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April 26, 2018 Board Minutes





April 26, 2018




The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Sherry White at 7:00 p.m. at the District office, 15320 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, Minnesota.




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








James Wisker, Administrator; Cathy Reynolds, Operations Manager; Tiffany Schaufler, Senior Project Manager; Eric Fieldseth, Aquatic Ecologist; Renae Clark, Policy and Grants Coordinator; Darren Lochner, Education and Engagement Coordinator; Kim Labo, Education and Engagement Coordinator; Chris Meehan, District Consulting Engineer; Chuck Holtman, District Counsel.




Joe Schneider, President, Christmas Lake Homeowners Association, thanked the Board and the District for its work concerning Christmas Lake. He thanked the District for its partnership in funding the aquatic invasive species inspection program. He stated that the association is committed to maintaining the program and is developing other sources of financial support. They have seen a dramatic decrease in Eurasian water milfoil in part following treatment with weevils in concert with the District’s research program. The association is developing a kit for other lake associations to address these issues.




Manager Rogness moved, Manager Shekleton seconded approval of the agenda.  Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.




President White noted the watershed-based funding update in the packet.




Manager Miller moved, Manager Rogness seconded approval of the consent agenda, consisting of the April 12, 2018 minutes; the general check register consisting of checks 38947 through 39009 totaling $350,898.73; payroll direct deposits totaling $196,915.55; and electronic fund withdrawals totaling $113,789.04; the surety account indicating no activity; the 325 Blake Road checking account; and Resolution 18-041, Authorization to Submit Annual Report, as follows:  


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers accepts the 2017 Annual Report and authorizes its release to BWSR and DNR.


Upon vote, motion carried 7-0.




Board, Committee and Task Force Reports


President White summarized the closed session administrator’s performance evaluation at the April 12, 2018 Board of Managers meeting as follows:


At our last meeting of the Board of Managers on April 12, we held a closed session for the purpose of conducting a performance evaluation of the administrator.  We anticipate at least for this year that we will continue to hold quarterly evaluation meetings with the administrator.  We discussed Mr. Wisker’s performance since March 1, and goals, expectations and performance metrics for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters this year.  A big part of our conversation was about implementing human resources changes that have been part of our strategic planning process, specifically: quickly and cleanly restructuring work groups; creating high and clear expectations for alignment, performance, and accountability; repositioning the work focus of programs, to a new “baseline”; and investing in organizational energy and culture.  The managers will continue to work with Mr. Wisker on a performance evaluation framework and metrics and we plan to review all of this work again at the end of the second quarter.


President White noted that the Executive Committee met just before the Board meeting, at which time the District’s legislative representative Joel Carlson reviewed the legislature’s current activity and the status of matters of interest to the District. Administrator Wisker advised that he is working with Mr. Carlson to develop a more regularized process to maintain legislative awareness among the managers.


Manager Miller reported on the meeting of the Policy and Planning Committee prior to the Board meeting. The committee discussed a potential opportunity with Oxford Industrial Partners and received updates on the Meadowbrook Golf Course work with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and the 325 Blake Road property. The latter is on schedule for redevelopment; the former is delayed but progress has been renewed.


Manager Becker reported on the April 17, 2018 meeting of Metro MAWD (Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts). The meeting was attended by President White, Managers Olson and Becker, Becky Christopher and District counsel. The BWSR representative gave an update on the watershed-based funding program and noted that in conjunction with the Metropolitan Council, a metro round table will be formed to work on policy issues. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) representative discussed the metro cycle for the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS).  MAWD Executive Director Emily Javens gave an update on the legislative effort to integrate Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), WRAPS and watershed district plans. A water reuse update was given by the Minnesota Department of Health representative and Phil Belfiori, Rice Creek Watershed District administrator. There also was a legislative update and discussion of the MAWD summer tour.


Manager Shekelton noted that at the end of March, he and Mike Hayman attended a meeting of the newly formed Nokomis/Hiawatha citizens’ advisory committee along with about 125 other people. Ground rules were discussed and comments were taken. Manager Shekleton introduced himself and Mr. Hayman as District representatives and offered the District as a resource. The committee will meet again next Monday at MPRB headquarters.


President White referenced the upcoming meetings and events schedule on the agenda. She noted that Manager Olson will represent the Board at the next Citizens’ Advisory Committee meeting.


Public Hearing, Minnehaha Creek FEMA Repair Project


President White opened the public hearing.


