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November 8, 2018 Board Minutes





November 8, 2018



The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District was called to order by President Sherry White at 7:10 p.m. on November 8, 2018, at the District office, 15320 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, Minnesota.



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







James Wisker, Administrator; Cathy Reynolds, Operations Manager; Anna Brown, Planner-Project Manager; Tiffany Schaufler, Project and Land Manager; Heidi Quinn, Permitting Technician; Chris Meehan, District Consulting Engineer; Chuck Holtman, District Counsel.








Manager Olson moved, Manager Becker seconded approval of the agenda as distributed. Upon vote, the motion carried, 4-0.  President White advised that she would move Staff Updates to precede Board Discussion Items.



Manager Olson moved, Manager Rogness seconded approval of the Consent Agenda consisting of the October 25, 2018 Board Minutes.  Upon vote, the motion carried 4-0.



Board, Committee and Task Force Reports


President White reported that she has attended no external meetings.


(Manager Miller arrived at this time.)


Manager Olson reported that the Operations and Programs Committee met this evening.  Staff presented on accounting practices and improvements.  Implementation is intended in second quarter 2019.  Payroll will be discussed at the next committee meeting, and internal controls will be on a later agenda.  The Committee discussed the audit contract, which is on tonight’s meeting agenda.


President White reviewed upcoming meetings as stated on the agenda.  The November 14, 2018, Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting is cancelled.  Manager Olson is the Board liaison for the December CAC meeting. 


Permits Requiring a Variance or Discussion


Permit 18-626: Minnehaha Creek FEMA Repair Project, Minneapolis


Ms. Quinn reviewed this application from the District for its own project.  The application is submitted jointly with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) as landowner, and the permit will be issued to both parties.  The work is to repair and stabilize the Minnehaha Creek streambank in 10 locations damaged by 2014 flooding.  The work is subject to the District’s Erosion Control, Floodplain Alteration, and Streambank Stabilization Rules. 


(Managers Shekleton and Loftus arrived at this time.)


Ms. Quinn reviewed the regulatory analysis as laid out in a November 8, 2018, staff memorandum in the meeting packet.  She focused specifically on sections 4 and 5 of the Streambank Stabilization Rule, which requires that the stabilization method correspond to results of shear stress analysis but allows a deviation where the proposed method is the minimal impact solution for specific conditions at the location.  Staff finds that three locations (Sites 5, 26, and 30) qualify for alternative techniques under this criterion.


Ms. Quinn also reviewed the basis for an exception under the District’s Variances and Exceptions Rule from the standards of sections 3(a) and 3(b) of the Floodplain Alteration Rule.  These sections require that replacement flood storage volume be created for any floodplain fill and that there be no increase in the 100-year flood elevation of a watercourse.  Because the existing flood-damaged condition reflects the loss of bank material from the flood event, the bank repair will result in net fill.  However the methods of repair will result in a net increase of flood storage volume of some 61.5 cubic yards over the pre-flood condition, as determined by the erosion methodology of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Further, stabilizing without fill in the present condition would require additional bank grading, creek disturbance and riparian tree removal.  Staff therefore recommends a Board finding that the proposed approach achieves a greater degree of water resource protection than would strict compliance with the two cited provisions.


Manager Shekleton moved, Manager Rogness seconded approval of an exception from sections 3(a) and 3(b) on the analysis and grounds recommended by staff.


Manager Miller observed that some of this work was installed 10 years ago and did not withstand the 2014 flooding.  He noted the District is relying on the same consultant that designed the prior improvements and asked whether the present work would withstand the next flood.  Ms. Schaufler replied that the FEMA grant allows the District to design in excess of standard criteria to allow for a more resilient approach.  She noted also that the District has retained InterFluve, a stream design specialist, for assistance in designing the present project.


Manager Shekleton asked about the status of conversations with the MPRB regarding the Deer Pen outlet structure.  Ms. Schaufler replied that District and MPRB staff have been discussing improvement and maintenance programming on all park lands, and that the potential to remove the Deer Pen outlet structure is a specific conversation that will occur later.


Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.


Manager Shekleton moved, Manager Rogness seconded approval of Permit 18-625 with the above exception and with staff-recommended conditions.  Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.


Action Items


Resolution 18-114: Selection of Vendor and Authorization to Enter into Contract for Audit Services


Ms. Reynolds presented the proposed resolution to select the 2018-19 audit provider.  The District received six responses to its solicitation of audit services.  Staff evaluated submittals with a focus on government/watershed district experience, knowledge, capacity to meet deadline, and cost.  Redpath & Company, which provides the District’s accounting services and has provided its audit services as well in recent years, and Abdo, Eick & Meyers, LLP, are the two with watershed district experience.  The Redpath fee is slightly more than $9,000 more than the Abdo, Eick & Meyers fee, although some $5,000-7,000 of that is more for the purpose of year-end accounting.  On the basis of the price differential, staff recommends that the Board retain Abdo, Eick & Meyers for audit services.


Manager Shekleton urged that before the Board makes a decision, it should have more precision as to the comparative fees strictly for audit work.  Responding to President White, Ms. Reynolds indicated that postponing the retention decision to the December 13 meeting may create a timing challenge for pre-audit planning actions.  Manager Miller averred that continuity is important and that Redpath has an intimate knowledge of the District.  He concurs that the fee comparison should be clarified, but he does not support changing auditors without a strong reason.  Manager Loftus offered that there also is merit in not having the same firm provide accounting and audit services.  Administrator Wisker stated that staff will obtain clarifying fee information for the November 15, 2018 meeting.


