Saturday, October 20, 2012

Questionnaire - Mark Hanus

On November 6, Mound citizens will be going to the polls to vote for several offiices, including Mound Mayor. Mound Mayor serve two year terms. Mark Hanus and Mark Regan are running for the position.

A Place in Mound sent a questionnaire to the candidates of Mound Mayor. The questions focused on the issues we bring up here regularly like places and streets.

Both candidates responded, and I will share one each day for the next two days in the following randomly selected order.

Saturday - Mark Hanus
Sunday - Mark Regan - His responses

Questions are in bold, Mark Hanus's responses in regular type -

What is your favorite “Place” in Mound, and why?

There are several but I would say the docks / pergola area in downtown or the Veterans Memorial next to the parking deck. The serenity and beauty of these two open spaces are something to be proud of. They are impeccably maintained and are always a quiet and peaceful retreat. The mix of nature and downtown is carefully maintained.

Can you talk about a “Place” in Mound that could use more attention and resources? 

Surfside Park parking has been an issue for many years. I know this is of common interest on this website and I wholeheartedly concur. The city has been looking at options for some time now. This is the most heavily used park and needs to be made as convenient and accessible as we can. But we need to create safe options. See below.

Tell us about a favorite Mound event of yours. 

Spirit of the Lakes is not really a Mound event but that would have to be my favorite event that is held in Mound. This not only gives people a way to enjoy their town but also brings people together and builds a sense of community that is so lacking in the world today. I am also always inspired by how many people turn out for the tree lighting in November. This is a great one too. There are many others as well, but these are my favorites.

What do you think Mound residents can do to help improve Mound? 

Become involved, volunteer for community events and city commissions. We usually have trouble getting interested people to volunteer for these functions and boards. The experts say volunteering is one of the most satisfying things in life. Get your friends and neighbors involved too. When a community comes together, good things happen.

MSA streets like Three Points Blvd and Tuxedo Blvd are__________. 
a) too slow
b) just fine.
c) too fast.

If you are referring to speed I would say they are about right. This varies from street to street but generally they are about right. Most people who choose to live in the suburbs still want convenient commuting times. We need to get them to and from their homes safely but quickly. MSA streets are not main thoroughfares. They are feeder streets that funnel people to the small neighborhood streets. Their purpose is between the “main drag” (such as Co Rd 15 and 110) and the small neighborhood streets. If people sense that they are delayed getting home unnecessarily or to their jobs, they will not be as interested in living here.

When looking at commercial and neighborhood developments, and redevelopments, Mound should consider the property tax implications.
a) True
b) False

This requires more than a true or false answer. While increased tax revenue can be a nice byproduct of a development or redevelopment, using this as a primary driver is bad public policy. Over time, this would steer development away from local needs and desires as well as private property rights and more toward anything that would generate higher tax revenues. It would result in shaping development for the wrong reasons. For instance, a 10 story high rise would produce more revenue than a 2 story but it may not fit well in the downtown area, the neighborhood, or community. For instance there could be firefighting implications or other things that could require multi-million dollar equipment purchases that the community would have to make. It also may not be desirous of the citizenry of Mound. The primary purpose of regulating developments is not to maximize tax revenues. It is to protect neighbors, other property owners, and the community as a whole.

We are required by the Met Council to guide all properties in our city to certain uses. We have to do this planning with many other concerns than taxes. Also, many people have the wrong impression as to what the city’s role is. In my opinion, the city should not get involved in private property sales or exchanges. A few people that were opposed to the new Walgreens project felt the city should kill the deal. Our obligation is to help property owners and developers provided it is reasonably consistent with the needs and desires of our community and our building and zoning codes.

Does anyone actually think that it would be appropriate for the city to tell an applicant for a project on his own private property that they cant do it because in the city's opinion, it doesnt raise his taxes enough? This would probably not be defenable in court due to property rights in this country. And if this were proper, why would it not be applied to a homeowner that wants to add on to his or her home? Where would you draw the line? This is not only morally wrong, it is unethical. In the public's eye, this would only be a way to pay for raises within city hall. Even if it were deemed legal, this policy would not fly in Mound or most other cities.

I am very opposed to this concept.

On street parking should be considered for some events on Surfside Park. False
a) True
b) False

I am in full agreement that we need to find parking solutions for Surfside Park. But I am opposed to using on street parking at that location. We have been looking at alternatives for a few years now. It’s a very busy street with challenging conditions.

1. A large number of the people who use the park are children. Loading or unloading children on that busy street is not a safe activity.

2. Driving through this area is very distracting due to both the park activity and the lake itself. Drivers who should be paying attention to the road are often looking at the park and lake instead. This could be a lethal situation when kids are darting around the cars as the load or unload with their families. Keeping the street wide and open is better than having car doors swinging open in the busy traffic lane without warning.

3. All too often as cars come from the west, people drive at higher than posted speeds as you coast down the hill. The police enforce this speed limit pretty aggressively but they can’t be there all the time and speeding is not uncommon.

4. Changing the rules from time to time such as this creates confusion and frustration for the public. We have even found that altering parking in neighborhoods creates a lot of problems and confusion. Changing patterns when the public is used to something usually creates more problems than it solves.

I hope we can all work on viable solutions to this parking issue that would have a large impact. I would love to find and implement a good and substantial solution for this. I don’t think you try to create parking for large events like the festival. Instead you need to create parking for normal use. This is doable. We just need to find the right one.


update - Hanus intended to answer the Surfside Parking question as false. I incorrectly inputted the wrong answer for the question. My apologies. ~gml4

1 comment:

  1. I admire the sentiment on the property tax question, but I think he misses the point that Strong Towns principles actually protect private property rights. Of course if someone wants to put a Walgreens on their property, they should have that right. But people's assumption of property rights somehow seems to cross over into a dangerous idea of demands for city services and access. The point is that we're using city money (debt, to be more specific) to finance and lure in developments that create long term liabilities. If we didn't create subsidies like TIF, mandated free car storage, redevelopment grants, rigid zoning codes, excessive roadway capacity, etc then people would exercise their private property rights just like they did a hundred years ago... in ways that create Strong Towns and financially sustainable land use!