The city this week sued to block the owner of a controversial upscale apartment building in Uptown from pumping groundwater through the city sewer and into a nearby lagoon that's part of the Chain of Lakes, saying that makes ice unsafe.
The city asked Hennepin County District Court to declare illegal and bar the pumping of groundwater from the lower level of the upscale building's underground parking into the city's sewer, which enters the lagoon. The city also asked for a penalty of $1,000 per day for allegedly violating the city's storm drain ordinance, and other unspecified damages.
The 56-unit apartment building opened two years ago at 1800 W. Lake St., a location that some residents regard as the western gateway to Uptown. The proposal stirred debate in 2009 over the appropriate height for buildings near lakes Calhoun and Isles under a land use plan adopted in 2008, after construction of a taller building across the street.
Developer Daniel Oberpriller said development firm Lake and Knox LLC is trying to figure out the right thing to do, but referred comment on the lawsuit to the firm's attorney.
Lake and Knox LLC obtained temporary state and city permits that allowed it to pump enough water to build the building's foundation several feet below the surrounding water table, according to the city lawsuit. But its application to the state said the temporary dewatering would end after 90 days, and the city permit was timed for the same period.
The city alleges that pumping to drain groundwater from the completed apartment building has continued at a rate of at least 240,000 gallons per day. That's impairing the lagoon, the city alleges, by causing thin ice and open water that imperils cross-country skiers and other lake users, while marring the scenic view. The city also alleges that the pumping uses sewer capacity that's needed for rain and snowmelt, and interferes with the operation and maintenance of a city grit chamber that's designed to reduce sediment flowing into the lake.
Ironically, the building's profile was lowered, pushing its garages deeper, in order to accommodate neighborhood objections. One sign of the intensity of the debate was that four adjoining neighborhoods took the unprecedented step of jointly appealing to the City Council the Planning Commission's approval of variances and other approvals the project needed. That appeal failed.
The rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the building ranges from $1,500 to $1,800 monthly, and a two-bedroom unit costs from $2,200 to $2,900 monthly.
Minneapolis police are warning residents of a spate of violent robberies that are targeting Hispanics in neighborhoods roughly along Interstate 35 W, south of downtown.
Police said five robberies took place between Dec. 20 and Dec. 23rd in areas that include parts of Whittier, Phillips West, Lyndale and Central neighborhoods.
In one case, a gun was shown, in another a knife. Police are advising residents to be aware of their surroundings, walk with someone else at all times and try to get a good description of the robber.
Here’s the five incidents. In all of them the victims were Hispanic:
Dec. 17 at 7:40 p.m.: A man forcibly took a woman’s purse as she walked at 1st Av. South and 28th St. E.
Dec. 20: 8:10 p.m. A man robbed a man in a parking lot at 38th and Nicollet Av. No weapons were involved.
Dec. 21 at 2:30 a.m.: Two men punched a male who was walking at Franklin Av. E and Clinton Av. S. They stole his backpack.
Dec. 22 at 2 a.m.: Two men approached a male, showed a knife and took his wallet and cell phone in the 27XX block of Nicollet Av. The victim was not hurt.
Dec. 23 at 12:38 a.m.: A male was leaving a city bus when a man displayed a handgun at 1st Av. S and 33 St. E. The suspect fled before taking anything from the victim.
As Mayor R.T. Rybak nears the end of his last term, it’s striking how much city residents are talking about their gripes in one area that office-seeker Rybak highlighted in 2001 as an area for improvement: plowing snow.
Rybak’s 90-day plan for taking office called for taking initial steps toward 24-hour plowing. That idea lasted longer that his coolness to a new Twins ballpark, which began melting the same month he was elected, but Rybak couldn’t persuade the council to revamp the plowing schedule and left 24-hour plowing out of his first budget. He said a series of community meetings gave him the feedback that pursuing the idea was wrong, especially in areas without sufficient garages or parking. Plus, 24-hour plowing would have left half of city streets available parking at a time, instead of the current one-third.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been some tweaks in plowing since the mayor took office. The most notable is modifying rules to allow people to park on a side of the street as soon as it has been “fully plowed,” instead of waiting until that side’s no-parking period expired.
Cynics question whether snow is ever fully plowed, noting that the edge of plowed snow often creeps several feet out from the curb as winter lengthens. That could be in part due to another change in recent years that’s saved the city money. Public Works honchos are using more plow drivers who are shifted from other duties such as sewer, water or garbage services and hold the necessary truck license. Some experienced plow drivers say that makes a difference in how well snow is plowed, but the city says it can get by with fewer dedicated plow drivers that way.
Rybak made towing for snow removal the pilot topic for his statistical measurement system that evolved into Results Minneapolis. Although that study found geographic inequities in neighborhoods where vehicles were towed more frequently, one bright idea for relieving that issues – using SNOasis private lots temporarily – didn’t last long.
Still-common plowing complaints often focus on the ridges that plows leave behind, sealing a driveway or corner, despite the availability of plow gates that can minimize such barriers. One Como area property owner who is pushing 70 said she had to clear ridges four separate times last week.
If you’d like to vent, or just read what others say about plowing, go to the city’s snow emergency Facebook page.