Resolution 18-115: Authorization to Execute an Agreement with Three Rivers Park District for SMCHB Aeration


Ms. Brown reviewed the proposed resolution authorizing a cooperative agreement with the Three Rivers Park District (TRPD) for installation and maintenance of utilities and facilities for shallow lake aeration of South Lundsten, North Lundsten and Sunny Lakes within the Carver Park Reserve.


Ms. Brown offered that South Lundsten is the most productive carp nursery within the system and the highest priority to install and commence management.  North Lundsten and Sunny also serve as carp nurseries, but to a more moderate degree.  Under the agreement, the District and TRPD will coordinate to develop and implement an operation and maintenance plan.  The TRPD operates aeration units elsewhere within the park system and it may make sense for TRPD to assume substantial operational responsibility for some or all of these units.  The agreement is subject to renewal on a three-year cycle, and the parties will spend the first three-year cycle working to optimize operation and maintenance.


Manager Olson moved, Manager Miller seconded adoption of Resolution 18-115, providing as follows:


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorize[s] the administrator to execute, on advice and consent of counsel, and with any non-substantive adjustments, a cooperative agreement with Three Rivers Park District for utility installation and shallow lake aeration in Carver Park Reserve.


Manager Miller noted carp removal programmed for Halsted Bay and asked about migration between Halsted Bay and the rest of Lake Minnetonka.  Ms. Brown replied that there certainly is movement, but that the western edge of the lake offers the best conditions for the carp population.


Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.


Resolution 18-116: Authorization to Award Contract for Installation of Electricity for SMCHB Aeration


Ms. Brown presented the proposed resolution authorizing a contract with Telcom Construction, Inc., for installation of utility services for lake aeration, as well as payment of service extension fees to Minnesota Valley Electric Coop and Xcel Energy


The Telcom contract would cover installation at Mud, South Lundsten, Marsh and Turbid Lakes.  Installation at North Lundsten and Sunny Lakes would be deferred owing to the greater distance and more difficult conditions over which to extend service and the consequent substantially higher cost for winter work.  Staff is evaluating these sites and whether barriers are a better option.  With respect to the four sites, District staff still are working with Marsh and Turbid Lake property owners for access agreements.


Manager Olson moved, Manager Becker seconded adoption of Resolution 18-116, providing as follows:


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the District Administrator to execute a contract for utility installation in the Six Mile Creek-Halsted Bay subwatershed with Telcom Construction, Inc. in the amount of $56,252.75;


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MCWD Board of Managers establishes a utility installation budget in the not-to-exceed amount of $61,877.00 and authorizes the Administrator, in his judgment, to authorize change orders obligating the District up to that amount; and


BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the MCWD Board of Managers authorizes the Administrator to pay the associated fees for utility installation to Minnesota Valley Electric Coop and Xcel Energy, for an estimated cost of $13,900, and establishes a not to exceed budget of $16,680.


Manager Loftus asked if the District planned for winter charges and other contingencies.  Ms. Brown replied that staff did not do contingency planning, since utility charges were largely unknown in any event.  She noted that South Lundsten and Mud Lakes are the higher priority on the basis of carp reproduction productivity and the greatest likelihood for winter kill, so it is most important to proceed at these sites.  Responding to Manager Olson, Ms. Brown advised that the service extension would use trenched lines.


Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.


Staff Updates


Administrator Wisker presented the Administrator’s Report, noting the following:


  • Water levels are trending down.  Lake Nokomis is at 815.4 elevation; Lake Minnetonka is at 928.60 elevation; and Mooney Lake is at 989.3 elevation.  Mooney Lake is being pumped now, and under the agreement may continue until elevation declines to 988.


  • The District continues to provide technical support and to coordinate with the MPRB, City of Minneapolis and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources with respect to Nokomis neighborhood groundwater issues.  Meetings continue with the Metropolitan Council, the citizens’ group and Representative Wagenius.  Administrator Wisker and Ms. Schaufler will attend an upcoming meeting.


  • The Board Executive Committee will meet next week.


  • Responding to Manager Olson’s earlier inquiry, staff communicated with the Metropolitan Council and has learned that its contractor fairly quickly contained the sewage discharge near CSAH 44 at the northeast corner of Halsted Bay.  The leak resulted from a cracked valve.  Bacteria levels are now within standard.


  • Administrator Wisker met with President White and Manager Loftus regarding human resources matters.  Springsted provided a briefing on the status of its job classification and preliminary market data analysis.  They will meet once more, and then it is planned to provide an Operations and Programs Committee presentation on December 13 and a presentation at the December 20 Board of Managers meeting.


  • Education staff borrowed pedestrian counters from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to measure usage at Minnehaha Preserve and Arden Park.  Staff is developing an approach to assess use of District projects for future project design and programming.


  • Becky Christopher will reach her 10-year anniversary with the District this week.  Administrator Wisker offered praise for her contributions to the District’s work.  The Board added its congratulations.


Board Discussion Items


Redevelopment and Sale of 325 Blake Road Property


Manager Rogness moved, Manager Olson seconded, to convene in closed session to discuss an offer for the sale of the District property at 325 Blake Road, Hopkins.  Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.


The Board reconvened in open session.




There being no further business, the regular meeting of the Board of Managers was adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Kurt Rogness, Secretary

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers