Mayor Hodges and Downtown Leaders Release New Plan for Creating a Safe and Inviting Hennepin Avenue
 

March 30, 2017 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Mayor Betsy Hodges and key downtown stakeholders unveiled the Minneapolis Partnership to Create a Safe and Inviting Hennepin Avenue Spring/Summer 2017 Plan today—a blueprint for ensuring that Hennepin Avenue is safe, inviting and welcoming to everyone.

Over the course of the past several months, a workgroup, convened by Mayor Hodges, co-chaired by Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jonathan Weinhagen, and made up of local government and business community leaders, focused on designing a plan that creates a safe and inviting Hennepin Avenue where everyone is welcome.

“This plan, and the body of new work in it, grew out of my desire to find a solution to the challenges we face on Hennepin Avenue, coupled with a strong invitation from business leaders, which I was happy to accept, to work closely together to craft a solution,” said Mayor Hodges. “I am very proud that we are standing together today with a plan that we all agree on that advances our vision for how law enforcement and community can work together in good will to bring out the best in all of us. Of that, all of Minneapolis can be proud.”

Key downtown stakeholders who have joined the Mayor, City department heads, and representatives from Hennepin County in crafting this plan include: the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Minneapolis Downtown Council/Downtown Improvement District, Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), and Meet Minneapolis. Other partners who completed the team include: the Hennepin County Administrator’s Office, Hennepin County Probation, the Minneapolis Police Department, the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office, and the Minneapolis City Coordinator’s Office.

“For the past several months, my colleagues and I along with the Mayor and City and County leaders, have come together  to coordinate a plan that leverages the incredible investment in innovation and collaboration that is happening around public safety with a goal of realizing a thriving, vibrant and safe downtown,” said Weinhagen. “This exists as an economic development imperative because our region is the economic development engine of the state of Minnesota, and our downtown is at the center of it.”

While many strategies are underway to address nighttime violence and issues at bar close, this plan focuses on addressing concerns on Hennepin Avenue during daytime hours. It encompasses four key categories: outreach, activation, legislative solutions, and law enforcement.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said, “I can’t think of a time in my tenure where I’ve had so many partners at the table to have true, candid discussions about how to really have a safe and vibrant downtown. Visibility equals livability.”

The plan comes as the crime rate downtown is down, including violent crime. However, concerns about livability issues, such as public intoxication, catcalling, and others have increased along Hennepin Avenue. 

A PDF of the plan is available here: https://www.scribd.com/document/343547806/Downtown-Spring-Summer-2017-Plan

Highlights of the plan include:

• Outreach: Additional outreach workers from several organizations will be out on Hennepin Avenue, reaching out to people experiencing homelessness, young people, and individuals engaging in problematic behaviors.
• Activation: An activation plan for Hennepin Avenue from 3rd to 10th Streets will include creative engagement at bus stops, bringing back the popular “Pianos on Parade” program, environmental design projects, and other innovative programming.
• Legislative solutions: We are also looking to our legislative leaders for their help in making sure the heart of Minneapolis along Hennepin Avenue is inviting, welcoming, and safe. We support a bill at the State Capitol, authored by Minneapolis legislators, which would allow officers to enforce court orders to restrict some criminal defendants from being in areas where they have repeatedly offended, including downtown.
• Law enforcement: The Minneapolis Police Department has added more beat officers along Hennepin Avenue to encourage positive interactions with residents, commuters, and visitors. To complement the deployment of additional beat officers, the First Precinct will initiate a new “Commuter Block Post” program consisting of Minneapolis Police Department personnel and DID Ambassadors during the morning and afternoon commute hours. Additional patrols will also be assigned during evening post-rush hour/theater prime time.  These joint beats will offer an increased and visible presence on Hennepin during the busiest periods of the day.

“We have heard loud and clear from business owners in our community that real and perceived safety is a top priority,” said Mpls Downtown Improvement District President & CEO Steve Cramer. “We are committed to working with our law enforcement and community partners in our joint efforts deploying safety tactics by starting them earlier and running them longer during 2017, and we’ll be monitoring and tracking our results throughout. We are proud to be putting time and resources toward executing effective strategies that work toward creating a vibrant downtown experience for everyone.”
 

There’s a role for everyone in making this plan a success and ensuring that Hennepin Avenue lives up to its potential as a key element of a thriving, vibrant and safe downtown.
Jose Acuna, Street Outreach Supervisor with YouthLink also spoke at this morning’s press conference about outreach efforts outlined in the plan and already underway. “One of the best things we do is connect with the youth and to offer them the resources for whatever they need,” Acuna said. “Our program of outreach in downtown is a peer-to-peer model where we hire youth to become service providers. When the youth bring the message to another youth it’s very effective.”

“With its 8,000 hotel rooms, downtown is the epicenter of many visitors’ experiences when they come to town,” said Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis. “The Hennepin Avenue theater and arts district is one of our best features, so making sure the area is safe and welcoming is vital to the wellbeing of our downtown. I’m grateful that so many of our community’s leaders have come together to enhance the area’s safety and attractiveness for both residents and visitors.”

“Acknowledging there is a problem without any finger pointing is the first step. A collaborative effort by the public sector and private business will offer reasonable solutions,” said Kevin Lewis, executive director of BOMA Greater Minneapolis. “The intent for those of us involved is to develop and implement cohesive strategies that will provide a measurable reduction in problematic behavior.”

A PDF of the plan is available here: https://www.scribd.com/document/343547806/Downtown-Spring-Summer-2017-Plan


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Published Mar 30, 2017

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