Nov. 19 meeting
The City Council voted unanimously to hire Minneapolis-based architecture firm Oslund and Associates to redevelop Peavey Plaza, the public park next to Orchestra Hall Downtown.
The much-anticipated project, estimated at $5 million, is planned in conjunction with a $45 million renovation of Orchestra Hall. A design for the plaza will be complete in June and construction is expected to start in the spring of 2012. A grand opening is planned for the summer of 2013.
Oslund and Associates was selected based on the quality of its previous projects including Gold Medal Park and Target Plaza. The firm beat out three other finalists chosen from a pool of nine applicants from throughout the nation.
“We saw in the interviews we conducted an enormous amount of support for Orchestra Hall’s vision to do a project that would improve the facility and bring the plaza into the 21st century,” said City Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward).
She said the plaza’s revitalization is important for the entire city.
“Peavey plaza is everyone’s backyard in very many ways,” Goodman said. “And everyone from Council Member [Meg] Tuthill to Council Member [Kevin] Reich have told me stories of how Peavey Plaza is important to them and they don’t live anywhere near it.”
Vote delayed on fine increase for unlicensed pets
A proposal to increase the fine for unlicensed dogs and cats from $100 to $200 will go back to the Minneapolis City Council’s Public Safety and Health Committee for further review.
The full council was set to vote on the change at its Nov. 19 meeting, but Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) requested at the Committee of the Whole meeting a day earlier that it be reviewed further. The council voted unanimously to send it back to committee.
Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC) proposed the fine increase in October based on the recommendation of an advisory board made up of local animal professionals and owners. The hope was that it would boost the city’s low number of licensed pets.
Goodman was in favor of the increased fine, but she suggested that a lower license fee might also help. She said the $30 base price for licensing a dog or cat is a barrier to some people, especially when some neighboring suburbs are moving away from pet licensing.
But a potential problem is that MACC depends on pet licenses to fund its animal-care services, along with revenue from the city’s general fund. MACC leaders had hoped that increased licensing would eventually lead to more self-sustainability. Council Member Cam Gordon (2nd Ward) wondered if lowering the license price would take away from that goal.
Goodman said she considered that issue, but suggested that cheaper licenses coupled with stiff enforcement could build the number of licensed pets enough to avoid losing revenue.
“If we in fact did enforce the fine and allowed [ticketed pet owners] to license as part of the fine, we might even end up that it’s revenue-positive in the end,” she said.
Goodman proposed reducing the base license price from $30 to around $20, though she said she’d go as low as $10.
Another pet-license change did move forward. The council approved replacing the city’s annual pet license, which expires in January no matter when it is purchased, with a license good for 12 months from the day it is bought. Goodman proposed that change to make the license process more user friendly.
As of this year, only 11,375 of the city’s estimated 110,000 dogs and 125,000 cats are licensed; just 5 percent. MACC hopes to have 18,000 pets licensed within the next two years and reach 47,000 within seven years.
Pet licensing allows the city to track the dog and cat population, return lost pets and pay for shelter and animal-care services.