The 112-year-old railroad bridge linking Boom Island and Nicollet Island has been closed to all but foot and bike traffic due to advanced deterioration of the bridge below the deck that was detected by a city inspection.
The closing of the 175-foot crossing to vehicles isn't expected to have much public impact because the span is used mainly by maintenance vehicles of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which plow trails that run across the bridge.
The 1901 through-truss bridge is safe for individuals, the Park Board said in a news release. Jersey barriers have been placed at either end of the bridge to block vehicles. It said that the Commitment Day 5K race scheduled for Jan. 1 will use the bridge as planned.
The bridge crosses the east channel of Nicollet Island, part of a corridor that extends down the east flank of the island's north half to where the line once connected with Burlington Northern tracks.
The 1901 through-truss bridge was for the Wisconsin Central Railroad as part of its railyard that replaced lumberyards on Boom Island that were destroyed in an 1893 fire. The railyards were cleared in the 1970s in anticipation of the routing of Interstate 335 across Boom Island before opponents stalled that project. Roundhouse foundations are buried in the park that replaced rails on Boom Island.
A sweeping plan designed to handle booming enrollment in Minneapolis schools over the next five years goes before the school board for a vote Tuesday evening, meaning changes for almost a third of district students.
The plan arrives back at the board with two final changes from the revised version the board got last month:
• A competitive-entry elementary program for advanced students proposed for the Wilder building on Chicago Avenue has been dropped, but an undefined pre-kindergarden to fifth grade program would open there in 2015.
• A middle school in another portion of that building has also been scrapped in favor of expanding Sanford Middle School in 2016. The district previously backed off a shift opposed by some parents of middle-school Spanish immersion students from Anwatin Middle School to Wilder.
The proposal represents the biggest change since the district’s massive restructuring of attendance patterns in 2009, when it was still reacting to declining enrollment.
It’s designed to accommodate the 3,400 students the district projects it will add by 2017, and is aimed at creating some programs to attract students back from charter and other schools. Some of the changes respond to parent feedback in two rounds of community meetings held since the latest proposal was unveiled in September.
Some of those proposed changes include expanding the Spanish immersion program to a third elementary school at Sheridan (2015) and to Roosevelt High School, adding a second magnet at North High School (2015) focused on technical fields, possible later addition of an arts-technical program at Sanford and Roosevelt, and more early childhood programs.
The proposal affects about 10,500 students, although many won’t see much change. Fewer than 500 would shift buildings involuntarily, mainly the move of older special education students in the Transition Plus program to the district-owned former Brown Institute building at Hi-Lake (2015), and the move of a French immersion program to the Cityview building (2015). Some students will follow different paths from elementary through middle and high schools, such as the addition of Roosevelt for Spanish immersion students (2014). Most downtown-area students starting school will be routed to reopened Webster (2015) school and then Northeast Middle and Edison High schools, rather than heading to Southwest High School. Still others will see new or expanded programs in their buildings, such as the proposed fourfold increase in classrooms at Sullivan and Andersen (2014) for students new to the country who don’t speak English. Sanford’s new gym would allow existing gyms to be converted to classrooms.
Overall, the proposal adds 1,400 more seats than the anticipated enrollment, more than half of those in the district’s north and northeast zone. Some parents there has been unhappy about unclear pathways and programs in the proposal. Adding more seats represents an effort to meet the needs of students through a variety of academic approaches, said LeAnn Dow, the district’s project manager.
The proposal handles the biggest enrollment imbalance in the district’s southwest zone by expanding Southwest (450 students) for 2016, sharing of classes at adjacent Ramsey Middle and Washburn High schools (450) starting in 2015, shifting downtown students to northeast (300) and the new Wilder preK-5 school (450). The Wilder program will be defined with parents in the feeder area once that is defined, Dow said.
Major points in the proposal: Expansion of Southwest, Sanford, Seward Montessori (2016); reopening of Franklin Middle (2015), Cityview, Webster and an expanded Cooper school (2017); new early childhood programs at Wilder, Webster, North and Davis Center; eventual addition of arts-technical programs at Sanford and Roosevelt; addition of all-day kindergarten at five southwest schools without it; bus passes for students from outside Minneapolis willing to open enroll in 2014 to high-poverty schools; locating one of Harvest Prep’s sister charter schools at Lincoln building (2014).
The proposal defers to 2017 the idea of a college prep or audition-based arts high school, which some parents felt would weaken existing high school arts programs. A proposal to open a school that would help immigrant students through their college years was also deferred.
|Politics (1)||Bridge construction (1)|
|Light rail and rail transit (1)||Property problems (1)|
|Public records (58)||Minnesota campaigns (1)|
|Minnesota legislature (1)||Minnesota state senators (1)|
|Education (1)||Minneapolis Edison (3)|
|Minneapolis Henry (2)||Minneapolis North (4)|
|Minneapolis Roosevelt (5)||Minneapolis South (1)|
|Minneapolis Southwest (5)||Minneapolis Washburn (5)|
|Democrats (1)||Morning Hot Dish newsletter (1)|
|Parks and recreation (200)||People and neighborhoods (625)|
|Politics and government (856)||Public safety (414)|
|Urban living (296)||Local business (274)|
|Minneapolis elections (6)||Betsy Hodges (1)|