I was recently made aware of a mailing by Sandy Colvin Roy, who is running for 12th ward of the city council.
I can't speak to many of the issues brought up in that mailing, and it is important to note that it may all be true, but I must make public a stated victory that seems quite misleading to me.
In this letter it states that she, and this is in bold print, "Protected the bureau of mines land (Camp Coldwater) from parking ramp and other development through a conservation easement that guarantees open use of the area by the public."
This is factually correct. (For those who don't know, Coldwater is at the southeast corner of Minneapolis)
However while that easement guarantees no parking ramp, it still allows for a seven acre surface level parking lot. Either way, Coldwater gets paved over. Further that conservation easement would expire in 2049, leaving the area open to development after that date. That agreement allows the sale of Coldwater from the Federal Government to the State and would remove existing Federal 106 and other protections currently in place for the Historic Camp Coldwater area, including Coldwater Springs. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has noted that the sale would also eliminate certain State protections and remove existing coordination between State agencies.
Instead Coldwater Springs is set to be protected by a Memorandum of Agreement, but any provisions built into the agreement are virtually unenforceable. Violations would require civil lawsuits to resolve. This is unacceptable given the current level of Federal enforcement available.
Once it is sold to the airport, the MAC, being the Local Governing Unit, would be able to kill any request or petition for an environmental Assessment Worksheet for potentially threatening activities in the Historic Camp Coldwater, Coldwater Springs and its groundwater recharge area.
This is an unthinkable and unacceptable encumbrance on a Dakota and Iowa Sacred Site and the Birthplace of Minnesota.
I understand that the deal with the MAC was made under duress, and the city council may have been doing the best it could, but I find it very unbecoming to advertise the area years later in bold print as "Protected" knowing all this.
This is NOT my idea of protection. Coldwater is still in major danger of dewatering activities by MnDOT in their final step of construction of the Hwy 55 reroute, the 62/55 interchange. In fact, three separate hydrologists have come out with studies showing up to a 33% permanent decrease in water flow to the spring with current road designs. However, MnDOT who disputes all three hydrologists can't seem to produce ANY evidence to show they made ANY mistakes in their calculations, or why there would be "no impact" to Historic Camp Coldwater as they have promised.
So far, the only letter that has been made public questioning MnDOT's unsubstantiated work has been from the Mayor. If Colvin Roy, or any other council members who feel that they *really* want to protect Coldwater, should make their statements publicly known. They did it once, with stopping the airport dewatering plan. They need to do it again for the much longer known threat of highway 55.
Throughout this entire sale process Coldwater has been the sacrificial lamb to other projects. It was sacrificed not only to make room for a widened highway 55 to be built right next to a rail line, it was sacrificed to generate $6 million, for other (good) projects, like Mills Ruin Park, the Science Museum, and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It was sacrificed for maintenance sheds and a parking lot for the airport.
Seems like possibly a tradeoff, but consider this; The National Congress of American Indians, representing well over 300 tribes, has declared the area to be a Sacred Site to multiple tribes (Resolution # PSC-99-127) The Iowa, and other tribes have consistently questioned why their religious rights are continued to be violated by this project (Resolution I-99-87). This has major religious significance, it's part of the Dakota Creation Story. It's also the Birthplace of the State of Minnesota, and it would serve as a connecting piece between Minnehaha park and Fort Snelling State Park, and it's one of the last springs of size in the county, most others having been previously destroyed.
They say there are no burial grounds there, yet in books like "Sketches of Minnesota" (1850) easily accessible at many libraries talks of them, other documents show other cemeteries in the area, but the state "digs" went down only one to three feet to look for them, in areas known to have been covered by fill from the railroad line. Their studies missed the most basic of information, found on library shelves, (see Bruce White's report), followed by seriously questionable archeological practices, to draw conclusions that show why more roads do not hurt the area as a whole.
But when you look closer, it just gets worse. The land was taken by a treaty that was never ratified by the government(1805), and after the war in 1862 that killed thousands, Coldwater sits near a prison encampment below Fort Snelling, that "lost" hundreds. Never mind you found 6000 year old stone axes near the spring, or there is a documented Indian village on the site.
This is so convoluted, that now when the airport looks at it, even they are saying they want out of the deal. But the Contract that supposedly "Protected" this site, seems to be the promise of money that wont allow the airport out.
Further the DNR and State Parks have come out and said they want to manage the area, but don't have and extra multimillion cash flow to buy it at the moment. Other options exist. But we hear nothing of them.
My heart sinks, when I read statements in mailings that seem to claim that the area is already "Protected".
But hey, that's just me...
King Field neighborhood resident, Minneapolis
Member of Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition