Saturday September 30th 2023

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Roof Depot Site Lack of Transparency and Call to Attend May 9 Online Hearing


It is easy to get lost in the details of the city’s long history of working against a healthy future for East Phillips. This is a history of the city disregarding racism as a public health threat, and ignoring its own prioritization of East Phillips as a green zone. And this comes at a cost that is often unseen but is funded by taxpayers through revenues from the University of Minnesota, the airport, and some Minneapolis suburbs who buy their water from Minneapolis. Which leads to many questions unanswered, including:

  • What is the detailed plan for the Hiawatha Expansion site? How many cars and trucks will be allowed to travel daily in and out of East Phillips? When will the city present its plan to the community? Until now it has only been presented to the park board.
  • What is the total cost for the project and how will it be funded? $75–100,000,000, or more?
  • How many lobbyists and lawyers are working on the city’s plan, and who or what fund is paying their income?
  • Why has the plan to renovate the existing East Hennepin Water Yard been suppressed and not presented to the public? Why hasn’t the public been able to see that study?
  • Has the 2008 Karen Clark/Linda Berglin Environmental Justice Law been applied to the city’s Plan in East Phillips?
  • Is there any limit to the city’s use of the water fund to pay for the Hiawatha Expansion? Already over $14 million has been used to purchase the site, to abate asbestos in the roof depot building, and to contract the architectural firm RSP.
  • Was it ever considered unethical, or a conflict of interest, that the city’s project manager Bob Friddle’s former employer RSP Architects is now the architectural firm contracted for the Hiawatha expansion?
  • Who will gain when the East Hennepin Water Yard is sold? The city has a website that talks about an updated fire station, private developers and housing. Why does the city prioritize the Ward 3 neighborhood for new housing and repurposed historic buildings at the expense of East Phillips, which is already overburdened with traffic?

Note: As of April 17th a temporary injunction has stopped roof depot demolition until EPNI’s appeal has been heard at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. But consider attending the May 9th court hearing online to determine if the injunction to prevent demolition will continue or demolition will be allowed. For further information, please see the EPNI website:
And all Minneapolis residents should contact their own legislators and strongly urge them to support SF 1853, a bill to allocate funding to the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm. This would provide EPNI with enough funding to buy back the 7.6 acres of the Roof Depot site ($20 million) to create our community-owned urban farm and community center, and stop the city’s plan to bring East Phillips more life-threatening toxic pollution. If enough people call their legislators from around the city, it could outweigh the city’s paid lobbyists working to stop real opportunity for Environmental Justice in East Phillips. To learn more, visit

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