What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Park fee bill stumbles over sex offender amendment

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: March 15, 2013 - 11:57 AM

A bill allowing Minneapolis to charge developers a fee for parks stalled Wednesday in the Senate after a Republican senator tried to link it with sex offenders.

An amendment proposed by Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, would have prevented the city from charging developers a fee for parks built within 1,500 feet of a registered sex offender. Republicans successfully added that same amendment to the House version of the bill two weeks ago.

About 70 communities in the area already impose the fees. The sex offender restriction would only apply in Minneapolis, however.

Sen. Scott Dibble, the sponsor of the bill, moved to table the legislation after Hall proposed the amendment.

"We need to move on with the business of the day," said Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis. "We can come back to this amendment at another time. I will speak against it. I think it's ridiculous and accomplishes nothing."

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board attorney, Brian Rice, told the Southwest Journal that the the provision was a "deal killer." Fifteen-hundred feet is about five to seven blocks, which could effectively prevent building new parks with developer fees in many parts of North Minneapolis.

Taxpayer dollars, incidentally, could still be used to build parks near sex offenders under the language of the amendment.

"We don't want to entice level 3 sex offenders with our children," Hall said. He later added that, "You can hear, you can be distracted by the kids playing. I can hear kids playing over a mile from my house. This is less than half of that. So members I would like you to consider the children of the City of Minneapolis, especially, and St. Paul."

Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, said in an interview last month that "they’re hoping that that can be used in a political campaign. And it’s gutter politics. It’s the worst of politics."

Pictured: Sen. Dan Hall

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