September 17, 2013 Minutes

ANA board members in attendance: Tom Alagna, Sarah Broich, Kelly Falsani, Jeff Forss, Steve Johnson,

Nikki Lindberg, Betsen Philip, and Keith Swanson.

Others in attendance: Tina Erazmus, ANA staff member; Matt Perry, NEHBA; Jen Swanson, Ward 13 Aide; Amy Lavender, Crime Prevention Specialist; and an additional 20 residents.

Armatage Neighborhood Safety Meeting

Called to order at 6:04 by Amy Lavender, Crime Prevention Specialist

Special Guest — Minneapolis Police Chief Janee’ Harteau

Harteau has been with the department for 26 years. She will be focusing on improving the professionalism and quality of service displayed by the MPD. They handle crises well, but she wants people to see the MPD as more than a drive-thru experience, but rather a full-service, visible and connected part of the community. To help with these goals, she values the Crime Prevention Specialists, like Amy.

MPD currently has 836 officers, and are budgeted for 850. With upcoming retirements and low numbers of recruits, they are heavily focused on recruitment, and hope to grow their diversity. They have a 2-year community service officer program, which requires a high school diploma, and allows program participants get paid for their work, while getting on-the-job training. They also have a cadet program, for those with some sort of advanced degree in a different field, where they can provide an abbreviated training program, that leads to recruit school. All officers are required to complete the 16-week police academy program, no matter which tract brings them into the department.

Harteau was asked about perceptions that there has been an increase in violence downtown. Statistically, it isn’t much different, but she did say that things ebb and flow downtown, and there have certainly been some unfortunate events in the news lately. One area of concern to her are the 18+ up events, which bring a mix of crowds. The MPD tries to make sure that clubs have enough security, and the department watches social media to try to keep ahead of some situations. She also feels that there are more people with a gun or weapon and people are more quick to use it to resolve conflict.

In regards to violence/crime on the north side of Minneapolis. Harteau cited that 5% of the city geography is responsible for almost 70% of the city’s crime. They implementing prevention strategies to help catch kids early (so they don’t commit crimes), through supporting education, tweeting, connecting with youth in ways that work for them. She is also interested in creating a youth version of her advisory council to address issues of concern to youth.

She was also asked if they see an increase in theft near restaurants. Both Harteau and Amy Lavender cited that thefts are usually crimes of opportunity, focused on unlocked cars and items being left in sight, and is more prevalent in Uptown on the weekends, and downtown during events like Vikings and Twins games.

Recently the MPD has been in the news because of some discipline issues. She said that some of the concerns raised have lead the department to evaluate their hiring and discipline practices, to better ensure an effective and thorough process. For example, an advisory council has been assembled, with two civilians and two officers, who review discipline cases for merit. If deemed meritous, the case will go before the Chief in a timely manner. She also urged everyone to remember all the good work happening everyday.

A questions was raised about the use of the red-light cameras. They deemed unconstitutional, so have been turned off.

The Chief was asked, if she could change anything in the department, what would she do. She would love to have 1,000 officers (Milwaukee, with a smaller population, has 2,000 officers). She would add more Crime Prevention Specialists, which would allow them to increase professional development throughout the department.  She’d have the best technology available, including a premier training facility. Plus, she would love to have one of the highest paid departments (MPD is currently 9th out of 10 in state). Finally, she finds one of the most rewarding parts of her job is to get people in the right place to do their best, she’d want to increase the ways officers could get good feedback (and she noted that award ceremonies are open to public, and offer an incredible opportunity to hear about everyday heroism).

Park Board Commissioner at Large — John Erwin

Erwin opened by giving a quick overview of the changes in the Park Board administration over the past few years. These changes have allowed the Park Board to have more money for for neighborhood park improvements and to increase tree planting 40%. He wants to gather information about what we might need (smaller $ items) in the park, as well as in the rec center.

A comment was shared over the recent road construction on Penn, and why there seems to be a disconnect with such projects and other city-wide programs like Metro Blooms, which could have been involved in replanting after the construction was finished.

Erwin was asked about the park concession stands. Overall, it has been a great success, bringing much needed funds into the system rather than being a loss. They do evaluate menus and pricing, but concerns over the quality of service were raised and high costs, especially in relation to Bread & Pickle. They added service windows at Tin Fish to address of these same concerns.

Some ideas raised for park improvements: used exercise equipment for some larger rec centers; more trash cans/recycling and dog bags in parks; electronic board for parks to update information; shade for over wading pool; parking lot in need of resurfacing. (The Rec Center will be asked more directly for their list of needs.)

A resident offered a thank you for clearing the trolly line within half a day during the big summer storm. Because of all the downed trees, it was almost month before any of those crew members got a day off.
The Park Board is asking for a levy in response to Emerald Ash Borer. Currently the city needs to replace about 4,000 trees each year through regular loss. EAB will add 5,000 more losses each year. The levy would work out to be about $6/household each year for 10 years. This is a similar program implemented during Dutch Elm, to help mitigate some of the dramatic tree loss.

