ANA board members in attendance: Tom Alagna, Sarah Broich, Kelly Falsani, Denis Houle, Steve Johnson, Nikki Lindberg, Betsen Philip, Jim Steely, Alisha Strowbridge and Keith Swanson.
Others in attendance: Tina Erazmus, ANA staff member; Matt Perry, NEHBA; and 20-30 additional residents.
Armatage Quarterly Safety Meeting
Called to order at 6:07 by Betsen Philip
Amy Lavendar – Since January 1st through today, our neighborhood continues to be fairly quiet. There have been a few thefts and burglaries, but these were mostly gas station drive-offs, and from unlocked garages. She recommends contacting her to schedule a home security survey. She comes to your home, it takes about 45 minutes, and she can give you tips on how to help reduce your risk of crime at your home. She brought a flyer to the meeting focused on door-to-door solicitors. This information was also sent to anyone signed up to get email alerts (you can sign-up online). The flyer explains what rules are for door-to-door solicitation, shows you an example of the what the city ID card looks like (these are available for free for charities, and for a fee to others). Canvasers (anyone not asking for money) do not need this ID card. Many times these solicitors are casing a neighborhood. If you see anyone acting suspicious, please call 911. She also had a flyer about Mark Christopher Bell, a scam artist, who has been seen in our area. The city-wide goal by 2019 is to have 90% of all blocks to have a block leader. Currently Armatage is at about 60%. Mostly the block leader helps share information with neighbors (like crime alerts, etc.). Please talk to Amy if you are interested in becoming your block leader.
Inspector Tony Diaz – He has been with the MPD since 1981, and was recently assigned as our precinct lead, but has worked in our precinct since 2010. His job is to keep our neighborhood safe. Please be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious people to 911. The new police chief has been setting a new direction for the MPD. They will continue to have have shift goals (for crime reduction), but will be doing more foot beats and getting out of their cars more to talk with people in the areas they work. If an area sees an increase in crime, these hot spots will get additional officers assigned to them. He encouraged everyone to keep their garage doors locked, and to take advantage of Amy’s security survey.
Inspector Diaz opened the floor to questions. He was asked if alarm systems are effective. He believes they are a deterrent, but professionals might not be deterred because they know of the lag between the alarm being tripped and officers arriving to the scene. He thinks surveillance systems and be helpful, but really depends on the quality of the system. For example, Safe Zone cameras have been helpful to the department. The borders of the 5th precinct are from I94 to Crosstown and from France Ave. to 35W. The squad district that serves Armatage (530) is from 46th Street to Crosstown and France Ave. to 35W. May 14 from 5-7pm is their Precinct Open House, all are welcome!
Neighborhood Association Annual Meeting
Called to order at 6:32 by Betsen Philip
Betsen called everyone’s attention to the two sheets of paper people were handed as they entered the meeting. One lists some options for our neighborhood priorities and the other is the ballot for board election. Your feedback/input for the neighborhood priorities will help us know what to focus on in the upcoming year. Betsen also let those in attendance know that they could request to be added to the ballot.
Matt Croastan, from Senator Al Franken’s office – In November the vote by the MAC was to move forward on RNAV southbound routes and hold off on northbound routes (which included our neighborhood). We are still waiting to hear from the FAA as to what the next steps will be. Clearly the process was flawed, and they were glad that our concerns were heard and the process delayed. This narrowing of flight paths because of this new navigation system is usually able to be implement over unpopulated areas, but our airport location makes that difficult for south Minneapolis. Keep up to date on this issue by following MSP Fair Skies.com (http://mspfairskies.com/).
Minneapolis City Council Member Betsy Hodges – The public hearing about the Penn reconstruction project was in January. The council voted to go ahead on the road project, but to forgo the new pedestrian lighting portion. This was in direct response to the concerns of the affected neighbors, and the high costs which were overly burdensome to those getting assessments. She said it became clear that the ordinance needs to be tweaked. Penn Ave. has lots of non-assessed areas (park property, etc.) which overly burdens affected neighbors. A different balance may need to be created between what the city pays for with such projects versus homeowners. Betsy, however, believe the new lighting should be thought about as the road project gets underway, so that it could be added at a future date when funding is found. This Thursday at 7:00 pm at the Armatage Community Center, they will be holding another update meeting about the Penn Ave. project. We can expect tree removal and utility work to begin in April. Speaking of trees, the Cities Trees program (with Tree Trust.org) will again be offering low cost trees to residents of Minneapolis. They cost only $25, and eligible property owners can sign-up starting Monday, March 25. They go fast, so be sure to sign up early! The city has several openings on boards and commissions (http://www.minneapolismn.gov/boards/index.htm). Step Up interns (supported by Achieve Minneapolis) will be available for businesses looking to hire kids over the summer. Betsy is on the stadium implementation committee, which will be looking at how to connect neighborhoods to the stadium better. They should have more information in April about the plans and then they will have 45 days to get feedback and before implementation. The hope is for better integration and infrastructure improvements so that the stadium encourages growth in the surrounding areas. Betsy is the president of the League of Minnesota Cities, and was recently in Washington, DC looking at internet tax fairness (online taxes lost to the state) and talking about the non-tax status of certain goods and services. Animal Care and Control has animals available for adoption.
Betsy opened the floor to questions. There was a stop sign change at 55th and Cumberland, and neighbors are seeing increased traffic speeds. With the way the road curves, neighbors are concerned for the safety of the numerous kids in the area, and would like to see it changed to a 4-way stop. Betsy acknowledged that she was aware of the concerns, and that they will need to look at options on how to improve safety if a 4-way stop is not an option. A question was raised about single sort recycling, and how can it be effective if things get contamination from such things as broken glass and wet paper. She said, yes, there may be more waste but because of the significant increase in participation, the actual amount of recycling, even with waste, is more than what we currently see. She was asked about the incinerator asking permission to burn more, which she doesn’t support. She said it seemed to be more about money, plus would increase air particulates, and feels the money would be better spent on recycling efforts. In April we will have costs for implementing citywide composting. She lives in an area of the city that was in a pilot program and she is impressed with the program.
Minnesota Speaker of the House, Paul Thissen – Announced the DFL budget caucus plan today. It prioritizes education (all-day kindergarten and early childhood education are big components); significant property tax relief; some back-to-work initiatives; a tax shift to the wealthy; and works toward paying off the deficit. Last week they passed a marriage equality bill, and it is now on the House floor (action is on hold until budget is done). Gun legislation is hopefully moving forward, including the closing of the gun show loop-hole. An additional transportation sales tax in seven county area (of about a half of a percent) as been proposed. This would provide a more dedicated/consistent revenue stream, could lower or eliminate some property taxes and would be used for such things as the SW light rail corridor. Could be implemented through a gas tax and may broaden scope to the entire state.
Speaker Thissen opened the floor to questions. Looks like our cigarette tax will raise to be the same as Wisconsin. Asked if a soda tax has been considered, since it also has health concerns. Not that he was aware of at this time. He as asked what “wealthy” or higher income meant in the budget. It is those people earning over $500k, and he said the bill would also close some of the corporate loop-holes. This higher income tax would be temporary (2 years at 3%) to help cover the debt the state owes to the schools. If we see surpluses, it would turn off sooner. He was asked what he sees at the top priorities after the budget gets passed. He was hoping we can move on the marriage amendment, expects debate on the minimum wage, and a bonding bill for infrastructure investments.
Minneapolis Park Board Commissioner Brad Bourn (minneapolisparks.org)– Brad mentioned the assistant superintendant of operations, Mike Schmidt, who has been an amazing public servant, is retiring April 3. He would love for him to get a note of thanks (from our board and individuals) to help honor him (2117 W River Road, 55411). The Park Board has been re-organizing their administration in an effort to be more efficient. The levy monies have helped them maintain many programs, including tree replacement (especially with ash borer now in Lakewoods Cemetary), and we now have a boat inspection program to help curb zebra mussels in the city lakes (they are now in Lake Minnetonka). Some of rec center have had their hours reduced, and levy helped keep more centers open. He hopes to see the legislators pass a park dedication fee (a fee on new development to help support local parks affected by increased population, etc.). The safe schools bill (anti-bullying program) would allow for much better communication between park board and schools regarding safety issues. The ash trees that are being removed, are ground down for mulch, and some is burned for energy (by the Mdewakanton Sioux tribe). Parade Ice Arena, which is in very poor condition, got a much needed bond.
He was asked if any partnering had been considered for park improvements (like Wild could support the ice rink). He said they have done something like that on a smaller scale with corporations, but that there are strong guidelines for the park board in relation to public/private funding. Concerns were raised about bidding process and the costs listed for the Parade improvements. They will be keeping an eye on those funds and would talk more with this concerned neighbor about the specifics. He did say, however, that energy savings are factored in during the bidding process. He was also asked if there were any plans to repave our park parking lot. It is not currently in the 5-year plan, but he is willing to consider it.
Betsen issued call for nominations a couple of times during the meeting (no one stepped forward)
Board positions up for election: Keith Swanson, Steve Johnson, Denis Houle, Tom Alagna, Betsen Philip, Kelly Falsani — 18 votes in favor ; 1 abstention (blank)
Meeting adjourned at 8:07 p.m.