Minnesota State Senator Linda Higgins convened a meeting of area residents to discuss the community’s vision for redevelopment along West Broadway. Nearly 60 residents and business owners attended the November 29 meeting at the Minneapolis Park Board Headquarters.
Attendees were concerned about all the development opportunities across the region, especially the Bottineau Boulevard Project (County Road 81) and the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) planning that will impact both West Broadway and Lowry Avenues. Individuals wanted to make sure that any planned development would complement other development efforts and planning areas throughout Minneapolis.
Fourth Ward Councilmember Barbara Johnson echoed this concern by stating that a regional approach should be employed when looking at the development of West Broadway. Without looking at the big picture, development in other areas of North Minneapolis could be adversely impacted due to competing redevelopment efforts.
An issue raised by Boise Jones from the West Broadway Business Association, was that the crowd did not seem to reflect the general make-up of the community, with nearly 90 percent of attendees at the meeting being European-American. The observation was noted and the organizers indicated that they will look at alternative methods to advertise the events to allow a representative community input into the public process.
In stating the desires of what individuals wanted to see along West Broadway, there were calls for live entertainment, restaurants, both chain and independent stores, better transit connections between North and Northeast, better lighting and public safety improvements, among a list of other desires for developing a strong West Broadway. However, Donnie Petros from Butter Roll Bakery commented that he has attended at least six meetings since 1952 regarding West Broadway development and he felt that many of the same ideas have already been shared through previous community meetings, but that the development hasn’t occurred.
Tom Leighton, from the City of Minneapolis’ Community Planning and Economic Development, understood the frustration and indicated that a West Broadway Steering Committee was in the process of being organized, with appointees from businesses, neighborhoods and each of the three city council wards to serve to keep the work on track.
Attendees were also looking for a community approach to involve residents in the long-term regional planning. Instead of creating a task force to explore these issues, it was recommended that individuals work through the North Minneapolis Regional Planning meetings convened by the NorthWay Community Trust. Neighborhood and business leaders from Northside neighborhoods meet monthly to create the road map that defines development priorities and direction.
In addition, to address the short-term necessities of business owners along West Broadway, individuals are encouraged to develop strategies and build participation in activities with the aid of the West Broadway Area Coalition. The goal is to find a way to positively impact the current business along the West Broadway corridor during 2006.
By the end of the two and one-half hour meeting, there was more hope in the room for what is possible in North Minneapolis, but it will take hard work and dedication from all members of our community to create our vision for West Broadway For info on the West Broadway Steering Committee contact Tom Leighton at 612-673-3853. For info on the North Minneapolis Regional Planning meetings, contact NorthWay Community Trust at 612-521-4500. To work on short term ideas and projects to support West Broadway business contact Keri Neathery at 612-834-9222.