City council actions

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March 28, 2011
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter
City says it is prepared for spring flooding

As rain pounded City Hall on March 22, city officials inside the building said they are prepared should the Mississippi River or one of the creeks in Minneapolis flood.

Lisa Cerney, the city’s director of surface water and sewers, told the Transportation and Public Works Committee that the city had filled 53,000 sandbags that they would give to homeowners should waters creep into their property. Residents are responsible for placing the bags.

The city began sending out letters that day to about 32 property owners in “increased risk” areas for flooding, letting them know that upon a resident’s request, city staff will deliver filled sandbags. 

The city is also prepared to deliver sand and bags to non-residential property owners, who will be responsible for bagging the sand and placing the bags.

The committee chair, Sandy Colvin Roy, applauded the city’s partnerships with surrounding watershed groups in preparing for floods.

“This is great planning,” she said. “Everybody should know that the actions are going to be completed this week. The planning was started quite a while ago. We will be ready before the water gets here.”

The Mississippi River in Minneapolis on March 22 was at the 7.7-foot mark. Flood stage is 16 feet.

The all-time high water level is 20 feet, set in 1965.

City officials, citing the National Weather Service, said there is a 50- to 60-percent chance of a “major flood,” such as the one in 2001; and a 15 percent chance of a flood as high as the one in 1965.

The city is preparing for a flood rivaling the one in 1965. It is going to raise the floodwall by 3 feet over the city’s water treatment plant that supplies drinking water to Minneapolis residents and beyond.

Cerney said residents should not lift manhole covers to try to alleviate flooding on streets, but rather they should call the city at 311 to report what they are seeing.

The city has also created a website for information on the flood at ci.minneapolis.mn.us/flood.

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Goodbye winter parking restrictions

At long last, drivers in Minneapolis can park on both sides of the street again. The city on March 21 lifted winter parking restrictions that went into affect following the wicked December snowstorm.

While most residential streets now allow for two-sided parking, the city says drivers should still follow any “no parking” signs. The restrictions were put into affect to allow emergency vehicles navigate narrow streets.

This winter was the seventh snowiest in Minneapolis history. More than 80 inches of snow fell from November to March. The city declared a record eight snow emergencies.

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Proposed changes to outdoor patios sent back for more work

The Minneapolis Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee on Feb. 28 voted to send an ordinance change affecting outdoor patios back to city staff for more work and to allow the author to discuss the changes with the business community.

The ordinance, authored by City Council member Meg Tuthill (10th Ward), would require bars and restaurants to put capacities on their outdoor seating, shut outdoor music off at 10 p.m. and clean up the surrounding neighborhood of trash.

The committee’s chair, Elizabeth Glidden, said she has been contacted by members of the business community concerned about the ordinance changes following a public hearing about the issue on Feb. 14.

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.