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New Direction for East Phillips Urban Farm Derailed by Mayor Frey’s Veto

Update: On March 24, the Minneapolis City Council upheld Mayor Frey’s veto of CM Chavez’ motion by a vote of 7-6. At the March 24 City Council meeting, CM Chavez said he hoped to bring a new motion forward at the next full council meeting on April 7. Look for an update on that in the May issue of the alley.

By Lindsey Fenner

At the March 10 City Council meeting, new Ward 9 Councilmember Jason Chavez put forward a motion that rescinded the council action last fall that gave a green light to the expansion of the Public Works facility at 1901 E 26th Street. Chavez’ motion gave the East Phillips Urban Farm project a new way forward on that parcel. It also explicitly included the public works training facility that had been left out of the last council action, stopped demolition of the former Roof Depot Building, instructed city staff to find funding options to repay the Water Fund, and required community stakeholders to make formal proposals for redevelopment of that city-owned land by June 30 2022.

Chavez’ motion passed the City Council with a vote of 8-5, after a series of impassioned speeches by those voting in favor. Voting for Chavez’ motion were CMs Chavez, Chughtai, Ellison, Johnson, Koski, Payne,Wonsley Worlobah, and Council President Jenkins.

Voting against Chavez’s motion were Ward 6 CM Osman who represents Phillips West and Ventura Village in Phillips, as well as CMs Goodman, Rainville, Vetaw, and Council Vice President Palmisano.

But Mayor Frey’s veto derailed the Council’s action. In his March 11 veto letter to the Council, Frey said he would sign a similar motion with conditions including: changing the word “rescind” to “suspend,” giving clear guidelines for a formal proposal from community stakeholders, and including a clear finance plan for the community redevelopment. According to council rules, Chavez’ vetoed motion would need to be reconsidered at the next City Council meeting, March 24, after the alley goes to press. A two-thirds majority, or nine votes, are needed to override a mayoral veto.

The East Phillips Neighborhood Institute, the community group that has been organizing the Urban Farm project, held a community meeting on Saturday March 12 to talk about next steps. Urban Farm supporters had been trying to schedule a meeting with Mayor Frey to discuss the conditions in his veto letter.

In a statement on Twitter, CM Chavez, who was born and raised in East Phillips, wrote, “The East Phillips Neighborhood will always be worth fighting for. We don’t take no for an answer. We figure out how.”

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