• 25Oct

    So I requested data on how the new alcohol policy has affected public safety in Kutzky Park. For this year we only allow alcohol in Kutzky Park with an event permit. Lets just say it was a good decision… Thanks to Officer Jeardeau for putting this together for me.

    Call where alcohol caused a problem were down 89% in 2016. Did we just push the problem elsewhere, probably mostly not. Bear Creek has seen some issues but most other likely areas are not seeing issues.

    Without giving you the extended version I will give you the meat and potatoes here.

    I compared calls from 01-01-15 to 10-31-15 because that is when I ran them last year and compared them to 01-01-16 to 10-12-16 (the date I pulled the calls this year).  Its not exactly the same time frame but pretty close.  By the looks of the numbers I would say it was very successful.

    20152016

    Total Calls ————————————————————–    155         76

    Calls regarding alcohol   ———————————————-    76           21

    Calls where alcohol caused a problem —————————–   57           6

    If you have further questions feel free to give me a call.

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  • 09Oct

    I am 100% committed to protecting Mayo Park from further encroachment.

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    You might want to ask people running for office this question: Will you protect Mayo Park from development? There is a real threat that Rochester could be losing a substantial portion of our downtown riverfront park. There are some well connected people that wish to turn much of the green space into a hockey stadium.

    A portion of the remaining park space would be lost to the hockey stadium. The proposal would replace the Taylor Arena as well as spill out into the park.

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    So here is my thought. We just put $30 million into fixing up the Recreation Center. Lets invest in transit to that facility to meet any needs for hockey / multi-use space. Additionally if Taylor Arena is truly as obsolete as people claim, we can tear it down and return it to green space.

    To me its seems crazy to go down the road of another stadium. While we struggle to fund the core services of the city the RCVB continues to spend untold amounts of money developing plans for this stadium.

    Economic analysis is pretty clear that these types of stadiums never pay for themselves or elevate the local economy. To put it in the perspective the cost of building this stadium could fix every dangerous bicycle / pedestrian intersection in the city or spur on the development of 7000 affordable housing units. Here are the results of a couple of surveys on the issue. This one was in the Post Bulletin. Overwhelmingly people didn’t want the stadium or didn’t want it in Mayo Park

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    Even people well connected to parks seem to see building yet another stadium as a boondoggle. 

    So I was asked what it would take me to support a stadium, here is my answer.

    No local money used, no increase in Mayo Civic Center subsidy, no loss of park space. In addition it is becoming clear that we do need public oversight of the RCVB funds. I believe RCVB folks are patiently waiting to see if they will have 4 or 5 votes needed to do this after the November elections. Right now they do not have the votes.

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  • 14Sep

    Edit: Thank you to Mike Anderson for some corrections that I was not aware of. They are in the comments, but I am also adding them at the end of the post.

    Here is the story of how the city participated in undoing an environmental mess created outside of the city. Even though the issues were caused by decisions made outside of the city, city taxpayers have contributed $245,000 to the joint effort to address flooding and erosion on cascade creek. A total of 3 major projects are planned for this area. Two projects are upstream and were aimed at reducing peak flood conditions. Based on heavy rain falls this year they appear to be quite effective.

    Stream Reconstruction:

    The 3rd and most significant, a complete reconstruction of the stream through the former Meadow Lakes Golf Course (recently annexed into the city). This project will return the natural winds in the stream and stabilize the banks. Previous erosion has contributed to sedimentation in Interlachen Lake (private) and to a lesser extent Manorwoods Lake (public and private mix). Both of these lakes have a fundamental design flaw that they were built with the stream passing through them. This coupled with the poor land use up stream has created a prolonged sedimentation issue. This stabilization project issue should greatly reduce the ongoing sedimentation issue. Cascade lake (public) was design to be spring fed and then drain into the creek so as to avoid sedimentation / pollution issues.

    Here is a before image of how the stream ran through the golf course. The section what was straightened was particularly bad for erosion.

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    Creation of 40 new acres of parkland:

    Here is an image of what the stream bank will look like after reconstruction. The area shown here will have a 40 acre easement what will effectively serve as future parkland. I would expect to eventually have the city trail system extended here.

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    Hard to see in the picture, but the water in the new channel is visibly cleaner than old channel.

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    The new channel is well constructed and planted to prevent erosion.

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    Coming development:

    The Northwest portion of the golf has been approved for medium density residential and a little bit of neighborhood commercial at the intersection of County Road 34 & 45th Street SW. I was the one no vote as I thought  special district was more appropriate.

    The Southeast corner is more complex and I am not aware of any current plans. There are a number of complicating factors and I recommend a community planning process for this area. There are multiple land owners. Vehicle counts are limited and will require a 2nd connection. This 2nd connection will require a bridge over Cascade Creek. This is expensive. The cost requires many units to support the cost. In addition there are town homes that will have back yard setback concerns. Throw in some private agreements, and future left turn limitations from Berkshire Road onto West Circle Dr and we have a total mess. Probably the only way this gets developed is a grand bargain through a neighborhood scale plan. Unfortunately the planning department does not have the staffing to do this.

    Meadow Lakes Town Homes (North of County Road 34):

    Since they were first built, these town homes have required an expensive private lift station to feed the gravity sewer. In addition to the work being done on the stream bank, the current work will also allow for these homes to be gravity linked to a different sewer access.

    Mike,
    You need to correct a couple of mistakes in your “Meadow Lakes” discussion.
    1) Interlachen Lake (I don’t know about Manorwoods Lake.) was not “built with the stream passing through” it. It was a spring-fed pit. Cascade Creek flowed southeast of it. The old creek bed existed (I have walked in it) until Avalon Cove was developed. Some time in the 1970s or 1980s, Cascade Creek broke through into the pit. Apparently a decision was made (by the city? county?) not to restore the creek to it’s original route.
    2) Interlachen Lake is not a private lake. Although the land around it is privately owned, now that Cascade Creek flows through it, Interlachen Lake is a public waterway. It’s the same situation that occurs all along Cascade Creek. There might be private property on both sides of it, but it is still a public waterway. The was confirmed a couple years ago by the DNR.

    Please correct the mistakes so visitors to your web site are not misinformed.

    Thank you.

    Mike Anderson

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  • 30Aug

    Hello Mike,

    Thanks again for allowing us to come down to sample for mosquitoes in Rochester. It was great to get this effort going, and one we hope to continue in the future. As promised, below is a summary of our visit. I should mention up front that we did not find any Asian tiger mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus, potential vector for Zika virus). What we did find were lots of common pest mosquito species, and a couple of mosquito species capable of transmitting a virus endemic to Minnesota.

    Adult samples were collected using a hand held, battery operated vacuum called a “Sucomatic.” It basically sucks adult mosquitoes into a net that’s connected to a vacuum. We then euthanize the adult mosquitoes and identify them under a microscope. Larval samples are collected from water holding containers, mainly tires. Larval samples are allowed to mature into adults in special rearing containers, at which point we euthanized and identify. We sampled for mosquitoes using one or both of these methods at 5 locations:

    1. Heartland Tire

    · Adult sample: Mostly pest mosquito species (mosquitoes that bite but do not transmit any diseases to humans), one Culex genus mosquito that can help maintain West Nile virus in nature but does not typically feed on humans, and a handful of Aedes triseriatus mosquitoes. Ae. triseriatus mosquitoes are the primary vector of La Crosse virus in Minnesota

    · Larval sample: A handful of Aedes triseriatus mosquitoes

    2. Homestead Park

    · Adult sample: Lots of pest mosquitoes, and a handful each of Aedes triseriatus and Aedes japonicus mosquitoes. Ae. japonicus is a potential vector of La Crosse virus

    3. Cooke Park

    · Adult sample: A single Aedes japonicus mosquito captured

    · Larval sample: A few Aedes triseriatus mosquitoes captured

    4. Indian Heights Park

    · Adult sample: Mostly pest mosquitoes, a few Culex genus mosquitoes that can help maintain West Nile virus in nature but does not typically feed on humans, and then a handful each of Aedes triseriatus and Aedes japonicus

    5. Bauer Built Tire

    · Larval sample: Both Aedes triseriatus and Aedes japonicus

    We were not surprised to find Ae. triseriatus (also known as the “tree hole” mosquito) in most locations, as they are well-established in southeastern Minnesota. This mosquito is the primary vector of La Crosse virus, which can cause severe illness in children. Another potential vector of La Crosse virus is the Aedes japonicus mosquito. We did not collect enough of either of these mosquito species to test for virus, but we’d be happy to work with the city and local public health to develop prevention messages for businesses and citizens of Rochester. This would include encouraging annual springtime property clean up and regular emptying/elimination water holding containers on properties, to reduce the risk of disease in the area.

    Thanks again! Please feel free to email or call if you have any questions or want to talk mosquitoes. J
    Franny

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  • 22Jul

    From Parks:

    Good morning all….since this is a high profile area I wanted to share some information that we will be posting on our website and facebook pages. You may receive comments or questions about this work.

    Beginning as early as next week clearing will begin for the impending shoreline and habitat restoration project along the north shore line at the west end of Cascade Lake.

    This project will improve approximately 1000 feet slope bank area, increase fishing habitat, and provide better access to the lake in this location.

    Because this project benefits the community and greatly improves the environment we received a Conservation Partners Legacy Grant along with local funding.

    Access will be limited at times during this project.

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  • 19Jul

    Here is the draft Parks Masterplan. I haven’t read through it yet, but based on the presentation I thought they did a nice job on facilities, but the presentation was a little light on addressing environmental & connectivity issues. Let me know what you think.

    I also learned that they do not want a hockey stadium in Mayo Park. In fact many parks staff learned of the proposal after reading about it in the newspaper.

    Parks Masterplan Documents:

     

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  • 03Jun

    I like this pilot program, hope to see more!

    Parks Policy

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  • 10May

    I can’t say thank you enough to the staff and residents at Shorewood Senior Campus and the J. A. Wedum Foundation for their investment in our quality of life!

    As you may know the city received a $2 million grant from the J. A. Wedum Foundation to spur on development of Cascade Lake Regional Park. This has been a project I have been involved in (or a user of) for nearly 10 years now. Every year it gets a little better. The $2 million will be matched by some city funds and and state parks & trail funds. This should allow much of the development shown in the updated image below. This park is an incredible asset for the community and Shorewood Senior Campus (which is owned by the Wedum Foundation).

    I received an email from Jay Portz, (President of J. A. Wedum Foundation) on October 14th, 2015 with a request  to meet and discuss plans for Cascade Lake Park. Jay got my name from staff at Shorewood who knew me from presentations I had done on the park in the past. I respond to almost every communication I receive and needless to say I am glad we proceeded to meet along with parks staff. Honestly I was expecting a $50k or $100k grant. The generosity of the $2 million dollar grant left me speechless. And that doesn’t happen often.

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    In addition to the development of this active part of the park here are some other nuggets of information that you might be interested in.

    1. There is now a 3.1 mile loop that goes all the way around the lake. This used to be Rochester’s best kept secret, but based on the numbers out there the secret is out. The bridge to the North will likely see over 100k uses this year.
    2. The total park is hundreds of acres the portion shown above is just a very active & developed section. There will be something for everyone here.
    3. The lake will be kept clean because the creek was relocated and moved around the lake. The lake is spring fed and empties into Cascade creek. Expect clean water and great fishing.
    4. While mining will continue for some time, today most of the park can be accessed at most times.
    5. Connectivity to the park is one of my goals going forward. There are 4 remaining connections I would like to improve. These connections will provide safe access to tens of thousands of people.
      1. New trail section between East Frontage Rd. and 16th Avenue NW along Cascade creek, including an underpass of 16th Avenue.
      2. Underpass of 11th Avenue NW in Kutzky Park.
      3. Overpass connecting Lake Street NW and Harriett Bishop Elementary School. (Near Harriett Bishop, not at the intersection of 3rd as the county proposed and neighbors shot down).
      4. Safe connection through the Manor on 36th Ave NW/SW To growing neighborhoods South of 2nd street.
    6. City staff told me that complete access to the lake was once threatened by Bob DeWitz who tried to take access from the public after a young Gary Neumann caught and stopped some concerning language in a development plan. Bob then tried to change the landscape by grading the shoreline to remove public access until a former public works director threatened to “punch him out.”
    7. The picture below is me with Beverly Allen, wife of former council member Paul Allen. I invited her and Paul to the announcement as she has been involved with the park since it was a concept in the late 1960s. The picture is right when I told her the grant was for $2 million. She once showed me some old Xeroxed copies of fliers handed out in the early 70s advocating for the park. Needless to say this park is the culmination of decades of local people stepping up.

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  • 02Apr

    Should Rochester pass a “Pollinator Friendly” resolution?

    Recommended Pollinator Policy

    I sent a note to the Parks Department to see if they have any concerns about the language. The same note was sent to Stormwater Management as well.

    I also asked the City Administrator to poll the council and see if there were 4 council members opposed. If not assuming the language is appropriate for Rochester AND I have a 2nd, we can bring this up for a vote.

    Let me know what you think of the attached policy!

    I personally manage my land in this way and actually treat much of my stormwater on site with a pollinator friendly rain garden!

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  • 12Oct

    Today I raised some concerns with the proposed stadium at Mayo Park. The costs would be $65-75 million to do it right. While a stadium might be nice we currently are not properly funding:

    • street maintenance
    • effective transit
    • affordable housing
    • library expansion
    • broadband

    These items are for more important in my opinion that another entertainment facility. Further I believe a performing arts center would be a greater benefit for the community than a stadium. I am highly skeptical of the claims that this is an investment that will have a return for the community.

    If we were to proceed using public dollars I would like to see the following:

    • An independent analysis of the financial projections verifying their accuracy.
    • A community benefits agreement ensuring that jobs created would pay a living wage and other community benefits.
    • A referendum if ANY bonding obligating public payback would be done.
    • Replacement of any lost riverfront green space in the downtown.

    While I am willing to listen, I don’t need another financial obligation while we fail to fund basic needs.

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