Monday, November 3, 2014

Time to vote

Dear Readers,

I appreciate everyone's interest in making Mound a better place. The best news ahead of us is that it really doesn't matter if George Linkert wins a spot on the Mound city council or not. The issues discussed here will not be fixed by one guy with one voice and one vote at the table, but by a community of people looking at the situation they presently in, and moving forward in a rational way. I will continue to be a part of that discussion, and you should too.

If you have come to this website to find out more about me, you can....

Read my response to the Laker questionnaire a couple weeks ago

Read and learn more about me

Watch my presentation to the Mound city council

Issues I'm concerned with and have written about include...

Returning "On Street" parking at Surfside

Understanding how to create wealth (or not) in our downtown developments

Working to develop a Mound to be a place to drive to, not drive through.

I've said many times that the issues Mound faces are faced in cities all over the state and country. Local Mound residents may find it strange, but this website is followed by people all over the country as they face the same issues we face. It is very humbling to have Chuck Marohn going around the country, speaking to people about what is going on here in Mound.

If you like what you read here, please vote for George Linkert for Mound City Council tomorrow. You should also continue to follow the discussion here by either subscribing to new posts via email, or liking our Facebook page.

Either way the election goes, stay tuned. Exciting things are happening in Mound, and I'm going to be a part of the discussion. Will you?!

Thank you.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

What if you don't have a car?

Improving connectivity is a top priority in Mound. We have engineered and designed our lives so that getting to the store, a friends house, work or school, is best and most easily done by automobile. If you attempt to go anywhere in Mound on it's streets via walking, bus, or bicycle, you will quickly realize serious problems many people have to live with everyday.

Cars on our streets tend to go much faster than the posted speed limits. It's very difficult to enjoy a pleasant walk in your neighborhood while a 1990's era black Ford Bronco goes barreling by you at 30+ miles per hour. Every time my children leaves for school, my heart skips a little beat when I think about them crossing Bartlett Blvd every day. Attempting to cross four lanes of traffic at County Road 15 and on Commerce Blvd on the Dakota Trail breaks out a sweat for everyone that is conscious of safety.

I was talking with one regular Mound pedestrian and her walk everyday to work to a local business. She has to walk along Tuxedo Blvd for two miles most days of the year. There is a sidewalk along one side of Tuxedo, but it is in terrible shape, and growth from bushes and trees impede use of it. In the winter she has to walk alongside traffic, as the shoulders and sidewalk quickly fill up with snow removal.

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Walking towards Swenson Park on Brighton Blvd where people like my kids are not welcomed.

Another woman I talked with regularly walks to the Mound Transit Center from the Island using Wilshire. The intersection of Wilshire and Brighton had been recently rebuilt, and we were discussing pedestrian safety in Mound. Her days would be ruined as she would be simply attempting to get to work or home, because cars were whizzing by dangerously close to her.

The city of Mound spent considerable time in the last year discussing regulations determining how much car storage should certain types of businesses be required to build, but almost none about bike storage. There was considerable effort and time and money spent on the new Dakota Trail crossing on County Rd. 15, mostly aimed at stopping bikes, and changing the way they ride, instead of addressing how cars approach the intersection. The priority of today's street and road engineers is to build places where cars can travel unimpeded.

My wife and I have worked hard to raise two independent children. My eight year old, Cecelia, now has the confidence and ability to go to bike to the Dollar+ store, piano lessons and friends houses in our neighborhood. She and her sister, Maeve, walk nearly every day to school. What's next for Cecelia? Will she be able to walk or bike to Swenson Park on her own? How about biking to the library, or to Grandview School, where she will go next year for school. Going to those places will mean traveling on the "Highways" of Mound that weren't built for people like them. Those places will be a bigger hurdle and I'm not confident Cecelia will be able to handle them for a couple more years.

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Cecelia and Maeve start off on their walk to school.

What are the other options for people without cars?  I dare you to ask anyone I work with at Sojourn about their Metro Mobility experiences. They are likely to tell you it's inconvenient, unreliable, and you have to plan your trip days in advance. There are Taxi and other services that are incredibly expensive. I have great respect for WeCab here in Mound, but I think it's irresponsible of my community to expect volunteers to shuttle people about town on errands.

In 2012, it was found 1 in 12 households do no own a car, and that 13% of people 15 years and older don't drive a car. I believe Mound and all cities in general need to build these streets with these people in mind. It's not going to be easy, and there will be a lot of "experts" from Hennepin County, MNDoT telling us we can't build streets like that, but they would be wrong.

Not only does building streets for people make our neighborhoods better, but then it encourages healthier lifestyles, and allows those without a use of a car, a safer, and more productive life.

My daughters and I have enjoyed our neighborhood park visits this week. Please stop by and see me tonight at Belmont Park if you are around.

Thursday, Octover 23, 5:30-6:30 Belmont Park (Belmont and Tonkawood)

Please like and share "A Place in Mound" on Facebook, and with your neighbors and friends in Mound, and vote for George Linkert on November 4th.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Allowing on street parking at Surfside and the next "Meet George"

Everyone loves Surfside Park and Beach. It's on a great location on Lake Minnetonka, relatively close to downtown Mound. It's got great features like the swimming beach, boat docks, volleyball court, playground, picnic tables, grills, the depot for indoor events and finally it has a bike rack!

It's also a great place for events. Several churches in the area will hold a Sunday service at the beach, it is regularly a place for family events, and you shouldn't miss the Music in the Park series there during the summer.

I've written about this issue before about this park and the lack of on street parking. Around 1990, the city council decided to ask Hennepin County to post no parking signs. This needs to be fixed, and post "No Boat Trailer Parking" signs, and make Surfside a better, more accessible place.

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On street parking at Surfside. A simple way to improve a "place" in Mound.

I made this video two years ago and still remains true today.

Also, come and visit me one of the next three evenings in our city parks. I'd love to meet you!

Tuesday, October 21, 6PM-7PM Highland Park (Highland and Glenwood)

Wednesday, October 22, 6PM-7PM Three Points Park (Three Points and Gull)

Thursday, Octover 23, 5:30-6:30 Belmont Park (Belmont and Tonkawood)

Please like and share "A Place in Mound" on Facebook, and with your neighbors and friends in Mound, and vote for George Linkert on November 4th.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Enjoying beautiful Swenson Park and future "Meet George" events

The kids and I had fun at Swenson Park last Saturday morning, getting a great sense of the neighborhoods and some of the best places Mound has to offer. Here are some pictures of our walk to the park.

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Our walk to the park started on Emerald Dr, a nice, walkable street. 

The kids really enjoyed stomping through the leaves on that beautiful Saturday.

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Coming up to the Wilshire/Brighton Blvd intersection.

The Wilshire/Brighton Blvd intersection is not a very pleasant place to be... I've written about it before. We remained undaunted, and continued our way to the park.

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Swenson Park is a great place in Mound!
Swenson Park on the Island is a great place for people. It's got a playground, tennis courts, softball field, basketball court, and a lovely little wooded area. The kids spent most of their time playing (and  a little bit fighting) of course.

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My daughter exploring the wooded area of Swenson Park.
I have to say that this was the first park I've noticed (aside from Avon Park where I live) where the "No Parking" signs were on the side of the street by the houses, leaving plenty of room for parking on the park side of the street. I visited with one of the long time residents, and he said that the neighborhood petitioned the city to make that change long ago. Way to go Swenson Park neighborhood!

One really gets a good sense of what makes a "place" in a city when you are moving on foot. You see all the homes and places, streets and retaining walls, gardens and yards you miss otherwise. You run into friends and acquaintances and pet puppies, and wave to people who are raking leaves. After a while I start feeling sad for those who never take the time for activities like this. We enjoyed the park for a good hour, and we headed home.

