BOARD MEETING MINUTES – Monday, April 20th, 2020 – 7:00 p.m., Virtual via Zoom
Board members present: Carl Arrell, Pat Collins, Alyssa Thull, Dan Williams, Kellie Hanson, Dirk Nicholson, Dick Fiala, Brenda Anderson, Bernadette Tomko
Board members absent: Brian McDonald
Also present: Councilmember Jeremy Schroeder, Sally Bauer (TNA Executive Director), Beverly Warnke (Grand Ave project engineer), Dan Edgerton (City Public Works department), Matt Perry (Southwest Business Association), Nathan Koster (Minneapolis Transportation Planning Manager), Greg Brown (URS Corp, Grand Ave project consultant)
Called to order: 7:04
Secretary – Carl made a motion to approve the March minutes, Pat seconded. Voice vote, all in favor, motion approved.
Treasurer – Sally said the TNA bank balance is around $35,000 and TNA is waiting for a reimbursement of about $20,000 from the City. She started analyzing the TNA budget given that some major revenue generators like 4th of July and the Street Party may not happen due to COVID-19, but also noted that not holding these events will reduce expenses too.
Rachel sent an update by email saying that all spring programming is canceled and the Park Board is evaluating summer activities. Rachel has also been temporarily transferred to a different location but will continue to monitor Fuller Park email and help as she is able.
Jeremy said the City’s housing assistance program will go live on Wednesday 9am (until following Monday at noon) for low-income renters. He suggested having TNA help publicize the program. It provides up to $1,500 per household for rents, utilities, and housing stability. The money comes directly from the City. There are also City health department grants up to $15,000 that neighborhoods can apply for.
Jeremy said the City expects to lose $100 – 200 million due to COVID-19. Everyone at the City is working on COVID-19 response tasks so requests may be delayed but things are still going smoothly. The City is re-evaluating its budget so the City can divert resources to small businesses and housing assistance.
Sally asked about the past “grab” of NRP/CPP funds by the City from neighborhoods; Jeremy replied there are no plans to do something similar at this time.
Grand Ave Reconstruction
Dan Edgerton from City’s Public Works department presented the Grand Ave reconstruction project, which will replace the pavement, sidewalks, and subsurface infrastructure on Grand Ave from Lake to 48th Streets. The City is evaluating improvements to crosswalks and pedestrian accessibility/ADA compliance, enhanced green infrastructure, and stormwater run-off. The City is well aware of what everyone is facing during the COVID-19 crisis and has extended the planning phase to account for it. They are proceeding with technical work like surveying and layout confirmation in the meantime.
Dan E. offered a video overview and Frequently Asked Questions section on the City’s website as the best resources about the project. Key features of the proposed layout are implementing a consistent 12ft wide pedestrian zone and bump-outs at intersections. The City will not exceed the existing footprint by exercising additional right-of-way into property owner’s yards, which means a reduction of parking in some blocks. They have heard feedback about parking reduction and are aware of the issues.
Dan Williams asked whether Grand Ave being a snow emergency route was considered. Dan E. replied that planned larger boulevards help with snow storage. The project would not necessarily involve removal of existing trees and will add additional trees and vegetation. Dan W. also asked if the project was part of the special City budget review that Jeremy mentioned or would definitely proceed. Nathan replied that they have not gotten specific guidance to make changes to current programming so they expect the project will go ahead at this time. Jeremy replied that the City does not know what kind of aid packages they’ll get from the State and Federal governments and thus don’t know what budgets will look like either.
Sally asked if there will be changes in the project proposal draft and what those might be. Dan E. replied they are waiting for community input and technical analysis before publishing a new draft. Nathan said they’ve heard a lot of feedback about parking and property impact and are allowing more time to engage with businesses.
Southwest Business Association Grand Ave Reconstruction Feedback
Matt Perry said that businesses do support bumpouts which they think are very valuable as long as busses can make the turns. Matt would also like to see pedestrian friendly features like “paint the pavement” intersection interiors and flashing lights on stop signs. He believes the current design reduces parking by 50% from 48th to 39th Streets and many businesses are destination businesses which require parking, and feel that the reduction hurts them. The SWBA has submitted a petition with 400 signatures on behalf of residents that opposed the planned parking reductions and has requested another parking study. The original study had only eight data points measured in the fall and only one of those measured overnight parking. The SWBA has submitted peak hours from businesses and asked that Public Works take that information into account when they do their next study. Matt also thanked Public Works for their willingness to continue to engage and extend timelines during COVID-19. SWBA would like parking restored from 45th to 48th Streets and asked that TNA support the request.
