NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Thursday September 29th 2022

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Allina Builds Abbott Northwestern Hospital Utility Plant Before Getting Air Emissions Permit

Allina Builds Abbott Northwestern Hospital Utility Plant Before Getting Air Emissions Permit

Public Comment Period on Permit Opening this Fall Abbott Northwestern Hospital's Central Utility Plant under construction at E 26th Street and Chicago Avenue. According to MN Rule 7005.0100 Subp. 3a, activities that should not be started before an air emissions permit is issued include “installing building supports and foundations, laying underground pipework, and constructing permanent storage structures.” Photo by Ben Heath By LINDSEY FENNER If you’ve driven on E 26th Street through Phillips this past summer, you’ve likely gone past the construction site at 26th and Chicago where Allina Health is building a new Central Utility Plant for Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Besides the traffic headache this has created, the bigger problem is that Allina has started construction on the utility plant before getting the final air emissions permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Allina Health, which owns Abbott Northwestern Hospital and has their corporate headquarters in the Midtown building in Phillips, applied for the required amendment to their existing air permit in February 2021. In their application, Allina acknowledged the need for the final permit before construction on the new facility could begin. According to MN Rule 7005.0100 Subp. 3a, activities that should not be started before a permit is issued include “installing building supports and foundations, laying underground pipework, and constructing permanent storage structures.” In an interview with MPCA air permit engineer Jeff Hedman, who has been working on the draft permit, said he had not been aware that Allina had started construction of the utility plant until it was brought to MPCA’s attention by the alley. They have referred the issue to their enforcement staff and would not comment further. According to Hedman, “Enforcement decisions are made on a case-by-case basis depending on the facts of the situation.” MN Rule 7005.0100 Subp. 3a states that [...]

Shaping a Vision for Owámniyomni, St. Anthony Falls

Shaping a Vision for Owámniyomni, St. Anthony Falls

Collage by GGN for Friends of the Falls & NACDI. Community Conversation #5: A Powerful Place for Partnerships. Image by Drew Arrieta for Friends of the Falls & NACDI. By Amanda Wigen, Friends of the Falls Long before they were claimed as “St. Anthony’s,” the Falls were the beating heart of Indigenous societies. Called Owámniyomni, or “turbulent waters,” by the Dakota, the Falls cascaded over a 50-foot limestone drop on Haha Wakpa (the Mississippi River) and roiled through now-submerged islands at their base. Dakota and other Indigenous people came to Owámniyomni for ceremony and to Spirit Island, a sacred place destroyed by industrialization, to give birth. When the Upper Lock on Minneapolis’ Central Riverfront closed to commercial navigation in 2015, an opportunity emerged to reimagine this historic and culturally significant landscape. What could we do with this massive structure - which in many ways is a symbol of the desecration of this place - that sits adjacent to the Falls? A non-profit organization called Friends of the Falls was formed to create a place of healing and celebration at Owámniyomni. Friends of the Falls partnered with the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) to advise on engagement efforts with Indigenous communities and to ensure that The Falls Initiative would be centered on Native voices. The entities consulted with Dakota tribal leadership and convened the Native Partnership Council to steer the process. The Partnership Council is a group of elders, culture keepers, artists, and water protectors that meet regularly, setting guiding principles and next steps for the project. Rather than aspiring to build a visitors center or a major monument on the site, there is consensus that what needs to be acknowledged and honored through The Falls Initiative is the suppressed Indigenous history of this place and the River herself. In early 2022, Friends of the Falls and NACDI launched [...]

Midtown Phillips April ’22

METRO TRANSIT

More Transit, and Less By JOHN CHARLES WILSON I’ve been writing about this for over a year now, so you should know I am excited that the Orange Line starts Saturday, 4 December 2021! There will be a Grand Opening at the I-35W and Lake St. station at 1 PM, with local entertainment and food vendors from 2 to 4. The station is already open and being used by regular buses. It is a lot better than the old stops at the sides of I-35W that were at the top of crumbling staircases. Unfortunately, along with the good news, there is bad news for transit riders in the Twin Cities. Due to a shortage of bus and train operators, schedules are being cut by 5 percent overall at the same time the Orange Line starts. Affected routes in the Phillips neighborhood are: The Orange Line will replace Route 535.Route 2 will run every 12 minutes instead of every 10.Route 5 will have schedule times adjusted to reflect actual travel times and will run every 10 minutes.Route 9 will have schedule times adjusted to reflect actual travel times.Route 11 times will be adjusted for better connections with the new Orange Line.Routes 14 and 22 will adopt the Sunday schedule on Saturdays too.Route 21 will have frequency adjustments on weekdays and Saturdays. These cuts are supposed to be temporary, until enough operators are hired to restore the old schedule. If you or someone you know wants to be a bus or train driver, Metro Transit is holding hiring events, with information available on their website at metrotransit.org. Wages start at $21 per hour, with a $1,000 hiring bonus. These have been frustrating times for transit users. Relief is in sight, however.