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Wilshire/Brighton intersection again going the other way.
The picture above of two girls simply walking home on the only place on the street they can, and are expected to share this space with speeding cars is a reminder that there is still work to undertake to improve Mound for people. Neighborhood connections like those between the Shirley Hills and the Island neighborhoods have been engineered to eliminate people so cars can save seconds from a commute. This mentality needs to change. Places like this need to be designed more thoughtfully, concentrating on enhancing the area for people to live and conduct their affairs on, while still allowing cars to respectfully drive through.

We enjoyed our time at Swenson Park so much. that we are heading to other Mound parks in your neighborhood. Come and and say hi!

Tuesday, October 21, 6PM-7PM Highland Park (Highland and Glenwood)

Wednesday, October 22, 6PM-7PM Three Points Park (Three Points and Gull)

Thursday, Octover 23, 5:30-6:30 Belmont Park (Belmont and Tonkawood)

Please like and share "A Place in Mound" on Facebook, and with your neighbors and friends in Mound, and vote for George Linkert on November 4th.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meet George at Swenson Park

I have been enlightened and enriched over the years having great conversations with you here online, and in the streets about our city. I am constantly humbled when people recognize the value of the arguments we've made at a Place in Mound. The fact is that many of the issues we see here in Mound are issues cities all over Minnesota and our country face. This is the beginning of a long and much larger process to create communities of value and enhance the lives we live in important, and meaningful ways.

On this Saturday morning, October 18, from 10 to 11 in the morning, I'll be hanging out on the Island at Swenson Park with my kids playing soccer. It would be great to meet you if you are in the Brighton Blvd area, so come out and join us.

I have been surprise how many people with whom I've barely know, offering me financial support. If you are interested in donating to my campaign for Mound Council member, you can use the link below.

If you would rather send me a check, you can mail it to me...

George for Mound
5017 Avon Dr
Mound, MN 55364

Thank you. See you Saturday. Let's work together to make Mound a place to drive to, not drive through.


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

George Linkert speaks to the Mound Council

I was very fortunate in November 2012 to have the Mound city manager invite me to come speak about some of the topics written about here to the city council. I spent a lot of time preparing material to talk mostly about the fast streets of Mound, and the lack of on street parking in it's downtown and at Surfside park.

This video was available for a year at the local cable access website, but it isn't anymore. Fortunately, I obtained a DVD of that meeting, and have made it available again online.

This is just my 17 minute presentation from that day. I will post the discussion I had with the city council in another week or so.

Please share this video and website with your friends and family in Mound. Let them know I'm running for city council in November. And let's work together to get Mound to build places for people.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A place to drive to, not through.

We want Mound to be a place to drive to, not drive through. ~ George Linkert

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George Linkert for places.

George Linkert for Mound City Council.

Please read more about ways we can make Mound a better place at

Please share this with your Mound friends and neighbors!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Who is George Matthew Linkert IV

Linkert family at Shirley Hills
I was born and raised in Crystal, MN and attended Robbinsdale schools. I went to Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor's of Music in Education. I taught band and music classes in several public schools around MN. In 2004 I married the love of my life, Janet Denenny, from Mound, MN and built a new home on the property she grew up on in the Shirley Hills neighborhood.

Enjoying Avon Park
While building our new home we had our first child, Maeve, and made the decision to have my wife's father, Merrill, live with us when his health was deteriorating. Shortly after we built our home, our second child,
Cecelia, was born, and I became a stay at home dad. After Janet's father passed away, I opened a licensed home childcare business, and was fortunate to earn the trust of several local families to take care of their babies and young children.

George's daughter, Maeve
When Maeve and Cecelia started going to Shirley Hills Primary
full time in 2012, I decided to close the childcare and find other work close to home. I was fortunate on my time on the Planning Commission to hear twice about Mound's own Sojourn Adult Day Services and their successful growing business. In the last year and a half working at Sojourn, I have earned a valuable spot on their team, working to provide quality care and programming for an important and valuable population segment of our community.

