Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition Comments on the Proposed Memorandum of Agreement for the proposed conveyance of the Bureau of Mines Twin Cities Research Center Main Campus to the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
The Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition offers the following comments on the current draft Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the sale of the Bureau of Mines (BOM) Twin Cities Research Center, known as the Camp Coldwater Springs area, to the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC).
This should not be taken as an endorsement of the sale. The Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition's position remains the same; Sacred Sites should not be sold. The sale of this land, without first clearly stating its final use, is not in the public's best interest; nor is placing the facilitation of the sale in the hands of the National Park Service (NPS) when they have a clear conflict of interest by gaining millions in proceeds from the sale. Neither is selling this land without doing the proper cultural studies first.
Placing the environmentally sensitive, historic cultural resource of Coldwater Springs area, under a department of transportation, which the MAC is, defies good stewardship of the Coldwater area. Itís even more concerning when one realizes that the other great springs in the area, like Big Medicine in Theodore Wirth Park, or Loring Park springs in Minneapolis was killed by another department of transportation, MnDOT. What makes anyone think MAC, whoís only real mission is maintaining and expanding the airport, and who has no less than 16 hazardous waste sites on their current property, will be good stewards of Coldwater?
It is our opinion at this time, that the Federal Government, which currently owns the property, and are providing the highest amount of protections for it, should remain the property owner. This is especially true given that the MAC has found ways out of their other promises, like sound insulation, and it should be anticipated that they would look for a way out of this MOA in the future as well.
This process should be changed to allow time to officially discuss other alternatives that include other possible buyers instead of just the MAC. It should also take into account that this is not a typical site. It involves the flow of water, and therefore should not be locked into strict guidelines. It needs a broad view of applicable laws such as the executive order on environmental racism, and environmental protection. The laws should be outlined and examples should be given, to not only give guidelines, but to show the spirit of the law that should be followed.
However in an attempt to make the MOA as good as possible, we would like to make the following points clear.
The second bill recently passed, pertaining to Camp Coldwater must be included in the MOA.
SF1 passed on 6-30-01, that specifically states;
10.32 metropolitan airports commission may acquire property,
10.33 consisting of approximately 27 acres in and around Coldwater
10.34 Springs in Hennepin county, from the Secretary of the Interior
10.35 of the United States or any other federal official or agency
10.36 authorized to transfer the property. If the commission acquires
11.1 the property, the commission may convey all of its interest in
11.2 the property, other than the interest permitted to be retained
11.3 under paragraph (b), to the commissioner of natural resources
11.4 for park, green space, or similar uses.
The Department of Natural Resources has repeatedly stated that they are capable, and willing to manage the property through Ft. Snelling State Park. The State of Minnesota specifically passed a law endorsing the idea, which the MAC had representatives at that time saying they have "no objection" to the law. This should be included in the MOA, along with MAC's intentions on the
Further because the DNR has spoken on multiple occasions, about their expressed interest in the land, they should also be a consulting party to the MOA.
The MAC must state specifically their intentions as to weather or not they plan to retain air rights, while giving land rights to the DNR.
The MAC must state their intentions with a MOA in writing, as former verbal assurances are wholly insufficient.
Will they or wont they follow this law? What does the airport plan to do to protect this site?
A provision should be made so that MAC cannot ever rescind their agreement to save this area as preserved green space.
If MAC "owns" the land what will stop them from taking it back someday to develop it? What will stop them from slowing impacting the area for 20 years or more, and then saying "oops, well it canít be saved anymore, damage is done, might as well develop it"? A provision should be made to prevent long-term impact, and other remedies if MAC backpedal on their agreements. A large fine that grows with inflation should be considered.
The MOA should state specifically no airport parking "Park and Ride" lot.
All airport facilities are quite some distance (beyond average walking distance) from the BOM land in question. Though there is ample parking on the site, it currently exists for visitors of the site.
Any additional parking on the BOM land, would essentially be used as a "Park and Ride". If the MAC is successful in securing additional airport parking here, it will change the historic nature of the area. This includes employee parking for the airport, Light Rail parking, rental or other car lot parking etc.
Parking space available on this land is now and should always remain specifically for the visitors of this land. Additionally, all language requiring review of any parking lot construction should remain a part of the MOA.
The MOA should state that any development of the area is limited to preservation, interpretation or education of the historical aspects of the land and it's peoples.
This is a Sacred Site to many people and the birthplace of the State of Minnesota, being the first military settlement. Turning this area over for development of other uses is inconsistent with its historic and sacred nature.
State of Minnesota and Minnehaha Creek Watershed should each be a signatory or at least a consulting party of the MOA.
This is the birthplace for the State of Minnesota, and therefore the State itself though the attorney general should be invited to be a consulting party. The MAC cannot represent "the State"; only the attorney general can officially do that.
The Minnehaha Creek Watershed may also like to be a consulting party as they are a body with specific legal mandates from the state's Board of Soil and Water Resources to protect the water flows to and from the Coldwater spring.
The MOA must not omit the fact that the Coldwater area has been declared a "Sacred Site" by the federally recognized Iowa tribe of Oklahoma.
It is understandable that the NPS does not have all information necessary to evaluate the status of this, but it is wholly inappropriate to omit the existence of the statement, as it's status is being explored, especially since all cultural studies will most likely come after the proposed sale. It should also be specifically stated as part of the "ethnographic study and Traditional Cultural Property study". Further it must be taken into account the large number of people who NOW declare it a sacred site today, not just in the past.
The Berger & Associates, Inc., The Cultural Resource Group, who did a Cultural Resource Assessment for MnDOT in April 1999, should be specifically excluded from studying the Coldwater area.
Berger & Associates have shown that they will do research that misses basic information found on common library shelves, and that they will rush through their work in a monthís time. This is wholly insufficient for the Coldwater area, and we do not want their hastened, shoddy work under any circumstances. All parties should agree to the consultant who is chosen.
Why are the federally recognized Indian Tribes called "concurring"?
Is there evidence that they all concur? Did they sign a group resolution stating this? If not, they should not be referred to as concurring.
The Arbitration board that will make final decisions in the event of a dispute should be changed from two appointees by the Governor to one tribal representative and one historical preservation representative.
The governor already appoints MAC commissioners who already receive representation on the arbitration board. It would be inappropriate for the governor to then again appoint two more representatives, as it would give the governor, who is only one person, too much power and control, over who makes the final decision.
At any point where there is an issue or dispute in the process, the Consulting Parties need to be notified and their comments and feedback sought, allowing them a sufficient time to reply.
The arbitration board should seek public comment in order to make a more informed decision.
In the event that damage does occur to the spring area, MAC should have to fix it regardless of cost.
What is cost effective will not necessarily be what will protect the spring. MAC should not be allowed to damage the spring even only minimally, simply on the grounds that it will make their project cost too much.
Group's names must be fully stated.
We are the Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition, not the Camp Coldwater Coalition, as stated in the draft MOA. Preservation is a key element in the aspect of our name, and neither the National Park Service, nor the Department of the Interior may arbitrarily drop that. Further the Mendota Mdewakanton referred to in the MOA are really the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community. It is expected that these corrections will be made.
Will the public ever be able to see what other agencies comments are?
Will the public ever have access to see what the MAC, DNR, SHPO, NPS and others said about this MOA? We want full disclosure and due diligence.
We request that the Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition be a signatory party to the MOA.
We sincerely appreciate and thank the NPS and staff for their respectful first steps of recognition and for the personal professionalism extended to all involved in this endeavor. We pray that they continue to recognize, and have the courage to do the right things for this historic property.
The Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition
The Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition is a not for profit community-based advocacy group.
Our Mission Statement is:
To preserve and protect the natural resources and restore the cultural integrity of the Camp Coldwater area, and to acquaint all people with the historic Birthplace of Minnesota.
TEXT OF DRAFT MOA