Letter to Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association:

Response to 2744 and 2740 12th Avenue Proposed Development: Ensuring Gentrification and Income Inequality by Policy and Design By SUE HUNTER WEIR Reprinted in the alley by permission of the author The City of Minneapolis is well known for expressing concern about gentrification and income inequality—one of the dubious categories in which we lead the nation. These plans appear not to have taken into account the demographic makeup, and therefore the needs, of the people who live here. There is undoubtedly a need to have more housing for renters, but these designs are not the answer. I have listed some of the problems that jump out at me.1) Inadequate parking. Regardless of what the city's current policy is, the reality of life in Midtown Phillips is different. This is not, for the most part, a community of bicycle commuters. Our block (the 2700 block of 12th Avenue) is a block where most of the renters and owners are immigrant families. That usually means two working parents and several young children per household. Five of the houses on the east side of the street are duplexes with little off-street parking, and for those properties there are not two cars/vans per property, but more commonly four to six. Residents already have to pay for parking permits because of our proximity to a school, mosque, mall, and two major hospitals. Parking is at a premium. The notion that people will ride bikes if no parking is available is simply not true. (I say this as someone who walked from my house to the U every day for 30+ years and heartily supports the idea of bike commuting for those who are able).2) Safety. 28th Avenue is one of the city's busier streets and speeding is the norm. Twelfth Avenue is likewise heavily trafficked by residents, school buses, students' parents, and people using the park. All of these amenities are great but they do mean that there is a lot of traffic. (About one out of every three or four bike bollards are flattened on any [...]

Minneapolis Public Housing Authority Is Building New Multifamily Housing. Is this a good thing?

Minneapolis Public Housing Authority Is Building New Multifamily Housing. Is this a good thing?

By LINDSEY FENNER When I received the community meeting notice about a new three-story apartment building directly behind my house, my first concern was for my garden, and how much sunlight it might lose. When I realized this was a redevelopment project by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, I knew I needed to dig a little deeper. What would happen to my neighbors living in the existing public housing duplex? How is this project funded? In the very back corner of my mind, I remembered something from a few years ago: concerns about the privatization of public housing. Did that have anything to do with this project? The redevelopment on my block is part of a larger, city-wide project by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. MPHA is best known for the large apartment towers they run. Less well-known are over 700 MPHA single family homes, duplexes, and fourplexes scattered throughout Minneapolis. MPHA is redeveloping 16 of these “scattered sites,” including the one behind me in East Phillips, and several in Midtown Phillips. These existing homes will be demolished and turned into 3-story, 6-unit buildings of 2 and 3 bedrooms, totaling 84 new units citywide. According to MPHA, the current residents, who tend to be working class black and brown immigrant families, will have temporary housing during construction, will have housing in the new buildings, and will not see any increase in rent. MPHA secured $4.6 million from the American Rescue Plan, approved by the Minneapolis City Council in July 2021, to fund the bulk of the planned redevelopments. The proposed buildings were designed by DJR Architects and use a new modular system developed by Rise Modular, based in Owatonna, MN. This modular system is touted to be of higher-quality, more environmentally friendly, and cheaper and faster to produce - which means a briefer period of displacement for current residents. At community meetings, neighbors raise questions about size, design, and [...]

