Author Archives: Matt Steele

8th Ward Update

Dear Neighbors

Thank you for this opportunity to update you on City and neighborhood issues.

Parks Funding Proposals

Elizabeth Glidden 8th Ward Council Member

Elizabeth Glidden
8th Ward Council Member

By the time you read this, the City Council may have voted on a proposal to provide increased funding to our park system, to address a maintenance backlog at neighborhood parks.

To date, three proposals for funding Minneapolis Parks have been introduced publicly:

First, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has a referendum proposal, which would provide $15 million per year for 20 years dedicated to neighborhood parks. Voters would need to approve this proposal.

Second is a proposal by Council Members Barb Johnson and Lisa Goodman that includes a guaranteed minimum of $10.5 million per year for 20 years, a $3 million per year increase in operating revenue, and one-time funding of $1.5 million.

Third is a proposal by Mayor Hodges and John Quincy for $300 million over 10 years in parks- and city-roads capital investment. The proposal would fund, annually, $10 million in park capital maintenance and $20 in roads maintenance.

Many residents have contacted me to express support for our world-class park system, and I believe that the funding needs for maintaining park infrastructure are real. At the same time I want to ensure that we are able to balance our need to address other funding priorities, including our significant road-maintenance gap. Failure to maintain either of these fundamental systems – park infrastructure and city roads – will result in higher cost to taxpayers down the the road.

The City is now considering financial impacts of all three of the above proposals through its Ways & Means committee, and reviewing potential funding sources such as an increased levy. A final issue that has been raised by many residents is ensuring the Park Board utilizes a racialequity framework to determine funding priorities and timeline for any increased investment in neighborhood parks.

Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance Approved by City Council

To reduce the litter, waste, environmental impacts and expense of managing carryout bags, the City Council has approved an ordinance to regulate the use of plastic carryout bags in retail establishments. The new ordinance takes effect June 1, 2017.

Key features of the ordinance include: Retail establishments may not provide plastic carryout bags to any customer.

Retail establishments providing bags to customers may only use recyclable paper bags, compostable plastic bags or bags designed to be reusable multiple times.

Retail establishments providing bags must charge customers at least 5 cents per bag. (Customers who receive food assistance are exempted from paying for a bag.) Retailers may choose to pay a 5¢ fee to a litter cleanup nonprofit in lieu of charging this fee.

Certain types of plastic bags will be exempt from the prohibition, including bags that come into direct contact with food, takeout food bags, and specialized types of bags, for instance for newspapers or dry cleaning.

With this ordinance, Minneapolis joins many communities across the country and the world that have adopted laws to address the impacts created by carryout bags; more than 160 U.S. cities have enacted carryout bag bans and/or fees.

How to reach Elizabeth

I invite you to contact me at (612) 673-2208 or elizabeth.glidden@ minneapolismn.gov. As well, I host community office hours every Monday, 9-11 a.m. at Sabathani Community Center, 310 E 38th Street, at a table in the first-floor hall closest to the parking lot. Please just drop by or call our office for a time-certain appointment.

Open Streets Coming to Chicago Avenue in 2017?

By Chris Schommer & Stearline Rucker

FRNNG, in coordination with our neighbors to the north and south, is working on developing an Open Streets event along Chicago Avenue for 2017.

These popular city events close off the street from vehicle traffic on a Sunday and let people use the street however they like. There are events held up and down the street and FRNNG is tentatively planning to combine our annual celebration with Open Streets next summer.

If you would like to see this happen, we need your support! While the Open Streets personnel are well practiced with running an Open Streets event and will be able to provide volunteers on the day of the event, the vast majority of planning is done by neighborhood organizations
and volunteers. If you are available to help make this vision a reality and bring an Open Streets event to Chicago Avenue, please contact the office at (612) 721-5424 or frnng@frnng.org.

Utility-Box Artwork Project Continues

By Lindsey Feiner, co-chair, Greening Committee

The greening committee has continued with the utility-box wrap project this winter and spring, gathering many images created by artists in the neighborhood.

Phase 1 – Completed Fall 2015
• Minnehaha Pkwy. & Cedar, NW corner
• 46th St. & Park Ave,. NW corner
• 46th St. & 4th Ave., NW cornerPhase 2 – Due to be completed
Spring 2016
• Minnehaha Pkwy. & Chicago, SW corner
• Minnehaha Pkwy. & Portland, SE corner
• 48th St. & Chicago
• 46th St. & Chicago Ave., NE corner
• Minnehaha Pkwy. & Bloomington, NE
corner

Phase 3 – Due to be completed
Fall 2016
• 46th St. & Portland Ave., NW corner
• 42nd St. & Park Ave., NE corner
• 42nd St. & Portland Ave., SE corner
• 47th St. & Portland Ave., NE corner

The project has been moving forward in phases. The first three boxes were completed in fall 2015, and the second phase will begin in spring 2016. Five boxes wrapped in mainly nature-themed art should be completed in June and July of 2016. This art consists of mainly of photography and painting.

In fall 2016, the project will conclude with four boxes on Portland and Park Avenues. The theme for these boxes will be the diversity, history, and people of FRN. We are still accepting artwork that fits into this theme.

Box Wrap InstallationBy the time you see the artwork on the utility boxes along the parkway and Chicago Avenue, it will have been through two city committee reviews! The application process started in April with determining box eligibility (only certain utility boxes can be wrapped). That step was followed by the review of the artwork by the Public Art Advisory Panel and the Arts Commission. Once those entities sign off, the greening committee applies for an encroachment permit for each box and a local vendor wraps the boxes.

Any local artists interested in learning more about our utility-wrap project for the fall 2016 phase can apply by emailing greening@frnng.org. Please tell us about your artwork and how it relates to the themes of diversity, history, and the people of our neighborhood. Artists will be compensated with a small stipend.

Meeting Addresses Problem Properties

By Mike Lyon, South Northrop Representative

During the meeting on February 22 that was convened to discuss an increase in burglaries in our area, a number of people mentioned a related topic: vacant and problem houses. To address this concern, a meeting was held at McRae Park on Monday, April 4. Chair of the community and safety committee, Ben Elliott, conducted the meeting.

Problem properties and vacant houses

Photo by Tony Webster / CC

Photo by Tony Webster / CC

Of the three or four problem properties in FRN that were mentioned at the meeting, the most notable is the property at 4640 Portland Avenue, referred to as “The Pink House,” which has been vacant since 2009.

The property has changed ownership between the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County since 2009, but was never sold to the public. The city of Minneapolis, current owner of the property, made it available for purchase in mid-January 2016 through a new city program: Vacant Housing Recycling Program. An offer by a well-regarded developer is currently pending approval by the Minneapolis city council and is expected to be finalized in August. If the developer withdraws the purchase offer, the city has committed to raze the house with backed support from council members from the 8th and 11th wards and the FRN board. Once razed, the lot will become available for purchase.

A problem for years

Neighbors have called 911 since 2009 to report suspected illegal activities in the vacant property at 4640 Portland. Because of incomplete information by concerned residents and inaccurate data by 911 personnel, concerns about the property were never flagged as a “problem property” by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).

A number of neighbors who attended the April 4 meeting expressed vehement frustration with the situation. A common theme of the night was the willingness of concerned neighbors to continue to monitor and report suspicious activity but they want and expect a response, along with ongoing feedback from the MPD.

Solutions and suggestions

Some solutions to the issue of problem properties were offered by officials and neighborhood board representatives who attended the April 4th meeting. A supervisor from 911 presented information on the correct way to report information. See this website for more information: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/911/ tipsforcalling

The neighborhood community and safety committee will continue to help residents of FRN voice their concerns to MPD’s crime prevention specialist and the MPD in general at monthly committee meetings and through other means of communication. The goal of the community and safety committee is to act as a liaison between the residents of FRN and the MPD when elevated issues are identified. Also, an established block club that is connected to the crime prevention specialist can enact an effective plan for solving an issue such as a “problem property.”

Senior project coordinator from the residential and real estate finance division of the City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development department (CPED), Roxanne Young Kimball, will be presenting the city council with the recommendation to approve the sale of 4640 Portland on May 13th.

If you would like to know the current status of a vacant property, please contact Roxanne Young Kimball at Roxanne. Kimball@minneapolismn.gov or the neighborhood housing committee at housing@frnng.org. If there is a problem property on your block, you may contact the community and safety committee at communityandsafety@frnng.org.

