Minneapolis Public Safety Meets National Politics

The DMNA Public Safety Task Force was created to inform and promote citizen participation in the Minneapolis public safety debate. This “local” debate, however, is intricately connected to metro-area, Minnesota, and national politics.  A recent podcast from “The Daily” feature of the New York Times explores the connection between our policing & public safety issues and the presidential campaign, and the implications for both.  The Task Force would like to call this podcast to the attention of our downtown neighbors:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/25/podcasts/the-daily/george-floyd-police-reform-election.html.

DMNA Annual Meeting scheduled for October 27, at 6 p.m. via Zoom

The Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association Annual Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27, at 6 p.m.  This year’s meeting will take place in a virtual format via Zoom. We will be hosting a Public Safety Town Hall Meeting.  More info to come on guest speakers. If you have a specific crime and safety question that you would like addressed, please submit it to info@thedmna.org.

Elections to the DMNA Board of Directors will also take place at the Annual Meeting.  We have three seats up for election this year.  Each seat has a three-year term.  If you would like to run for a seat, please submit your name, address, a brief bio (including any previous experience you have with the DMNA or other nonprofit boards), and a statement regarding why you are interested in serving on the DMNA Board to info@thedmna.org.  You must live, work, or own property in either the Downtown East or Downtown West neighborhoods. Please submit this information by no later than Wednesday, October 14, so we can post a Voters Guide on our Website in advance of the meeting.

Volunteer at the Annual Tree Census

Let’s make sure our downtown streets are as healthy, beautiful, and green as they can be! Join Green Minneapolis for the 2020 Annual Downtown Tree Census. Volunteers will be trained in identifying sites for street trees to be replanted next spring. Data collection can be completed any time before October 15th and submitted easily through a digital texting platform. Volunteers receive a Tree-Lover Prize Pack and help us compile a crucial record of year-over-year changes in the condition of downtown street trees.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3
10:00am – 10:30am: The Commons
11:00am –  11:30am: Elliot Park

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10
10:00am – 10:30am: Loring Park
11:00am –  11:30am: North Loop, 3rd St N outside Corner Coffee

To volunteer for the Tree Census, please send an email to info@greenminneapolis.org.

Proposed Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board 2021 tax levy balances tax relief and unprecedented loss of revenues

At its Sept. 2 meeting, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Commissioners passed a resolution requesting the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) to set the 2021 maximum property tax levy for the MPRB at $70,326,000, a 1.18% or $820,000 increase from the 2020 certified tax levy.

The 1.18% increase will fund $820,000 to operate The Commons and provides the final year of an eight-year plan to respond to emerald ash borer infestation and urban tree canopy loss due to storms. In 2020, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Minneapolis could not operate and manage The Commons, which it had done after acquiring the property in 2014 and opening the park in 2016. Funds to operate The Commons in 2020 were transferred to the MPRB by the City of Minneapolis. This transfer will not be made beginning in 2021, making the 1.18% property tax increase effectively a 0% increase to MPRB operations.

“This year the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board experienced unexpected expenses and millions in lost revenue due to the pandemic, like countless local governments across the country,” said Al Bangoura, Superintendent of the MPRB. “We anticipate reductions in services across all departments in 2021 while upholding our mission to provide beautiful places and dynamic programs for all people to enjoy, particularly our youth.”

If approved by the BET, the Superintendent will present a balanced 2021 budget based on a 1.18 percent property tax levy increase. This will require budget reductions of up to $6.2 million in the general fund due to the provided property tax relief, reduced Local Government Aid and pandemic impacts.

“During a challenging year in the City the Park Board has weathered many storms,” said Jono Cowgill, President of the MPRB. “While a lower levy will mean reductions in park services, we recognize that the taxpayers are not in a position to shoulder a substantial increase. I am happy to support the levy increase which builds in support for expanded park maintenance needs.”

As required by State Law, the BET sets the maximum tax levy for the City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Municipal Building Commission and the Public Housing Authority on an annual basis. The BET is scheduled to set these maximum property tax levies on Sept. 23, 2020.