November Random alley News

November Random alley News

By LINDSEY FENNER Nonfatal Opioid Overdoses Saw a Sharp Increase in 2020: A new report out from the Minnesota Department of Health looks at nonfatal overdose trends in Minnesota from 2016 to 2020.  From 2019 to 2020 alone, the number of nonfatal overdoses involving opioids increased 43%, with the increase most pronounced in the 7-county metro region. American Indian Minnesotans were nine times more likely and African American Minnesotans were three times more likely than white Minnesotans to experience a nonfatal overdose. Younger people are also more likely to experience a nonfatal overdose, with Minnesotans aged 15-34 experiencing the largest number of nonfatal overdoses, accounting for 55% of all nonfatal overdose Emergency Department visits. See the October 2021 alley for the steps to reverse an opioid overdose.  Your Feedback Wanted on City Redistricting: Every ten years, after the federal Census, political boundaries like City Council Ward and Congressional District get redrawn based on changes in population, so that each district has equal representation. The City of Minneapolis has begun the process of setting new boundaries for City Council Wards and Park Districts. This process is led by the City Charter Commission and Redistricting Advisory Group. You can get involved by attending public meetings, speaking at public hearings and listening sessions, submitting your own redistricting map through an app called Districtr, and sending in written feedback.  To learn more about the redistricting process visit: https://www.minneapolismn.gov/government/programs-initiatives/redistricting/ Former Gas Station at 25th and Bloomington Being Sold: The shuttered Speedway at 2445 Bloomington Avenue was put up for closed bid auction in mid-October, along with 166 retail sites in 22 states owned by Speedway LLC as part of an antitrust divestment agreement with the Federal Trade Commission. 7-Eleven Inc acquired Marathon Petroleum Company [...]

City Moves Forward with Public Works Expansion in Phillips; Neighbors Continue Fight for Environmental Justice

City Moves Forward with Public Works Expansion in Phillips; Neighbors Continue Fight for Environmental Justice

By LINDSEY FENNER The Minneapolis City Council voted to continue the Hiawatha Maintenance Facility expansion at the Roof Depot site at 1860 E 28th St on a narrow 7-6 vote. The approved plan, put forward by Ward 1 CM Kevin Reich, is a reversal of the previous Council directive to halt the Public Works expansion project in East Phillips. Community members, led by the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI), have protested for years against this project, putting forward an alternative vision for an Indoor Urban Farm at the 7-acre Roof Depot site. Reich’s proposal came as a surprise to Urban Farm supporters, including Ward 9 CM Cano. The passed proposal, which was “Option B” of four potential plans presented to the City Council over the summer, moves the City Water Yard facility from it’s crumbing building in Northeast to East Phillips, demolishes the Roof Depot building that community activists had wanted to use as an indoor urban farm, removes a proposed training facility for Public Works from the expansion plans, and sells 2.8 acres of the site for “community use.”  The vote to continue the public works expansion in East Phillips came despite a Racial Equity Impact Analysis (REIA) presentation that showed that neighbors near the project already “experience much higher levels of cumulative pollution than residents from majority white city neighborhoods and the average metro area resident leading to hiring levels of asthma and hospitalization for children and adults living in the surrounding neighborhoods.” The Public Works expansion is expected to bring an increase of car and truck traffic into the neighborhood, which will further increase already high levels of air pollution in East Phillips.  Council members Bender, Cunningham, Ellison, Fletcher, Goodman, Reich, and Ward 6 CM Jamal Osman voted in favor of the Public Works expansion in East Phillips. CMs Jenkins, Johnson, Gordon, Schroeder, Palmisano, and Ward 9 CM [...]

Metro Transit: Lake Street and I-35W Station Opens

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON It’s finally happening! The new bus station in the middle of I-35W at Lake Street is opening Monday, 18 October 2021. (This means it’s already open by the time this issue is published. Such is the lag time inherent in a monthly newspaper.) As I’m sure everyone who’s read my column knows, it’s for the new Orange Line to Burnsville, which begins 4 December. In the meantime, Metro Transit Routes 535, 553, 578, 597, and Southwest Transit Routes 600 and 695 will be using it, joined by various MVTA express routes as of 20 November. Local Metro Transit Routes 21 and 27 will provide connections on Lake Street, just below the station. Speaking of Lake Street, planning for the B Line, a Bus Rapid Transit line to open on Lake Street in 2024, is chugging right along. Presently, Route 21 is the slowest and second busiest route in the whole Metro Transit bus system. Anyone who’s had to ride a 21 during a rush-hour traffic jam knows it’s not a good experience. The B Line will have all-door boarding; you will buy your ticket or scan your card before getting on, like the light rail. This will save a lot of time. There won’t be as many stops, which will speed service but be hard on people who can’t walk far. For those of us who need it, the 21 will still run once every half hour, while the B Line will run every 10 minutes. The B Line may also get its own dedicated lane. If that happens, even more of a time savings will be had by all. I’ve used the similar A Line on Snelling Avenue, and it really is great!

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