City council actions

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January 3, 2011 // UPDATED 9:14 am - January 3, 2011
By: Jake Weyer
Jake Weyer

Council retools bonding request

It’s unknown whether the new state Legislature will pass a bonding bill next year, but that’s not stopping the City Council from making requests for project funding.

The council on Dec. 17 approved adding the Plymouth Avenue Bridge, closed since October because of corrosion of internal cables, to its list and making it the top priority. Rehabilitation of the 10th Avenue Bridge was added as the third priority.  

 “Much of the bonding bill discussion occurred before the massive change in the legislature and one could argue that it is unlikely that any bonding bill will be passed this session let alone a large one,” stated a staff report on bonding requests. “However, it is staff’s recommendation that even if the chances for a bonding bill are diminished by the change in legislative leadership, the addition of solid infrastructure projects that serve a clear regional purpose and that could be begun quickly would be [a] prudent move.”

The scope and cost of repair work on the Plymouth Avenue Bridge are unknown, but the staff report states that the city would provide matching funds for aid that was offered. A study of the bridge’s condition is underway and construction could potentially start this summer and wrap up by the end of the year.

The Plymouth Avenue Bridge carried 14,000 vehicles a day and its closure to both vehicles and pedestrians has inconvenienced many area residents.

The 10th Avenue Bridge, which carries nearly 10,000 vehicles a day, was made a priority because it is a “vital link” to the University of Minnesota and it will see heavier traffic when the Central Corridor rail line opens, the staff report said.  

For that project, the city is ready to provide roughly $3.4 million in matching funds. Rehabilitation of the bridge could start as early as fall 2012.

Other bonding projects include Target Center improvements, Grand Rounds lighting renovations and the construction of Granary Road in the Southeast Minneapolis Industrial Area. The latter project was the top priority before the bridge projects were added.

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Rybak vetos commissioner appointment

Two days before the Metrodome collapsed and talks about a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings intensified, Mayor R.T. Rybak sparked a brief discussion of the issue at a City Council meeting.

Rybak vetoed the reappointment of Paul Thatcher to the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which owns the facility. Thatcher, a theatrical commissioner who once criticized the intelligence of those who thought a stadium could be funded during the recession, has been “a divisive voice,” according to Rybak.

“By alienating those who disagree with him and not playing a collaborative role, Mr. Thatcher has made the commission a less effective, less productive body,” Rybak said in a letter to council members.

The council overrode the veto with an 11-1 vote.

Council Member Robert Lilligren (6th Ward) said he was concerned about the tone of the veto and added that Thatcher was a strong advocate for the city.

“In times like these we do need strong advocates. Maybe we need to get a little rough,” Lilligren said.

Timothy Baylor and Charles Lutz were also appointed to the commission.

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Noted

Council Member Meg Tuthill (10th Ward) planned to introduce zoning changes related to rooftop seating and dining during the next council cycle. Patio additions have been popular in Tuthill’s ward in recent years, causing concerns among some area residents about growing disturbances from bar patrons.