Downtown Minneapolis Residents Association - Board Meeting

RiverWest Apartments -- June 20, 1995 -- 7:00 to 9:15 p.m.

Called to Order: 7:00 p.m. by GR


1. MCDA Focus -- Report by George Kissinger, MCDA

Kissinger summarized the MCDA's draft focus plan for the Board. The plan lays out guiding principals for MCDA operation for the next 18 months. The MCDA would like neighborhood input now before the plan is submitted to the City Council. Comments on the draft plan are due by Friday, June 30. The draft will be revised, based on neighborhood input, and submitted for a public hearing by the City s Community Development Committee on Monday, July 17, at 5 p.m. in Room 319 City Hall.

The primary purpose of the plan is to provide a clear statement of the MCDA's roles and priorities. The agency is narrowing its focus and will target its efforts toward:

a. maintaining and increasing employment opportunities;

b. improving housing;

c. encouraging private investment and reinvestment

Other activities that have been undertaken in recent years, but are not directly related to the above, will not be focused on in the future.

Guiding principals of the plan are:

a. industrial development strategies that provide living wage jobs for Minneapolis residents;

b. a diversity of housing choices within each community;

c. creation of investor confidence in both housing and commercial development;

d. continued Agency improvment by being:

i. more targeted and strategic;

ii. more customer friendly;

iii. better at maximizing scarce resources;

iv. a catalyst for creative parnterships.

Overall the MCDA hopes to provide:

a. livable, safe neighborhoods;

b. a diverse, resilient economy that creates opportunity;

c. a strong healthy downtown for housing, commerce, employment and entertainment.

In regard to Downtown, Kissinger noted that the long term plan calls for redevelopment of the milling area, the Milwaukee Road Depot and Industry Square (downtown east -- the area around the Metrodome where industrial development has occurred but in a disjointed fashion). Downtown is the only neighborhood specifically mentioned in the MCDA document and Kissinger suggested DMRA look carefully at what is said.

AE noted that Block E has been an MCDA target in the past, but is not mentioned in the draft document. Kissinger replied that a new RFP for Block E development has recently been let, but that DMRA might want to comment on the absence of specific mention of Block E in the draft document.

In response to a question by PB, Kissinger clarified that the Park Board owns the downtown riverfront park areas. GR noted that DMRA has been involved in several riverfront issues including the Federal Reserve Bank and RiverCity Trolley.

Kissinger encouraged the board to make a formal written response to the draft and to have a representative at the public hearing.

Frank Brust asked if the MCDA s method for acquiring properties and/or doing development was always the same. Kissinger replied that agency preferred to use the RFP process to encourage development but that in some instances had purchased properties (for examaple to save them from the wrecking ball) with no clear development proposals in mind.

DH MOVED and PB SECONDED that the Executive Committee write and submit a reply to the draft document by the June 30 reply deadline. Motion CARRIED. Kissinger requested a copy of DMRA s comments.

2. New Director

DH MOVED that the agenda be changed so the board could vote on a new board member, Eunice Roo of Rivergate. The motion was SECONDED and after some discussion approved UNANIMOUSLY.

DH reported that Eunice has gotten involved in the neighborhood as a result of concerns residents of her building had about skateboarding and the need for a bus shelter. He felt she had done an excellent job of organizing at Rivergate and would be an excellent board member.

PB clarifed that Eunice could be appointed by the Board until the next election (November) at which time she would stand for re-election with the rest of the group.

It was MOVED and SECONDED that Eunice Roo, 115 Second Avenue South, #702, be appointed to the DMRA Board. Motion CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

3. Secretary's Report (PB)

a. Roll Call:

i. Present: George Rosenquist (GR), Paul Barber (PB), Andy Hauer (AH), Dolores Cotten (DC), Donald Hicks (DH), Eunice Roo (ER).

ii. Absent: Marsha McKinnie Davis (MKD), Mike Olson (MO).

iii. Guests: Peter Millington, Lake Area News; Linda Roberts (LR), DMRA community organizer; a Rivergate resident accompanying ER; Frank Brust, Downtown Council; George Kissinger, MCDA; Sally Westby (SW), DMRA office partner.

b. Minutes from the May 16, 1995 Board of Directors meeting were approved.

4. Treasurer's Report (AH) -- attached

5. Community Organizer Report (LR)

LR reported on her tenure as DMRA organizer. In response to a question by PB, she indicated she will send DMRA a final, written report although it is not part of her program requirement. LR noted that a major part of her efforts went towards community outreach and she felt DMRA does have a potential volunteer base. Letters have gone out to persons who indicated an interest in DMRA via their responses to the DMRA booklet. LR has also followed up with them by phone and received some positive responses.

Nonetheless, recruitment of volunteers has been a frustration for her because it is difficult to recruit in a downtown setting where standard neighborhood organizing techniques (i.e. doorknocking) either cannot be used or do not apply. Her biggest success came about at Rivergate where concerns about skateboarders provided an opportunity to organize.

The biggest concerns LR has uncovered in talking with downtown residents are personal safety (i.e. walking to one s car, loiterers), the lack of a grocery store, and inconsistent skyway hours. But many people indicated that they "love it here."

AH thanked LR for her excellent work on DMRA s behalf. Now that her work with DMRA is ending, she has accepted a job as community organizer with the Hale, Page, Diamond Lake group in south Minneapolis.

Old Business:

1. Residents Information Book

a. Final Accounting

AH will prepare a report for the next DMRA mailing. Advertising revenues have totaled approximately $16,500 and DMRA contributed $3,000 for a total of about $19,500 in revenues. Expenses were for Peter Bruce s production of the booklet ($13,205.64); printing ($5,359) along with $1,015.21 in additional expenses of which DMRA s share is $200. Net expenses to DMRA then were $3200.

b. Distribution

About 800 booklets remain. Nearly every building in the DMRA area (about 90%) has been covered or has commitments to be covered. Requests for booklets have come from the RiverCity Trolley and St. Thomas University. About 40 neighborhood residents have expressed interest in DMRA as a result of receiving the booklet. Frank Brust indicated that the Downtown Council could use about 100 more booklets.

2. CIP Grant from the MCDA

A brief discussion was held of DMRA s involvement with the CIP grant process. AH reviewed changes that need to be made to the contract as received from the MCDA. The major change involves rewording Section 1 to indicate that the task force will study the effects of the sex oriented industry in Downtown but not necessarily study ways to curb the industry itself.

AH noted that prior to signing the CIP contract, DMRA should be incorporated and make application for 501(c)(3) status. The cost of incorporation will be about $75. Time involved is approximately 8 - 10 hours (visiting the Secretary of State s office, filing with IRS). These activities should be accomplished in the next several weeks. LR noted that individuals in a 501(c)(3) organization can personally lobby elected officials as volunteers but may not hire a lobbyist to do the work for them.

It was MOVED and SECONDED that changes to the contract as proposed by AH be made and that the contract be resubmitted to the MCDA. DMRA will also incorporate and apply for 501(c)(3) as soon as possible. Motion CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

DH requested a copy of the changes prior to them being sent to MCDA. AH indicated he would send them to him. AH noted that CIP funds will not be available until 30 days after both parties have signed the revised contract so it will be approximately 6 weeks at the earliest before DMRA can receive funds for this project.

LR noted that there was only $50,000 in CIP funds available city wide. Competition was considerable and DMRA should be pleased it received funding.

Discussion followed of need to hire a person (s) to manage both the CIP grant and NRP activities. LR noted that with CIP, Pro-Neighborhood, and NRP funds, DMRA and DNRP could have enough money to hire a full time organizer if it wished. It was MOVED and SECONDED that a decision be postponed until the July meeting regarding hiring someone to manage the CIP grant. Motion CARRIED unanimously.

3. DMRA on the Internet

DMRA now has a home page on the internet through Twin Cities Free Net. The address is:

4. Downtown Block Party

While a decision was made at last month's meeting to participate in the Downtown Block Party, DMRA will not be taking part due to complications that arose after discussion with the Minneapolis Health Department. Dry ice would have been needed which Schwan's (the ice cream provider) could not make available and a freezer truck could not be parked next to the booth as DMRA had hoped. As a result of these issues, the executive committee felt DMRA would have to charge an unreasonable amount for ice cream to recover its costs and decided, therefore, not to participate.

New Business:

1. Pro-Neighborhood Grant Proposal

LR has submitted a letter of intent to the City for funding for pro-neighborhood activities for $10,000. Grant applications are due July 10 and discussion was held regarding specific neighborhood concerns that could be addressed by the grant, particularly safety issues. Frank Brust noted that the Downtown Council's User Friendly Committee (contact: Karen Baker of the Skyway News) has uncovered a number of safety concerns of downtown residents and employees and suggested DMRA representatives talk with Karen.

Both LR and PB felt that any grant proposal submitted should propose solutions as well as list problems. GR suggested the executive committee meet to develop a framework for the grant LR will draft. Further discussion ensued after which the above was MOVED and SECONDED and PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.

LR noted that the number one crime and safety issue for downtown residents is personal security.

2. Riverfront Improvements

It was MOVED and SECONDED that personal letters be sent to each of the Minneapolis Park Commissioners regarding separating paths for bikers and walkers along the riverfront. Usage of the area is increasing and conflicts between slow and fast moving traffic are becoming more common. Motion CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

3. National Night Out

DMRA has not participated before in NNO partly because it is difficult to do block parties downtown. Instead of organizing by blocks, LR suggesting organizing by buildings.

GR suggested a joint letter be sent by DMRA and CCP to the managers of Downtown buildings challenging and inviting them to participate in NNO. LR volunteered to write the letter for a board member s signature. PB will work with LR in this regard.

4. General Meeting

GR noted that the next General Meeting is scheduled for August 10. This night was chosen because the new police chief Robert Olson is available to speak that night. Discussion was held regarding the rest of the agenda for the meeting. LR suggested residents be invited to share safety concerns and begin discussion of ways to resolve them. After some discussion, GR suggested that the agenda for the meeting consist of:

a. remarks by Chief Olson

b. resident safety concerns

c. suggested ways to resolve those concerns

There was a general consensus that a facilitator should be asked to run the second portion of the meeting to handle the give-and-take that would result from an open discussion of safety concerns. Suggestions for a facilitator included someone from SAFE - possibly Tom Sawina (GR will contact him). Tom, along with Chris Morris of the 4th Precinct, Steve Sizer of the Beat Patrol and Luther Krueger of CCP, will be invited to be present at the meeting although none would be asked to make formal remarks.

5. Miscellaneous

PB noted that the downtown library is interested in joint outreach efforts with DMRA.

DC reminded the group that because of funding cuts the Peavy Plaza skating rink might be slated for cuts again this year.

MO will be contacted regarding the North Warehouse Residents Association with which he has been involved to see how it fits with DMRA. Mike was quoted as a spokesperson for the group in a recent Skyway News article.

Adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Paul Barber, Secretary