The Monday night meeting with the National Park Service was interesting to say the least. It began as a usual public meeting with the official reps stating their position, why they are there, and what they want accomplished.

The reps were from the National Park Service, Bureau of Mines closure team, the MAC, Department of the Interior, State Historic Preservation Office, and a Cultural Resource Specialist for the National Park Service. Karen Clark, Sandy Colvin Roy, and Dean Zimmerman were also in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was to get public comment, not make a final decision.

What was stated at the beginning, followed very closely the letter from the Department of the Interior, to the Metropolitan Airports Commission. This is an overall positive sign, as many GOOD ideas are in that letter. After the reiteration of the letter the plan was to have the folks who came to the meeting (which there were about 150) to split up in three groups. One group would be a Cultural Resource Group, then there would be a History Group, and then many people got upset. We wanted to know why could we not hear what everyone else had to say? Why could we not speak to the WHOLE group?

The response was that the people who organized this meeting for the last week, felt that by splitting people up they could get the most responses. They also had a court reporter that could take up to three minutes with each person and record their comments. I for one, was very happy to see a court reporter, and I was also happy to note, that they seemed genuinely to want public comment. However to cut people off from each other, is neither in the spirit of the Coldwater area, nor is it in the spirit of putting all information out for EVERYONE to see. If only 1/3 of the people see and hear, this is unacceptable. So we complained. We started to voice our concerns to the entire group, fearing we would all be split up. Some questions were answered, others were avoided.

We eventually talked over the officials and asked for a vote. Who wanted to be split up, and who wanted to stay together? Almost everyone in attendance, wanted to stay together as a single group. This is the way the meeting went. On a positive note, they were at least able to change their meeting in this respect, though it was quite reluctantly.

People began to speak once again. One dominate question was about the seven acre parking lot, I asked how and where it would be on the Bureau of Mines\Coldwater property. The answer came back, that this is the type of question they needed experts to answer. I countered that everyone was intelligent enough to understand a parking lot lay out, but was accused of making a snide attack for it. I still do not understand how people, who use parking lots in their daily lives, and who had an excellent template of a standard parking lot outside the front door of the federal building, could possibly need an "expert" to explain how and where a parking lot could go into the Coldwater area.

This is an example as to show the need to stay diligent on this issue. The hard questions were avoided.

On the flip side, they are asking for public comment as to how to WRITE the Memorandum of Agreement that would state how the Coldwater area would be treated. They even listened as Billy Two Feathers spoke about the spiritual significance of the culture. Without the spiritual, there is not much culture. The National Park Service wants to do a Traditional Cultural Property Study on the area, and have that help dictate how the land should be used. They even agreed after Linda Brown's speech, to let the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota participate in the correct gathering of information for this study. This is an example of them trying to do the right thing. It was like watching a teeter totter wiggle back and forth. Will they or wont they be able to protect the entire area?

The MAC representative seemed woefully unprepared for the meeting. He could not answer questions on how the dewatering project that the airport requested would affect the spring, he could not speak to any issue that was not within the Bureau of Mines Property. It was also left unclear if, the MAC would build the parking lot. Verbally they say no, but in writing they say yes. The final agreement, in writing, will say for sure.

The National Park Service did say they want to do extensive archaeological digs in the area, and are willing to spend $200,000 to do that, and other studies.

The Bureau of Mines were fond of stating they spent $500,000 to clean up the area and they are committed to protecting the area. Unfortunately, they are also the ones who spilled all the toxic chemicals, that made the spending of $500,000 necessary to clean up the mess. It is unclear as to how genuine their comment is. If they didn't make the toxic mess in the first place, would they have spent that $500,000?

Other issues included, were that the city of Minneapolis, was able to enter into a contract with the MAC about the Federal Bureau of Mines Property because the airport is required to take into consideration the affects on the neighboring cities, that their project would have. Sandy Colvin Roy volunteered that the MAC had originally planned on building parking ramps on the Camp Coldwater site. She apologized for her vote to approve the contract between the City of Minneapolis and the MAC that allowed a seven acre MAC parking lot, but explained she was new to the council then, and that this was a way they chose to exclude the parking ramps. She also explained that she was unaware, then, of the Federal protections available to the site.

The National Park Service does not know how they can protect the Coldwater area from outside influence that could significantly harm the Spring's water flow. They were encouraged by the people to voice their opinion, and oppose construction methods that could harm the water resources of the Coldwater area.

Among other loose ends are why the Memorandum of Agreement is tied to the 50 year moratorium that the airport has with the runway. Why does the National Park Service limit themselves in this way? Another question left unanswered was why does the Department of the Interior want to sell the land to the MAC, when, within their own body, is the National Park Service? Why not just give it to the National Park Service? This would keep the area as a "no build zone" for the airport, and the whole Memorandum of Agreement would not be needed. The only thing the airport seems to be interested with the land is in it's parking capacity. Why give it to them?

Again to the benefit of the officials at the meeting, this meeting, was not to finalize any decisions. It is to get public comment. The questions the public asks, is what they will try to answer with the final agreement. These are a few examples of questions asked that show why YOUR COMMENT IS NEEDED!!! They need to have written questions and comments by September 15th. (The deadline was extended) Questions that you have, that they haven't addressed, will not be addressed, unless you ask the questions. This is a rare opportunity to get in the tough issues BEFORE the final decision is made. The failure of this aspect is what gave us the reroute of highway 55. Don't let it happen to Camp Coldwater!

Write the National Park Service by September 15th. Let them know what you want done with the area.
National Park Service
111 East Kellogg Blvd, Suite 105
St. Paul MN 55101

The Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition was invited to send a representive to the meeting to hash out the final decisions. If this happens, many tough issues will not be left out! But we would also benefit with as many people as possible looking at this issue. The more people who comment, the more angles that will be covered, and the better chance that a good agreement can be reached. Please write them.