Friends of Patrick Eagan Park

Recent E-Group Postings

-----Original Message-----
From: Jack G. Conrad [mailto:jackgconrad @]
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2003 11:45 PM
Subject: Last Night's Eagan City Council "listening session"

Dear Friends of Patrick Eagan Park,

The following is a report from FOPEP member John Ward on what transpired at last night's Eagan City Council listening session (6:00 - 6:30 p.m.), just before the official City Council meeting. The summary addresses the City's consideration of condemning several acres of Patrick McCarthy's land (northwest corner, north side of Wescott) for three hazardous waste repositories (euphemistically called "holding ponds"). Thanks to Eagan's engineering dept., the project appears to have taken on a life of its own. We will need a good showing if and when the public hearing on this project is scheduled.

---Jack Conrad

P.S. I believe mention below to JP-46 and JP-47 are, in fact, references to the same body of water.

-----Original Message-----
From: John Ward []
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2003 7:36 PM
To: Friends of Patrick Eagan Park
Subject: Eagan City Council "listening session"

Hello all

This is a summary of my notes from the Tuesday, August 18th listening session of the Eagan City Council. Sorry to be slow, I got busy and a little lazy.

Council members Peggy Carlson, Cyndee Fields, Mike Maguire and Meg Tilly were present as well as City Administrator Tom Hedges and Parks Director Ken Vraa-Mayor Geagan was absent but Peggy Carlson will talk to him. At Councilmember Carlson's invitation Marty Haugen spoke concerning problems with JP 46, a "pond" used by the City of Eagan to treat water collected there with alum(alluminum sulfate) which binds with phosphorus forming, I think, a somewhat inert compound that sinks and collects on the bottom of the pond. (Phosphorus is present in many fertilizers and promotes plant growth, particularly the algae skum on many local lakes.)The water, now with less phosphorus to promote aquatic plant growth, continues to Fish Lake. Mr. Haugan, who lives near JP 46, discussed problems with the present situation.

  1. The city communicates poorly, decisions impacting nearby residents are not made known in planning stages.
  2. The city cut down about 30 trees inappropriately with the alum project and replaced about seven during the last incursion.
  3. The pond will require periodic dredging and, with the alum use, is a dead area where there formerly was wildlife. (alum results in aluminum concentrations that are toxic to at least some animal life in water.)
  4. The city now wishes to condemn some of Mr. McCarthy's land, dig more ponds and create an access road through his property, all without notification of residents of the area.
  5. As of Jan 1, 2004, phosphates won't be used in local fertilizers so the need for alum treatments will be less.
  6. McCarthy's farm is part of Eagan's greenspace and shouldn't be condemned and turned into this type non environmental water treatment area.

Next to speak was Linda Haugen who handed out copies of Minnesota Statute 2002, 18c.60, a law prohibiting the seven metropolitan counties from using phosphorus in their fertilizers after Jan 1, 2004. Ms Haugen discussed "less intrusive" ways of cleaning water rather than the alum additions. A local example is the Cedar Pond Park on Diffley Road once subject to heavy phosphorus loads now protected with shoreline and aquatic plants that ingest the phosphorus. In contrast JP 46 has 18 inches of chemical sediment that needs periodic dredging, is now generally lifeless and "stinks".

The Haugens are having new drainage problems in their basement (even during the current drought) after no problems for many years. Neighbors paid for an engineering study of the underground water flow in that area and discovered the water table is about 18 inches below ground and there is a natural water channel underground draining toward (I assume) the Mississippi River. Linda is concerned that any further digging of holding basins, building a road over McCarthy's land or other landscape changes may cause unanticipated problems for the existing residents of that area. Jack Conrad, Friends of Patrick Eagan Park, spoke of the importance of city communications with residents before projects like this with impacts on the neighborhoods. Jack also noted that digging new holding ponds may not be the best use of city funds in these economic times. Sharon Stephens, Sierra Club Staff (and attorney), noted that condemnation of a citizen's property should be an "avenue of last resort" that cities should try to avoid. She also talked about Eagan's good reputation as a city that listens to its residents and encouraged the city to do so now. Ms Stephens also noted that "holding ponds" are a temporary solution requiring expensive, periodic dredging and Eagan should avoid "a temporary solution by a permanent process of condemnation". She offered the services of the Sierra Club and DNR to explore various solutions other cities have used for this problem.

Pat McCarthy spoke "I have heard that I OK'd this project which I don't remember doing." and "I drink well water and don't want hazardous waste on my land."

Council member Carlson noted that she had talked to Pat and tried to get a meeting set up with the city and Mr. McCarthy and his attorney but Pat's lawyer couldn't agree on a time.

Park's Director Vraa spoke to the group noting:

  1. Notices were sent to homeowners most adjacent to JP 47.
  2. This project was initiated in 1994 with both the involvement and approval of the DNR and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. It was considered a good solution, was "experimental", and periodic dredging was part of the plan. Director Vraa noted that the greenway and water treatment issues conflicted here as in any problem like this and solutions are a compromise. He also commented that JP 47 drained a much larger area than Cedar Pond and a natural solution may be ineffective for that reason. Another issue is that, while the fertilizers may not contain phosphorus after next January, there are natural concentrations of phosphorus locally that may still need treatment.
  3. Condemnation proceedings were started on McCarthy's land while it was in litigation and condemnation was the only viable option for the city.

Councilperson Carlson summed up the meeting as helpful as the Council are not "water quality experts". Ms Stephens will forward information on water treatment to City Administrator Hedges and Parks Director Vraa for consideration and forwarding to the City Council. An open meeting of the city, concerned citizens and neighbors will be announced. I felt the meeting was informative, concerns were heard and the public meeting will be scheduled. The head of Engineering, Tom Colbert, was in the audience although he didn't speak and he may lead the public meeting.

John Ward

Friends of Patrick Eagan Park

Return to E-Group Postings