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October 26th, 2017 Board Meeting Minutes





October 26, 2017


The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Sherry White at 6:46 p.m. at the MCWD offices, 15320 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, Minnesota.


Sherry White, Brian Shekleton, Richard Miller, Kurt Rogness, William Olson, William Becker and Jessica Loftus.




Lars Erdahl, Administrator; James Wisker, Planning and Projects Director; Renae Clark, Planner-Project Manager; Telly Mamayek, Communications and Education Director; Darren Lochner, Education Program Manager; Chris Meehan, District Consulting Engineer; and Louis Smith, District Counsel.




Telly Mamayek, District Communications and Education Director provided members of the public with an overview concerning the logistics of the upcoming public hearing on the Arden Park Improvement Project. Manager Olson welcomed the presence of the Cub Scout Troop from Victoria.








President White noted that the Board Committee and Task Force Reports would be deferred on the agenda to follow the Arden Park Public Hearing. President White also noted that Item 7.1 on the Consent Agenda, Resolution 17-066: Authorization to hire Redpath and Company to complete the 2017 Financial Audit, would be moved to Item 11.2 on the Action Item Agenda. It was moved by Manager Rogness, seconded by Manager Shekleton, to approve the meeting agenda with these changes.  Upon vote, the motion carried, 7-0.




It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Becker, to approve the Consent Agenda, including approval of the October 12, 2017 Board minutes; and approval of the general checking account, checks numbered 38572 to 38634 for a total of $220,209.41, payroll direct deposits of $142,603.66 and approve electronic fund withdrawals totaling $134,569.71 for total expenses of $497,382.78, and surety account check registers, as well as acceptance of the 325 Blake Road checking account. Upon vote, the motion carried, 7-0.




President White opened the public hearing. Ms. Renae Clark appeared before the Board of Managers to review the background and status of the Arden Park Improvement Project. She introduced Ms. Anne Katreh, Park and Recreation Director from the City of Edina. Ms. Clark reviewed the history of the project and planning processes, several stages of community input, and recent discussions and work with the City of Edina to combine park improvements with creek restoration.


Ms. Katreh spoke to the managers about the City's interest in partnering with the Watershed District. She renewed the key recommendations of the City's 2015 Strategic Plan for Parks, the goals of the Plan, and the integration of the park improvements with the creek restoration work. She also reported that the Edina City Council has recently approved the project plan.


President White invited comments from the public.


Mr. Jim Grotz appeared at the public hearing and expressed his concerns with the project. He suggested that, as with major surgery, it is helpful to get a second opinion. He referred to a handout in which he identified possible title problems with the property, which lead him to question whether the City of Edina had the authority to proceed with the project. Mr. Grotz also stated that he was opposed to removal of the dam structure, that the project would result in a high ecological cost, with impact to trees, and that it would be better to use the existing creek channel rather than remeander.


Mr. John Crabtree appeared at the public hearing and presented aerials from 1957 and 2015. He stated that this provided more information about the parcels affected by the project and agreed with Mr. Grotz that the ownership and title issues should be addressed. He also stated that the existing creek bottom should be considered as a better site for the creek work.


Mr. Geoff Workinger appeared at the public hearing and stated that he is not in favor of the creek restoration. He questions what benefits will result and also what ecological improvements could be measured. He requested that there be baseline data to evaluate whether improvements result from the project. He also asked what the park would look like when the project was completed, and that the current site provides great value with rustic nature.


Mr. Jerry O?Brien appeared at the public hearing and referred to a memorandum that he distributed and requested be part of the record, along with a video that described governance concerns that he had relating to the project.


Ms. Heather Beal appeared at the public hearing and stated that she was very concerned about the impact to up to ninety trees being removed in order to facilitate meandering of the creek. She stated that she felt that any work on the creek should be minimally invasive with the trees, and asked that before a detail plan is approved, that specific evaluation of tree removal be completed.


Mr. Tom Fletcher appeared at the public hearing and advocated eliminating the creek restoration element of the project. He stated that he felt that restoration was a misnomer because it is really a reconstruction of the creek. He stated that he felt that the $1.3 million estimated cost is expensive, and that the District should ask what is the problem to be solved at this site. He stated that he felt that current trees provide plenty of buffer for the creek.


Mr. Steve Brown appeared at the public hearing stating that that he had used the park for 14 years.  He felt that it is a delightful park but poorly developed and in disrepair. He stated that he was excited about the project and complimented the City and the Watershed District for taking the time and listening to input from the neighborhood. He noted that the City had decided after hearing all of the input to support proceeding with the project because it makes sense. He recognized that more design work will be done, but that to date it is a very strong and well-conceived project.


There being no further comments, President White closed the public hearing at 7:46 p.m.


President White asked if managers had any further questions. Manager Miller complimented the quality of the presentations and the quality of citizen comments. He stated that everyone should be proud of the community effort concerning this project. Manager Shekleton asked for a clarification of the aerial photography and a clarification about the title issue that had been raised. Ms. Katreh stated that she will look into the title question on behalf of the City.

Upon a question from Manager Olson, Ms. Clark explained how the concrete slab had shifted, and that major storm events had altered the flow of the stream. In response to a question from Manager Olson about fish passage, Ms. Clark explained how the design had been revised in light of these changes in site conditions. Manager Olson also asked about the impact to trees and the restoration of any trees that are removed. Ms. Clark reviewed the state of inventory and planning about trees at the site and noted that any trees removed would also be utilized for woody debris. In response to questions from Manager Shekleton and Manager Rogness, Ms. Clark explained that the original concept of a by-pass pipe to facilitate fish passage has been abandoned, and that removal of the dam would be in keeping with an ecological approach to creek restoration.


