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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Priory Preserve Politics

The mayor's column in the November city newsletter (page 5) again promoted her proposal of conservation easements for city parks and open space. I think it's interesting to contrast her account of a Parks Commission meeting with the draft minutes.

For example, while playing up the 4-4 split vote about the Priory, she doesn't even mention that another conservation easement was discussed under the very same agenda item, for Jim's Prairie -- and that the commission unanimously agreed not to recommend that easement. That pesky fact might undermine her dishonest political argument, which has been to suggest that questioning the appropriateness of conservation easements means you must want to see our Neighborhood Preserves sold to developers. (Remember the fear-mongering in last year's election campaign?)

In reality, as the minutes make clear, there are plenty of other reasons to question conservation easements on public land, starting with the cost. The city has already sunk about $8,000 on outside consultants, plus many hours of staff time, on this idea that the mayor has been pushing for the past two years. Proceeding with the easements would mean spending another $25,000. It sounds to me like some on the Parks Commission would rather see the money spent directly on restoration and management of our open spaces, rather than funding the mayor's political gambit.

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