Dinkytown religions influenced students’ lives

The Rev. Bill Teska, who leads a small Minneapolis Episcopalian congregation that meets in the University Baptist Church at 1219 University Ave. S.E., and Don Olson, who spent 20 months in federal prison for disrupting draft offices in 1970, led a discussion on Nov. 22, on the role of religion in the peace and civil rights movements of the 1960s.

Many of their old meeting places near Dinkytown in Minneapolis no longer exist.

Continue Reading

Should Southeast keep its library without a building?

Should Southeast Minneapolis keep its library and, if so, should it remain near Dinkytown?Southeast Minneapolis residents have been invited to suggest where and whether a new library should replace the current facility adjacent to Dinkytown at the corner of Fourth Street and 13th Avenue Southeast.But some have complained that the public meetings, scheduled to begin this weekend, will not allow residents to support renovation of the current building, a classic of modern architecture designed by the late prominent Minneapolis architect Ralph Rapson.“Participation is not only important in terms of providing your feedback and learning about the process, but your presence will help demonstrate community support for the Southeast library – our library,” said Hung Russell, co-president of the Friends of the Southeast Library.The public meetings are in neighborhoods a consultant has determined represent the major stakeholders of the library. The meetings are:9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, October 18, at the Van Cleve Recreation Center, 901 S.E. 15th Ave.;6-8 p.m. Monday, October 20, at Marcy Open School, 415 Fourth Ave. S.E.;9-11 a.m. Saturday, October 25, at Brian Coyle Community Center Community Room, 420 15th Ave. S.; and7-9 p.m. Thursday, October 30, at Luxton Recreation Center, 112 St. Mary’s Ave. Continue Reading

City data could help you catch a bus and improve your neighborhood

City-generated data my soon help people track buses from their phones and help monitor problem properties for things like noise violations and landlord abuses. These are just two potential uses that may go public by November under the city’s new open data policy.The Minneapolis City Council approved an open data policy earlier this month, making city data that was previously accessible only through requests easily accessible to anyone. The city hopes the data will spur new technological projects that may help both the city and its constituents and bolster innovation.“The city of Minneapolis runs on 76 trillion characters of information,” Minneapolis chief information officer Otto Doll told a forum at the University of Minnesota recently. “A strong percentage of that data is private but the rest are data that possibly could be open.”Doll said the data from several city departments will be accessible through a single website in a raw form that can be used by the public, imported into spreadsheets, and viewed in smartphones, if software developers create applications to access the data.The use of smartphones to track bus movements and schedules could be done if a developer uses real-time data already generated by Metro Transit, said Bill Bushey, an organizer for Open Data Twin Cities that lobbied for the new Minneapolis rules.The council’s rules require that creation of a single portal making data accessible to the public, the creation of an advisory group from the city’s departments to decide what data should be open, and a compliance report to see how well agencies are complying with the rules.“The city is setting up the infrastructure, and it’s also setting up a culture change,” Bushey said. “It’s a big deal for a city to set up a system of this nature.”Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde, the city’s director of regulatory services, said neighborhoods could use housing license and inspections data to track property ownership and code compliance. Continue Reading

Can you find the Dinkytown Greenway? You can help point the way.

A bicycle and pedestrian trail that opened through the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis a year ago has been too hard to find, say community residents working to improve the Dinkytown Greenway’s visibility.“We want a gateway kiosk, other signs with maps to help people find their way around,” said consultant Richard Lang, a principal with Visual Communications. “We want to create some interest, identify what the streets are and how long the distances are.”Lang, a consultant working with the University District Alliance and other communitymembers, will organize a plan to determine the best means to mark the bicycle and walking trail to help people find their way and learn about the community at the same time.The Dinkytown Greenway begins near the TCF Bank Stadium on the east end of the campus, diverges from the auto traffic at the north end of Oak Street, passes under Dinkytown, goes across the Mississippi River on bridge No. 9, and ends at Bluff Park on the West Bank. By mid July, the trail will continue from Bluff Park through a tunnel under I-35W to 13th Avenue South, ending about six blocks from the Guthrie Theater and the new Vikings Stadium.But because the greenway cuts across the grid under Dinkytown, many people have been confused about where to enter the trail. A walking entrance is a path across the street from CVS Pharmacy just east of the Fourth Street bridge. Continue Reading

City planners discuss Dinkytown’s future

Dinkytown, the four-block business district on the north edge of the University of Minnesota in Southeast Minneapolis, could continue to be taken over by six-story mixed-use apartment buildings or it could be “frozen in place” by historic preservation. Between these two extremes, there is much room for planning, says Peter Crandall, designer for the Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development department.Crandall and the city’s principal planner Haila Maze joined several stakeholders and experts to discuss “Growth with Preservation” on June 23 at the Loring Café in Dinkytown. The forum came while city planners continue to study whether the small business district should be declared a historic site.“We’re aware that there’s a lot of development already going on,” Crandall said, adding that planning can make a difference.Crandall showed relief drawings that illustrated the look and scale of different planning options, including the current buildings, the same four blocks filled with six-story apartment buildings and other design options that allowed for different mixes of designs and heights.Design guidelines could also ask architects to retain the current street-level experience, even as they increase density behind and above current buildings, he said.About 50 people attended the meeting that began with a review of issues involved in determining how the area will grow and what will be preserved. Participants seemed to agree with Maze that the vibrant culture of Dinkytown is more important than the buildings.Major historic themes associated with Dinkytown, Maze said, were the streetcar era, the university connection, the commercial center, and issue of change and continuity.From the 1880s through the 1920s – the heyday of streetcars – Dinkytown was a hub. “The site of the Loring Café – where we are meeting now – was a car barn for the Minneapolis Street Railway Company,” she said.“None of the current buildings was here then,” Maze said. Continue Reading

Marcy-Holmes celebrates spring with renewed history

Some Southeast Minneapolis residents celebrated spring by looking to the future with more emphasis on bicycles and to the past with a new downloadable tour and the reissue of a Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood history.The tour, narrated by neighborhood historian Penny A. Petersen and more than 25 other residents and artists, is available in both text and audio form as a downloadable app for iPhones and others. At the website, click in the upper left corner for the apps and the tour called “Marcy-Holmes History: Hiding in Plain Sight.” The apps are free and the written text can be viewed on the website.The tour is based on Petersen’s book, Hiding in Plain Sight, a neighborhood history emphasizing historic homes that are “hiding in plain sight” throughout Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood, especially the historic district along Fifth Street Southeast.The book, published about 15 years ago by the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, has just been reprinted. It will be available from Lund’s grocery at Central and University avenues and the MHNA office for $19.95.MHNA members celebrated the book and the app at a May 3 release party on Sixth Avenue between Main Street and University Avenue. The event was also designed to celebrate the Sixth Avenue Greenway with its native plants and sculptures of historic neighborhood buildings.Residents were joined by sculptor Aldo Moroni, who designed the sculptures on brick pedestals that line Sixth Avenue as a transition between the neighborhood and the Stone Arch Bridge with walking and bicycle access to the Mississippi River.Bike advocates, including the Varsity Bike Shop and Nice Ride Minnesota, handed out literature and maps of Minneapolis bikeways. Treats were given out from the adjacent Café Alma and Dunn Bros Coffee.MHNA President Cordelia Pierson and director Melissa Bean sold books and encouraged residents to comment on the new Marcy-Holmes master plan and to enjoy the nearby riverfront.The public comment period on the revised Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Master Plan, including the Dinkytown Business District Plan runs until Monday, June 2.They said that all comments received during the public comment period will be incorporated into the public record and taken into account when the final plan is completed.The plan can be viewed at the Southeast Library in Dinkytown or the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning & Economic Development office in the Crown Roller Mill, 105 Fifth Ave. Continue Reading

Minneapolis: Settling for best of the worst or on the way to world class?

Bicycling magazine didn’t do Minneapolis any favors by listing it as the second most bike-friendly city in the nation behind Portland, Ore., an urban design consultant told a Minneapolis group on May 7.Gil Penalosa, executive director of the Canadian non-profit group 8-80 Cities, has added the Twin Cities to the more than 150 cities with whom he’s consulted in the last eight years on all continents.“In Minneapolis, one of the worst things they said is that you were among the best in the nation,” Penalosa said. “It would have been better if they said you were 84th and then you would know how much work you have to do. You have to decide whether you’re satisfied being one of the champions of the little leagues or whether you want to go to the major leagues.”Minneapolis should compare itself with world-class cities like Copenhagen, Portland, Amsterdam and Melbourne in urban vitality, which he says depends on making the cities friendlier to pedestrians and bicycles. By doing so, “we are creating vibrant cities, healthy communities, sustainable happiness through great parks and streets.”Penalosa, who gained renown as commissioner of parks and recreation in Bogotá, Columbia, made 17 presentations in his week-long Placemaking Residency in early May sponsored by the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation and a variety of other nonprofit groups. He discussed how to plan a city for residents from ages 8 through 80 – the purpose of his 8-80 Cities foundation in Toronto.“Think of the city for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old, then it would be great for everybody from zero to a hundred. Continue Reading