Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association
Minutes from Board of Directors Meeting on Tuesday, September 14, 2004
800 LaSalle Avenue South, Suite 131, Minneapolis

I.          Call to Order

Tom Hoch called the meeting to order at 6:35 p.m.  Other board members in attendance were David Abele, Andrew Hauer, Kim Motes, Gene Nessly, Jodi Pfarr and Carletta Sweet.  Board member Dee Cotten was unavailable.  Nonboard members in attendance included:  Connie Barry and Jason Barry of Transtop; Lee Bennett, Metro Transit; Sue Bonin, Block E; Jack Byers, Minneapolis CPED; Scott Danielson, US Bench Corp; June Harmon, financial consultant; Dave Indrehus, Metro Transit Police; Lieutenant Michael Kjos and CCP Luther Krueger, MPD 1st Precinct; Donald Pflaum, Minneapolis Public Works; Christie Rock, DMNA coordinator; Robert Strawberry, Salvation Army Harbor Light; and Karen Swenson, Minneapolis Environmental Management.  Tom announced that Councilmember Paul Zerby sent his regrets and would not be able to attend due to a schedule conflict.

II.        Consideration of August  2004 Minutes

The minutes from the August 10, 2004 board meeting were unanimously approved as amended under Section V (i.e., changing Police Chief’s name from “Jim” to “Bill”).

III.       Downtown Transit Stops Roundtable

As a follow up to the discussion in July 2004 regarding livability crimes at transit stops along Hennepin Avenue, the board invited relevant stakeholders to share their perspectives in order to better understand how to resolve the problem in a more collaborative manner.

Sue Bonin discussed the problems related to the three bus shelters situated around the Block E property she manages and the security expenses incurred as a result thereto – over $607,000.  She believes they are being “taxed to death” for very little service.  In addition to property taxes of over $1 million, Block E incurs 32 percent of special taxes related to entertainment (e.g., 6.5 sales, 9.0 liquor sales, 6.5 use, 0.5 Minneapolis sales, 0.5 Minneapolis use, 3.0 Minneapolis liquor sales, 3.0 downtown restaurant sales).  Sue stated that high taxation and unsafe conditions are not conducive to attracting businesses to the area.  And as a means to reducing transit station crimes, Sue advised that when speaking with other downtown businesses, they proposed having a central drop off circulator line that could be better policed versus keeping transit stations on every corner.

Scott Danielson explained that US Bench has a license to install benches at transit stops in the Twin Cities and that their role is to maintain not police them.  However, if US Bench is made aware of “bad” locations, as is the case at 7th and Hennepin, the benches can be removed. 

Dave Indrehus, who spent 30 years with the Minneapolis Police Department before joining the Metro Transit Police, echoed the need to address the transit station crimes to improve Minneapolis’ livability.  Statistically speaking, there are 135 part-time officers from all over the metro area, 32 full-time officers plus 5 more to be added next Monday [September 20] as well as 12 more by the first of next year.  These officers cover 85 cities and 7 counties wherever Metro Transit runs, but the lion share of the work load is concentrated in downtown Minneapolis.  After surveying the 7th and Hennepin location and talking with Lee Bennett of Metro Transit, Dave advised they will try to get the parking lot next to this station to install additional lighting.  Meanwhile MT will continue to work cooperatively with the MPD to patrol the area.

Lieutenant Michael Kjos explained the cooperative efforts of the Salvation Army’s Citizens Patrol with the MPD to patrol the problem areas in downtown Minneapolis, and the soon to be installed 32-camera, 24-hour surveillance system.

CPS Luther Krueger remarked that if problems (e.g., parking lot and pay phone nuisances) continue without property owners’ cooperation, an extreme measure to take is to bring the County Attorney in and use the nuisance statute against them.  He then reemphasized the necessity of cooperation among all stakeholders to stave off these livability crimes.

Responding to whether there is a need for bus stops on every corner, Lee Bennett explained that the number of bus stops is determined by transfer routes, adjacent land use, and sidewalks.

