In May, the Work Group met to try out a new method for gathering input from the community - an individual and group mapping exercise. The method did not show promise for large group work, so staff has been reformulating other approaches to gather as much input from as many neighbors as possible. We hope to use a modified version of this mapping exercise in small groups in the future. We will roll out our new large group approach at the July 22 Peace Celebration at Battle Creek Rec (3-7p), a family-oriented celebration of cultures that is being organized by a local Somali resident.
In June, we heard from Jim Erchul of the Dayton's Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services to learn about how potential developers would look at a site like Totem Town and assess whether they would invest and, if so, how they might envision development. This led to a very informative discussion about the limitations and potentials of the site - what is attractive and what is problematic, from the developer's point of view. We learned about developers' dislike of uncertainty in the outcome of their efforts - uncertainty arising from regulatory constraints, lack of preparedness and agreement on the part of neighbors, and costs of basic infrastructure. We also learned - or were confirmed in our sense - that it is extremely important that we, as a neighborhood and as a City, have a master plan for the site. We invited Jim because DBNHS is not a developer that would take on a site like this one, but one that has experience in innovative approaches to neighborhood development and with dealing with governmental partners on a regular basis. He provided deep insight into how the City and County approach projects.
We want to publicly thank Jim and DBNHS for their willingness to help in our education around these issues. As Work Group members share what they learned with their neighbors, we become better prepared for the future that we will be building together.
We still await a decision by Ramsey County for how they envision their juvenile justice facilities meeting their juvenile justice program needs. In the meantime, we continue to gather ideas for what the neighborhood and the district considers the best use for this site.
We hope to see neighbors on July 22 at Battle Creek Rec, and still plan a large community meeting about the site in the fall, with updates from the County and (we hope) more details from the City about their processes. Stay tuned...