Saying good-bye to NRP


In 1991, representatives of the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Minneapolis Public School district, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and the Minneapolis Library Board signed an agreement that created the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) and the NRP Policy Board. During the next 20 years, the NRP became a nationally recognized program that provided Minneapolis neighborhoods with project funding and organizational support. In fact, it became internationally recognized when, in June 2000, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements placed the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program on its elite Global 100 Best Practices List.

The original program was created with an “expiration date” of Dec. 31, 2011. Although many neighborhood representatives worked with state legislators and through other channels to try to find a way to extend the program, that did not happen, and the NRP office officially closed at the end of 2011. Neighborhood organization support will now be handled through the City’s Neighborhood and Community Relations (NCR) Department, and funding (after 2013) will be part of the City budget, rather than a separate designated source. It is unclear at this point whether there will be additional funds for special projects or programs.

Special “Thank You” to Joe Horan

Joe Horan, one of the first neighborhood specialists hired by NRP more than 20 years ago, was assigned to work with SENA at the very beginning of our NRP “adventure” and has been our liaison with NRP throughout that time. Joe helped us through the NRP First Step, NRP Full Plan,  and NRP Phase II processes.  He assisted with creating neighborhood surveys, identifying priorities, conducting neighborhood votes, writing NRP plans, and amending those plans. He also monitored our contracts and helped us through the bureaucratic maze that was sometimes part of the NRP process.

Joe encouraged us when we needed encouragement, prodded us when we needed prodding, and celebrated with us when we were successful. We are better and stronger because of his consistent work over the last 20 years.

Thank you, Joe!

In December 2010, the Minneapolis City Council voted to freeze NRP Phase II funds at 50% of the original allotment for neighborhoods. SENA was well into its Phase II Plan (approved by the Standish and Ericsson neighborhoods in 2005) and had already contracted more than 50% of its funds, so the amount of designated funds lost was just under $200,000. Those dollars held back from the NRP Phase II program will be used to fund the next two years of neighborhood organization support through the NCR’s Community Participation Program. Since those dollars still have NRP guidelines attached, the city has created a new NRP Policy Board to oversee contracts and the distribution of the dollars. The money is distributed to all city neighborhoods, rather than to the neighborhoods to which they were originally allotted, based on a newly developed formula. The SENA staff anticipates that SENA’s allotment will be approximately $50,000 to $60,000 annually.

Since Standish and Ericsson residents approved the SENA NRP Full Plan in September 1998, NRP funds have provided nearly $5 million ($3.5 million from the Full Plan; $1.4 million from the Phase II plan) to a wide variety of community projects, including:

  • Improvements to the playground and park building at Lake Hiawatha Park,

  • Creation and distribution of a neighborhood business directory,

  • Home improvement grant and loan programs—providing over $1.5 million in home improvement assistance to hundreds of residents,

  • Installation of bike racks throughout the neighborhood,

  • Installation of traffic calming devices at several locations in the neighborhoods,

  • A water-filtering wetland near Lake Hiawatha,

  • Support for the production and distribution of SENA News, and

  • Organizational support for SENA, including staff and administrative support.

This list doesn’t include many other projects, too numerous to list here.

Many details about the future of neighborhood and neighborhood-organization support are unknown at this point. The NCR office has been assigned the task of helping neighborhoods through this transition to the new system. Please stay tuned.

The new playground that opened at Lake Hiawatha Park in the summer of 2001

Voting on the Full Plan with stickers in June of 1998

Above: Part of the old playground that was replaced

Right: Matching bike racks for neighborhood businesses in 2009