Carl asked Dan E. if the SWBA’s request was unreasonable. Dan said the City’s right-of-way extends 2ft beyond each sidewalk but using that area would disrupt property owners and add to the project’s cost. Matt replied that the SWBA is suggesting that the design standards for sidewalk and boulevard preserve current layoutso parking can be maintained. Nathan said that the existing layout does not account for ADA, utilities, snow storage, and other requirements.
Brenda asked if there were existing streets with this type of layout that we could look at. Nathan suggested Hennepin Ave from 31st to 36th streets which recently went from two-sided parking to one-sided, with broadened sidewalks and boulevards.
Carl suggested adding an agenda item to the next meeting to discuss TNA’s stance on the project.
Despite the current pandemic situation, Carl suggested that sticking to the normal annual meeting makes the most sense. Sally said some organizations are canceling their annual meeting and holding online elections instead, even though this may contradict their bylaws. Sally investigated and found no serious concerns with modifying TNA bylaws if needed. There will be five open board seats assuming everyone stays on the board. Sally was also concerned that postponing the meeting may result in lower attendance.
Dirk supported a resolution allowing a virtual meeting with elections, even though this technically violates our bylaws by not being in-person. Sally will draft that resolution, but she is concerned that new board member recruitment and sustaining interest in TNA will be difficult.
Dirk agreed it would be a challenge to get people to join and asked about the format. Sally suggested muting all participants and using the “hand raise” feature in Zoom. Sally is more concerned about topics and incentives; she suggested $100 gift cards to local businesses. Pat said she thought there have been more garage break-ins recently and asking a public safety official speak would be useful. Bernadette agreed. Dick thought it would be difficult to ask questions.
Dirk asked how many topics would work for a virtual meeting format. Sally suggested having one focus topic and a couple additional speakers. Dirk suggested gardening, native plants, and rain gardens as additional topics. Carl reminded the board that safety was not identified as a core focus during our strategic planning process a few years ago, but this isn’t a deal breaker. He also mentioned that safety is usually not a positive topic.
Sally wondered if quick ways to support your local business would be a good agenda item. She noted that TNA has received good engagement from posts about business support on social media. Dirk said this would be a good positive counterpoint to safety. Brenda suggested having businesses take a minute or two talking about how their business has changed and current procedures. Matt thought businesses would be eager to let people know they are still operating. Carl thought Matt could give a quick overview and hand over to a couple business owners.
Alyssa suggested streamlining the meeting by doing more preparation like forms for board nominations that are posted before the meeting. Carl agreed. Dirk suggested board profiles on social media with a click-through to a nomination form. Sally suggested board members start engaging with the posts and perhaps boost it. Carl suggested Matt recruit members from the business community. Matt requested Sally to send him a “job description”.
Dan W. made a motion to budget $300 to allocate as Sally sees fit for incentives for the annual meeting. Pat seconded. Voice vote, all in favor, motion approved.
There was not enough time to go into Sally’s report in detail, so the board agreed to schedule a separate meeting in the next week or two to discuss. Sally will send out a poll to schedule.
Committee Initiatives Updates
Spaces: the committee is still holding the Spring Spruce-Up event and advertising via social media. Committee members are distributing yard waste bags and litter cleanup supplies.
Engagement: the committee expects there won’t be large events in the near future. Sally organized an Area Captain program for volunteers to help other residents in need; 10 captains have volunteered already. The committee is organizing a food drive on May 1st, requesting that residents put items out by 10am for volunteers to collect. Four volunteers are already signed up to collect and deliver to the Uptown food shelf. Residents can also donate money via a link in our social media posts and website.
Environmental: the rain garden lottery has 15 entries so far and is still open. Wednesday is 50th anniversary of Earth Day and TNA is doing more frequent social media posts.
Executive Director Report
990 Review/Approval: Carl made a motion to approve our Form 990, Dan seconded. Voice vote, all in favor, motion approved.
Fourth of July: the event will not happen in the same format this year for obvious reasons. The Engagement committee will brainstorm creative alternatives.
Open Streets: the Lyndale event scheduled for June has been postponed.
Minutes submitted by Dan Williams, TNA Secretary