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April 12, 2018 Board Minutes





April 12, 2018




The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Sherry White at 6:48 p.m. at the District office, 15320 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, Minnesota.




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




Brian Shekleton.




James Wisker, Administrator; Michael Hayman, Senior Project Planner; Cathy Reynolds, Operations Manager; Laura Domyancich, Planner-Project Manager; Katherine Sylvia, Permitting Program Lead;  Heidi Quinn, Permitting Technician; Chris Meehan, District Consulting Engineer; and Louis Smith, District Counsel. 




Mr. Smith administered the oath of office to Managers White and Rogness following their reappointments. 




President White welcomed Hennepin County Commissioner Jan Callison to the meeting.  Commissioner Callison provided an update on the budget and key priorities for Hennepin County.  President White noted the County’s legislative priority regarding Clean Water Legacy funds and offered the MCWD’s assistance and collaboration with the County in this endeavor.  The managers thanked Commissioner Callison for coming to the meeting and for her presentation. 




President White noted that Item 10.4, Big Island Master Plan, would be moved from 10.4 to 10.0 on the Agenda.  It was moved by Manager Becker, seconded by Manager Rogness to approve the Agenda with this change.  Upon vote, the motion carried.


Introduction of Staff:


Ms. Janna Jonely appeared before the Board of Managers to introduce herself as the new Project and Land Management Technician.  Ms. Jonely described her past experience with the Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District; her B.S. in Botany and Biological Aspects of Conservation, and M.P.S., Horticulture (Ecological Restoration Emphasis); and her interest in reconciliation ecology which aligns nicely with the MCWD’s commitment to balanced urban ecology.  The managers welcomed Ms. Jonely to the District. 




Mr. Gabriel Jabbour appeared before the Board of Managers and noted the consideration of the Big Island Master Plan later on the agenda.  He stated that while the plan in concept included items from the original vision for Big Island, he was concerned that a strong environmental commitment is missing from the City of Orono.  He stated that he is also concerned that a number of the proposed improvements in the plan will require significant maintenance, and he has not seen the City’s commitment to funding these maintenance activities.  He urged the Board of Managers to be cautious about this proposed plan in light of these concerns.




It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Rogness to approve the Consent Agenda, consisting of the Minutes of the Meetings of March 8 and March 22, 2018.  Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0. 




Board, Committee, and Task Force Reports


President’s Report:


President White noted the unanimous vote by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners in the reappointment of Managers White and Rogness, and stated that this was the result of the cooperative team efforts of the managers and staff.  President White noted that she had attended meetings of the Joint Working Group and Blake Road Subcommittee, and this work would be discussed later in the agenda.  She also noted attending the recent State of the County address by Commissioner Callison and the theme of commitment to excellence. 


Operations and Programs Committee: 


Manager Loftus noted that the Committee held a meeting earlier in the evening and received reports on the 325 Blake Road RFQ process, a review of employee benefits, and the implementation of the Human Resources Plan. 

President White noted the upcoming meeting schedule, including a meeting of the Executive Committee to review legislative matters on April 26.




Permit 17.584 Metropolitan Council Environmental Services L-38 Interceptor Replacement


Ms. Heidi Quinn appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the permit application and variance request.  She reviewed the proposed project and the application of the erosion control, wetland protection, shoreline stabilization, flood plain, and water body crossings rules, as well as the criteria for considering a variance request.  She noted that the applicant has requested a variance from the required setback for tunneling under a watercourse for the 48-foot shortfall from compliance with the required 100-foot setback for the southern tunnel pit location. The applicant has also submitted a variance request for a 22.5- foot shortfall from the from compliance with the required 37.5-foot minimum buffer width and a 555-sqaure foot shortfall from the required total square footage of buffer area of 8,633-square feet provided at Wetland 6 for the placement of a permanent clean-out structure at the same location as the southern entrance pit for the interceptor line. Ms. Quinn noted the existing bridge abutments and site topography which present the site constraints, and she reviewed the analysis of the variance criteria in detail.  Ms. Quinn also reviewed the proposed conditions on the permit, and noted that the applicant is requesting that the permit be valid for two years, given the length of time involved for construction of the project.  Following discussion, it was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Olson, to approve the variance request based on the findings and reasons set forth in the staff report.  Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0.  It was moved by Manager Rogness, seconded by Manager Miller, to approve the permit application with the conditions recommended by staff, including the permit term of two years.  Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0. 




