NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Wednesday December 1st 2021

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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 [...]

City Council Committee Votes to Halt Hiawatha Public Works Expansion, Future of Urban Farm Uncertain

City Council Committee Votes to Halt Hiawatha Public Works Expansion, Future of Urban Farm Uncertain

By LINDSEY FENNER In a confusing and close vote, on August 18 the Policy and Government Oversight (POGO) Committee partially approved a staff directive authored by CMs Cano, Jenkins, Gordon, and Johnson, that halts the planned expansion of the Hiawatha Public Works Maintenance Facility at the Roof Depot Site at 1860 E 28th Street in East Phillips. However, an abstention by CM Ellison on the part of the directive which would have given the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) exclusive development rights to the property tied the vote 6-6, so that provision did not pass. This means the future of the East Phillips Urban Farm project proposed by EPNI is uncertain. The partially approved staff directive passed by a 7-6 vote, with Council Members Reich, Fletcher, Cunningham, Osman, Goodman, and Bender voting no. The POGO Committee is expected to receive a financial report on the city costs of maintaining the Roof Depot site until development, as well as a “racial equity impact analysis” at their meeting on September 9. In a separate vote, the City Council voted to approve the Environmental Assessment Worksheet of the now halted Hiawatha Public Works Expansion Project. EPNI filed a lawsuit in summer 2020 to stop the City from demolishing the Roof Depot building before an environmental review was completed.

East Phillips Urban Farm Faces Crucial City Council Vote in August

East Phillips Urban Farm Faces Crucial City Council Vote in August

By LINDSEY FENNER The future of the East Phillips Urban Farm will reach a crucial turning point in August when the Minneapolis City Council will hear a staff report on the future of the City”™s Public Works expansion at the Roof Depot site at Longfellow and 28th Street, and vote on an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW). An EAW is a short document that reports on the facts of a project and determines the need for a further review called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). At the end of April, the City Council approved a staff directive that paused the City”™s Public Works expansion at the Roof Depot site, with a required report at the City Council Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday, August 5. The report will include information on the financial and operational impact of ending the Public Works expansion project and recommendations for selling the property to community groups.The Public Works expansion, if it went forward, would increase car and truck emissions in a neighborhood already overburdened with pollution and accompanying health conditions like asthma. Neighbors, community members, and allies have been fighting for another vision of the Roof Depot site, the East Phillips Urban Farm. The community project would include urban agriculture, affordable housing, job training, and a small business incubator. The community group organized around this vision, the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute, has an active lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis to stop the Public Works expansion, is working on securing funding and a buyer for the property, and has been holding workshops with business owners, community groups, and tenants interested in renting space within the 230,000 sq.ft. Roof Depot. The East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) hosted a workshop with local businesses and community organizations such as Migizi, Gandhi Mahal, Little Earth, and more to envision a business model for the future East [...]

Alley February 2021

Alley February 2021