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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 [...]