Other recent improvements include the relaxing of some beach rules, increase in life guards, and adding diving docks, to help make our lakes more fun to visit. They are working to reduce fees to help encourage more kids to play sports. Night Owl Teen programs have been added at some sites (8-9 centers) on Friday and Saturday. These centers stay open until 11pm, and give teens a safe place to hang out, play basketball, do art projects, dance etc.

Crime Prevention Specialist, Amy Lavender

Amy shared the recent crime statistics for Armatage. Our numbers still great, with a group of crimes happening over a cluster of dates, most gaining access through an unlocked door. Reminder to have a deadbolt for the service door. Electronic combination locks ($150) are a great option, too (but be careful with who has number). Over the summer strategy they were focused on patrolling alleys, tagging unlocked doors, etc. and stopped numerous suspicious vehicles/persons and saw a notable reduction city-wide in burglaries. Any theft of packages should be reported to Amy, and the USPS takes postal theft very serious. If you are expecting a package, consider having it delivered to a neighbor, your office, etc. so that is is received by a person, and not left outside unattended. To help in the recruitment of block leaders, the map of blocks still needing a leader will be added to the newsletter and website.

Armatage Neighborhood Association Meeting

Called to order at 7:30 by Betsen Philip

City Council Update  — Jen Swanson, Aide to Betsy Hodges

Penn Ave is nearing completion and should be getting the final layer of pavement and stripping done by the end of September. Lighting will be finalized in early October with the bridge re-opening by the middle of the month. We can expect to see the pedestrian lighting late fall. Trees won’t be planted until the spring.  If you have ash trees, the EAB are now dormant, and it is a good time to have the tree removed, if you are considering it. Tree Trust is offering $25 trees this fall, as an option for replacement. Absentee balloting will be available this Friday by mail or in person ( The 2014 budget is in committee, and public hearings will be held November 1, 19, December 2 and 11, with vote on the 11th.

Fair Skies held a community meeting with Keith Ellison. They received 128 comments and 34 questions which are being submitted to the FAA, MAC, etc. and we have requested a copy of the responses when they are available.

Some issues/concerns were raised by residents regarding parking and sidewalk access at Lola’s. She will bring this information back to the office, but you can call 311 to report issues at any time.

Questions were also raised regarding the line painting on Xerxes. What is in effect right now was to try to help relieve the bottleneck and extra traffic during the Penn construction, as well as address safety concerns of residents along Xerxes. There is an upcoming meeting between Minneapolis and Edina to come  up with new plan for traffic flow in that area.

Website Discussion  — Tina Erazmus

Issues with the site took site down for several weeks in July. From what we have learned, to update what we have will cost $900. Other neighborhoods have done different things, but Kenny has had to deal with the same upgrading issues, and the cost was similar. However, instead of upgrading in the current system, there would be lots of possible benefits from doing a different/new site all together.
A motion was made to get a bid from Jason (who worked with Kenny) regarding creating a new site. Motion passes.

Treasurer Update  — Tom Alagna

Updated financal report shared. $8,300 in CPP funds received in September are not on the current report.

Will evaluate the cost and impact of doing the bulk mailed postcard (as in the past) versus the two flyers in the SW Journal, to promote the summer festival.

Festival Recap  — Tina Erazmus

Tina requested feedback on her first festival. Comments sent to her included: getting a credit card reader (like Square); giving magnets to people signing up for email was successful (added 20 new emails); using Jooners for the volunteers was a good addition; have more plastic prizes (overall great prizes, just many small kids who can’t have some of the candy); hampster balls were a big hit (get 3 for next year); close auction a little earlier, maybe make it “present to win”; consider $5 wristband for kids (help reduce volunteer hours); consider food trucks; have festival volunteer sign up at annual meeting; start the donation solicitation process earlier; hoping to get more cars (25 this year, would like 50).
Coordinator Update   — Tina Erazmus

It was suggested that we try having an off-site meeting in November. This would be an interesting way to draw more neighbors, as well as give us an opportunity to celebrate Jerry for his years as our park director, and Jen for her years as our coordinator.  Lynnhurst hosted a meeting 100 people, spent $1,200, which covered a drink ticket and appetizers. Suggested if we host, to start with a social time (1/2 hour),  do votes and acknowledgements, followed by a social period after.  Motion made to hold the November meeting off-site. Motion carries. Tina will research options.

The neighborhood survey has been completed, with safety coming in as the number one concern. Tina will present the final report in October. We must then provide residents with 21 days notice about voting on our priority plan, and the vote can take place at the November meeting.

New Business

A sample of our welcome bag was share. 153 new residents have moved into our neighborhood this past year. A great program that we will continue.

Meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.