Southeast Como Improvement Association 2008 annual meeting

State of Southeast Como; University District Partnership Alliance update; elections and income allocation

Southeast Como Improvement Association (SECIA) 2008 annual meeting
by Roxanne Bergeron

At the Southeast Como Improvement Association’s annual meeting on Monday, Nov. 10, attendees of the approximately 40-person gathering enjoyed hummus, pita bread and hot tea as they visited and perused information tables set in the gymnasium at Van Cleve Park. Large “Parkway and Park Acquisition” map and versions of the CoMotion newsletter hung on the walls next to posters of the area’s historic natural history, including the topography of Bridal Veil Creek.

Board elections were held, and the meeting highlighted SECIA programs and others in Southeast Como, such as the newly opened “Fare for All” food program sales and distribution at Southeast Christian Church, 960 15th Ave. SE. The keynote address was on the subject of the University District Partnership Alliance (UDPA).

University District Partnership Alliance and home programs

“It’s a brave new world, in terms of some of the stuff that’s being planned and projected,” said SECIA Board President Wendy Menken during her introduction of keynote speakers. Prospect Park resident Dick Poppele, Southeast Como’s own Katie Fournier and Jan Morlock, from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Community Relations.

Poppele, who co-chairs the University District Partnership Alliance (UDPA) Steering Committee, explained that the UDPA consists of the University of Minnesota, the City of Minneapolis, and the neighborhoods surrounding the campus: Southeast Como, Marcy-Holmes, Prospect Park, Cedar-Riverside and University.

Poppele outlined several UDPA goals: to preserve, maintain and increase home ownership in the district; reverse the growing trend toward conversion of owner-occupied housing into rental property; to promote the district as a “premier place to live, work, do business and learn;” and to demonstrate how these and other “livability goals” can be achieved through working cooperatively.

A $750,000 grant from the Legislature funds a “demonstration project” that will reflect the ability of the neighborhoods, city and university to work together to meet the goals.

Katie Fournier, the SECIA alternate on the UDPA Steering Committee, outlined the UDPA’s Home Owner Preservation Project (HOPP). Homeowners in the Marcy-Holmes and Southeast Como areas 64 years and older were given the opportunity to enroll in an “option to buy” program and help people “plan the future of their home.” The home could potentially be sold to the UDPA to be rehabbed and resold to a new owner occupant.

“The philosophy behind doing this was to find an area where we could have an impact by changing the perception within that area,” said Poppele. The areas have a recent history of experiencing conversion from home ownership to rental. Poppele said he wanted to “reverse the psychology in the area” so that people would “think it’s okay to invest in the area.”

The UDPA hopes to have 20 options signed and four homes either purchased or being purchased by the end of 2008; 16 homeowners have signed up so far, said Poppele.

Poppele also outlined the Home Buyer Incentive Program, which provides five-year forgivable loans of $10,000 for down-payment assistance to buy a home in the UDPA area.

UDPA’s long-range goals, Poppele said, include the development an operational structure and a focus on livability issues regarding transit, education, design and development.

“Participation in this first year has been enormous,” he said, with the creation of the steering committee, work groups and a “Friends of the alliance” group that includes people from the city, neighborhoods, local businesses and the university.

During a Q&A session following the presentation, local resident Charlotte “Chuckie” Wild said she works hard to keep her property up and was proud of her neighborhood but expressed frustration that “nobody else gives a damn.”

“What reassurance do I have,” Wild asked, that the area will not end up being condemned.

Poppele reiterated his desire to see an increase in people’s confidence, saying “there is reason to stay here. What we’re trying to do is provide that kind of hope,” he said.

State of Southeast Como

President Menken presented the “year in review,” calling it “a good year to be paying attention.” She cited the UDPA, as well as the Stadium Area Advisory Group — a committee of parties “affected by game day” at the new Gophers football stadium.

Menken also discussed last spring’s Green Village kick-off and the reconstruction of the Bridal Veil Creek area from a “toxic pond” to more of a filtration creek to filter out some of the pollution as the water heads down toward the Mississippi River.

“It’s a pretty dramatic change,” said President Menken. “That is a southeast Como project. That was done because our environment committee took the boat on that.”

Board elections and program income allocation

Returning to the board are Bill Dane, Jeff Haberer, Lee Hibbard and Jeane Moore. Andrew Volna, the developer revamping the old Rayvic site, was elected to fill a vacant one-year term. Rounding out the SECIA board for 2008-2009 are Stewart Smith, Wendy Menken, Connie Sullivan, Joan Menken, Jake Jacobi and Tedd Johnson.

Also passing by unanimous voice vote was the allocation of $100,000 in program income funds, returned payments from SECIA’s revolving loan program that can be used for other neighborhood programs. A flyer available at the meeting outlined other SECIA revenue details and indicated that the allocation would “help SECIA bridge the funding gap between the end of the current NRP and the beginning of the new city-led NRP in 2011.”

The next SECIA board meeting will be Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Van Cleve Park.

James DeSota, neighborhood coordinator
SECIA Office, 837 SE 15th Ave. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Phone: 612-676-1731

last revised: November 27, 2008