Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association

Annual Membership Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, November 9, 2004
University of St. Thomas Law School

I.          Call to Order/Welcome

Tom Hoch, the Chair, called the meeting to order at 6:40 p.m.  All other board members were in attendance, i.e.:  David Abele; Dee Cotten; Andrew Hauer; Kim Motes, Vice Chair; Gene Nessly, Treasurer; Jodi Pfarr; and Carletta Sweet, Secretary.  Nonboard members in attendance included June Harmon, financial consultant; Sarah McKenzie, Skyway News journalist; and Christie Rock, DMNA coordinator.

II.        Meet Your Elected Officials

Mayor R.T. Rybak spoke about the need for city government to work in partnership with the neighborhood association in developing downtown (there are approximately 30,000 residents and 165,000 workers), the importance of recognizing downtown as a 24-hour neighborhood, and to focus on the amenities required to serve this unique community (i.e., retail mix, transportation – including removing buses from Nicollet Mall – streetscape, arts, and education).  Mr. Rybak also expressed his pride as mayor of such an incredible downtown and encouraged the audience to contact him with their issues at rt@minneapolis.org.

Linda Higgins, State Senator, advised that the Minnesota legislature, come January 4th, will have a different configuration since every member of the House of Representatives was up for election, and in the Senate the republican control was significantly reduced and as such will be much more transportation and transit friendly.  She also hopes to get the bonding passed for many important downtown projects including the Shubert and the planetarium for the new Central Library.  Linda’s contact information is lindah@senate.mn.      

Lisa Goodman, 7th Ward Councilmember, briefed the audience on the following “cool” privately-financed projects:

·        A proposal for a 50-story, high-rise project at 10th and Nicollet Mall that would include the Handicraft Building (constructed in the 1890s by the Handicraft Council, a council of women interested in the arts and crafts)

·        The restaurant, bar and dance club redevelopment proposal for the 2-story Stimson Building

·        The RFP for the Nicollet Hotel block, a residential development with transit hub    

Lisa then encouraged the community to support the removal of buses on Nicollet Mall after 6 p.m.; fund the Skyway Senior Center and help with its public relations and marketing; and help turn Hennepin Avenue into a two-way street for the vitality of the entertainment district.

Natalie Johnson Lee, 5th Ward Councilmember, had laryngitis and was unable to speak.


Vivian Mason, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner District 4, spoke about how the majority users of the parks are being under-served and how she has been pushing for more programs for seniors.  She would love to see a partnership between the MPRB and the Skyway Senior Center in order to accomplish more for that segment of the population.  Vivian can be contacted at vivianmason@earthlink.net.   

Paul Zerby, 2nd Ward Councilmember, thanked his former aide, Alan Bernard who resigned to run for the 10th Ward Council seat, and welcomed his new assistant, Greg Zimback.

Peter McLaughlin, Hennepin County Commissioner, advised that due to the success of the LRT and the recent election (wherein opponents to transit investment were voted out of office) we’re at a point of taking off as a transit corridor which will improve movement in and out of the downtown core.  He believes Minneapolis will get the bonding for the North Star line going up to Big Lake in the next legislative session.  Peter also briefed the audience regarding the Cedar/Lake bike trail project.

Regarding criminal justice, Peter advised that there is a new fee schedule that he help initiate last year that will drop the booking fees the City pays by $400,000; there will be more probation officers out on the street working with the MPD; and they’re trying to find funding to stabilize the Restorative Justice Program to deal with the livability crimes.

Lastly, Hennepin County made a donation to the effort to light up the Stone Arch Bridge, and the County will continue to support the bike race that occurs downtown in the summer.  HC will continue to be proactive in downtown and to working closely with DMNA.  

III.       Crime and Safety Update

Chief William McManus, Minneapolis Police Department, discussed the $12 million budget cut the department will face over the next 5 years and its impact on the force.  The budget shortfall equates to the loss of approximately 137 police officers, and in order to keep street strength up it will necessitate diverting support function personnel to gangs, drugs, prostitution, and domestic violence as officers attrite out of the force.  The MPD is in the process of reorganizing the Criminal Investigation Division to improve ability to cover “off hour” crimes, and the bar has been raised for performance, accountability and customer service.  Overall, the crime trend is down citywide as well as in the downtown neighborhood.

