Minutes - January 10, 2013
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT BOARD OF MANAGERS January 10, 2013
CALL TO ORDER
The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President James Calkins at 6:50 p.m. at the District offices, 18202 Minnetonka Boulevard, Deephaven, Minnesota.
James Calkins, Brian Shekleton, Pamela Blixt, Richard Miller, Jeffrey Casale, William Olson, Sherry White.
Eric Evenson, District Administrator; James Wisker, District Planning Director; Renae Clark, District Projects Manager; Joe Barten, District Cost-Share Specialist; Leslie Yetka, District Education Manager; Michael Panzer, District Consulting Engineer; Michael Welch, Assistant District Counsel.
ELECTION OF OFFICES
Manager Blixt moved, seconded by Manager Shekleton, to reelect the present slate of officers: Jim Calkins, president; Brian Shekleton, vice president; Richard Miller, treasurer; Sherry White, secretary. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.
Matters from the Floor
Approval of Agenda
Manager Shekleton asked to add an update from last month’s meeting of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to the agenda, and Manager White asked to add an update from the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Task Force. Manager White moved, seconded by Manager Miller, to approve the agenda as amended. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.
President Calkins noted the information items on the agenda and asked if any of the managers had questions. Manager Miller asked about the CAC decision to reduce the number of members needed to constitute a quorum to one-third of total membership. He expressed concern with such a low number constituting a quorum. Mr. Welch explained that the Board of Managers appoints the CAC but the members determine how to operate. Joe Barten appeared before the managers and explained that the reduced quorum is a response to several meetings at which the CAC was unable to act because it did not have a quorum. Peter Rechelbacher, a member of the CAC, appeared and said several of the CAC members have resigned, making it difficult for the CAC to get a quorum, which is why the new quorum is stated as a percentage or fraction of the number of members rather than a specific number. He said it will still require two-thirds of the membership to change the CAC bylaws.
Manager White stated that she very much enjoyed viewing the reports from the communications and education departments. Manager Miller suggested sending the education report to the CAC.
Mr. Evenson pointed out that each of the resolutions on the consent agenda is proposed to be advanced to the next meeting of the Board of Managers for approval. Manager Miller moved, seconded by Manager Olson, to approve the consent agenda, advancing resolutions authorizing the administrator to solicit request for proposals for professional services, approving $5,000 in funding for the Northland NEMO program, and approving $5,000 in funding for the International Low Impact Development Symposium to the January 24, 2013, consent agenda. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.
Committee and Task Force Reports
President Calkins reported on the most recent meeting of the Executive Committee, at which the committee reviewed the restructuring proposal, which will be coming back to the board for discussion January 24. Manager Miller reported that the Finance Committee met prior to this evening’s meeting and looked at preliminary end-of-year financials and a report on the Hennepin County debt issuance. The group also reviewed a debt management policy that will coming to the board for consideration. He added that the committee asked Springsted to review the District’s Investment and Depository Policy and the committee reviewed the Cold Storage financials. Mr. Evenson said that at the January 24 meeting the committee will also bring forward a proposal to make some housekeeping changes to the District governance policies and have Springsted conduct a search for depository and investment-management options, as well as manage the District’s loan payments. He added that the end-of-year financials look good and that the District received roughly the expected revenues. Manager Miller added that the initial review of the Cold Storage financials indicates no exceptions will be reported in the audit and that the net revenue from the facility was somewhat higher than expected. Mr. Welch suggested that it would be prudent for the Springsted review of the District policies to be coordinated with legal counsel as early in the process as possible.
Manager Shekleton reported on the most recent CAC meeting in which the group had a
presentation on the State of the River report from representatives of the National Park Service and Friends of the Mississippi. Manager Shekleton complimented the report and presentation, the positive review of which was echoed by several other managers. Manager Calkins asked if the District’s impact on the Mississippi River can be quantified and if the District has the data needed to undertake such quantification. Manager Miller asked whether the data from the Minnehaha outfall could be compared to other watersheds. Mr. Panzer said a comparison and analysis of the watershed contribution to the river could be done. Manager Miller moved, seconded by Manager Calkins, to direct the District Engineer prepare and present data comparing watershed contributions to the Mississippi River. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.
Manager Shekleton continued his report on the CAC meeting, stating that the CAC retroactively approved the payment of expenses for attendance at the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts conference for two members from the CAC budget. The managers discussed the propriety and appropriateness of retroactive reimbursement. Manager Blixt said it’s important for the CAC members to seek out and get training on water resources issues as will be helpful to their service. Manager Miller stated that it is important that expenses be approved in advance. Manager Miller moved, seconded by Manager Shekleton, to clarify that the Board of Managers’ approval of a CAC budget for 2013 is conditioned on approval of expenses by the CAC prior to their being incurred. The managers discussed whether the $1,000 budget for the CAC for 2013 is sufficient. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.
Manager White stated that the most recent meeting of the AIS Task Force featured a presentation of two draft chapters of the District’s AIS plan by Craig Dawson. The draft materials were well received by the members. She stated that the task force also received a report from the Department of Natural Resources AIS Roundtable from members who attended.
Upcoming Meetings and Event Schedule
Manager Calkins noted that Manager Olson will attend the next CAC meeting on behalf of Manager White.