Ms. Schaufler reviewed the completed and ongoing collaborative planning process among the District, the MPRB and the City of Minneapolis. The history of the effort relates back to 2014 flooding. In 2017, the three parties approved a memorandum of understanding for coordination on flood management and corridor restoration issues. The Board of Managers then authorized a professional services request for qualifications associated with stream channel and corridor repairs and planning and selected a team consisting of Wenck Associates, Hoisington Koegler Group Inc. and Inter-Fluve, Inc. In the first phase of work, 47 damage sites were identified. In fall 2017, 28 of these sites were removed as either self-repaired or deferred for later corridor master planning by the MPRB.  In December 2017, six of the remaining 19 sites were deferred, leaving 13 sites for immediate repair under the FEMA funding program. The District held open houses on April 12 and 17 regarding the proposed work at these sites.


Ms. Schaufler than reviewed each of the thirteen sites and comments offered at the open houses. The estimated design and construction cost for the 13 sites is $1.2 million. FEMA funding of $336,459 is available, though funding eligibility was determined prior to certain design adjustments and so continuing eligibility needs to be confirmed. Ms. Schaufler reviewed the benefits of the work as outlined in the packet materials. Construction is intended over a fairly wide period, from September 2018 through June 2019, to afford the selected contractor flexibility. The MPRB and the City have submitted letters of support.


Manager Shekleton referenced repair sites in the Minnehaha Glen and noted that the boardwalk metal materials are peeling and that these issues should be addressed if work is done on the boardwalk sections. Ms. Schaufler replied that District staff is reviewing the boardwalk condition as a whole based on its operation and maintenance history in that area. Manager Shekleton added that the District was the entity that pressed for the boardwalk and so it is timely to review the decision and insure that the project element is of good quality.


Responding to Manager Olson, Ms. Schaufler said that about $140,000 is the amount of FEMA-eligible work that needs to be reconfirmed.


Manager Becker asked whether the repairs will be designed to be structurally sound in the face of recurring circumstances similar to the 2014 flooding. Ms. Schaufler replied that District staff has looked carefully at bioengineering solutions and that such approaches have improved since the time of the original design.


Katrina Kessler, City of Minneapolis Director of Surface Water and Sewers, appeared and stated that the project goals align well among the three parties. She stated on behalf of the City that the District’s role is appreciated and the City looks forward to continuing to collaborate on this and other projects.


President White determined that no members of the public wished to offer comments and closed the public hearing.


Resolution 18-042:  Ordering Minnehaha Creek FEMA Repair Project and Authorizing Design Contract


Ms. Schaufler presented the proposed recommendation. She reminded the Board that the project has been divided into two stages, with stage one encompassing FEMA streambank repairs, a stormwater management study and an integrated creek corridor concept plan, and stage two, led by the MPRB, consisting of shared capital improvement plan development for the Minnehaha Creek corridor and master planning for the regional parkland. In turn, stage one was split into two phases, with phase one consisting of FEMA project development and phase 2 involving final design and construction oversight. Finally, phase two involves two tracks, one associated with the FEMA repairs and the second feeding into the interagency creek and corridor planning work. The request for board action tonight is to order the project and authorize the Wenck team to proceed with phase 2- track 1 design and construction oversight.


Manager Shekleton moved, Manager Olson seconded adoption of the proposed resolution as follows:


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that pursuant to Minnesota Statutes §103B.251 and the WMP, the MCWD Board of Managers orders the Project.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the District Administrator, on advice of counsel, to execute a contract with Wenck, with HKGi and Inter-Fluve as subconsultants, for design and construction oversight services for an amount not to exceed $330,112, and further authorizes the District Administrator, in execution of the work, to increase the contract price by 10 percent of the not-to-exceed, in aggregate, as in his judgment circumstances require.


Manager Miller reminded those present of the regulatory issues that arose in the Minnehaha glen work under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) permit. Ms. Schaufler replied that staff has done prescreening with the USACE and has retained expertise specifically for the Section 106 cultural resources review.


Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.


Resolution 18-043:  Authorization to Execute Partnership Agreement for Long Lake Carp Assessment


Mr. Fieldseth presented the proposed resolution authorizing the District to enter into an agreement with the Cities of Long Lake, Medina and Orono and the Long Lake Waters Association (LLWA) and to contribute up to $7,000 for carp assessment work in Long Lake. Mr. Fieldseth reviewed the history of the partnership, originating in a 2016 coordinated effort by the three cities to address regional infiltration, wetland-stream restoration and carp management within the subwatershed. The LLWA was formed shortly thereafter and the parties approached the District in recognition that carp management within the subwatershed is an element of the TMDL implementation plan. An application was made for a Hennepin County Natural Resource Opportunity Grant for $100,000 as part of a $205,000 carp management project, but the application was unsuccessful as the proposal focused more on assessment then on implementation. The partners have scaled back to an assessment program with a scope of work costing $37,350 that would include a biomass estimate, carp movement tracking and assessment of carp recruitment frequency and also would include removal of bed debris that obstructs harvesting as well as a carp removal attempt. The District’s interest is in the assessment data more than the actual physical removal activity. The District would contribute $7,000 to the work and benefit from the assessment data. The Long Lake and Medina City Councils are scheduled to consider the agreement on May 1, and the Orono City Council will do the same on May 14.  