President’s Letter – May, 2016

Willie Bridges

Willie Bridges, FRNNG President

By Willie Bridges, FRNNG President

Recently, I’ve attended a number of meetings regarding our community: its safety, well-being and current concerns. At one of our community meetings, we talked about keeping our community safe. Ben Elliott, who is chair of the community and safety committee, organized a community-wide meeting to talk about safety concerns along with invited guest Inspector Michael Sullivan, Commander of the Third Precinct. At the meeting we talked about some of the community’s concerns. It was a lively discussion. There were suggestions on things that we can do as a community to monitor and maintain our community safe from burglaries, drug trafficking, etc., that all communities face. Inspector Sullivan says that we should call 911 whenever we see suspicious activities going on in the neighborhood.

I’m suggesting that you also give the FRNNG office a call with your concerns. We may be able to direct you to the appropriate person that you need to contact.

I attended another meeting at which city council members John Quincy and Elizabeth Glidden were in attendance. Among issues discussed, we talked about some vacant homes in the community and what can be done with them. We learned that one such home has already been sold. Another home has potential to be sold and rehabbed. If it isn’t sold, the house will be demolished. This house had been vacant for over six years.

It is so important that we as a community look out for each other. We can’t afford to say that this doesn’t affect me. If there are negative things going on in our neighborhood, it’s important that we report it to the proper authorities.

The greening committee is looking for volunteers to help with the landscaping project along 2nd Avenue. You may have noticed the improvements: weeds gone, grass cut, and flowers will be planted this spring. Co-chairs Tim Price and Lindsey Feiner need your help. Please give the neighborhood office a call if you are interested in volunteering for this committee and our other committees.

The McRae baseball field project is a “go” and will start in late July. The field will be closed for a year. McRae Recreation Center will remain open with activities throughout the summer.

I hope that you and your family member will plan on attending our annual neighborhood celebration on May 21, 2016, at McRae Park. We will be celebrating FRN community! FRN neighbors, when you are working out in your yard make sure that you close your garage door and that you lock your back door if you are working in the front yard.
—Willie, President, FRN

4 Questions with Dwight Gronlund of Nokomis Cycle

By Adam Webster, Member, Communications Committee

Note: On January 6th, we shared a great story on our Facebook page featuring Dwight Gronlund, as a Secret Santa, surprising a customer with a new bike. Since then, that story has now been shared by others more than 3,700 times! We thought it would be a good time to check in with Dwight for this issue’s 4 Questions column. View the original story on Facebook.

Nokomis Cycle

Dwight Gronlund in his shop, Nokomis Cycle, on 46th Street and Bloomington Avenue.

Are you a former professional cyclist? What led you to open a bike shop in the first place

Actually, I’m a former architectural draftsman (and bike commuter) who was looking for a career change in the early 1990s. I’d always enjoyed riding my bike, and so I sought more experience in bike repair at places like Freewheel and REI. I learned about the business side through courses at Normandale College and a friendly internship with a small shop over in southwest Minneapolis. After that, I looked for an area of the city that didn’t already have a bike shop. I’ve been at this location ever since.

Looks like you’ve been in Northrop since 1994. What’s changed in the years since you set up shop?

It was pretty quiet at Bloomington and 46th back then. When I got here, only Overcraft Printing and Don’s Barber Shop were here. Two months after I opened Nokomis Cycle, a stylist shop opened next door, and a version of that has been operating there ever since. In 1997, Sisters’ Sludge opened up on the corner, helping pave the way for more foot traffic at the intersection. And since one of those sisters became my wife (we first met in the trash-collection area in the alley), I’d consider that a pretty important development for the neighborhood!

Minneapolis routinely shows up as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation. How have you experienced this at your shop?

I’ve lived in Minnesota since 1968, and Minneapolis since 1984. I think both Minneapolis and Saint Paul are good for bicycling because they aren’t filled with “city,” so to speak. These urban areas still protect their lakes and rivers, and that means bicycling in the Twin Cities can happen on paths in nice areas removed from car traffic. Recent efforts by local government to expand bike access on arterial roads have helped, but that only works when there is a good reason for leisure biking in the first place. Bikes themselves have really changed in recent years, too. There is much more variety out there now, and it’s just easier to find a bike that meets every biker’s needs. I personally enjoy riding many different types of bicycles, and I have a few different ones to suit my mood.

What’s the biggest maintenance mistake bike owners make regularly?

People can forget that bikes are machines. Over time, every machine needs to be tuned up in order to deliver the experience you want. Chains need to be greased, tire inflation needs to be optimized and cables and brakes need to periodically be recalibrated, especially after our winters. As the snow melts, one of the simplest things bike owners can do is bring their bikes in for a once-over. A professional can spot issues quickly and in most cases can offer an immediate fix that will keep your gears from slipping all summer long.

4553 Bloomington Avenue South
www.nokomiscycle.com

A longtime neighbor – St. Mary’s Cemetery

By Sue Filbin

One of the busiest intersections in our neighborhood – 46th and Chicago – is also among the most quiet. Since 1873, long before traffic became plentiful, the northeast corner of this intersection has been occupied by St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery.

St. Mary's Cemetery

One distinctive memorial in the cemetery
honors firefighters from the City of Minneapolis.

With its location near the center of Field Regina Northrop, St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery is geographically part of the community. Its 65 groomed acres provide a resting place for more than 66,000 people, and a quiet space for neighbors and visitors.

The sole full-time employee, Baltazar Cardoso, who speaks English and Spanish, lives nearby. From April through October, seasonal employees help Baltazar maintain the grounds, prepare sites for burials, tend and install markers, repair equipment, clean up storm damage, and place flowers and wreaths.

St. Mary’s is dedicated to being a good neighbor. When pedestrians remarked that it was inconvenient to walk on the 46th Street sidewalk because of the heavy snow flung onto the sidewalk by Hennepin County plowing crews, St. Mary’s purchased a special plow attachment to clear that extra-heavy snow.

Welcome

Neighbors are welcome to walk on the paved roads and to take in the tranquility of the site. Artists sometimes sketch the rolling landscape and historic, sculptural markers. School children rub tennis balls on rubbing paper to transfer decorative images from grave markers to paper. Dog walkers are welcome when they keep their dogs leashed and pick up after their dogs.

Each year, St. Mary’s hosts a Memorial Day celebration that includes a parade, recognition of veterans of past wars, Mass, and refreshments. This special observance is part of a long partnership between the Knights of Columbus and the cemetery.

History

St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery was originally established as the parish cemetery for the Basilica of St. Mary (located in downtown Minneapolis). It is now one of five cemeteries owned and operated by The Catholic Cemeteries, an independent, self-sustaining religious corporation. In the Archdiocese of Saint Paul & Minneapolis, 110 cemetery properties are owned and maintained by their respective parishes.

The cemetery’s designation as a Catholic cemetery means that it is considered by Catholics to be sacred ground due to its having been blessed by a bishop. Catholics are welcome to be buried at St. Mary’s, as are their non-Catholic spouses and family members. Friends and neighbors who live nearby have also been buried in the cemetery over the years. Between 100 to 125 burials now take place annually.

In the fall of 2015, one of the less-used paved roads was closed to make space for 100 conventional graves and 100 cremation spaces. In addition to traditional burial plots, 600 crypts and 300 cremation niches are available in St. Mary’s Garden Mausoleum that opened in 1994. One of the most striking markers in the cemetery is a tall memorial to firefighters who served in the City of Minneapolis.

The dedication to the cemetery and neighborhood from those responsible for St. Mary’s became apparent during a conference-call phone conversation with John Cherek, director of Catholic Cemeteries, and Jon Louris, operations manager for the Catholic Cemeteries and supervisor at St. Mary’s Cemetery and Calvary Cemetery, St. Paul. John Cherek said, “If any neighbors have any ideas as to how we can be a better neighbor, please let us know.” (651) 228-9991

New Director at McRae Park

By Chris Schommer

McRae Park welcomed new full-time director Heather Susag in December. Heather first started working for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) as a 16-year-old and has been involved ever since. For the past nine years, Heather has been working full time for the MPRB in the area of youth development and the “Youthline” program that provides youth mentorship, education and recreation programs all over the city of Minneapolis. Heather also has experience working at several local park programs. This is Heather’s first opportunity as park director.

Heather Susag

Heather Susag became the director of McRae
Park in December 2015.

When asked what she was looking forward to in her new position, Heather said she is excited to, “Hone in and develop programming that has a wide spectrum.” Heather says her experience so far at McRae has been very well rounded and she hopes to support the local community by making McRae a neighborhood destination no matter your age. In addition to supporting the youth sports community, there are opportunities to pilot new senior programs and host more programing for pre-school children (such as the new indoor playground on Mondays for pre-K children). She has already expanded youth programming with the return of RecPlus, a summer child care and education program, after a 10-year absence from McRae.

The upcoming athletic field replacement project that is scheduled to begin later this summer and last through 2017 will be a big challenge for McRae Park but Heather says she is excited about it. “I know how tough it has been to play sports in the past. I am excited that [this project] is not only going to re-shape sports but will make the land more usable for everyone.” This includes new multi-sport athletic courts, additional warm-up basketball hoops and completely re-built athletic fields. Heather said she is also very excited about one overlooked aspect of this project – new walking paths, shady areas, benches and lighting that will allow guests to circumnavigate the entire park. “Now you can walk your dog, seniors can walk, and small kids can bike all around the park!”

If people want to contact Heather with their ideas for programming at McRae or for more information, please email mcrae@minneapolisparks.org or call the front desk at 612-370-4909. McRae is open 3-9 p.m. during the school year and 12-8 p.m. during the summer.

Programs at McRae Park

Indoor Playground on Mondays
Mondays from 10:30-12:30 6 month-Pre K Register online or register in person.
Kids can play with newly purchased tunnels, bikes, and listen to music. Free. Starting in the spring there will be a one-time cost of $5.

Summer Rec PLUS
Summer childcare. Includes swim lessons, field trips, naturalist programs and other activities.
Age: Must have completed kindergarten through 6th grade 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Registration starts March 15

Committee Name Change Proposed

Proposal Renames Committee Name to Housing & Community Development Committee

By Ian Campbell and Nate Lansing

With new real estate developments being constructed around the City of Minneapolis at a seemingly breakneck pace, it’s only a matter of time before the Field Regina Northrop neighborhood begins to experience some of these changes. The FRNNG housing committee feels that it is important for residents of the neighborhood to have a committee who can act as a facilitator for conversations between neighborhood residents and developers interested in investing in our neighborhood.

At the January FRNNG board meeting, housing committee co-chair, Ian Campbell, proposed a motion to add “Community Development” to the name and responsibilities of the housing committee, which was unanimously approved. According to FRNNG bylaws, this change now must be presented in print to the public. The following are the changes being made to the committee name and Statement of Purpose:

Name: The FRNNG Housing Committee shall become the FRNNG Housing & Community Development Committee.

Statement of Purpose: The Housing & Community Development Committee’s Statement of Purpose shall be amended as indicated by wording in bold:

“The goal of the Housing & Community Development Committee is to promote a safe and healthy environment for all Field Regina Northrop neighborhood residents, developing housing strategies to rehabilitate existing housing stock and affordable rental housing, and to facilitate the responsible development of the built environment.”

Questions or comments regarding this change may be submitted to frnng@frnng.org and housing@frnng.org.

46th Street Update

By Chris Schommer

While the time-frame for resurfacing 46th Street has not changed from this summer, the 46th Street planning process has been slightly delayed. The delay is mostly due to several other other major Hennepin County planning projects that are occurring this winter and the slow task of coordination between different agencies. In this case Hennepin County, Minneapolis Public Works, and Metro transit.

Particularly troublesome is the busy area around the intersection of 46th and Nicollet, since Nicollet is now also scheduled resurfacing and restriping this summer that will need to interface with the 46th St project. Because of this original goal of a public meeting in March was pushed back to late April or early May with the intention of sharing a design option for the corridor that is fully engineered and stable so that neighborhood feedback on the project can be most useful and accurate.

Notice of a public meeting with Hennepin County and Minneapolis Public Works staff will be sent out via a postcard or our next Newsletter, and shared on our webpage and social media. If you would like to review the community developed concept from October or submit a comment to Hennepin County about your opinions, concerns or ideas for the project visit the Hennepin County project webpage at: www.hennepin.us/residents/ transportation/46-street