George's daughter, Cecelia
I have loved being a part of Mound from the very beginning of our home construction in 2004. I was very impressed with the staff and city officials at city hall,
and knew during construction that I knew was going to find time in the future to give back to our community. The opportunity arose in 2010, I applied and I was honored to be appointed to the Mound Planning Commission.

I took my role very seriously at the Planning Commission. Before every meeting I looked thoughtfully over cases that were to be discussed, and made many site visits to homes and businesses that were on the agenda. I spent a lot of time personally researching Mound's development history, as well as independently researching how we have developed communities as a state and country. In my education, I attended the city's sponsored seminar's about city planning both in our own city hall, and at Minnesota Government Training Services.
Linkert Family

The training the city provided just scratched the surface of the subject of building our neighborhoods and commercial centers. I was hungry to learn more, so I sought more information and over the last 4 years attended city planning workshops and seminars with the following organizations

Our public spaces are some of the most important devices a city can use to improve itself. I have also spent many hours reading and attending meetings about how our local and state government plan and build these places including at Streets.MN, Project for Public Spaces, and Better Block,

Other organizations I have taken an active role include,
A Place in Mound
Mound Westonka Rotary
Westonka Community and Commerce (Tree Lighting, Dog Days, Scarecrow Stomp)
Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota (Parent Group Facilitator)
Mound Westonka Special Education Advisory Council (Chair)
Minnesota Valley Community Band
Seward Concert Band (President, Associate Conductor)

My vision for Mound in the future:
Mound city council will continue to work to make Mound a better place to live and work.
Mound will create ways to encourage businesses to expand and be successful by eliminating and phasing out ordinances that are out of date, or hinder their growth.
Mound will use our creativity and unique resources to encourage residents and home owners to improve their property.
Mound will not wait anymore for a big developer to come and build our downtown, but will build it ourselves by encouraging development of the buildings that already exist in our downtown.
Mound will focus on bringing activity and commerce to downtown, by building and adding on to the fabulous events that happen in the city.
Mound will become a place to drive to, not drive through.

I humbly ask for your vote for Mound City Council on November 4th.

George, Janet, Maeve and Cecelia Linkert

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Walgreens Property Tax Revenue update

I recently checked the property tax revenue for the Walgreens parcel. Honestly, I wasn't really sure if the numbers I found last winter were going to be final. As someone commented at the time, perhaps the Walgreens number were based on an incomplete structure. I figured time would tell if I was right or wrong.

Just to remind you those old deteriorated buildings (including John's Variety) that were torn down for this "improvement" generated $53,141 in property tax revenue in 2012.

Last year (2013) the revenue generated was a whooping 57,490.90

Total property tax revenue for 2014 for the Walgreens development will be... $53 732.64.

I have always tried to say that there are lots of factors when a city looks any property development or improvement. I understand there are benefits to having this beautiful new building on this busy intersection including...
  • Big brand new drug store
  • Drive though pharmacy
  • Parking lot
  • Beautiful new Dakota Junction restaurant
But let's look at what's been lost at this corner...
  • Smaller drug store (still sitting empty, Walgreens holds the lease)
  • City Looks (recently closed)
  • Christopher and Banks (recently closed)
  • Johns Variety (said he was going to move, but just closed down, Johnny has moved some business to Jubilee)
  • Mama's Happy (demolished, moved out of town)
And after all that... property tax revenue generated on this brand new development is only going to generate $500+ dollars in for the county and city compared to it's predecessor?!

The City of Mound deserves to have it's more valuable land to be much more financially productive than this. Developments like this should be positively impacting the surrounding area... not taking away.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Our new game - Guessing Property Tax Revenues on New Developments

Here's a little game anyone can play. Let's look at a proposed development and try to estimate what the future property tax collected will be when the project is completed. Let's try our chops at the most recent Mound downtown project!