Resolution 18-039 Approval of Big Island Nature Park Plan in Concept


Ms. Laura Domyancich appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the request for board action.  She noted prior discussions with Orono staff about the concept plan, and referred to the action analysis prepared by MCWD staff to consider how the conservation easement and management plan inform, guide, or restrict elements of the concept plan.  Ms. Domyancich highlighted several issues to be addressed in further consideration of the master plan.  She noted that the proposed restroom facilities would need a plan for long term maintenance; the proposed picnic tables are not in compliance with the conservation easement, and she recommended that the City assess the need and level of improvement for the picnic tables for further consideration; and she recommended that the project use natural boulders for the proposed bollards. 


Manager Loftus noted the presence of Orono city engineer Adam Edwards, and invited him to respond to the issues highlighted by Ms. Domyancich.  Mr. Edwards appeared before the Board of Managers and he stated that the proposed restroom facilities would be similar to those constructed by the Three Rivers Park District, with a vaulted toilet and modular structure maintained by a septic service.  He reviewed the interest in picnic tables and suggested that they be constructed of a natural stone material, and he suggested that natural stone for the bollards would be appropriate. 


Manager Becker suggested the consideration of a minimum impact analysis concerning the picnic tables, such that establishing a picnic area may result in minimal impacts to the remainder of the Conservation Area.  Manager Miller noted that the MCWD had invested $850,000 in the Big Island acquisition, and another $1.2 million in shoreline restoration.  He stated that he was very concerned about protecting the public investment in conservation, and that he did not feel supportive of the proposed improvements in that they risked turning Big Island into more of a playground that would not be accessible to 98% of the MCWD residents. 


Manager Loftus asked Mr. Edwards if the City had developed estimated costs and a budget commitment to address the maintenance needs related to the proposed improvements.  Mr. Edwards stated that the City would be seeking grant funding for the project, and that he hoped there would be a maintenance budget.  Manager Loftus noted the presence of Citizen Advisory Committee member Brian Girard and asked if he had any comments on this project.  Mr. Girard appeared before the Board of Managers and stated that he was concerned that there was no operating budget; he felt it is important to improve law enforcement access to the site; he appreciated improving the ADA accessibility of the trails; and he agreed with the need for restroom facilities. 


President White invited a motion to adopt Resolution 18-039.  No manager offered a motion.  Mr. Wisker asked for Board direction to the staff.  President White stated that she felt there should be more dialogue with the City of Orono.  Manager Becker stated that he was concerned with the posture of the MCWD approving a master plan, whereas the focus should be on evaluating the proposed improvements as the holder of the Conservation Easement with emphasis on public investments in the conservation values and shoreline restoration.  He noted an example with Glacier National Park, where a boardwalk was a helpful minimal impact solution that involved a minimal intrusion preserved the larger remainder of a meadow.  Manager Becker suggested the possibility of picnic tables following this minimal impact approach.  Manager Miller expressed his interest in partnership with the City and the need for more dialogue on natural resources and conversation values. 


Managers Loftus and Olson expressed their support for addressing the issues highlighted by Ms. Domyancich in more detail before adopting a resolution of support for the concept plan.  President White summarized the discussion for direction to staff as follows:  continue discussion with Orono staff to resolve the outstanding issues and address conditions as identified in the action analysis and the Board’s discussion; focus on stewardship of the MCWD and other public investments and preservation of conservation values; and refine the proposed resolution to focus on the MCWD’s role, interests in conservation easement.  Manager Becker emphasized that the concepts for the improvements should be in keeping with the requirements of the conservation easement.  Manager Loftus stated that it would be important to fully understand the maintenance commitments. 


