City revamps NRP functions
over public outcry
|Robert Miller, NRP’s outgoing director
The functions of the city's heralded Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP), investor of nearly $300 million to maintain and upgrade Minneapolis neighborhood livability over the past 20 years, will be assumed by the city’s new Neighborhood and Community Relations (NCR) Department over the next two years as part of the city's “Framework for the Future.”
“The changeover will be gradual and as seamless as possible,” said David M. Rubedor, senior project manager of NCR’s new advisory arm, the Neighborhood and Com
munity Engagement Com
mission (NCEC). “First, we will complete NRP's Phase I and Phase II as currently constructed,” Rubedor said. “Then we will work with the NRP group to begin planning for a Phase III program.”
|David M. Rubedor, senior project manager of NCEC
Funds for NRP's Phase I (1992-1999) and PhaseII (2000-2009) programs came from tax increment financing (TIF) districts in Minneapolis, interest earned on uninvested NRP funds and other sources. Observers say the new city department will face significant challenges in finding new funding sources for the next decade, in addition to calming widespread neighborhood complaints over diversity issues surrounding the makeup of a new citizen advisory board and developing accountability benchmarks for results.
The advisory board, called the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission (NCEC), is designed “to build closer working connections between citizens, existing community and neighborhood organizations and City Hall” at a time of dramatic change in the city's ethnic and cultural makeup. Yet, as some critics assert, out of 60 candidates, only two people of color and few seniors were either appointed or elected from eight NCEC election districts (see map on page 7). Thus, they claim, NCEC does not fairly represent the city's ward balance and ethnic content-this for a group tasked with encouraging wider public involvement in the planning of the city's future quality of life.
Early Community Reactions
Objections to the transition would appear to be widespread.
Several activists and three council members contacted by Southside Pride are concerned that NRP's storied grassroots democracy legacy has effectively been decimated and "will get lost in the shuffle of city red tape." One blogger, Ronald Lerquin of Nokomis East, opined on Minneapolis Issues Forum that "NRP is almost dead, and NCEC is a joke at best …"
One elected NCEC Southside board member declined to be interviewed, saying, "I've had to give up complaining." Another Southside electee urged patience, responding that "after two board meetings, so far, so good. Give us six months to get up to speed."
Lerquin observed that only one of the City Council's 13 members-the 12th Ward's Sandy Colvin Roy-opposed the abolishment of NRP in a recent vote.
Roy reiterated her views to Southside Pride in an e-mail. "Local decision-making and local insight is incredibly important. I think the work of NRP was very valuable to residents and city government. I opposed centralizing this function inside City Hall." She added that she had advocated for a "civically active senior woman from the southeast corner of the city" to be one of the Council's five NCEC appointees to provide both age and locational balance. But that nominee was not selected.
Another council member-Cam Gordon (2nd Ward)-addressed the issue of future neighborhood renovation financing. "To my surprise (and without my vote)," he wrote on Minneapolis Issues Forum, "on July 31 the City Development Committee forwarded (to the Council) without recommendation a proposal to renew the city's tax increment financing districts that would enable us to finance the new phase of NRP and retire Target Center's debt."
"I was surprised," Gordon added, "because last year we passed a resolution and fought hard for (state) legislative authority to extend these tax increment districts" for another 10 years. "This was a carefully crafted and widely supported compromise."
NRP Created the Mold
Bob Miller, who followed the late Earl Craig Jr. as NRP's second director in 1992, is proud of the program's legacy. "NRP has been a model program for getting residents involved in, and committed to, improving and revitalizing their respective neighborhoods. By empowering residents in a way not done elsewhere in the country at the time, the program gave them a real say in identifying neighborhood priorities and determining how a limited amount of public funds could be expended to improve their quality of life."
Added Miller, "I hope that the new community engagement structures will build on that legacy and create an environment where departments and public staff work even more effectively with citizens."
Tracking NCR, NECE Decisions
On Cable TV: Ch. 79 (Find broadcast schedule at
On NCEC website: (Visit
NRP Link: (Order bimonthly newsletter at email@example.com)