Last night, after interviewing candidates for openings on Minnetrista’s Parks Commission and Planning Commission, the city council made the following appointments:
Parks Commission (three year terms):
Sarah Hussain, Parks Commission (incumbent)
Hal Goldstein, Alternate #1 Parks Commission
Nancy Richeson, Alternate #2 Parks Commission
Planning Commission (four year terms):
Damian Young, Planning Commission (incumbent)
John Sturgess, Planning Commission
Candidate applications were provided in the council’s work session packet starting on page 2. The Parks Commission appointments vote was unanimous (5-0) but the Planning Commission vote on Mr. Young’s appointment was not with one dissenting vote (4-1), but a unanimous (5-0) vote on Mr. Sturgess.
Sarah Hussain, incumbent candidate for the Parks Commission, and Andrew Beitler, candidate for the Parks Commission were not present for the interviews.
Newly elected Council Member Cathleen Reffkin expressed concern over the fact that both incumbent Planning Commission members, Damian Young and Robert Rabin, recently voted to recommend approval of the ground mounted solar farm application on CR92 which residents widely opposed. That, she suggested, indicated the Planning Commission needs new commissioners more aligned with residents.
Monday night will be a first for Minnetrista. For the first time city residents interested in serving on one of the city’s commissions will actually have an opportunity to compete for those seats against incumbents that have already served.
In the past the city council automatically reappointed any commission member that wished to serve another term after their term had expired, without notifying residents of the opportunity to apply for the expiring seat. That all changed during a heated council meeting on December 7 where the practice was exposed and criticized for shutting out resident involvement on the city’s Parks and Planning Commissions.
The reason given for not advertising the openings in the past had been these volunteer positions had been difficult to fill and when someone had served and was willing to continue it was best to hang onto them. Somehow, however, the commission seats were almost always full and when a vacancy occurred it was quickly filled.
The city received 8 applications for the 5 commission assignments: 1 vacant seat and 2 alternate seats for the Parks Commission; and 2 vacant seats for the Planning Commission. Candidates and their applications are listed (starting on page 2) in the council’s work session agenda for Monday night. Applicant names are below (*incumbent):
Andrew Beitler (Parks Commission)
Hal Goldstein (Parks or Planning Commission)
*Sarah Hussain (Parks Commission)
*Robert Rabin (Planning Commission)
Nancy Richeson (Parks Commission)
Paul Stone (Planning Commission)
John Sturgess (Planning Commission)
*Damian Young (Planning Commission)
It will be interesting to see if Monday’s interviews are just a pretense of fairness or if these new applicants actually have a chance at taking an incumbent’s commission seat. There are only 3 incumbents and 5 seats to fill so by default there will be at least two new appointees. I have a feeling at least one of them, Hal Goldstein, will be appointed because he was apparently recruited and applied back in October before there were even any openings. You can read about that here.
There are some impressive resumes from some of these applicants and I hope they are legitimately evaluated for what they have to offer the city. Minnetrista needs commissioners that think for themselves, have a genuine interest in city planning and will do the research and work to make good, reliable recommendations to the council.
After a Monday night council meeting, where an issue was made of the fact that Minnetrista has historically reappointed commissioners when their terms expire without notifying the public and giving others the opportunity to serve, the city has posted a notice on their website announcing all open commission seats, expiring as well as vacated. The deadline to apply is December 21.
Below is the notice where an application appears at the bottom of their page:
Job Title: Parks Commission & Planning Commission
Department: Community Development
Start date: January 2021
Are you interested in getting more involved in your community? If so, the City of Minnetrista is accepting applications for the volunteer positions of Parks Commissioner & Planning Commissioner. There is currently one open seat and two open alternate seats on the Parks Commission and two open seats on the Planning Commission all for terms beginning in January of 2021. Parks Commissioners serve a three (3) year term and meet on the second (2nd) Tuesday of each month, while Planning Commissioners serve a four (4) year term and meet on the fourth (4th) Monday of each month.
A Parks Commissioner works to ensure that the Parks, Trails and Open Space Plan is implemented by reviewing development applications on a case-by-case basis and the annual Parks Capital Improvement Plan.
A Planning Commissioner reviews all applications for development, variances, and other land use applications, while also reviewing proposed policy changes by making recommendations to the City Council for new or updated ordinances.
Alternate members for both the Parks Commission and the Planning Commission are treated the same as full time members in that they are sent the packet in advance of each scheduled meeting. In the event a full time member cannot attend a meeting, an alternate member is selected to fill in for the absent full time member.
If you or someone you know are interested, please contact City Hall at 952-446-1660 or fill out the application below and send to Minnetrista@ci.minnetrista.mn.us.
Applications are due by Monday December 21, 2020 at 4:00 P.M.