project is so obviously out of scale with the neighborhood. It was interesting to see the movement gain momentum, and “It takes a village” signs appear on lawns across the neighborhood. Then a funny thing happened. I started seeing those signs posted in front of a number of prominent, recently-built McMansions — you know, the houses that are ridiculously out of scale with the neighborhood. At first I thought it might have been a prank, but now I think that these people are honest hypocrites. They can build or purchase a newly-built monstrosity that makes their neighbor’s houses look dinky, blocks out the light, and ruins the aesthetic fabric of their block, but God forbid someone should want to do exactly that at 43rd and Upton.

I still object to Linden Corner, though I think that redeveloping that corner is a marvelous idea and a slightly smaller or reconfigured development would work well there, just like many of the new houses in the neighborhood that show a little more restraint in their square footage. But in terms of the organized campaign against Linden Corner, I am not at all comfortable with my bedfellows, and I will have to raise my objections alone.

Paul Mattes
Linden Hills

———

Stay on the right path

This winter has given me more opportunities than usual to ride my bike around Lake Harriet and each time I go, I get home frustrated. Pedestrians, joggers, and dog walkers have taken over the bike path and do not yield to bikers. Since the paths are separated for the safety and enjoyment of everyone, those people need to remember to use their own path to use and let the bike riders use the path that is designated for bikes.

Melissa Waskiewicz
Tangletown

———

Annoyed by Ticketmaster fees

As a season ticket holder for the Twins, I’ve always been able to decide what I wanted to do with each ticket. I attend many games, but I also enjoy giving tickets to my friends and family as gifts, or selling individual tickets to offset the cost of the season package.  

I like owning my season tickets, and I don’t want to pay Ticketmaster another fee just because I decide to give some away. I applaud the Legislature for addressing this issue.

Jeff Wood
Stevens Square-Loring Heights

Letters to the editor

Streetcars don’t make sense

It seems that in every issue of the Southwest Journal, there is some reference to attempts to establish a streetcar line. Recently there was an article about Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street. 

I would like to know when the people of Minneapolis are going to realize that streetcars are outdated  technology and no longer suitable for a modern city. If they want streetcars, then of course they should be horse-drawn streetcars. And we must need stagecoaches too. And with all the unemployed people in the area, why not sedan chairs so the politicians and business leaders may be moved around in style.

No one seems to remember the days when we did have streetcars, and their tracks raised havoc with bicycles, cars and other users of the streets. The salt used to keep the rails and switches open damaged the pavement and ran off into the lakes and creeks. Any pile of snow on the side made the street unusable for other traffic and sometimes even the streetcars. Any disruption of the streetcars blocked all traffic behind them and they had no way to go around something like fire hoses, damaged bridges, accidents, or any other emergency. Ice on the wires or rails could cut out their power as it has with the light rail line. Streetcars are also more dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists than are buses or cars. Streetcars are only suitable for nostalgic displays like the Como-Harriet Line and for model railroad layouts.

Another frustration about talk of streetcars and other public transit is that politicians are constantly calling for lower fares for everyone, thereby increasing tax subsidies when we are already overtaxed. The Hiawatha line has artificially elevated ridership claims because the fare is far too low and doesn’t begin to cover operating costs.  

There is no reason the bulk of riders should have subsidized fares when only a few people have a legitimate need for relief.  There is no reason that riders to games should have free or subsidized fares.

The problems with streetcars also apply to most other forms of passenger rail lines. Fixed rails simply don’t have the flexibility of buses, cars, and airplanes and cannot adapt to changes in the habits of their customers. Fixed rail provides a handy target for terrorists and criminals. Fixed rail works for freight because people don’t expect fast service for freight and rail is more efficient for these slower and heavier loads. Even then, barges are usually even more efficient.  

John Zimmerschied
Linden Hills

———

Linden Corner plan not sustainable

Maggie Koerth-Baker’s recent letter of support for Linden Corner misrepresents the views of many people who oppose the proposed development. No one is making a case for single-story, single-use construction at the corner of 43rd and Upton. But many people are making the case against the size and scale of the proposed building, because it just doesn’t fit in the neighborhood. It’s too big. The project would combine five lots and build five stories — not to promote sustainability — but to build a sufficient number of luxury condominiums in order to maximize the value of the property to the developer, at great cost to the community.

Many residents of Linden Hills cherish living in a rare village-like neighborhood within the city limits of Minneapolis. Sustainability is very important to many of us, whether supporters or opponents of the project. Wise development at the corner of 43rd and Upton could provide a great opportunity for increased density and sustainability through a three-story building that fits within current zoning restrictions and guidelines that Linden Hills residents worked hard to help create. Linden Corner does not constitute sustainable or smart growth, because it would overwhelm the area, disrupt traffic and parking and set a precedent that would in effect change the zoning for the heart of our business district. Orderly growth respects and protects the unique character of the community and builds on neighborhood strengths to benefit people, not just the developer.

Theresa Schlack
Linden Hills

———

Five stories is too tall

We have heard from many hopefully well-intentioned people about the Linden Corner project. The simple fact for me is to stand on the sidewalk at the corner of 43rd and Upton and look at the flower shop and count the stories. Then look at the proposed site and count up five stories.  

If you think it is out of context for the neighborhood, you will see why it was zoned for three stories in the first place. I would support a three-story development, but five stories is overwhelming.

Tom Keith
Linden Hills

———

Annoyed by Linden Hills’ drama  

I am not sure who is more self-righteous — the developer or the Linden Hills activists who want to stop the development of the Famous Dave’s property. It’s clear to me that the Famous Dave’s property is an eyesore and needs to be replaced. I agree with Maggie Koerth-Baker’s [recent letter to the editor].  

I hope the activists are open minded enough to read Maggie’s learned opinion, but probably not.

Linden Hills has the reputation it does. We all know what that is because of limousine liberals like them. Are these activists the same ones who wanted to keep a good business and wonderful addition to the community — Settergren’s hardware — out of the neighborhood? You bet. Nothing worse than a closed-minded liberal unless you are a money grubbing developer.

James Crue
Linden Hills

———

An ‘overlooked issue’ in Linden Corner debate

While many have focused on the overwhelming height and mass of the proposed Linden Corner, a very important issue in the developer’s proposal has been overlooked — the request to vacate the 43rd and Upton pocket park. This public space was earned by hard work between the City of Minneapolis and residents, and has been a highly successful endeavor, becoming the focal point of our commercial node. One has only to experience a holiday event here, or a relaxing break after shopping, to value the contribution this space makes to the community.

The developer has proposed to move the park to land that is already in the public right of way — land we as residents already have a right to and use as a garden space. The net result would be a significant loss of valuable green space. The developer’s pocket park would be inferior, jutting out to the street, with no sidewalk buffer. It would be exposed to traffic from Sheridan and traffic exiting from the new building on Upton. Neighbors would face inward and no longer have the experience of open views of all corners.

Maintenance and control of this space is problematic. The current park is maintained by local businesses, a group who also represents residents. The developer has requested that the park be maintained solely by the development. This type of arrangement is tied to the title of the property, so it is easy to see how our public area could easily come to be viewed as “Linden Corner” green space.

The Minneapolis Public Works department has denied the developer’s request to vacate, citing safety and maintenance concerns with the new location.

It’s time to step back and honestly examine the need for this developer to absorb every possible square foot of space at this corner. Density does not have to come at the expense of precious community green space. It’s time do what’s right for the Linden Hills community and respect the previous work and effort by neighbors that helped make Linden Hills the desirable and successful place it is.

Sara Schumacher
Linden Hills