Work group releases draft report on the future of NRP

The city’s financial obligation to the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) technically may end in 2009, but the future of the program will not.

That’s the conclusion of the NRP Work Group, which on Dec. 20 unveiled a draft report to the City Council’s Committee of the Whole on the future, funding and governance of NRP after 2009. It agreed that the city needs to provide administrative funding to neighborhood groups, neighborhoods need access to and control over some discretionary funds, and the city needs to recognize its own administrative structure to provide better support to community participation efforts.

"The conversation here about whether there will be NRP or not seems to be done," said Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy (12th Ward).

She said it was "such good news" that the work group recommended NRP will continue after 2009.

The group is comprised of Council President Barbara Johnson (4th Ward), Vice President Robert Lilligren (6th Ward), Council Members Paul Ostrow (1st Ward) and Betsy Hodges (13th Ward), NRP Director Robert Miller, and Cara Letofsky, a policy aide in Mayor R.T. Rybak’s office. The group met nine times over two months.

There has long been talk about the future of NRP. In May, the Council approved a work plan that included addressing options for NRP after 2009, as part of City Hall’s goal to improve community engagement. However, approximately $17 million in Phase II funding will not be distributed until after 2009 and dozens of Phase II action plans have yet to be approved for funding, according to a city document.

NRP was created after a task force in 1988 recommended a 20-year neighborhood revitalization plan. In 1990, the state Legislature authorized the city to establish NRP. In 2009, the city’s financial obligation to NRP ends, raising the question of what should happen to NRP from that point on.

According to the report, the work group agreed that the city should provide approximately $2 million annually in administrative funding to neighborhood groups. The city should also provide up to $1 million annually for Community Participation Division staffing to support NRP activities after 2009. It would be a new division within the City Coordinator’s office and would include city community participation staff and NRP staff.

It also agreed on creating a Neighborhood Investment Fund (NIF), which would be allocated by neighborhoods to address priorities. This money would be approved by the city and a new Community Participation Governance Board (CPGB) — made up of representatives elected by neighborhood groups, and appointed by the Council, mayor and other members. It would also be allocated through a request for proposal process for specific projects. The CPGB would make the grant awards.

There were questions at the Dec. 20 meeting about where the discretionary funding would come from. An internal city work group is expected to look further into funding sources and legislative strategies and deliver a report after the first quarter in of the year.

Miller said he was pleased with Work Group’s process overall.  

"I think the process was a good discussion format," he said.

The group was able to evaluate where there was common ground among the stakeholders and where there wasn’t, he said.

He disagreed with a majority of the group on two points: governance of NRP and the amount of discretionary funding for the program, he said. The report did not include how much money there would be for the NIF. Funding would partly depend on the state Legislature and other government entities, according to the report.

Staff will distribute the report to neighborhood groups and others in January 2008 and input on it will be collected during the first quarter of the year. The report can be found online at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/communications/communityengagement.asp.

Brady Gervais can be reached at [email protected] or 436-4373.