Civic beat


Feedback on ‘Framework for the Future’

The “Framework for the Future” is the city’s plan for the Neighborhood Revitalization Project (NRP) after its funding ends. A city staff-neighborhood NRP work group formed to craft the Framework for the Future, outlining post-June 2009 plans.

It outlines, among other things, possible funding for neighborhood projects and staff.

Of the city’s 81 neighborhoods, about half responded.

Of those that did, many provided comments to the Southwest Journal that either questioned or rejected outright ideas outlined in the proposed Framework for the Future. The city’s Community Engagement Coordinator Jennifer Lastoka collected comments over a 45-day period, which ended March 17. She did not include specific names with comments. Most were submitted by neighborhood groups.

“[T]he Framework has some fundamental flaws,” wrote the Kingfield Neighborhood Association. “It reinvents [NRP] in ways that do not promote the future of citizen involvement, and that reduce the assurance of funding and the ability of neighborhoods to choose their priorities on which to work.”

While still in its infancy, the Framework addresses future funding — aside from tax-increment financing — such as the undefined Neighborhood Investment Fund. It also attempts to cover oversight, governance and many other topics related to the future of neighborhoods.

Currently, neighborhoods rely on NRP in different ways and are funded to varying degrees. Those in Southwest may not need funding as much as those in Phillips or Northeast neighborhoods said longtime NRP Director and former Minneapolis resident Bob Miller. Miller said citizen involvement is as high as ever and that NRP could be run on $10 million a year.

However, for one Linden Hills resident, NRP isn’t all about the Benjamins.

“It is not just the money,” he or she wrote, “it is the ability of our neighborhood to be able to have a say in how a very small part of the public funds of the city are used.”

That, for some, is what makes NRP so incomparable.

“There are very few programs in the country, in the world, that have identified and tied together planning and resources,” Miller said. “We’re the only ones that have done it to this extent. So we’re unique.”

Others seemed disenfranchised by the somewhat lengthy and intricate Framework document.

“I read the draft entitled, ‘Framework for the Future’ and what a load of malarkey,” one resident replied. “Am I to understand that the city wants an average citizen to read, understand, and apply of this piece of literature and call it ‘community engagement?’”

Others suggested leaving power in the hands of the neighborhoods.

“The most essential aspect of the proposal is allowing community groups discretion over project funding,” a resident said. “The more localized control will result in more local participation.”

Miller agreed, saying he doesn’t want to see NRP become an internal, quasi-city
department.

“My personal opinion: I think that’s a recipe for disaster,” Miller said.

Council Member Paul Ostrow (1st Ward) disagreed. At the April 3 Committee of the Whole meeting, he said wording of future governance structure ensures sure that neighborhoods and city staff partner and provide for neighborhoods.

“We have to get past these sandbox views of NRP,” he said. “I think what we’d like to develop to is where neighborhoods and city staff are both held to
accountability.”

The timeline for discussion of the Framework includes work by the NRP Workgroup through mid-June, alignment of projects throughout the summer with Mayor Rybak’s budget and planning for transition to implement the Framework if legislative funding isn’t available in 2010. City Council is scheduled to take public comment through mid-September.

Those who don’t know, throw

Call it what you may: Clutter’s Craiglist, or e-Bay. Why not sell your clutter rather than throw it away?

Hennepin County is encouraging spring cleaners to visit its “Choose to Reuse” online directory at www.hennepin.us/choosetoreuse for a list of businesses that buy used items, like consignment or used-goods stores.

Sell it yourself through a classified ad, list it on eBay, host a garage sale or
donate.

Each organization has a different list of acceptable items, so be sure to call first. For a list of donation opportunities, visit www.hennepin.us/donationopportunities.

Some charities, such as Arc’s Value Village, Bridging, and Disabled American Vets have pickup service routes that may be in your neighborhood once or twice a month. If you need to get rid of the item sooner, you may have to drop it off.  

The Twin Cities Free Market, www.twincitiesfreemarket.org, is another source. The free online exchange bulletin board allows users to post usable items.

Fired up for 150

Minneapolis turns 150 this year. So, naturally, would much of her offspring.

Engine 11, Minneapolis oldest firefighting unit, celebrated its 150th birthday April 19. Engine 11 is the oldest continually operated firefighting company serving Minneapolis, according to Minneapolis Firefighters Hall & Museum spokesman Ron Pearson.

Located in Southeast Minneapolis, Engine 11 began service in what was then the town of St. Anthony. Engine 11, now stationed at 3rd Avenue SE and 6th Street. SE, has seen plenty of action over the past 150 years. Most recently, it was one of the first engines to respond to the Interstate 35W Bridge collapse last August.

Minneapolis will officially celebrate this 150th anniversary, in connection with the 2008 Aquatennial, July 18-27. Visit www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/150 for details.

Reach Steve Pease at spease@mnpubs.com.