The Superintendent will present the recommended 2021 budget on Oct. 21, 2020. The Board will consider the Superintendent’s budget and adopt the 2021 tax levy and 2021 budget on Dec. 9, 2020.

CM Fletcher Short Term Rental Ordinance Virtual Community Meeting on September 23

Council Member Steve Fletcher is holding a virtual community meeting on the Short-Term Rental ordinance on Tuesday, September 23, from 5-6:30 PM.  Join this meeting to learn more about the policy options under consideration and offer feedback.

Join by phone at 612-276-6670 with the
Conference ID 637 334 898# or at this link: https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_OTRhYzFkYWMtOTI2MC00NzM4LWJiZjktMDgzZDM2ZjU1YTIy%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%220bfb3f5a-e8ea-4d54-b021-2b2f910c715f%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%2202000579-5c2a-4b1b-b04c-37b591b73a91%22%7d

Help Make Our City Shine! “Litter Be Gone” event scheduled for October 1-10

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by taking a pledge to help clean up litter in Minneapolis during Litter Be Gone, October 1-10, 2020.

Help us spread the word and get your neighbors to join in Litter Be Gone, October 1-10, 2020.

Litter Be Gone is a family-friendly activity that can be done safely with social distancing.

It’s easy to participate. Volunteers can pledge to pick up litter on their own streets between Oct. 1 and 10 or choose to work as a team to clean up the whole neighborhood. Participants are encouraged to use their own gloves and garbage bags and share results online to see the community-wide impact. Free cleanup supplies and drink coupons can also be picked up on Saturday, October 3 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at several supply hub locations.

Thank you,
The Litter Be Gone Team

P.S. Keeping your storm drains clean is another great way to help protect our waterways year-round! Find out more from our co-sponsor Adopt-a-Drain.——-

Litter Be Gone is coordinated by the Alliance for Sustainability in partnership with the City of Minneapolis and its Clean City initiative.

Contacts:
Amy Dritz, Litter Be Gone Coordinator | litterbegonempls@gmail.com
Sean Gosiewski, Executive Director, Alliance for Sustainability | 612-250-0389 or sean@afors.org

 

DMNA and HOA Representatives Responding to Public Safety Issues

The DMNA has formed a new working group made up of the Presidents or other representatives of the condo buildings located downtown, especially in the Mill District.  The group will work together on any issues of concern to the condo buildings and their residents.  Not surprisingly, public safety has emerged as an urgent topic.

At the August 27thmeeting those on the Zoom call shared perspectives on crime in the area, both within their own buildings, in Gold Medal Park, and in other East Downtown public spaces.  Common occurrences are garage break ins and thefts, observation of drug dealing on streets and other public areas, and a general late night rowdiness with loud and unsafe driving, along with dangerous use of rental scooters and bicycles.

Minneapolis Ward 3 Councilmember Steve Fletcher joined the call with an update on city actions being taken:

  • Redirection of more police patrol time to 2nd Street
  • More vigorous enforcement of on-street overnight parking, and towing of cars left for multiple days
  • Options for slowing down driving speeds
  • Requiring that scooters and bicycles be deactivated at 10:00 p.m. rather than midnight
  • Asking police to watch for and enforce the prohibition on motorcycles that have been modified with muffler removal

A representative of the Gold Medal Park Foundation agreed to review with the City the operating agreement to clarify how law enforcement is supposed to be handled in this private park

The HOA group expressed interest in potentially working together to better coordinate and share crime prevention activities in the area.  They have asked that 1stPrecinct Inspector Bill Peterson attend the next meeting (October 22) to clarify the MPD response to rising crime in the area.

