Southwest LRT: Conflict of Interest

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) purchased 17 acres of land across the street from the proposed Southwest LRT station at Blake Road. The land deal was brokered in 2011 for $15 million for redevelopment investment, storm water storage and Minnehaha Creek restoration. Normally the last process hurtle before shovels break the soil is a watershed district permit. Odds are the appointed MCWD Board of Managers would vote to permit SWLRT construction. When developers take over a watershed the mandate to protect the water commons is compromised. Continue Reading

Southwest LRT: The New/Old Plan

Southwest LRT proponents are meeting to reduce a $341 million “funding gap” to curb the $2 billion estimated cost of the most expensive public works project ever proposed in Minnesota. The rush is on. Deadline for completing a money package for federal congressional approval for this cycle of funding is August 3. NO NEW CONSENT PROCESS FOR MINNEAPOLIS: The old plan is the new plan minus one suburban station, deferring another and slashing frills like landscaping, public art and reducing suburban park-and-rides. To avoid triggering another contentious consent process in Minneapolis the under-populated stations at 21st Street and Penn Avenue must remain. Continue Reading

Appointed Officials Set to Okay Illegal Project

Two sets of appointed officials are lined up to okay a project that explicitly violates the law. The Metropolitan Council is promoting sewer replacement construction that contravenes the Coldwater protection law by threatening the flow to this 10,000 year old spring.The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is set to permit the project with assurances about “contingency plans” for unforeseen circumstances, “restoring” Coldwater Springs after “temporary” dewatering, and orders to monitor the spring daily during the 2-year construction project.   Take action. Ask that sewer construction be redesigned to the location of the current pipe without tearing up the north end of Minnehaha Park and threatening the flow to Coldwater Springs: Adam Duininck, Chair, Metropolitan Council, 651-602-1390 or Lars Erdahl, Administrator, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, 952-641-4505 or  National Park Service, 651-290-4160 or (follow prompts) THE LAW  Section 1.  [PROTECTION OF NATURAL FLOW.] Neither the state, nor a unit of metropolitan government, nor a political subdivision of the state may take any action that may diminish the flow of water to or from Camp Coldwater Springs.  All projects must be reviewed under the Minnesota Historic Sites Act and the Minnesota Field Archaeology Act with regard to the flow of water to or from Camp Coldwater Springs. (passed in 2001) The language of the law is specific, forbidding “any action that may diminish the flow.” Not “temporary” dewatering, not permanent dewatering—no “action that may diminish.” The language of the contingency planning (below) is slippery. Coldwater is the last major natural spring in Hennepin County, is where the soldiers who built Fort Snelling lived (1820-23) and where a civilian pioneer community gathered to service the fort. Continue Reading

DEWATERING the CHAIN of LAKES: Can Calhoun Recover?

The federal funding formula for the proposed Southwest LRT could require almost a billion in Minnesota money. Met Council and Hennepin County Commission estimates assumed a 50-50 split in the $1.65-billion-plus projected budget. However the new recipe looks more like 40-percent federal money, 60-percent state and local.The long-planned but constantly morphing SWLRT, with a “shallow” tunnel in the Chain of Lakes corridor, is the priciest public works project ever proposed in Minnesota. According to Met Council studies the cut-and-cover tunnel plan would dewater about 24,000 gallons of groundwater per day between Cedar, Lake of the Isles and Calhoun. Now a new plan for a “push through” tunnel is being researched but the Environmental Impact Statement is incomplete. Continue Reading

Southwest LRT Threatens the “City of Lakes”

“Despicable” Congressman Martin Sabo called the Southwest LRT plan sold to the public as equity for the North Side. Industrial west Minneapolis is the closest the proposed route would come to the North Side with connector buses and heated bus shelters not included in LRT funding but offered as a possible side agreement. This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.”The current SWLRT includes no mention of equity,” Michale McDowell, transit organizer for Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, writes in Insight News (7/21/14).The jobs overture has propelled dozens of black leaders to attend hearing after hearing to urge officials to make good the hard fought equity proposals that exist on paper like so many Indian treaties. It is sweet propaganda for minorities who are finally included in auxiliary documents and attractive to guilt-driven liberals forced to acknowledge heretofore discounted populations of people of color.”Equity” is a campaign sponsored by developers who fund politicians in an election year championing constant growth and $850-million in federal matching grants. Whether it’s local or federal, it’s all people’s tax money. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Constant growth–the cancer model: Southwest LRT v. democracy

I can’t help thinking about the easiest, cheapest, action to mitigate climate change: plant trees.We would lose 10,000 inner city trees with the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit shallow tunnels plan through the Cedar Lake Park and Kenilworth bike trails. In the current but ever-morphing Met Council plan only 480 “significant” trees would be cut—the largest trees.The other almost 90 percent of the vegetation is “not significant.” In Met Council/Hennepin County Commission SWLRT development plans, not all trees or people count equally.The Equity SellMartin Sabo, retired 14-term Minneapolis congressman, called a rare press conference (6/19/14) to comment on the propaganda pitch for the SWLRT. They tried “to sell it for a while that this is something that did great things for the North Side, which I thought was just despicable and, frankly, so blatantly untrue it was laughable. It wasn’t designed for that.” The SWLRT was designed “to provide time-saving one-seat rides to people living in suburbs and exurbs,” former state Senator Julie Sabo wrote in Minn Post (4/2/14). Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Cedar lake Threatened by SW LRT

It seems clear that political officials who favor a pair of “shallow tunnels” between Cedar Lake and Isles for the Southwest Light Rail Train are not educated about the threat of reduced recharge to Cedar Lake. Reduced recharge means reduced water quality. I have repeatedly asked at Hennepin County Commission SW LRT meetings for an estimate of the dewatering amount for the proposed construction project and never had my inquiry acknowledged or answered.  Cedar LakeCedar Lake originally emptied to the northeast, into Bassett Creek. During the early 1900s rowboat craze, the Kenilworth Lagoon was dug between Cedar Lake and Isles, reversing the Cedar drainage from Bassett Creek to Minnehaha Creek along the Chain of Lakes. In the mid-1990s, the Seattle-based landscape architects Jones & Jones working on the design for the north part of the Cedar Lake Trail dug and dug but could not find the old northeast outflow path from Cedar Lake. Continue Reading