Coldwater, MAC and Roosevelt
Much has happened recently. At
the Roosevelt meeting on Thursday July 13th, it started with the Minnehaha
Creek Watershed District facilitating the meeting. They did a great
job of this. There were about 500 residents that showed up. Each speaker
were given two to five minutes to talk.
MAC (Metropolitan Airport Commission) talked and said that they feel
confident with their original plan, but will listen to public comment
and adjust their plans accordingly. Again the consultants disagreed
about how much the dewatering would affect the area. With so little
real data, it is no wonder there are differing answers in different
reports. For example only lake Nokomis has had a lake bottom boring
done to it to find out what it's made of. This boring was only 4 feet
deep as well.
Then the city council spoke. Though many council members used lines,
and ideas, from residents, and Leslie Davis, from the meeting a week
earlier, they unanimously
said that a coffer dam should be in place (or other similar mitigation)
so that the dewatering would not need to be so drastic (4000+ gallons
per minute). Then Mayor Sharon Sales Belton
gave her strong position on the topic stating that "we cannot
accept any potential risk to our wetlands or lakes...we cannot afford
to take a chance, any chance, that the work on the tunnels will affect
our lakes, environment, or property values in South Minneapolis".
Then the residents spoke. Every last one!!, said the plan is too risky,
in many, many articulate ways. Hundreds stayed in the 95 degree heat
of the Roosevelt Gym, even though there was a cool breeze outside, to
state their personal opposition to the plan. Unfortunately not all the
city council members stayed to listen to the residents, that had only
two minutes each, to speak, many council members left for much of the
meeting, to the hallways, or outside. They did talk to some residents
there, but still missed listening to the public, like they should be
However Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton did
stay for the entire meeting. She talked with the coalition afterwards.
She has also wondered where our "environmentalist" governor has been,
keeping silent on the hot button issue, like he has.
Belton also talked with us about the upcoming acquisition of the Bureau
of Mines property, which includes the Coldwater Spring. The MAC is acquiring
the land as part of the sacrifice zone for the new North South runway.
As part of the contract with the city, MAC can put in a 7 acre surface
parking lot, and some maintenance buildings. MAC will also tear down
the existing buildings.
Jeff Hamiel of the MAC also stayed very late to talk with us. He stated
that the primary concern for the MAC was that the land not have tall
buildings on it, to keep the area safe for the low flying planes that
would be overhead once the runway is completed. The parking lot and
other uses for the area is NOT a top priority for the airport. He said
that the MAC may be willing to let the Coldwater area go, for use to
the general public and the Indians as a Traditional Cultural Property.
It was said that if the property eventually goes to Fort Snelling State
Park, that this would get the area open to the general public, allow
for an interpretive center for Indian culture, Minnesota historical
site, and keep it as a no build zone for the airport. Jeff also said
that he would bring this up to the full MAC council at their meeting
on Monday, July 17th. He also invited the Coalition to come and speak
at the meeting. (Huge!!)
At the July 17th meeting, the MAC council agreed that a coffer dam,
with metal pilings caulked up to keep water out of the tunnel be planned
on, and designed. The plans should be done sometime in August. This
should also include a final price as to how much this will cost (expected
to be around $5 million) and at that time in August, it will be voted
on weather or not to do it. Unless something unexpected comes up, it
looks like they will approve this plan. It should also be noted that
a petition by 86 south Minneapolis residents seeking an environmental
review of a tunneling project at Minneapolis St. Paul International
Airport has been referred to the MAC by the state's Environmental Quality
The Bureau of Mines property was then discussed. The MAC will buy it
for $6 million. It was stated that the primary concern for the MAC is
that the Bureau of Mines (Coldwater) area is kept as a no build zone,
and the airport buying the land will ensure that.
Both John Stienworth and Jim Anderson were allowed to speak for the
Coalition and the Mdewakanton
Dakota's respectively. John
gave a speech to preserve the area, and Jim talked about what
the area means to the Indians, and how they would like an interpretive
center to tell people what the area is. They want people to see, feel,
smell, and touch it. We do not want to preserve Camp Coldwater for what
it is today, but for what it has been; the Birthplace
of Minnesota, and land held most sacred to Native Americans.
It was in general agreement that one of the Bureau buildings could be
used for the purpose of an interpretive center to do this. This would
cost MAC almost nothing.
It is unclear at this time if, because of contractual agreements, that
a building could be saved though. It was also stated that a federal
law might prevent the MAC from "giving" away land that will not be used
for the airport. But when you consider that the airport already sits
on 600 acres of Minneapolis Parkland, I would think something could
be worked out for the 27 acres of the Bureau of Mines Property, even
under the FAA's and Feds watchful eyes. (Just for interest, if the facility
ever ceases to be an airport, the land reverts to the Park Board.)
After all was said, Jim Hamiel reiterated the fact that a no build zone
was the airports primary concern, and that getting the land to Fort
Snelling State Park would be a compatible use as far as the airport
concerns go. The other Commissioners seemed open to the idea. Some have
asked for more info. We told them if they would like a tour, come to
the Monday Pipe ceremony,
and they would happily be given one. Also they may call the Mdewakanton
office for more info, or a personal tour.
ANYONE reading this, feel free to come to the Monday
Pipe ceremony, this offer extends to you too.
JoAnn Kyral of the National Park Service was also present (a very pleasant
surprise, thank you Sharon!) She is requesting the Coalitions and Indian
involvement in a Traditional Cultural Properties Study, that her office
will initiate, once the papers are signed.
In conclusion to all of this, the MAC is in a position to do something
exceptionally positive for the community with protecting the Coldwater
area. Hopefully they will change the wording in the contracts, so that
the parking lot and maintenance building zoning is removed. Hopefully
they will also find a way to either get the land back to the Dakota,
or to Fort Snelling State Park, so an interpretive center can
be created. This would not impact airport activity in any way, and everyone
can enjoy, and understand the Camp Coldwater area too!
Time will tell....
Much more work needs to be done to make this happen, Thank You, Thank
You, Thank You to all who have worked so hard to get things to this
point, your continued work and efforts are greatly appreciated!!!