DMNA seeking residents for Civic Engagement Committee

The Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association is seeking to establish a Civic Engagement Committee.  There has been some interest expressed at recent board meetings about getting a group started to work on community improvement projects.  Downtown resident Quentin Misiag has volunteered to lead the committee.  Some examples of projects that the committee might work on include the following:

  • Neighborhood cleanup events
  • Voter registration drives
  • Work with the Public Safety Task Force to organize a National Night Out event
  • Set-up Little Free Libraries throughout the downtown
  • Work with the Marking / Branding Task Force to create neighborhood banners
  • Work with the Land Use Committee on Streetscape Improvement projects such as hanging baskets, planters, benches, etc…

If you have an interest in working on these kinds of projects and other community improvement initiatives, please send an email to DMNA Neighborhood Coordinator Christie Hantge with your name, address and a brief statement explaining your interest.  You must live, work or own property in the Downtown East or Downtown West neighborhoods to participate on the committee.

 

DMNA establishes Public Safety Task Force

The Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association recently established a Public Safety Task Force.  The task force will facilitate active participation by the DMNA Board and residents of the downtown neighborhoods in the ongoing debates about public safety in Minneapolis. The task force will also help advance the “Guiding Principles for Police Reform and Public Safety” (adopted 7-6-20), within the general framework of the DMNA mission and goals.

The task force will develop a specific work plan that will address the function stated above. Its general objectives are: to encourage downtown residents to respond to public comment opportunities on public safety issues; to advise the DMNA on board responses to community safety issues; to collect & report relevant neighborhood data; to develop & distribute public information materials; and to develop recommendations to the DMNA Board on how the neighborhood association can actively contribute to public safety in our neighborhood.

DMNA letter to MPRB Jono Cowgill regarding homeless encampments

The Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association recently sent this letter regarding the homeless encampments to MPRB District 4 Commissioner Jono Cowgill and the rest of the board.

July 23, 2020

Mr. Jono Cowgill, 4th District Park Commissioner

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411

Dear Jono:

Thank you so much for attending the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association Board Meeting on Monday, July 20.  We appreciate your willingness to provide an in person update on the status of the homeless encampments in Minneapolis parks and to respond to questions from our board and residents.  I am writing this letter to summarize and reiterate our concerns.  The following points were brought up during the meeting.

  1. There is open space in downtown shelters.  These locations would be a much better solution for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness than the encampments in Minneapolis parks, because of the resources they have access to and the specialized services they provide.
  2. Some people who are homeless are choosing not to access shelters, because they do not allow the use of drugs and alcohol.  The MPRB prohibits the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco in Minneapolis parks, but it is not enforcing these rules in the encampments.  The MPRB should hold the people living in the encampments accountable to the same rules with regards to drug, alcohol and tobacco use as the rest of the population.
  3. The encampments in The Commons and along West River Parkway are a health and safety concern to downtown residents.  The encampments are also hindering, if not prohibiting, the ability of residents to use and enjoy the parks.  Parents with children have expressed concern about visiting the parks due to language they have heard used by people living in the encampments, as well as some inappropriate behaviors they have witnessed.  The MPRB needs to monitor these locations to ensure they remain below the 20 tent threshold and to make certain that residents are following park rules with regards to drugs, alcohol and tobacco use.
  4. There is growing concern about the economic impact that the encampments are having on the city.  Minneapolis is widely known for its park system.  In fact, the Trust for Public Lands recently named it the Best City Park System in the United States. There is concern that people will choose not to visit Minneapolis, because of the encampments.  This will have a negative impact on the business community.
  5. There is a need to develop a long-term plan for individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Minneapolis.  There is concern that the MPRB reacted too quickly to the encampments.  There is a big difference between reacting and responding.  A response is well thought out.  A reaction typically provokes more reaction and nothing gets accomplished.  We appreciate that the MPRB is now working on a coordinated plan with Hennepin County and the City to help people living in the encampments find more dignified housing before winter.

Again, thank you participating in our board meeting.  We wish the MPRB, the City and Hennepin County well as you work to address this very challenging issue.  We also look forward to staying in communication with you.  If you have any questions regarding this letter, please feel free to contact me at pamelamccrea3@gmail.com or 612-298-7656.

Kind regards,

Pam McCrea, Chair
DMNA Board

cc.Christie Rock Hantge, DMNA Neighborhood Coordinator
DMNA Board of Directors
DMNA Land Use Committee
Ward 3 Council Member Steve Fletcher