Resolution 18-037 Amendments to Employee Handbook


Ms. Cathy Reynolds appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the request for board action.  She noted that the Employee Handbook had been completed most recently in 2015.  Manager Miller noted that the Board had not adopted the Handbook, and Ms. Reynolds confirmed that pursuant to a delegation resolution of the Board, the Administrator had completed the Handbook revisions in October 2015.  Ms. Reynolds briefly reviewed the proposed revisions, stating that the intention is to empower the Administrator to implement the Human Resources Plan, and also that the staff intends to work on further review and revisions to the Handbook over the next 90 – 120 days.  Following discussion, it was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Becker, to adopt Resolution 18-037 approving the proposed amendments to the Employee Handbook, and also directing that the Handbook be referred to the Operations Committee for review.  Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0. 


Resolution 18-038 Approval of Respondents for Advancement into the Interview Portion of the 325 Blake Road Master Developer Selection Process


Mr. Michael Hayman appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the request for board action.  He noted that on April 11, the Blake Road Subcommittee of Southwest Community Works voted to support the recommendation of the Joint Working Group in the selection of three developers to advance to the interview process.  Mr. Hayman reviewed the responses to the requests for supplemental information and summarized the recommendations from the Joint Working Group and the Blake Road Subcommittee to proceed with three master developer candidates – Anderson Companies, Doran and Kraus-Anderson – and initiate the interview portion of the master developer selection process.


It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Loftus to adopt Resolution 18-038 to approve the three respondents for advancement into the interview portion of the 325 Blake Road master developer selection process. Mr. Smith suggested the second to the last ‘Whereas’ paragraph be revised as follows: “. . . on April 11, 2018, MCWD staff and joint working group members met with the Subcommittee to review the responses to the supplemental information request and the joint working group recommendation to advance three respondents into the interview portion of the selection process, and the Subcommittee voted to support this recommendation of the Joint Working Group.”  Managers Miller and Loftus agreed with this suggestion and it was adopted as an amendment to the resolution by unanimous consent.  Upon vote, the motion carried to adopt the resolution as amended, 6-0.

Resolution 18-040 Authorization to Purchase Stormwater Monitoring Equipment


Ms. Kailey Cermak appeared before the Board of Managers to review the request for board action.  She explained that the proposed equipment purchase is to assist the project specific monitoring plans, and reviewed the monitoring plans for Arden Park and Minnehaha Creek stormwater management projects.  Following discussion, it was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Olson, to adopt Resolution 18-040 to authorize the equipment purchase.  Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0. 




MAWD Priorities


Mr. Wisker reviewed the memo in the meeting packet that outlined an invitation for the Board of Managers to suggest priorities for the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts.  President White suggested that MAWD continue to examine the question of dues and benefits for metro watershed districts.  Manager Olson suggested that MAWD continue to advocate for a strong watershed approach to allocation of Clean Water Legacy funds. 




Administrator’s Report


Mr. Wisker reviewed upcoming events on the calendar; grant submissions for Six Mile Creek and Minnehaha Creek projects; an update on Minnehaha Creek flow data and the current elevation of Lake Minnetonka at 929.01; plans to consider aeration of Grays Bay; management plans to open and close the weir at Lake Nokomis; and an upcoming meeting with Carver County Commissioner Randy Maluchnik.


Closed Session: Performance Evaluation of the Administrator


President White noted that the Board of Managers would go into a closed session for the performance evaluation of the Administrator.  The Board of Managers then went into closed session for this purpose at 9:29 p.m. and concluded the closed session at 10:55 p.m.




There being no further business, the meeting of the Board of Managers was adjourned at 10:55 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Kurt Rogness, Secretary

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers