Southeast Como Improvement Association, Feb. 3 board meeting

SECIA staff commendations; Highway 280 update; crime and safety

Southeast Como Improvement Association, Feb. 3 board meeting

The board approved a letter to recognize staff members James DeSota, Justin Eibenholzl, Stephanie Hankerson and Jennifer Lee. The letter formally recognizes the four as “a pivotal component to our success” in environmental programs. (SECIA recently won the 2008 Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention.)

All four staffers were in attendance and accepted the board’s congratulations and a round of applause.

“Their skills, energy and the synergy between them have produced nothing but good ideas and good projects for our neighborhood and the City,” the letter states.

Board President Wendy Menken said she had recently realized that “at some point it became less about being staff doing tasks and more about (the staff) almost becoming a think tank for us,” she said, adding that the board had recognized that and let it “evolve.”

“It’s kind of that synergy between you guys and the stuff that you were thinking about and creating that really pulled us along,” said Menken.

Menken led a discussion regarding the proposed Hennepin County Household Hazardous Waste collection facility at Highway 280 and Broadway Avenue. Windom Park Citizens in Action (WPCiA) held a neighborhood meeting regarding the proposed facility in January. Said Menken: “A lot of concerns on our side are coming up on their side.” She recommended that SECIA let Windom Park “take the lead” on the matter and encouraged anyone who was interested in the issue to attend the next WPCiA meeting (information available at, but that ultimately the SECIA board would have to take a position on the proposed project.

The board also dicussed the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MNDot) plans for Highway 280 and its intersections, which were temporarily changed to accommodate traffic flow after the 35W bridge collapse. Menken referred board members to a handout and discussed concerns that MNDOT may use the situation as “as an opportunity to change the 280 corridor into a full freeway interchange between [Interstate] 94 and [Interstate] 35,” she said, which could limit traffic access and increase pollution. Menken said that, according to the rules of the emergency federal funding, “all temporary measures were supposed to be put back to status quo.”

The lack of dialog with affected communities, along with doubts about traffic analyses or environmental impact statements is of concern, she said. “We have seen nothing,” said Menken, adding that meetings were held with “three municipalities that are not Minneapolis and St. Paul, i.e., Roseville, Lauderdale and Falcon Heights.” She asked board members to read through the bulleted items on the handout and “get your aggravation on” so the board can “figure out where we’re going to go from here.”

Neighborhood coordinator James DeSota is in the process of trying to connect with all the relevant partners, including Windom Park.

Nick Juarez, the Sector 1 crime prevention specialist for Minneapolis Police Department’s 2nd Precinct, attended the SECIA meeting and engaged the board in a question-and-answer session.

Issues discussed included pay-at-the-door parties with live music at the “Zombie House,” located on 26th Avenue Southeast. Juarez told the board that the property had been visited on Jan. 28 by the Problem Properties Unit and inspected by a housing inspector on Jan. 29. “The property is well maintained,” said Juarez. “It is up to code, and the basement is up to code.” Juarez explained that there were no licensing issues, since monies collected were considered donations. Neighbors are asked to call if any problems crop up.

Juarez and board members discussed the MPD’s safety plan questionnaire, as well as problems and options regarding what is perceived as a lack of response to 911 calls and a concomitant reluctance on the part of residents to make them. Juarez said that the purpose of the questionnaire is to “direct the behavior of the MPD” along with more community-driven action, and that he would like to see a reversal of perspective.

Juarez offered to meet with board members to help draft goals. Board member Joan Menken offered that three goals might be access to get more information; action, which would be more 911 calls along with more responses to those calls, and results.

Juarez passed out a flyer announcing “The State Of The Second Precinct” meeting to be held at University Lutheran Church of Hope at 601 13th Ave SE on Sat. Feb. 21, 10 a.m.–noon. A summary of activity for 2008 and detailed police initiatives for the second precinct in 2009 will be presented.

Other meetings include the Safety For Children workshop at Northeast Middle School, 2955 Hayes St. NE, presented by a child safety specialist from the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center; information on ways to prevent children exploitation will be presented. A personal safety workshop is scheduled for Sat., March 14, 10 a.m.–noon, at Northeast Middle School. Black belt instructor Mary Brandl will give the workshop.

A joint first, second, and third ward meeting to discuss game day particulars for the new University of Minnesota stadium, including traffic, parking, tailgating and clean-up, will be held Wed., Feb. 18 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Van Cleve Park, 901 15th Ave. SE, Minneapolis. Several University and City of Minneapolis representatives will be on hand.

Robin Garwood, Council Member Cam Gordon’s aide, told the SECIA board that “the governor’s budget is very bad for Minneapolis.” Gordon’s report to the board outlines a proposed funding cut of $17 million in 2009 and $35 million in 2010.

Gordon opposes the proposed elimination of the Park Board, elimination of the Board of Estimate and Taxation and the proposal to create a city administrator. “The way to ask (the question) is not to put it on the ballot,” said Garwood. A larger community discussion is in order, according to the report.

The board approved the formation of a committee — Lee Hibbard, Wendy Menken and Bill Dane — to do staff reports and present a report in March.

The board approved sending a letter to Mary McCartney of the City of Minneapolis in support of the Minnesota Historical Society’s grant application to resurvey the city’s historic resources.

Next meeting: Tuesday, March 10, 6:30–9 p.m.
Van Cleve Park
915—15th Avenue SE
Minneapolis, MN 55454

SECIA Office:
837—15th Ave SE.
Minneapolis, MN 55414
James DeSota, neighborhood coordinator

last revised: February 25, 2009