Manager Olson moved, Manager Rogness seconded adoption of the resolution, as follows: 


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers hereby authorizes the District Administrator to enter into an agreement with the Cities of Long Lake, Medina and Orono, and the Long Lake Waters Association, on advice of counsel and without substantive change, to contribute up to $7,000 to conduct carp assessment work in Long Lake.


Manager Olson appreciates the cooperation of the parties. Manager Miller said he would like to see a stronger commitment to partnership among the involved parties. Mr. Wisker noted that there has been good coordination with City staff. Manager Miller noted the District policy of obtaining formal action of cities involved and considers such action a prerequisite for District participation. Mr. Holtman noted the agreement structure that requires all five parties to approve before the agreement is effective.


Manager Miller moved, Manager Shekleton seconded to amend the main motion to incorporate into the resolution that the District Administrator may not sign the agreement until it has been formally approved by all parties. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.


Upon vote, the main motion, as amended, carried 7-0.


Resolution 18-044: Support for Commercial Salt Applicator Liability Legislation


Mr. Lochner and Ms. Labo together reviewed the recent history of increased attention, particularly within the metro area, to chloride water pollution, principally from deicing practices on roadways and private surfaces. The effort to advance proposed legislation has been led by a number of public and private entities, including Stop-Over-Salting (SOS), a grassroots organization made up primarily of District Master Water Stewards. SOS has asked the District to support the proposed legislation, which would provide a defense to liability claims for commercial deicing applicators that complete MPCA training and document use of best practices. Mr. Lochner stated that staff recommends support for the legislation for four reasons stated in the request for board action: It targets commercial salt use, which contributes 10 to 20 percent of total salt applied in the metro area; it addresses the primary barrier to commercial applicator adoption of salt application best management practices; it complements District policy and programming work to address chloride pollution; and it positions the District as a leader on the issues.


Manager Rogness moved, Manager Olson seconded adoption of the proposed resolution as follows:


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek District Board of Managers expresses its support for state commercial salt applicator liability legislation and directs staff to add MCWD’s logo to the Coalition for Applicator Liability Reform statement, write a letter of support and engage in other strategic support as needed.


Manager Miller noted that the proposed legislation is not part of the District’s program and also that the legislative session is nearing its conclusion. He asked whether the proposed action is simply symbolic and on a matter that has not been established as an important District policy. He is concerned that the proposed action would actually diminish the District’s leadership role. Mr. Lochner replied that the timing is the result of a communication from SOS seeking District support. Ms. Labo also clarified that the legislation remains active and is moving through the legislature.


Manager Shekleton’s thoughts are similar to those of Manager Miller. He noted that the District first was asked to support the legislation in January, when there was no Senate author; now there is a Senate author but it is late in the process. He supports the concept but questions adding it so late in the process without any direction to Mr. Carlson for specific action.


Administrator Wisker said that staff approached him several meetings ago on the matter and that he asked staff to take the time to frame the recommendation within the District’s policy context, which staff now has done. He stated that his request and related internal discussion is what resulted in the delay in bringing the matter forward.


President White supports the action. Chloride impairment is an important issue and the District should not be concerned about putting its name with those of responsible organizations. She observes a tremendous amount of salt overuse and the District should work to move the issue forward. Manager Shekleton commented that his position on the issue is not the same as his position on the District’s voicing of support for this specific legislation.


Responding to Manager Loftus, Administrator Wisker said that Mr. Carlson did not speak to the bill in his Executive Committee briefing. Time was short and he believes Mr. Carlson forgot. President White added that the Board did discuss the matter in committee at the time it reviewed the MAWD legislative agenda. Manager Olson emphasized that commercial applicators have said they won’t change their practices unless their risk profile changes. Manager Shekleton reemphasized  that he is not opposed to the concept, but he believes it is important for such District positions to come out of a policy discussion. Mr. Lochner offered that District staff did participate in policy development in discussion of the metro task force. Manager Olson also noted that the District representative voted in favor of the item as part of the MAWD legislative agenda.


Mr. Holtman offered, as context, that public road authorities currently can move toward best practices by virtue of certain liability protections that they enjoy under law as public authorities, whereas commercial applicators don’t have such protections and therefore have incentives only toward excessive salt use. The legislation would tend to balance the incentives for commercial applicators so that, similar to public authorities, they could move toward best practices. Exactly what effect the legislation would have on the comparative incentives and, consequently, on the change in public safety, is not readily judged.


Upon vote, the motion carried 4-3 (Managers Shekleton, Miller, Becker opposed).


Manager Shekleton stated he would like more advance communication on legislative matters. Administrator Wisker replied that he will be working to develop such structure but noted also that a part of legislative involvement necessarily is reactive and on a short time-line. President White affirmed that the District will pursue the issue with Mr. Carlson.


(Manager Shekleton left the room at this time.)


Resolution 18-045:  Accepting Tort Liability Limits


Ms. Reynolds noted that it is time for the District’s annual renewal of its League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust coverage and therefore that the Board must make a judgment on preserving or waving monetary limits on liability. Manager Becker moved, Manager Miller seconded adoption of the proposed resolution as follows:


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the District does not waive the monetary limits on tort liability established by Minnesota Statutes 466.04 and authorizes the Administrator to advise the LMCIT accordingly.   


Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.


(Manager Shekleton returned at this time.)




Arden Park Pre-60% Design Briefing

Ms. Clark reviewed upcoming events with respect to the project: a May 5 public open house, May 8 review by the City of Edina Parks and Recreation Commission, City Council review of the 60 percent design on May 15, and Board review on May 24.


Ms. Clark reviewed the project design goals and proposed outcomes. She noted that one outcome of design to date is to relocate the pavilion away from the creek toward the non-riparian green space, based on a public desire to emphasize that connection. She reviewed proposed bridge materials and natural rock at creek access points. Ms. Clark then reviewed the proposed creek meander alignment, proposed tree loss numbers and the specific matter of ash tree management. The District will intend to defer to the City on the last matter. The City forester is advising the City Council that it should remove all ash trees.


With respect to permitting, the USACE permit process could take up to 180 days, which is right up to the bid schedule. This includes Section 106 cultural resource review. The City is the “responsible government unit” for preparation of an environment assessment worksheet.     


Ms. Clark noted that the 60 percent cost estimate is similar to the pre-design estimate. She reviewed grants being pursued and considered, but as yet no grant funding has been obtained. With respect to the design budget, staff has used $16,000 of the $20,000 contingency, principally on stormwater review and the pavilion relocation. Finally, Ms. Clark reviewed the public process that has occurred and that is planned. She noted that there is a good amount of public communications and review, not atypical of what the District ordinarily endeavors to do.


Manager Miller asked about the individuals who during previous concept discussions were concerned about removal of the dam. Ms. Clark replied that the District is aware of four or five such individuals. She has specifically maintained contact with three of them, one of whom is on the advisory committee.


­2018 Employee Benefit Renewal


Ms. Reynolds reviewed the District’s current employee benefits package and general numbers for payroll and benefit cost in 2017 and as expected for 2018. She advised that the District will be reviewing the benefits package when it does the compensation analysis with Springsted.  


Manager Miller is interested in what percentage of payroll is benefits. He noted that the insurance premium appears high and cautioned that the District should be sure to maintain some parity with other organizations. Administrator Wisker noted that a discussion on the subject occurred in the last Operations and Programs Committee meeting and that similar themes were expressed. The conclusion was to retain the present framework for the 2018 budget, review the Springsted outcomes in fourth quarter 2018, and have an informed discussion and decision on salary and benefits to be reflected in 2019.    




Administrator Wisker announced that the Gray’s Bay dam is now open and flowing. He thanked the operations and communications staff who worked hard to initiate the operability of the dam and communicate conditions to the community. Present release rates and creek flows appear to be in balance but staff will continue to monitor.


Administrator Wisker told Board members to expect to receive an updated Minnehaha Creek map within the next two weeks. He asked managers to advise him and Ms. Reynolds if they wish to attend the MAWD summer tour. He advised that President White, along with Ms. Schaufler, himself, Ms. Kessler from the City of Minneapolis and County staff will meet tomorrow with County Commissioner McLaughlin regarding the Hiawatha issues. The Wasserman Lake project will come to the Policy and Planning Committee soon and staff also is working with the City of Victoria for its comprehensive plan, with a focus on the western growth area. Finally, there is no present closing date for the Farmhill Circle acquisition but it is expected to be within the next two weeks.




There being no further business, the regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Kurt Rogness, Secretary

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers