MPRB wants clear path to renaming parkways and roads


  • Video of the Wednesday, March 27 Park Board meeting is HERE.

  • Go to 2:57:25 to watch the Administration & Finance Committee's discussion and action on Resolution 2019-153.

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Despite fierce opposition, a group of activists prevailed upon the Park Board in 2017 to change the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska.

The November 2017 general election brought six new commissioners to the Park Board, and the commissioner on the old board who had championed the name change secured enough votes to be elected president of the new board in January 2018. Shortly after the new board took over, the Park Board issued this statement [underlining added]:

Ah, many thought: a conciliatory gesture? A compromise, recognizing perhaps that 334 Minneapolis residents living either directly on or within a few blocks of Lake Calhoun signed a petition opposing the renaming of the lake?

No such luck.

Instead, the name-change activists were just biding their time. And now, buried deep in the the committee agendas for Wednesday, March 27 appears the first reading of an innocuous-sounding ordinance change that would give the Park Board absolute power to change the name of any parkway or road in the city with a simple 6-3 vote.

Resolution 2019-153 (scroll down to the bottom of this post) makes no reference to a public process, or the need for any assent from the residents and property owners who would be directly impacted by the resulting need to change their addresses. Nope -- six votes and it's a done deal.

Guess which three parkways are right in the cross hairs. (Hint: they all start with "C" and they're Numbers 1, 2, and 3 on the list of "public parkways and park roads" contained in Resolution 2019-153 (below).

The City of Minneapolis has a comprehensive Street Naming and Address Standard, revised and updated in 2003. (Go HERE to see the document.) Here is the relevant page with the process for renaming a street:

When asked in 2017 during the Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska battle about what it would take for the Park Board to change the name of a parkway, given that they did not have a written process for doing so, a city planning department official said the Park Board would probably liaise with the city and use the city's standard.

Slight problem: the city's standard requires the assent of 50% of the abutting property owners. The 2017 petition already demonstrated that in the case of Calhoun Parkway and Calhoun Boulevard, that's not going to happen.

So, time for Plan B:

  1. adopt a vaguely-worded, benign-sounding resolution with no fanfare (a 5-4 vote is all that's required) that appears merely to address a bit of arcane tidying-up in the dusty corners of the Park Board's Code of Ordinances, and

  2. voilà! With six votes, the Park Board is now free and empowered to change the names of any of the 42 roadways in their jurisdiction without any specific public process and without any need for assent from the people who live on those roadways.

PB 9-303. Required Vote. Any action to name or rename a parkway or a park road requires at least six affirmative votes by park commissioners. 

That's all it says. That's all it would take. Six votes.

There are so many reasons to oppose this latest piece of Park Board overreach and governance by division. Want to make your voice heard?

  1. Contact the nine commissioners. HERE's their contact information.

  2. Keep reading VOX.MN for further updates.

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