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Minneapolis approves steps to improve the City’s collaboration with neighborhoods

Sept. 26, 2008 (MINNEAPOLIS) The Minneapolis City Council and Mayor R.T. Rybak today approved two measures that will strengthen the relationship between the City and its neighborhoods and carry on the work of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) beyond 2009. Because the state legislation that funded NRP sunsets in 2009, City leaders have been working since 2006 to improve the City’s community engagement system and to find ways to make sure neighborhoods remain a valued part of the City’s culture, serving as a link between City government, residents and businesses. That work has centered around creating a community engagement system that allows City government and neighborhoods to work more closely together, while being more accountable and transparent to taxpayers.

City leaders today approved establishing a Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission, a group of 16 residents appointed to oversee the City’s relationship with neighborhoods, community organizations and the crucial link between City services and its residents. The commission will be charged with providing direction to the next phase of NRP and be primarily responsible for the review of neighborhood plans. The commission will also make recommendations to the City Council on allocation of a variety of types of funding to neighborhoods.

Many successful components of NRP will continue under the new system. Neighborhoods will continue to receive City funding for operations and programs, and as independent organizations, neighborhoods will retain control over their goals, budgets, and work plans. Through the input and work of the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission, residents and neighborhood organizations will play a key role in enhancing and shaping how the City engages its residents.

"Building a great city is a two-way partnership between government and its residents," said Mayor R.T. Rybak. "With this action the City Council and I are staying true to the values that we articulated last year. We are creating a more unified, collaborative effort between the city and its neighborhood organizations to improve Minneapolis."

"The Neighborhood Revitalization Program has brought thousands of residents and countless volunteer hours to efforts to improve our city," said City Council Vice President Robert Lilligren, who is chair of the City’s NRP Work Group. "I’m very pleased that we’re laying the foundation today to continue that work in Minneapolis. Our residents make our city what it is, and going forward their voices will be even stronger within City Hall. We’re creating new links between neighborhoods and the City, and that will serve us well as we all work to make Minneapolis a better place."  

The resident-based commission will consist of eight residents selected by neighborhood organizations, five appointed by the City Council, two appointed by the Mayor, and one appointed by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Neighborhood representation on the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission will be enhanced over what previously exists on the NRP Policy Board. Currently, four of the board’s 14 members are appointed by neighborhoods and the remainder of the members are elected officials. Under the new program, all 16 members will be residents, eight of which will be appointed by neighborhood organizations.

The City Council and Mayor also approved today the creation of a new City department, the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department. The department will both serve residents directly and support all other City departments in their work to engage the community. The new department will be charged with strengthening our City’s quality of life through vigorous community participation, promoting resident involvement in neighborhood and community organizations, and supporting clearly defined links between the City, City services and neighborhood and community organizations.

Todays City Council actions are the result of several years of work involving the City and neighborhoods, and the work of the Citys NRP work group, which has been meeting for the last year. Members of that group, which was chaired by City Council Vice President Robert Lilligren, include City Council President Barbara Johnson, City Council Member Paul Ostrow, City Council Member Betsy Hodges, Mayoral representative Cara Letofsky, and NRP Director Bob Miller. For more information on the Citys Community engagement work, visit Community Engagement .

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Communications Department
301M City Hall
Minneapolis, MN 55415

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Published Sep 26, 2008