Regents refuse public meeting with Met Council

Chairman Peter Bell requested to speak at Friday’s regents meeting, but Regent Chairman Clyde Allen said no.

by Taryn Wobbema

The Metropolitan Council requested to speak before the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Board of Regents Friday about issues surrounding the Central Corridor light rail line , but the request was rejected. Clyde Allen, chairman of the board , said specific channels are already in place to address the issues and they should continue to be handled that way and not publicly. Met Council spokesman Steve Dornfeld said Council Chairman Peter Bell has attempted to address the regents on multiple occasions in the last year. He said the idea was to speak directly to the governing board instead of passing the information through staff. âÄúWe would like an opportunity to present our side,âÄù Dornfeld said. The University filed suit against the Met Council in September after the final environmental impact statement had been submitted but the negative effects of the line on the University had not been resolved. Through the lawsuit, the University is seeking to protect research facilities that would be affected by vibrations and electromagnetic interferences. Allen also said the University is concerned about how it will be affected during the construction process. Construction on the $941 million Central Corridor, which will use University and Washington avenues to connect downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, is set to begin late next summer and should be completed in 2014. The complaints against the project outlined in the lawsuit arenâÄôt new, Allen said. Dornfeld said the Met Council is currently working on a list of several major issues âÄî Bell and other project partners have been meeting with Kathleen OâÄôBrien , vice president for University Services, for about six months. He said the Met Council has been working to address the effects of the project on the UniversityâÄôs research facilities, but this month officials brought back several issues that he said were thought to have been resolved. Dornfeld said the University has âÄúresurrectedâÄù issues concerning a free-fair zone, reimbursements for consultants and for lost parking. On Wednesday, officials from the University and the Met Council agreed to come to terms on their differences by Dec. 1.