Resolution 17-067: Authorization to Execute Master Finance Agreement with Carver County


Mr. James Wisker appeared before the Board of Managers and noted the history of working with Carver County for a finance agreement concerning projects in the Six Mile Creek-Halsted Bay Subwatershed. He noted that the Carver County Board of Commissioners approved this agreement on October 17, and provided very positive feedback on its working relationship with the District. Following discussion, it was moved by Manager Olson, seconded by Manager Miller, to adopt Resolution 17-067 as follows:


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers hereby authorizes the Board President, on advice of counsel, to execute the Carver County – MCWD Master Finance Agreement.


Upon vote, the motion carried, 7-0.


2018 MCWD Citizen Advisory Committee Focus


Mr. Darren Lochner and Mr. James Wisker appeared before the Board of Managers to present discussion about plans for the focus of the Citizen Advisory Committee for 2018. Mr. Lochner noted the evolving role of the CAC and suggested that there is an interest in utilizing the experience and expertise of CAC members in alignment with the District's plan and work plans. Mr. Wisker noted the past work the District has undertaken for strategical alignment, and described how the CAC work could align better with the Boards work plans, policies and planning efforts. The managers thanked Mr. Lochner and Mr. Wisker and stated that they look forward to the input from the CAC in refining this discussion.





Resolution 17-066: Authorization to Hire Redpath and Company to Complete the 2017 Financial Audit


Mr. Erdahl reviewed the Request for Board Action, noting that the District would like to proceed to retain Redpath and Company to perform the 2018 Audit.  Mr. Smith noted that there were several issues that should be addressed in the engagement of Redpath and Company to better align with the District's practices for engagement of professional services. He recommended amending the resolution to read that the Board of Managers ?Hereby Authorizes the District Administrator, following review by legal counsel and any amendments that the Administrator deems necessary on advice of counsel, to sign the attached letter of engagement??


It was moved by Manager Becker, seconded by Manager Miller to adopt Resolution 17-066 with the revision recommended by Mr. Smith. Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.




Mr. Erdahl reported on the following items:


  1. The 50th Anniversary Celebration for the District will be on November 2; and Governor Dayton has proclaimed November 2, 2017 as ?Minnehaha Creek Watershed Day? in the State of Minnesota;
  2. The Metropolitan Chapter of the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts met last week and heard a presentation from the Minnesota Department of Health on the challenges with water reuse and the work of a consortium of state agencies to develop policies on water reuse;
  3. The Minnesota Association of watershed District Annual Conference will be November 30 through December 2, and a new Executive Director should be announced soon;
  4. Mr. Erdahl is proceeding with work to implement the Human Resources Strategic Alignment, including work on the roles and responsibilities of the assistant administrator; work on transition for the education and communications work to be aligned with the planning and projects team; and planning for a review of the salary grid, though it will not be a full compensation and class study. In response to questions from Manager Miller and Manager Loftus, Mr. Erdahl confirmed that the changes are to be implemented in 2017, and that there will be a review of compensation and class structure issues sometime in the future.
  5. Mr. Erdahl is working on an enforcement and action plan for Big Island, including working with legal counsel and District staff to develop further procedures and bring information back to the Board for the November 9 meeting.  

Mr. Erdahl stated that he had established a good point of contact with the new City Administrator, and that ongoing coordination is envisioned.  Manager Becker stated that he felt that meetings of the elected officials would be useful to communication between the District as easement holder and the landowner at least on an annual basis. Manager Miller asked what would be done to take action about destruction of vegetation at the site; Mr. Erdahl stated that there are several concerns with vegetation removal, including vegetation removed near the shoreline improvements and there will be a review next spring to evaluate how vegetation returns at that part of the site; Recent mowing occurred at the site which was later than the management plan provides, but no permanent damage is expected; and Tree limbs were removed on the hillside.  Manager Miller asked what legal actions are available to the District given significant State and District investment in public improvements at Big Island and the purpose of the easement to maintain the site in a natural restored state. Manager Miller stated that he felt that merely meeting with Orono representatives is not enough and that expectation and concerns need to be communicated more directly.  Manager Becker stated that he felt it was the District's fiduciary duty to enforce the terms of the conservation easement. Following discussion, Mr. Erdahl stated that he would bring a chronology of information of what events have occurred with exhibits, along with proposed procedure to enforce the District's easement for consideration at the meeting of November 9.


Manager Miller asked Mr. Erdahl about information on attempts of fraudulent wire transfers on the District accounts to be provided to the auditor. Mr. Erdahl stated that this information would be provided for the 2017 audit. Mr. Erdahl reviewed the upcoming meeting schedule.


Unemployment Claim­ - Closed Session


It was moved by Manager Rogness, seconded by Manager Becker, to move the meeting into closed session for the purposes of discussing an unemployment insurance claim.  Upon vote, the motion carried, 7-0 and the Managers went into executive session at 9:22 p.m.




The managers came out of closed session, and returned to open session. The meeting of the Board of Managers was adjourned at 9:35 p.m. 


Respectfully submitted,


Kurt Rogness, Secretary

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers