- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Three activists have dropped a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis over its plans for a park linked to a $400 million development project near the new Vikings stadium.

Stephanie Woodruff, Paul Ostrow and Dan Cohen had challenged the City Council’s authority to buy, own and operate parkland in the city, saying that only the city’s separate Park and Recreation Board had that authority. But they said Saturday that they were withdrawing their lawsuit.

Ostrow told the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1eWT3HT ) a Hennepin County judge’s ruling Friday requiring them to post a $10 million surety bond to keep the lawsuit moving proved insurmountable. The city had said the lawsuit threatened the entire project and asked the judge to require the bond to cover any losses if the lawsuit failed.

The nearly two-square-block park on land now owned by the Star Tribune is the centerpiece of the project proposed by Ryan Cos. that includes two office towers for Wells Fargo, up to 400 apartments, retail shops, restaurants and a parking ramp. The land deal is set to close Friday.

Ostrow, a former Minneapolis City Council president who is also an Anoka County prosecutor, said the plaintiffs’ concerns about financing issues raised by the lawsuit have not faded. They are asking that the City Council, when it meets Thursday, to consider changes in the development deal and plans to issue up to $65 million in bonds for the park, which is part of the Downtown East development. They contend the city is paying too much for the Star Tribune land.

A separate legal action involving the stadium development is pending before the Minnesota Supreme Court, a lawsuit that delayed a $468 million bond sale that had been scheduled for last week. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority asked the high court late last week to quickly quash the action by three other plaintiffs, who contend the stadium financing arrangements were designed to circumvent a Minneapolis city charter provision that would have triggered a city referendum.