Sometimes it helps to say no.
That’s what the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board did in November when it balked at paying the city $5 per square foot to buy a tiny piece of land with an electrical transmission line hovering over it.
It’s now getting the same parcel – about half the size of a typical Minneapolis home lot – for about 42 cents a square foot. That’s a savings of $12,890, assuming the City Council signs off on the deal.
The Park Board approved the lower purchase price Wednesday for the land near the former Grain Belt brewery. It needs the parcel for the East Bank trail that it hopes to begin constructing later this year to extend off-street riverside biking and walking paths up the river from Boom Island.
It didn’t get the same deal with three other small awkwardly shaped parcels the board approved buying from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad for a base price of $3.56 per square foot. The railroad will also get the salvage value of rails that the park system will remove from the site, but the Park Board will eat the cost of disposing of its wooden ties as hazardous waste. It hopes to do that removal as part of the trail construction.
Park commissioners excoriated the city for its original price on the municipal land, which they deemed undevelopable. Commissioner Jon Olson went so far as to suggest that if city didn’t lower its price, the Park Board erect a sign at the parcel explaining why the trail stopped there.
Wiser heads prevailed. Park Board President Liz Wielinski got in touch with area Council Member Jacob Frey, who contacted the city's development agency. A new price less than 10 percent of the November price resulted.
Frey said Thursday that with a shared goal of connecting the riverfront with new trails, "It doesn't make sense for us to throw hurdles in front of the Park Board's efforts,"
(Below is a map showing the four parcels the board is buying for the trail. The yellow parcels are railroad land, and the parcel south of parcel C is the parcel being purchased from the city.)