First the facts...
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Johns Variety Building right before tear down
The property in question is part of an old downtown block on Mound's most significant intersection of vehicle traffic. Very valuable in terms of location as it's near the Dakota Rail Trail, and across the street from Mound True Value, and Mound Marketplace, where Jubilee Foods and other restaurants and retail stores. Also, the property borders and is close to some residential. Buildings that will be torn down are, for the most part, very old, and on their last legs in useful life. Property Taxes generated on these parcels in 2012 produced $53,141 dollars for Hennpin County and City of Mound.

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Exciting new Walgreens!
Going up is the new Walgreens with a convenient drive through, two driveway accesses, a new parking lot, and a small bistro restaurant.

The game is played as follows... how much in property tax will the new Walgreens produce? How does it compare to the properties that used to be there? This is valuable land, and we want to be sure this property is financially productive!

Our first contestant is yours truly...
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George Linkert, the guy whom the Mound City Council decided wasn't worth reappointing to the Planning Commission without any explanation.
.... George Linkert only has a couple years experience on the Planning Commission. His background in music and education make him look like an underdog. Let's hear what he's got to say....

George ~ After looking at similar parcels on County Roads in our area, "It's uncertain if the property taxes raised on the Walgreens Block will be more than what is collected currently. If it will be, it certainly doesn't seem like it will be much."

Ok, George seems to thinks the revenues from the new parcels will be a little higher, if not the same.

Next up to play are the experts from the Hennepin County Assessor's office...

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Mr. Assesor warming up his slide ruler.
.... these guys do this sort of analysis for a living, can you tell us how much in property taxes the new Walgreens development will make for local governments?

Mr. Assessor ~ "I am the one who deals with most of the Walgreen appeals in our Hennco cities we provided services to. .... I would consider more in the tax area of $100,000 to $105,000."

Really! Wow... $100,000 is quite a different number that what George got. How did you come up with that number?!

Mr. Assessor ~ "There are many reasons why tax estimates can vary from one property or parcel to another. Walgreen's stores as related to other larger retail centers and/or other freestanding retail facilities generally locate themselves on highly visible or strategic corner locations.
As we attempt to estimate market value we look at the market forces that are at play within each given location and more particularly to the individual real estate that is being appraised. The estimate provided on the Mound Walgreen's reflects the quality, condition and the age of that structure as compared to some of the other surrounding retail.

What we are not valuing is the long-term income stream and the considered bond rate return that Walgreen's real estate provides in the investment market."

OK, Thanks for playing Mr. Assessor!

Let's review the numbers. What did our contestants believe would be the property taxes generated from this new development....
George Linkert - $53,141
Mr. County Assessor - $100,000

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Complete Walgreens, picture taken from trail.
Now let's check the Hennepin County Website a few months later as the development is nearing completion and find out what the revenues generated on the new Walgreens development will be!

2013 Property Tax revenue $57, 490.90*

Which means George was off by approximately $4,000
Mr. Assessor is off by approximately $42,000

Congratulations George Linkert! You estimated the future property tax generated of this new development more accurately than the highly touted, better educated county assessor by $38,000!

* - This total doesn't included the finished Dakota Junction, which wasn't finished until last year and so it's numbers haven't been published yet. I'll guaranty you it won't be $38,000.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Being dumped by the City of Mound

Without warning or any discussion, the Mound City Council choose to ignore the Planning Commissions recommendations for appointments to it's panel. The City Council apparently decided to take a pass on my reappointment without comment.

They have taken a pass on a Planning Commission member that...
... attended every meeting in three years but one
... gathered and prepared information on most items that have been on agenda
... offered unique and thoughtful comments an most items on the agenda
... accepted and attended training sessions the city offered
... as well as went on other training sessions on his own prerogative

I am, of course, personally saddened about this development. But frankly, I am more sad that our City Council, most of whom have sat with me on the Planning Commission at one time or another, haven't appreciated me. Apparently my contributions to the discussion of Mound have been so offensive or wasteful, that the City Council wants to move in a different direction.

This is a sad move by this City Council.