Connie Barry clarified that Transtop is a privately-owned company and a franchise of the City of Minneapolis that has no legal affiliation with Metro Transit, however they provide 340 shelters (238 in Minneapolis and 70 in downtown Minneapolis) in the metropolitan area for Metro Transit bus riders and coexist on many corners with US Benches.  The 8th and Hennepin bus shelter, one of two (the other at 3rd and Hennepin) owned by Metro Transit, has been turned around to avoid the tunneling effect contributing to the livability crimes.  Connie also explained that advertising revenues, their only source of income, supports bus shelter construction and maintenance and explained three experimental graffiti remediation measures they are pursuing to combat this problem:  protective film to place on the glass developed by 3M; a protective compound for automobiles that might be applicable for glass; and diagonally etched glass graffiti artists in San Francisco apparently dislike.

Responding to what is appropriate protocol for addressing bus shelter issues, Dave Indrehus suggested that board members contact him directly as a first step.

Robert Strawberry of the Salvation Army’s Citizens Patrol discussed the importance of the “presence” of a perceived authority group to combat livability crimes.  Tom Hoch volunteered to brainstorm with Sue Bonin to figure out how to engage other downtown businesses and residents in providing a volunteer “presence” and suggested reengaging this roundtable at the December 2004 board meeting.       

IV.       Third Street Bike Lane Proposal

Don Pflaum of Minneapolis Public Works Department presented a plan for a new bike lane on South 3rd Street between Chicago and Hennepin Avenues to replace the bike lane on South 5th Street displaced by the light rail transit line.  The City is seeking $150,000-200,000 by the end of the year to move forward on the project.  No action was taken by the board in order to give the matter further consideration.    

V.        Downtown Residential Projects Update

Jack Byers, City Planner, updated the board on the approximately 10 high-rise condo projects in various stages of development within the downtown neighborhoods.  Jack also discussed the role of the neighborhood and the City and developers’ responsibilities in the application process.  What they are trying to do quickly in-house is get some common goals because the City’s zoning codes and policies didn’t anticipate such a boom in high-rise construction.  The City has responsibilities relative to the regulations in its zoning code regarding land use, building size, set backs, public access, loading, etc.  They also have policies in the Downtown 2010 Plan that guide projects and project review on public interface, scale of buildings, etc.  Jack advised that it is important for neighborhood groups to have a sense of what the City can do, and what neighborhood groups can do outside of the City structure.  It is also important to keep in mind that developers have to make money in order for a project to go ahead which, in most cases, is good for the city and the neighborhoods.

VI.       Plan Modification Strategies Update

Kim advised that she had received two applications in response to the Affordable Housing RFP sent out this past August and will discuss these with the board at a later date.

Regarding the “Go Before You Go” campaign, Kim advised that she along with Luther Krueger of the Minneapolis Police Department and the Restorative Justice Program have instituted monthly educational sessions for bar owners every third Tuesday.  The next session is scheduled for Tuesday, September 21, 2004, 2:00 p.m. at the First Precinct.

VII.     Consideration of August 2004 Financial Reports

June Harmon distributed and Gene explained the F2004 Budget vs. Actual as of August 2004; the Profit & Loss YTD Comparison statement for August 2004; and the Wells Fargo check register for August 1-31, 2004.  These financial documents were unanimously received and filed.  Additionally, June advised she had received two checks:  Citizen Participation for $1,342; and the reimbursement from NRP of $12,755.85.  

VIII.    Other Business

Tom advised that DMNA will be losing its current office space as of November 1, 2004 to make way for a new restaurant that will be occupying the site across the corridor as well as DMNA’s space for additional seating.  However, Tom intends to negotiate similar lease terms with Equity Partners for a new DMNA office location on the Skyway level.   


IX.       Adjournment

Thereafter the meeting was adjourned at 9:35 p.m.

Signed this ________ day of ________________________, 2004.

_______________________________                      _______________________________
Chair                                                                            Secretary