Meetings to be Scheduled
Mr. Evenson scheduled a Legislative Committee meeting for Tuesday, January 29, from 5 to 7p.m.
Appointment of 2013 CAC Members
Joe Barten presented a staff-recommended slate of six new CAC members for 2013. Manager Calkins stated that in reviewing the attendance report for the last year he saw that a few CAC members have missed a number of meetings. He said that it should clear to CAC members that their regular attendance is expected. Manager White moved, seconded by ManagerShekleton, to approve the appointment of new CAC members as recommended by staff, including Heather Johnson, Richard Manser, David Oltmans, Priscilla Bue, Joseph Lofgram and Gary Wilson. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.
Citizens for the Minnehaha Creek Corridor Signage Proposal
Leslie Yetka introduced the presentation of recommended improvements to canoe landings and signage on the creek from the Citizens for the Minnehaha Creek Corridor (CMCC). Ms. Yetka introduced Ken Gothberg and Tom Balcom from CMCC, who prepared the report for presentation to the Board. Mr. Gothberg said that he would not review all of the details in the written presentation in the board packet but rather will provide some highlights. He clarified, in response to a question from Manager Miller, that the CMCC is a chapter 317A nonprofit organization. Mr. Gothberg presented the primary recommendations from the CMCC for improvement to a number of areas along the creek where signage is either missing or badly deteriorating, and canoe landings and other such facilities are degraded. Mr. Gothberg reviewed the options for way-finding signage, as well as mile markers and signs on bridges noting the road overhead. Mr. Gothberg showed photos of the headwaters area at Gray’s Bay dam, where he noted that the best signage along the creek is located. He said this area also has the only map sign along the creek. Mr. Gothberg noted the need to make a number of the landings on the creek Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.
Mr. Balcom presented options for signage with information on the history and environment of the creek. He said in particular there is a need for good signage at the Chain of Lakes connection to the creek, Burwell House and Lake Nokomis. Mr. Gothberg continued, stating that the CMCC is looking for a statement of conceptual support from the Board of Managers that will allow the CMCC to develop agreements with cities to share costs for some of the work proposed and to develop designs and expected costs. He suggested the District cover the design and hard cost for safety signage, mile makers and you-are-there signs that would be installed by the cities. He said the cities could provide funding for the design, purchase and installation of way-finding signs, bridge signs and additional amenities at landings. He suggested that the District cost share with the cities for ADA access.
In response to a question from Manager Shekleton, Ms. Yetka explained that staff includes the cost of signage at District projects in the capital budgets for such projects. The managers suggested that the design concept for the signs along the creek borrow from the headwater signage. Mr. Evenson noted that the District has historically assisted with signage and launches, but has not done so in recent years. Ms. Yetka stated that staff has completed an inventory of all the signage in the watershed and noted needs for improvement and upgrades. Manager Casale complimented the members of the CMCC on their report and the project. Mr. Gothberg conceded that tight budgets will be an issue in implementing the project. Manager Blixt moved, seconded by Manager Shekleton, to direct staff to develop a proposal for District participation in the CMCC signage and landing project for discussion by the Board of Managers. Ms. Yetka stated that city staff have not yet been engaged in this project and it would be helpful for members of the CMCC to have a sense of the support the District is inclined to provide. Manager Blixt said that she is looking for a clear proposal from staff. The managers and staff discussed the need for an outside consultant to help implement the project. Manager Blixt expressed the view that the project should be scaled to allow it to be implemented by current staff. Upon vote, the motion passed 7-0.
Reach 20 Construction Update
Ms. Clark appeared before the Board of Managers and apologized that the request for board action for this item was just recently uploaded for the managers’ review. Ms. Clark said that the project was designed to balance soil quantities across the project but that the project site exceeds the Weis properties that the District owns and extends onto City of St. Louis Park property. She said staff is recommending use of soils from the construction of the stormwater pond on the Weis property as fill on City of St. Louis Park property. To accomplish this, the soils must be tested to confirm that there are unregulated fill under the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) regulatory framework. She said that the District has easements on the City of St. Louis Park property that will allow the placement of qualifying soil on the city property.
Manager Casale noted that in the course of a complicated project such as this there is sometimes a need to react quickly to developing conditions. In response to a question from Manager Miller, Ms. Clark said that the excavators working on the project now have not been delayed waiting for a determination on the soil transfer. Ms. Clark stated that if additional action is needed by the managers, staff will be return to the meeting at the end of the month. In response to a question from Manager Calkins, Ms. Clark stated that no soil will be removed from the project site, rather balance will be achieved across the whole project site. Manager Olson noted that the creek in this area was straightened to ditch it and allow for waste transport. He asked whether this prior function of the creek increases the likelihood that the project work will discover contaminated soils. Mr. Welch explained that because of this history and conditions of the properties discovered already, a construction contingency plan is in place that instructs the contractor how to handle an unexpected discovery. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.
Mr. Evenson reported that the Steiger Lake excavation will start Monday. He said staff is very closely watching drought conditions in the watershed to determine whether it will have an effect on District projects and programs, and will keep the managers informed. He said that the District office will be closed on January 18 for a staff retreat.
Finally, he noted that the Wayzata Lake Effect Open House is January 15.
There being no further business, the regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.