Skip to main content

Board of Managers Meeting Minutes January 12th 2017

January 12, 2017

The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Sherry White at 6:45 p.m. on January 12, 2017 at the District office, 15320 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Sherry White, Brian Shekleton, Richard Miller, Kurt Rogness, Pamela Blixt, William Olson, Bill Becker. 


Lars Erdahl, Administrator; Telly Mamayek, Communications and Education Director; James Wisker, Planning and Projects Director; Katherine Sylvia, Permitting Program Lead; Anna Brown, Planner-Project Manager; Michael Hayman, Planner-Project Manager; Jack Distel, District Representative-Permitting; Chris Meehan, Consulting Engineer; Chuck Holtman, Counsel.


Jack Distel introduced himself as a new District Representative for permitting. He graduated from Central Michigan University with degrees in environmental science and natural resources biology. Subsequently he worked for the Peace Corps doing coastal management work in the Philippines. Manager White welcomed him on behalf of the Board.

Manager Miller asked that a discussion about a potential change of the District's name be added to the agenda. Manager Olson moved, Manager Shekleton seconded to approve the agenda with the additional discussion item as matter 12.4. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.

Manager Miller moved, Manager Becker seconded approval of the consent agenda, except for the December 15, 2016 Board minutes, consisting of the following:
Resolution 17-001, 2017 Fee Schedule:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers hereby approves the following 2017 fee schedule:  
District professional staff* District interns* District clerical staff* Consulting Senior Engineer Consulting Engineer/Technician District Counsel Application fee B&W Copy costs (per 8½X 11 page) Color copies (per 8½X11 page) Watershed Plan (Paper) Watershed Plan CD Watershed Plan CIP Electronic recording of meetings 2016 fees $ 65.51$ 40.35$ 46.69$ contracted rate $ contracted rate$ contracted rate$ 10.00$ .25 + actual staff time$ 1.00 + actual staff time $ cost of production $ 10.00$ 10.00$ cost of production  

District expenses for postage, mailing labels, contracted services, and other miscellaneous services will be billed at cost.

Resolution 17-002, 2017 Depository of District Funds:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers hereby names Alerus, formerly known as Beacon Bank as the 2017 official depository of District funds.Resolution 17-003, 2017 Official Newspaper:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers names the 2017 official newspaper as the Star Tribune.
Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.

Manager Miller moved, Manager Shekleton seconded to reconsider the previous motion. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.

Manager Miller moved, Manager Shekleton seconded to approve the previous motion with the removal of Resolution 17-002 and its relocation to the action agenda as matter 11.4. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.


Board, Committee and Task Force Reports 

President's Report
Manager White noted upcoming meetings:  Metro MAWD on January 17; a planning meeting in the City of Victoria on January 19, to which managers are invited; and the upcoming Governor's Water Summit, for which Manager White has signed up. She also noted that the consultant's work on the performance review of the District Administrator will be reported to the Board shortly.  

Manager White also reported on recent meetings of the Executive Committee. John Himle and Joel Carlson joined the Committee to discuss development of talking points for the District's representation at the legislature. The Committee also received an update on permit review for the Southwest LRT project. The Executive Committee met again this evening and discussed the human resources strategic plan. The managers shortly will receive a schedule for that project.

Manager Becker asked how managers are kept abreast of legislature activities. Manager White noted that Mr. Carlson sends emails. Mr. Becker observed these tend to be general and not focused on watershed matters. Manager Miller added that Mr. Carlson does provide details on specific bills as they are introduced and remains in communication with Manager White and Mr. Erdahl. Manager Becker noted that he saw reference to recent activity regarding a repeal of the buffer law, something about which the District should remain aware. Mr. Erdahl advised that if any manager has specific issues he or she would like to track, they should let Mr. Erdahl know. Policy and Planning Committee Report

Manager Miller noted that minutes of the last two Committee meetings are in the packet. At tonight's meeting, there was a discussion of the present watershed planning effort, strategic planning and the Long Lake watershed initiative.

Manager White updated the Board on the Citizens? Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting that occurred last night.  There was an orientation for the six new members, an update on the cost-share program and 50th anniversary planning from Ms. Mamayek and a general overview of District activity by Mr. Wisker. The CAC will review watershed plan documents as drafted. The body reelected Bill Bushnell as Chair and Peter Rechelbacher as Vice Chair.  The executive committee includes one of the new members. The CAC expressed its appreciation for the level of staff participation.

Manager White reviewed upcoming meetings as noted on the agenda.

Election of Board Officers/Committee Assignments

Manager White requested nominations for Board President. Manager Miller nominated Manager White for reelection. No other nominations were offered. Manager White was reelected by unanimous consent. 

Manager White requested nominations for Vice President. Manager Miller nominated Manager Shekleton for reelection. No other nominations were offered. Manager Shekleton was reelected by unanimous consent. 

Manager White requested nominations for Board Treasurer. Manager Becker nominated Manager Miller for reelection. No other nominations were offered. Manager Miller was reelected by unanimous consent.

Manager White requested nominations for Board Secretary. Manager Miller nominated Manager Rogness for reelection. No other nominations were offered. Manager Rogness was reelected by unanimous consent.

Manager White stated that she has spoken with all Board members concerning committee assignments and proposes that all assignments remain the same. Operations and Programs Committee: Managers Olson (Chair), Blixt and Becker; Policy and
Planning Committee: Managers Miller (Chair), Shekleton and Rogness.

Manager Miller moved, Manager Olson seconded approval of the proposed assignments. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.Approval of Design and Authorization to Solicit Bids: Minnehaha Preserve Enhancement Project

Mr. Hayman reviewed the background for the present proposed action including the District's development of the Minnehaha Preserve project, its acquisition of an additional adjacent parcel from Japs Olson and its work to develop regional stormwater facilities on that parcel as well as the adjacent property that it has owned. The present matter concerns construction of a small parking area off of Excelsior Boulevard and a trail/boardwalk connection in to the broader boardwalk network of the Minnehaha Preserve.   On December 8, 2016, the Board requested that the parking surface be bid as a conventional surface but that a porous surface be included as a bid alternate. Staff has reviewed that and has incorporated a porous asphalt surface as a bid alternate. The combined trail and parking area work is estimated at $165,000 to $205,000 depending on which surface is selected. Mr. Hayman further noted that it is a sealed bid process but that the District is defining responsible contractor to require demonstration of prior experience with boardwalk construction, helical pier installation and pervious surface installation. The work will involve disassembling the existing boardwalk and tying the new portion in to it. Staff will return in February with a recommendation for an award of contract.

Manager Shekleton moved, Manager Miller seconded adoption of proposed resolution 17-004 as follows:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers hereby approves the final design for the Minnehaha Preserve Enhancement Project trail extension and parking area; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MCWD Board of Managers authorizes staff to solicit bids for construction.

Manager Blixt asked if the District now designs its projects using Atlas 14 precipitation data. Mr. Hayman replied that the District is doing so but that the District's regional ponding facilities to which this work will drain are designed with excess capacity in any event.

Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.

December 15, 2016 Minutes
Manager White moved, Manager Miller seconded approval of the December 15, 2016 minutes with deletion, at line 317, of the words ?both Manager White and.? Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.2017 Official Depository  
Manager Miller moved, Manager Shekleton seconded naming Alerus as the District's official 2017 depository, with a review by Springsted before next year's action and similar review every two years thereafter. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0. 

2017 Cost-Share Program Discussion
Ms. Mamayek reviewed a December 15, 2016 presentation to the Policy and Planning Committee that followed staff evaluation of the District's cost-share programming. The review encompassed the District's Cynthia Krieg program and the homeowner, community education and Green Infrastructure cost-share programs. The driving concern is that the District aims to do too much with too few resources. Staff reviewed the water quality benefits, citizen engagement benefits and resource commitment level for each program. The homeowner program produces the least level of benefit in each case and requires substantial staff time. The Cynthia Krieg program results in a high level of engagement with low water quality benefits, while the Green Infrastructure program results in high water quality benefits with a low engagement level. Finally, the community education program produces moderate levels of each. 

Staff's tentative strategic review recommendations include retaining the Green Infrastructure program under the planning department as an opportunity fund and the Master Water Steward Capstone Grant within the education department; discontinuing the homeowner cost-share program; and restructuring engagement by combining the Cynthia Krieg program and the community engagement program within the education department and tying engagement more closely to District capital installations with water quality benefits at a community scale.

Manager Shekleton asked how the Cynthia Krieg and community engagement programs would be combined. Mr. Erdahl replied that staff would like to increase measurable outcomes with a structured engagement around capital practices. Manager Shekleton supports building education into capital budgets and using capital projects to create educational outcomes that have a broad range of use. 

Ms. Mamayek affirmed that the proposal is intended to provide more program support, noting that the Green Infrastructure program would operate through the planning department and that community education would be centered on capital practices that District staff, rather than homeowners, would guide. She noted that the District has many engaged people in the community and that the proposed structure also is intended to leverage these folks. Mr. Erdahl added that the last two budget allocations have reduced funding in this area so that the recommendations also indicate a budgetary aspect. 

Ms. Mamayek advised that next steps will include developing program details and accessing staff capacity and needs. In addition, staff will continue to meet ongoing needs to stay operational, including communications with cost-share recipients, attending to process for outstanding grants and managing documents. The staff recommendation is to suspend the District cost-share programs for the 2017 calendar year to allow for a thoughtful restructuring and hiring; to complete current projects; and to devote capacity to resolving encumbered but uncompleted projects. The District would be open to collaboration opportunities. The timeline is in line to launch a restructured program in January 2018.
Manager Miller moved, Manager Rogness seconded a 2017 program suspension as recommended. Responding to Manager Olson, Ms. Mamayek replied that these recommendations have been discussed twice with the CAC, which has not offered a specific recommendation. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.

Southwest LRT Permit Review Process
Ms. Sylvia reviewed the project background. The project will include about five linear miles of construction within District boundaries, in the Cities of Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis. The District received a permit application in May 2016 and has been working with the applicant to achieve a complete application and complete review. Presently Board consideration is scheduled for the February 23, 2017 agenda. Staff is working with counsel and applicant to develop a proposed approach to address amendments during the project. 

Ms. Sylvia reviewed the postcard that will be sent to residents and described the dedicated phone line and other means by which staff will receive comments. All comments received in writing or orally will be included in the February 23, 2017 packet.
Manager Blixt asked as to the concern regarding any allegations of conflict of interest given that the District owns real property along the alignment. Mr. Holtman replied that there is not a legal conflict in that the District necessarily needs to review the project against its rules and make a decision on the permit application. He noted that what is important is that the District's review be technically sound and that that the Board make findings as to rule compliance based on a thorough staff review and record. Manager Shekleton observed that the Board has never advocated for or against the project and its obligation is to make a science-based decision. 
Ms. Sylvia added that the end of the comment period is February 3, 2017. Manager Blixt asked whether the District meeting room may be too small for expected public attendance. Mr. Wisker replied that staff is aware of this question and will judge the need to schedule a larger space as it sees how many comments are offered and how much interest arises.

Manager Becker sought confirmation that the Board's task is simply to determine whether the project meets District rules. Mr. Holtman replied that this is true, however certain rule criteria do involve some exercise of judgement. Manager Blixt added that the Board has the authority to place conditions on the proposed work.

Manager Olson urged that the District seek to orient interested members of the public toward matters that are within the District's purview. Manager Miller agreed with that and urged the Board as well to be disciplined in orienting any commenters in that way. Manager Becker asked if staff is satisfied that the public notice is sufficient to inform the public as to the project elements. Ms. Sylvia replied that staff has gone beyond the usually level of description in this case and therefore is comfortable in that respect. Manager White summarized by affirming that the Board will operate in the usual fashion; some people will speak to pertinent issues and some won?t; all will be treated fairly and have their comments appropriately considered.

Land Acquisition on Lake Wassermann, City of Victoria
Ms. Brown reviewed the background of a potential acquisition of property riparian to Lake Wassermann, including ownership and present development status of the property, its topography and natural resource features, regional hydrology and the status of area development. She reviewed communications that have occurred with city staff and the City Council regarding interest in a joint opportunity both to establish a regional park site and access point to Lake Wassermann and to protect and enhance the conservation values of the property. She noted that Carver County, the City of Victoria and the lake association all have expressed initial support for a potential joint effort. She further reviewed a proposed approach whereby the District would acquire the property in fee from the current owner, the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, and would transfer the property to the City in conjunction with a partnered development of a design for the parkland. The District would retain a perpetual easement over the wetland area. The District in this way would finance the acquisition and the City would pay the District over time on a schedule generally coordinated with the City's expected receipt of park dedication fees for development in the area. Manager Miller commended staff in exploring creative funding opportunities such as the use of dedication fees.

Manager Shekleton moved, Manager Miller seconded that the Board convene in closed session to consider an offer for the real estate that does not have an assigned address but is identified with parcel identification numbers 650230600 and 650230700, Carver County. Upon vote the motion carried 7-0, and the Board convened in closed session.

The Board reconvened in open session.

Potential Change of District Name
Manager Miller raised a question of adjusting the District's name to incorporate reference to Lake Minnetonka. He noted the District's origin in Minnehaha Creek flooding, which may account for its present name but the District's mission at this point certainly is much broader. He noted that District counsel has advised that a change would be effected by supporting resolutions from Hennepin and Carver Counties and a petition to the Board of Water and Soil Resources to amend the original order establishing the District.  Manager Miller noted he has spoken with several Hennepin County commissioners who have been supportive of the concept. To Manager Miller, the name change would tell taxpayers more clearly what they are paying for and enable the District to make clear its role with respect to Lake Minnetonka, which is the largest waterbody in the County.

Manager Miller moved, Manager Shekleton seconded that the Board explore a name change. 

Manager Olson agreed that the name would be more inclusive and believes he is generally supportive of the idea. Manager Rogness noted that the name would, however, be quite long and that in itself would create some practical issues. Manager Shekleton noted many elements of a name change that aren?t thought of initially and that various elements of District property and materials would need to be changed over time as they reached their lifetimes. 
Manager Blixt doesn?t believe that Manager Miller's understanding as to the origin of the District name is correct. She suggested that the District name references Minnehaha Creek because the boundaries of the District define the area that drains to the creek. Manager White concurred noting that the expanded name would be more descriptive of the Districts geography, but not of its hydrology. Manager Blixt is concerned that a longer name may be confusing. In addition, it may cause some to think that the District intends to expand its jurisdiction in some manner. Mr. Erdahl suggested that the Board take some time to gauge from a broader set of constituencies how the name change would be perceived and to be sure that there are not longer-term strategic considerations that the Board is not considering. Manager Becker concurred that the Board should be deliberate.

Manager Shekleton offered that the District's primary experiences are with officials at the local level, who in general understand the District's mission and jurisdiction and are supportive. He suggested that at the state level it doesn?t hurt to have a more explicit association with the areas to the west outside of the urban core.

Manager White suggested that the exploration referenced in the motion might involve conferring with the CAC, the District's governmental relations consultant, its public communications consultant, District staff, Carver County commissioners and perhaps the District's legislators. She offered to work with Mr. Erdahl on this. 

Manager White asked for a straw poll. Five managers indicated a favorable inclination toward a name change, while two had the opposite inclination. Manager Miller stated that normally he does not support purely symbolic action, but that he believes this is more than symbolic and communicates what the District does. Manager Shekleton suggested that Ms. Mamayek might work with John Himle to consider potential naming options.

Upon vote, the motion carried 6-1 (Manager White opposed). 

Mr. Erdahl noted the District's participation in a resilience group hosted by the City of Minneapolis. He also advised that the communications department is working on the 2016 annual report, an updated Lake Minnetonka map and a page of key messages in particular to educate new legislators.

Mr. Wisker updated the Board that the District is working to develop a long-term financing mechanism through Carver County bonding. Details are being developed with the assistance of District counsel, District bond counsel and Springsted and that the Board will be briefed in February with a term sheet for discussion. Manager Miller added that he commends staff on working to develop this as an additional creative financing vehicle and that the District is somewhat unique among both watershed districts and conservation finance in pursuing these alternative means. 

Mr. Erdahl said that the 2016 audit also is getting underway and requested that managers submit all 2016 per diems as soon as possible.


There being no further business, the regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was adjourned at 10:00 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,

Kurt Rogness, Secretary

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers