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Board of Managers Meeting Minutes May 25th 2017

May 25, 2017

The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Sherry White at 6:55 p.m. on May 25, 2017, at the MCWD offices, 15320 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, Minnesota. 

Sherry White, Richard Miller, Bill Becker, William Olson, Kurt Rogness, Jessica Loftus. 

Brian Shekleton.

Lars Erdahl, Administrator; Becky Christopher, Lead Planner-Project Manager; Eric Fieldseth, AIS Program Manager; Michael Hayman, Planner-Project Manager; James Wisker, Planning and Projects Director; Michael Welch, Counsel.


Manager Becker moved and Manager Rogness seconded approval of the agenda as presented. Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

President White noted that there were no information items or correspondence for the managers. 


Manager Rogness moved and Manager Becker seconded approval of the consent agenda, consisting of approval of the minutes of the May 11, 2017, meeting; approval of the general checking account with checks numbered 38206 to 38274 for a total of $335,706.25; payroll direct deposits of $149,720.93; and electronic fund withdrawals totaling $222,944.86 for total expenses of $708,372.04; approval of the surety account check register; acceptance of the 325 Blake Road checking account; and adoption of Resolution17-037:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes staff to apply for funding assistance through the Hennepin County Brownfield Gap Financing Program.
Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

Board, Committee and Task Force Report
President's report: President White stated that she had no recent meetings to report on. She noted that next week the board has a tour with the Citizens Advisory Committee and there are two 50th anniversary events coming up; both are listed on the agenda events listing.

Policy and Planning Committee: Manager Miller reported from the Policy and Planning Committee, stating that the committee had an extensive budget discussion and is continuing the work on the 2018 budget, having received a progress report from the administrator and staff this evening.

Upcoming events: President White referred the managers to the schedule of upcoming events on the agenda.

Public Hearing: Acquisition of 3910 and 3940 Farmhill Circle, Minnetrista 

James Wisker appeared before the Board of Managers and provided background on the subject of the public hearing this evening: The acquisition of two properties on Farmhill Road in Minnetrista directly adjacent and riparian to Six Mile Creek. Mr. Wisker said the regional systems plan that the District is working on will be completed soon and will include treatment in the short-term of phosphorus in the Six Mile Creek system prior to implementation of a complete carp management plan that will be implemented over perhaps the next decade. He said that the acquisition goes to the issue at the heart of the water quality problems in the Six Mile Creek subwatershed, namely excessive phosphorus – especially in Halstead Bay. He stated that the carp in the Six Mile Creek system significantly contribute to the phosphorus problem and that there are a number of wetlands in the system that discharge phosphorus because they have been altered by agricultural practices over recent history. Mr. Wisker laid out the District's plans for the subwatershed, starting with in-lake management of the carp, restoration of the wetlands and alum treatment in certain waterbodies to provide an immediate but short-term phosphorus reduction. In Mud and Parley lakes, both of which are shallow, there are excessive numbers of carp and the lakes? high phosphorus levels have a disproportionate impact on Halsted Bay. He noted that because particulate phosphorus settles out, the phosphorus escaping from the marshes tends to be dissolved. In 2013 the District assessed through a study by Wenck an alum treatment in the area and identified several locations where an alum treatment plant could be located. He stated that the properties, the acquisition of which is before the managers this evening, represent the highest-rated location for an alum-treatment facility in the subwatershed. He said that the Kuchers, who are the owners of the properties, are in attendance this evening.
Mr. Wisker stated that Three Rivers Park District has already executed a purchase agreement and allocated funding for the purchase of the properties from the Kuchers. What's on the table this evening is the District's participation in the purchase. If the District participates, its contribution of funding would offset funds TRPD obtains from the Metropolitan Council for the acquisition. MCWD would complete its due diligence by June 15 – plenty of time for TRPBD to adjust its agreement with the Metropolitan Council. TRPD's purchase price is $750,000; MCWD wouldn?t be involved in that transaction but after the subdivision of the properties, MCWD purchase of the portion it needs for the potential alum project for approximately $435,000. MCWD would close on its purchase early next year. He stated that the District would acquire an easement to connect to sanitary sewer for purposes of the future alum-effluent disposal, and that if the managers elected down the road not to move ahead with the alum treatment system at this location, the District could re-market the property for residential development and recover its costs. Finally, he said that there are a number of unknowns along the way regarding completion of the alum project, and that it likely is on a three- to five-year timeframe. The final cost of the acquisition will depend on the final specifics of the subdivision. How the cost would be covered will come back to the board for decision. Staff has discussed using cash from the District capital finance account or using an advance from the Hennepin County master loan agreement. 

President White opened the public hearing and requested comments from any of those in attendance. Seeing none, she closed the public hearing. 

The Board of Managers reconvened in regular session.
Resolution 17-038, Authorization to Execute a Land Acquisition Agreement With Three Rivers Park District
In response to a question from Manager Miller, Mr. Wisker stated that he did not have all of the necessary information to compare the effectiveness of the contemplated alum treatment system to the one the District installed at the Taft-Legion project, however the alum treatment envisioned for this location would treat 70 to 80 percent of the 1,700-pound load to this location. He stated that this project treats a much larger area than the 1,500 acres treated by the Taft-Legion project. Manager Miller moved and Manager Olson seconded adoption of Resolution 17-038, ordering the acquisition, authorizing the president to execute a land acquisition agreement with Three Rivers Park District for the purchase of portions of 3910 and 3940 Farmhill Circle, Minnetrista, authorizing the administrator to fulfill the terms of the purchase agreement, and directing the administrator to evaluate options for financing the acquisition for presentation to the managers to authorize financing. 
Manager Olson asked for clarification on the big picture regarding the District's plan in the Six Mile Creek subwatershed. He stated that as he understands it the District will spend $30 million in the subwatershed to clean up the water. The alum treatment plant envisioned would have a limited lifespan of 10 to 20 years and that the plan is to run the plant in the big picture phosphorus-removal program fully implemented in that timeframe. Mr. Wisker confirmed Manager Olson's assessment of the sequence of events. He stated that at the end of the lifespan of the alum treatment system, it could be decommissioned if the plan proceeds as expected because the upstream fixes removing phosphorus from the system would have been implemented. Upon vote, the motion carried 5-1, Manager Becker voting against. In response to a question from Manager Miller, Manager Becker stated that he voted against the motion on the principle of not paying for property when MCWD was not involved in the negotiations with the seller. He stated that the project envisioned is a good project. 

Resolution 17-039: Authorization to Distribute Capital Improvements Program for Review and Comment
Becky Christopher appeared before the Board of Managers and stated that as is directed by the District's current watershed management plan, the updated capital improvements program is distributed to the cities and counties in the watershed for review and comment each year in advance of the District's budgeting process for the subsequent year. She stated that the draft CIP was reviewed at the April 29 Policy and Planning Committee and that no material changes have been made since that meeting. Manager Miller moved and Manager Rogness seconded adoption of Resolution 17-039, authorizing staff to distribute the draft capital improvements program for 30-day review and comment. Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

Resolution 17-036: Authorization to Request Funds from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund
Eric Fieldseth presented a followup review of details underlying the proposed application for Lessard-Sams funds for carp-management work in the Six Mile Creek subwatershed. Mr. Fieldseth said that the application concept was presented at the May 11 meeting and at that time the managers asked for additional information on the budget and personnel for the proposed work. Mr. Fieldseth showed the managers a final budget for the application and noted that the main selling point to Lessard-Sams is that the project restores 2,488 acres of in-lake habitat for roughly $320 an acre. Mr. Fieldseth said by providing personnel for the project as a contribution from the District, the application is significantly improved because of the greater leverage provided. He showed the proposed contribution of staff resources over the three-year period of the work. He said that approximately six-tenths of his position and half of the District aquatic invasive species technician's time, and approximately three-tenths of an FTE of a position that is currently a contracted staff person who provides water quality assistance would be devoted to the project. He said that seasonal staff could contribute to the implementation in the project.
In response to a question from Manager Olson, Mr. Fieldseth underscored that the value of the staff time is the leverage on the grant application provided by the District. Manager Miller commented that the structure Mr. Fieldseth describes raises concerns he has about ever-growing staff and the possibility of a part time-contracted position expanding into another full-time position. He stated that he thinks that the proposal is for a terrific project, but he is leery of further expansion of District staff. Manager Olson commented that the proposal is not to expand staff, but to devote staff resources, in part, to this project. Mr. Fieldseth stated that he is presently running the existing program and will continue to do so, but would devote time to the project as well. He stated that the District would need to devote some staff to the project, which will require prioritizing it over other projects. Manager Becker pointed out that the full-time equivalent portions discussed in Mr. Fieldseth's chart are for each of the three years for the project. Manager Loftus asked whether Mr. Fieldseth judges that the percentage of match amount contributed by the District is the right one to make the proposal attractive, and should the cost of staff perhaps be included in the Lessard-Sams request. Mr. Fieldseth stated that he doesn?t know if there is an exact sweet spot for the percentage of District leverage, however in comparison with other applications and in consultation with Manager Becker, staff feels that the District contribution of staff resources makes the proposal very attractive. Manager Becker added that the gold standard is 50 percent match from a grant applicant but that is very seldom seen. The District's proposal is very close to that standard. In response to a further question from Manager Loftus as to whether the additional staff member who is now a contracted position could be added to the grant request, Manager Becker stated that he has seen members of the council use the percentage of staff contribution as a sort of scale or test to measure projects and that's about as far as he could go in stating whether that addition to the request would harm the District's application. The managers further discussed the appropriateness of the contribution of staff resources and the cost savings achieved by bringing certain work in house versus contracting for it. 

Mr. Fieldseth continued his presentation, showing the draft 2018 carp work plan and noting that if the Lessard-Sams funds are not secured the District would need to implement the carp management program in the Six Mile Creek subwatershed through phased implementation over a longer timeline. Mr. Wisker added that District staff, once the application to Lessard-Sams is made, will follow up with letters and outreach to try to give the application its best possible chance of success. Manager White noted that she did not yet have a motion on the floor to approve the application. Michael Welch stated that the managers actually authorized staff to make the application at the May 11 meeting. Manager White stated that she would entertain the motion to reapprove the authorization in light of the additional information provided by staff. Manager Olson moved and Manager Becker seconded adoption of Resolution 17-036, authorizing staff to request funds from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council for the Six Mile Creek subwatershed carp-management program. Upon vote the motion carried 6-0.

In response to discussion of whether the District has secured Lessard-Sams funds in the past, Manager Becker noted that while the District has not directly received funds, it has worked with Great River Greening for work on District land utilizing Lessard-Sams funds. 


Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts Special Meeting
President White reviewed the schedule and issues for the upcoming special meeting of the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts. She turned the manager's attention to the budget MAWD proposed for next year and Manager Miller noted that while there is an increase in the District's contribution, it is not a large impact on the District. President White pointed out the changes to MAWD's manual of operational plans and procedures and bylaws. The managers reviewed and discussed the proposed changes and raised no particular issues or concerns. It was confirmed that the delegates are President White and Manager Olson, with Manager Rogness as an alternate.

Administrator's Report
Lars Erdahl said that the District staff has been focused on preparing the 2018 budget and the update to the comprehensive plan. Manager Rogness noted that he reviewed the draft executive summary for the plan and found that it was an accurate and readable summary of the work the District has under way. Mr. Erdahl noted the upcoming 50th anniversary events President White referenced:  the birding event at Lowry Nature Center June 3 and the Sun Fun Day at Lake Nokomis on June 11. He stated that the Star Tribune is running an article on the Arden Park community event. He pointed out an article in the Laker regarding District work. He said that the new map of Lake Minnetonka is currently at the printer and should be ready soon.

There being no further business, the meeting of the Board of Managers adjourned at 7:57 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Kurt RognessSecretary

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers