Amid tears and remembrances from Park Commissioner Annie Young, Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) Policy Board Chair Senator Ken Kelash adjourned the last meeting of the “old” NRP Policy Board on December 19, as established under a 1992 Joint Powers Agreement. The “old” NRP Policy Board completed work to approve the Bryant Neighborhood Phase II Action Plan; a salary increase for the NRP Director; a severance pay and benefits plan for remaining NRP employees; and actions for closing down NRP including a $50,000 reserve and to disburse funds to neighborhood organizations from an unrestricted portion of $604,907 from an administrative office fund “available for spending at the Policy Board’s discretion” according to a memorandum from Director Robert Miller. The Policy Board also approved an “Agreement for the Transfer of Administration of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program” by and between it and the City of Minneapolis. The NRP Office situated at the Crown Roller Mill will have closed on December 31. “I feel fortunate to have been so involved with the foremost citywide grass roots neighborhood development initiative in the country,” said Representative Joe Mullery, who sat on the NRP Policy Board and was a previous board chair. “The tremendous volunteer efforts combined with the physical improvements have established a stable foundation for the future of Minneapolis,” Mullery said about the program.
Meanwhile on December 16 the City Council adopted sweeping changes to the Title 16, Chapter 419 of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances (“NRP Ordinance”), adopted a resolution reestablishing a neighborhood revitalization program policy board, and adopted an amended and restated Resolution 2008R-402 that established the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission (NCEC). The Neighborhood and Community Relations Department had notified neighborhood organizations on November 8 of the proposed changes, and solicited public comment for a 30-day period, three times the legally required review period. The City Council Committee of the Whole held a public hearing on December 8 concerning the changes, where NCR Director David Rubedor and staff Robert Thompson described the objectives, background and work of the new NRP Policy Board and repurposed NCEC, and contrasted the different roles of each. The NCR reported the new NCEC role is to “Guide and support diverse and representative participation at neighborhood, department, and commission levels to help reduce disparities based on class, race, income or neighborhood,” while the new NRP Policy Board role is to “Continue NRP Phase I and Phase II activities, encourage partnerships, and support outcomes of ongoing neighborhood based planning processes.” Staff reported that the NCR/NCEC collectively held eight community meetings across the city and also attended meetings with nine neighborhood organization boards, with a total of about 136 individuals in attendance at all meetings. The NCEC adopted and submitted two resolutions originally authored by Commissioner Matt Perry and Commissioner Jeff Strand to provide input to the City Council on the proposed changes. Commissioner Doron Clark attended the public hearing to present information on behalf of the NCEC, and members of the public testified at the hearing.
Two changes to the NRP Ordinance or NRP Resolution are highlighted or have drawn attention. In Section 419.55 the City Council provided that “No more than twenty (20) percent of the program dollars expended for all NRP expenditures (on an annual basis) may be used for central administrative costs.” In another action, the City Council defeated an amendment by Council Member Schiff that would have recognized the November 17 NRP Elections results and provided for the four neighborhood representatives to the NRP Policy Board to be elected by the neighborhood organizations. Representatives from 39 neighborhood organizations had attended and voted at the NRP Neighborhood Representative Elections. Instead, the City Council’s adopted actions provide for four neighborhood representatives to the reestablished NRP Policy Board, but those representatives are to be appointed by the NCEC from members of the NCEC. The NCEC subsequently met on December 20 and voted to appoint Commissioners Christopher Hoffer, Ali Warsame, Jeffrey Strand, and Carol Pass for interim terms ending June 2012. The “new” NRP Policy Board reestablished in January 2012 under the Revised Ordinance will have no sunset provision and consistent with Minnesota Statutes (2010), Section 469.1831, subd. 6, have membership from the Mayor or designee, the City Council, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Board of Education, Special School District No. 1, and the Board of Hennepin County Commissioners, and a representative from the Minneapolis’ House of Representatives delegation and Minneapolis’ State Senate delegation.
Details on all the proposed and final changes may be obtained from the City of Minneapolis NCR Department website http://www.minneapolismn.gov/ncr/index.htm with links to the NCEC and “Changes for Neighborhoods,” or contact NCR staff at email@example.com or 612-673-3737.
Editor’s Note/Disclosure: The writer is a City Council appointee to the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission for a term ending June 2012 and served 2001-2002 and 2004-2011 as the elected Protection Neighborhoods Representative/Alternate on the NRP Policy Board. The writer does not represent either the NCEC or the NRP Policy Board in writing this article for Camden News.