The Edina City Council is howling after a long-negotiated land deal hit a last-minute snag. The council is upset at the city of Minneapolis, which inserted some 11th-hour demands into what council members thought was a done deal for an informal dog park on the borders of Minneapolis, Edina and St. Louis Park.
“This is bush-league stuff,” Council Member Bob Stewart said at a recent work session to discuss the deal. “It’s not a good way to do business, getting nickel and dimed. It just feels bad.”
The three cities had held low-level discussions for several years over the 14.3-acre property, located on the west side of France Avenue S. at 40th Street. Last year, negotiations got underway in earnest after Minneapolis said it would put the property on the open market and sell it for the best offer.
Last month, the deal appeared ready to close. Edina agreed to a higher price ($1.072 million) than it initially offered for its 9.5-acre share of the parcel, site of a Minneapolis water pumping station since the 1920s.
“Everything was going so nicely,” City Manager Scott Neal said. But after the Minneapolis City Council approved the deal, the contract underwent one last markup at Minneapolis city offices.
Minneapolis asked for several new concessions, including a 30-foot easement on the property and a sale by quit-claim deed rather than warranty deed. It also asked Edina to pay several fees, totaling about $6,000, usually paid by the seller in a real estate transaction.
Mayor James Hovland called the demands “a little thumb in the eye.” Then, in keeping with the dog-park theme, he compared Minneapolis to a canine marking its territory.
“If a dog sees a fire hydrant, he has to mark it,” Hovland said.
In St. Louis Park, which offered just under $580,000 for the other 3.8 acres of the parcel, the City Council has yet to consider the latest version of the deal. But no fireworks are expected.
“We have every expectation that we’ll be able to resolve matters with the city of Minneapolis,” city spokeswoman Jacqueline Larson said Friday.