Southeast Como Improvement Association (SECIA)

May 1, 2007, board meeting

BUNGE PROJECT FINANCING IN QUESTION
The SECIA board voted in favor of informing city council members that it strongly supports the Project for Pride in Living (PPL) Bunge housing redevelopment proposal.

Ward 2 Councilmember Cam Gordon told the board there was a “bump in the road” in city council support for tax increment financing (TIF) for PPL’s project to redevelop the grain elevator site for housing. Gordon said there were not enough votes at the May 1 Community Development Committee meeting supporting the project’s TIF. Therefore, the financing proposal was moved forward “without recommendation.” Gordon said he hopes the proposal obtains more council support. The full council hears the proposal on May 11.

Gordon said some committee members had concerns about using the tax financing for a project that includes market-rate housing in a “non-impacted” neighborhood. The project also includes subsidized housing. SECIA board member Joan Menken said she was worried that the concept of the whole project would change. “This is not good news,” she said.

Board president Wendy Menken noted that the city has supported TIF for mixed subsidized and non-subsidized housing projects elsewhere. However, Gordon observed, “Just when they get to Southeast Como, they change the rules.” Gordon said PPL representatives at the city meeting seemed surprised by the TIF concerns.

TUTTLE COMMUNITY SERVICES CENTER GROUP FORMED
Board president Wendy Menken reported that a working group is being formed “ASAP” to generate ideas for reuse of the Tuttle Community School building. Menken said the group needs to contact the board of education and to meet with the school superintendent by the end of May. The school board in April, facing a difficult decision, voted to close several schools, including Tuttle in Southeast Como.

Menken reported that the goal would be to reuse the Tuttle building for two to three years without making significant changes to allow it to be reactivated in the future as a school.

The safety and livability committee said initial ideas fit under the idea of a “Community Services Center.” Ideas included reopening the Southeast Library in part of the building, renting space for the SECIA offices, and offices for Southeast Seniors and the Block Nurse Program, arts organizations, community education, YMCA-YWCA, and environmental organizations. Ideas were raised about how the university could participate in or support the reuse. It was noted that the university has collaborative arrangements with schools and programs on the Northside.

“Just throw ideas at us,” said Mencken. “Talk to your neighbors.” She said SECIA would coordinate and plan a couple of neighborhood meetings for ideas about reusing the building.

NRP SHORTFALL MAY FORCE ISSUE SOONER
SECIA Neighborhood Coordinator James De Sota reported to the board that the 2006-2009 revenue projection for the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program shows a dramatic decline. De Sota said the shortfall may force discussion of the future of the program and its funding sooner.

INTERN AWARDED $150
The board approved a $150 honorarium to Jon Slama, the university urban studies major who worked as an unpaid intern for six months in the SECIA office. The board applauded Slama’s service and also awarded him a certificate of merit.

BYLAW CHANGES VOTE EXPECTED
Changes proposed for SECIA’s bylaws — guidelines governing the organization — are intended to make it unlikely that a group of individuals could hijack the board election at the annual meeting, said Bylaws Committee Co-chair Tedd Johnson. The board is expected to vote on the changes at its June meeting.

ST. PAUL MAYOR, COUNCIL RECOGNIZE SECIA
Letters from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and St. Paul Council Members praised SECIA Environmental Coordinator Justin Eibenholzl and the board for their efforts to encourage a more sustainable St. Paul.

The letters from St. Paul drew some chuckles, but Eibenholzl explained, “Our work goes over the border.” He noted there were six St. Paul residents participating in the solar heating pilot project and he cited his work with the Rock-Tenn packaging and recycling company in St. Paul.

STADIUM GOOD NEIGHBOR FUND PLAN APPROVED
Joan Menken reported that the university’s Stadium Area Advisory Committee approved a 15-page policy and operations plan for the $1.5 million Stadium Good Neighbor Fund. Menken said the legislature required the university to set up the quasi-endowment fund for projects to help mitigate neighborhood impact of events at the Gopher stadium. Menken said $65,000 to $75,000 in interest a year will be available from the endowment.

The plan states the purpose of the fund is to “enhance and protect the beauty, serenity, and security of the communities impacted by the operation of the University of Minnesota’s on-campus football stadium.” Menken said the next step is to form a committee to evaluate and forward requests for projects.

Menken said neighborhood concerns center on “traffic, parking, and parties.” Menken said SECIA would need to make “strong demands” if the Minnesota Vikings use the on-campus Gopher’s stadium for three or four years during construction of their own new stadium.

NRP REALLOCATION APPROVED
The board approved reallocation of NRP I funds to support the office and staff.

GROUND BREAKING SET FOR NORTHEAST DIAGONAL TRAIL
Councilmember Gordon offered an invitation to attend a ground breaking for the Northeast Diagonal Trail, Wednesday, May 9, 10 a.m., at Stinson Boulevard, near Ridgeway Parkway. In Southeast Como, the route will follow 18th Avenue Southeast to Elm Street. There will be signs along 18th, but no pavement stripes.

SE COMO HISTORY SOUGHT FOR BIKE KIOSKS
“What would people like to know about our neighborhood,” asked Connie Sullivan, board member and chair of the history committee. Sullivan said selected history will be featured on three kiosks to be built for the Northeast Diagonal Trail. The three-mile route will provide a pedestrian and bicycle trail through Southeast and Northeast Minneapolis, connecting to a trail in Roseville.

SE COMO HOMEOWNERSHIP WORKING GROUP SET UP
Councilmember Gordon said he has formed a Southeast Como Ownership Working Group to explore strategies and identify resources to promote homeownership in the Como neighborhood. The first meeting will be Monday May 21 at the SECIA office, with the time to be announced. Membership includes Katie Fournier and James De Sota in Como, Jan Morlock from the university, and Arvonne Fraser from Marcy-Holmes.

FUTURE OF NRP AND NEIGHBORHOOD ORGANIZATIONS
Councilmember Cam Gordon said the city council is looking at neighborhood organizations, citizen participation, and the future of NRP. Gordon offered an invitation to attend a Roundtable Discussion on the topic on Thursday, May 24, 7 to 8:30 p.m., at Matthews Park, 2318 28th Ave. S.

2ND POLICE PRECINCT OPEN HOUSE SET FOR MAY 14
Councilmember Gordon offered an invitation to attend Police Week open houses in all precincts. For SE Como, the 2nd Precinct open house will be held Monday May 14, 1911 Central Ave. NE, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

3 PERCENT INCREASE IN STAFF SALARIES APPROVED
The board approved a 3% salary increase for SECIA staff members James De Sota, Jennifer Lee, and Justin Eibenholzl. Board President Wendy Menken said they received “glowing reviews.”

PARKING RESTRICTIONS SUPPORTED
The board approved a letter to the city supporting parking restrictions in the 15th and Como Avenue business district. There have been concerns about cars parking in the area all day. The board supported setting a two-hour parking limit, Monday through Friday, on the south side of Como Avenue between 13th and 15th. “We need to do something to help the business community there,” said Joan Menken.

GRAND ROUNDS “MISSING LINK” STUDY MEMBERS NEEDED; SEPT. 16 BIKING EVENT SET
The board considered a city park and recreation board request to nominate neighborhood representatives to a 21-member Ground Rounds Missing Link Study—Citizen Advisory Committee. The Grand Rounds is described as a system of trails, paths, and roadways, covering a loop 50 miles around the city. It is used for bikes, rollerblades, walking, and vehicles.

Councilmember Cam Gordon noted it will create a parkway through SE Como.

The park board hired a consultant to study an alignment for the parkway’s “missing link” and related open space needs through Southeast and Northeast Minneapolis. The citizen committee will review and comment on the design and routes for the parkway extension, and comment on recommendations for additional park land.

The committee will conduct a minimum of three public meetings over 12 months to review designs and take comments. The committee will recommend to the park board a preferred route and open space.

In addition, it was noted that a “Bike the Grand Rounds” fund raising event will be held on Sunday Sept. 16.

CITY COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FORUM ON MAY 17
In response to a question, Gordon said city planners want to add the themes of sustainability, heritage preservation, and urban design in updating the city’s comprehensive plan. The last of three public forums about updating the plan will be held Thursday, May 17, 4 to 6 p.m., Capri Theater, 2210 Oliver Ave. North (at Broadway).

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, June 5, 2007, 7 p.m.

MEETINGS: 1st Tuesday of the month, 7 p.m.
Van Cleve Park, 901 15th Ave. SE

CONTACT: Office, 837 SE 15th Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55414, phone 612-676-1731, James De Sota, neighborhood coordinator, secomo@secomo.org, website: www.secomo.org/site/center.html.

last revised: May 4, 2007