Lowry Hill Neighborhood Association Board Meeting Minutes
Date: September 13, 2022
Time to Call Meeting to Order after Quorum: 7:07 PM by President Charles Scheiderer
Board Members Present: Charles Scheiderer (President); Sue Westerman(Treasurer); William Goodnow (Secretary); Jacquelyn Brown-Baylor; Vickie Gilfillian-Bennett; Fran Davis; George Montague; Tyler Ecklund-Kouba; Jennifer Wirick Breitinger; Nate Morris; Chad Harkin; Anne Nelson; Thomas Regnier; John Lillehei, MD.
Other Attendees: Inspector Katie Blackwell; LT Michael Frye; Carla Godwin; Miriam Segall; Barb Davis; & Several Neighborhood Zoom Participants.
Minneapolis City Council Update
7 th Ward Council Member Lisa Goodman was not in attendance at this meeting, however her office forwarded notes. The next Lunch with Lisa is scheduled from 12PM to 1PM on Wednesday September 28, 2022 at Terrence Murphy Hall Room 252. A hearing on the appeal of the variances at 1218 Summit Ave was scheduled for Tuesday September 13. Mayor Frey’s recommendation for the city budget is $1.66 billion for 2023 and $1.71 billion for 2024 with corresponding tax levy increases of 6.5% in 2023 and 6.2% in 2024. Applicants are being sought for 33 City Boards and Commissions that have current openings the deadline for which is Friday September 30 th (call 612-673-2216). Starting on September 6th, increased airport traffic over Minneapolis is likely due to a runway restoration project. The Minneapolis Health Department has launched a monkeypox webpage. The ninth annual Minneapolis Trans Equity Summit will be held on Friday September 16th at Minneapolis College.
Minneapolis Police Department Update
5 th Precinct Inspector Katie Blackwell gave a crime update. There was an increase in robberies compared to this time last year. The common theme is a weapon implied or shown. Victims tend to be either on-foot (walking dogs, for example) or getting into, out of, or near a vehicle. On 8/17 near the intersection of Summit & James Avenues, a victim was approached and robbed at gunpoint. Subsequently, the victim was led to their garage and instructed to give the suspects access to their car. The suspects attempted to steal the car but were unable to operate its manual transmission and fled. A cell phone and wallet were lost. On 8/23 at 11:45PM on the 900 block of Lincoln Ave, two male suspects approached a female victim while she was in her vehicle and displayed handguns. They demanded her cellphone and immediately compelled the victim to unlock her phone and change her passwords so that the suspects could disable location tracking and gain access to financial apps. There was a resulting financial loss in addition to her cell phone and effects.
Auto thefts are increasing with 137 in the 5 th Precinct alone in the past 28 days (7 of which were in Lowry Hill). The peak hours for auto thefts are 7-8PM on Thursdays. The peak hours for robberies are Tuesday-Thursday 5-6PM and 8-10PM. In the past 28 days, a group of four juvenile African American males have been noted in the area driving a stolen car and engaging in smash-and-grab crimes. This group goes out every 2-3 hour overnight and typically steals vehicles or items out of vehicles.
Questions for Inspector Blackwell included whether the off-duty Minneapolis Police Officer hired by the neighborhood has been effective. Inspector Blackwell stated the officer’s presence is correlated with below average crime trends in Lowry Hill compared to the rest of the city and reduced police response times. There is an issue with people bathing in the Seven Pools and various other unsavory activities in Thomas Lowry Park. Inspector Blackwell suggested setting up a safety walkthrough with a Crime Prevention Specialist for residents who live near Thomas Lowry Park.
Crime & Safety Update
Crime & Safety Chair Sue Westerman discussed the last three months of crime incidents. June was the worst of the summer month with 34 completed crimes. There were 24 crimes in July and 24 crimes in August. Most of these crimes are thefts from vehicles. Thefts from unlocked trucks belonging to contractors/workmen are especially common. There is a lot of activity on the block of Colfax between Lincoln & Hennepin and on the corner of Hennepin & Franklin.
On 8/31, there was a meeting of the Crime & Safety Initiative at Sebastian Joe’s with Inspector Blackwell, her team, Lisa Goodman, neighborhood residents, and local businesses to address the presence of homelessness and ongoing criminal activity along Hennepin Ave and at the corner of Hennepin & Franklin. A walkaround was conducted with Inspector Blackwell in which increased lighting and adding both public and private security cameras was discussed. A concern was not only criminal activity but the atmosphere of intimidation and danger along Hennepin Ave. At that meeting, Inspector Blackwell addressed the MPD plans to hold criminals accountable given the low rate of arrests. Inspector Blackwell stated that MPD is working with other agencies (St. Paul Police, State Patrol, FBI, ATF, etc.) on a citywide crime initiative to flood areas with officers when there is an increase in violent crime. MPD is also working with the County Attorney’s office to keep criminals off the street for longer. With respect to Hennepin & Franklin, MPD is planning to install a portable police camera and lighting. There will be a subsequent meeting of the Crime & Safety Initiative at Sebastian Joe’s though the date and time were not noted. Miriam Segall floated the idea of organizing a neighborhood watch.
The $28,000 allocation of NRP funds for four cameras was discussed during this section, please see the details of the successful motion in “Governance” below.
Treasurer Sue Westerman provided a brief report. Sue sent out the June, July, and August reports to the board. There was not much spending or revenue in these months. Sue got the budget for 2022 approved recently and is now working on 2023 and 2024. Sue reminded board members to submit bills if they have not been paid. The $10,000 for plaques is accounted for on the financial statement.
Events Chair Jackie Brown-Baylor discussed the success of the July 16 Ice Cream Social and thanked the board and community for their help. The Open Eye Puppet Show was canceled due to weather. Anne Nelson gave an update on the Fishing Event which went very well and was loved by all who participated. 40-50 people attended the Fishing Event. The Super Sale event was a success with 61 sales. Communications Chair Tyler Ecklund-Kouba helped a great deal with the Super Sale by revamping the imagery and website. There will be a follow-up meeting for the Super Sale vendors but dates are not yet set. The EIRA reached out to Jackie about revamping the Ice Skating Event. Sue Westerman mentioned that the $8400 of Neighborhood Engagement Funds in 2022 was allocated almost entirely to events. The board discussed how to improve our communications with apartment building complexes in Lowry Hill.
Fall in the Park Event: October 16 th 2-4PM musicians will preform Bluegrass along with Pumpkin Painting in Thomas Lowry Park! Volunteers are needed and welcomed.
Please see our website http://www.lowryhillneighborhood.org and advertisements in the Hill & Lake Press for more details about our many fun events!
Communications Chair Tyler Ecklund-Kouba gave a short presentation to update the board about communications. Our methods of communication are the website, email blasts, ads in Hill & Lake Press, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and the LHNA inbox. There are 735 people on our email list and it remains the best method of staying in- touch with residents. About 60% of people open our emails which has increased from 30-40% a year ago. Tyler has put in a lot of work improving the designs of the emails, website, advertisements, and deserves great thanks from the board and community.
Zoning Chair Fran Davis briefly discussed the appeal of the variances at 1218 Summit Ave. LHNA had sent a note to the city supporting the city staff’s recommendation for denial of the variances. There was a hearing for an appeal of the 1218 Summit Ave variances held on the afternoon prior to the LHNA Board Meeting on September 13, 2022, however the result of the hearing was not known.
Approval of $28,000 NRP Fund Allocation for Cameras: Fran Davis motioned to allocate $28,000 of NRP (Neighborhood Revitalization Program) Funds to pay for 4 surveillance cameras at the intersection of Hennepin & Franklin Avenues. Each camera is $7,000 for a total of $28,000. For context, LHNA was recently repaid $94,000 in NRP Funds that it loaned to Propel Nonprofits for affordable housing. LHNA has planned to reallocate $28,000 of these repaid funds for the 4 cameras. The plan was discussed at our March, April, May, June, and Annual meetings. The plan was published in the newspaper and on our website. At the July 16 th Lowry Hill Ice Cream Social, we obtained feedback from community members and 54 people voted in favor of the plan with no votes against (exceeding the required threshold of 20 votes). The motion was seconded by Sue Westerman. There was no discussion and the board voted unanimously in favor of the motion and it was passed.
Approval of June 7, 2022 Board Meeting Minutes: Jennifer Wirick Breitinger motioned to approve John Lillehei’s minutes of the June 7, 2022 LHNA Board Meeting. Seconded by William Goodnow and Thomas Regnier. No discussion and the motion passed.
Approval of William Goodnow as the new Secretary of the LHNA (replacing John Lillehei): Fran Davis motioned to appoint William Goodnow as the Secretary of the LHNA as a replacement for the prior secretary John Lillehei. The motion was seconded by Sue Westerman. There was no discussion and the motion passed. Thank you to John Lillehei for his hard work and service to our neighborhood!
Peris Foundation Update
Carla Godwin from Peris attended and gave a brief update. They are four months into being fully occupied and are working out details. They have had safety concerns around the building. Their security cameras monitor constantly but are being moved so that they will view more of the street. Peris is adding brighter lights to the path between Colfax & Hennepin. Peris is also conducting a security audit with a security company but want to avoid having security officers in the building. Currently, Peris has a resident caretaker in addition to a property manager.
Addition of Donations Committee Chair
President Charles Scheiderer and Treasurer Sue Westerman raised the possibility of establishing a Donations Committee Chair. Donations are lower than in prior years, partially because we did not include a donation envelope along with the annual meeting mailing. The Donations Chair will work with Chas and Sue to think up strategies for donations. Nate Morris volunteered to be the Donations Committee Chair! (Thank you Nate) The board discussed strategies to increase donations for example by using a QR Code connected to the donations website and/or creating sandwich board signs for events.
The board needs a Vice President who intends to become President next year. Chas is willing to discuss the job over (free) coffee or ice cream with anyone interested.
As there was no further business, Meeting adjourned by President Charles Scheiderer at 8:50 PM by motion
Minutes by William Goodnow
Secretary, LHNA Board