Inspector Rob Alan discussed the technical issues related to the installation of the SafeZone cameras and the movement underway to create a Police Foundation to fund training, equipment, and special needs.

Luther Krueger, Crime Prevention Specialist, 1st Precinct, encouraged the audience to sign up for the MPD virtual block club, and explained the “Go Before You Go” campaign.

Lt. Michael Kjos introduced himself and explained his area of coverage (i.e., the Warehouse District and the SafeZone cameras).

Emily Buehler of the Restorative Justice Program thanked DMNA for its continued participation and donations to the program.

IV.       Update on Downtown Development

Jack Byers, Principal Planner, CPED, distributed organizational charts and explained the integration over the past 18 months of the Planning Department and the Minneapolis Community Development Agency to improve the efficiency of city planning and development.  Lee Sheehy was hired by the Mayor and the City Council to achieve the integration of the former organizations.  CPED is divided into three areas:  Planning; Economic Policy and Development; and Housing Policy and Development.  Planning is further divided into two teams:  Zoning and Development Controls, which deals with day-to-day planning (i.e., application processing); and Community Planning which deals with long-range strategic planning.  Jack, who works on the Community Planning team, represents the downtown neighborhoods of North Loop, Downtown East and West, Loring Park, Stevens Square, Elliot Park, and Cedar Riverside West Bank.  Each of the Community Planning districts have been reorganized in the past year in order to be commiserate with all of the police precincts to get business and housing development into the same geographic sector model for service delivery.

Jack noted the update of the Minneapolis Planning Division’s web page and the documents contained therein which are specific tools for neighborhoods.

Thereafter Jack answered questions related to various downtown projects:  MacPhail’s intentions; the RFP for the Nicollet Hotel block; the market for affordable and cooperative housing; hospitality development; the Depot skating ring; and Whitney Hotel.   

 

Kim Motes advised that last year DMNA expended $500,000 of the approximately $875,000 affordable housings funds into projects in downtown, leaving a remainder of approximately $375,000 to be expended this year.  After conducting another RFP process this past summer, two projects were awarded the remaining funds:  $250,000 for Brighton Development Corporation’s St. Anthony Mills Apartments Phase 2; and $125,000 for Project for Pride in Living’s Elliot Park Commons.  DMNA is looking at Phase 2 in order to get more affordable housing funds into the community.

Danielle Salus, Brighton Development, thanked DMNA for its two rounds of support for its St. Anthony Mills Apartment project which helped to generate support from other funders.  Danielle then showed some preliminary views by ESG Architects depicting the project and streetscape, and described the 2-phase design and its affordability configurations.    

Rick Johnson, Project Manager, the new Central Library, advised that this project is on schedule and on budget.  Two milestones have been achieved:  the completion of the concrete structure (a high-risk component of the building); and the raising of approximately $10.5 million of private funds toward the $15 million capital campaign.  A couple months ago they initiated the public phase of the capital campaign (literature and donation materials were made available).  They plan to have the building totally enclosed by March 2005 and will begin all interior work (i.e., mechanical, electrical, flooring, carpeting, shelving).  The hard hat tours will resume in spring.  Final move-in/clean-up and grand opening anticipated for May 2006.  The project was designed to incorporate a planetarium any time in the future.  They will go before the legislature again to seek the $24 million needed. 

V.        DMNA Elections

David Abele explained the election process then Pat Warner and Susan Simmons from the League of Women Voters facilitated the election process.  After nominations were submitted, ballots collected and counted, the following individuals were reelected for a 2-year term:  Kim Motes, Gene Nessly, Jodi Pfarr, and Carletta Sweet.

VI.       Adjournment

There being no further business, the annual meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

Signed this ________ day of ________________________, 2004.

_______________________________                      _______________________________
Chair                                                                            Secretary