Neighborhood group looks to its future

The University District Improvement Association answered questions from the public at a meeting Wednesday.

Eric Swanson

The first meeting of the latest neighborhood association to form in Minneapolis kicked off its inception into the world of city politics Wednesday night.

The University District Improvement Association, the unofficial neighborhood association for the University area, held the meeting to discuss the neighborhood’s future and answer questions interested parties might have for the group’s organizers, association board member Ron Lischeid said.

At the meeting, Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Project Director Bob Miller said he was able to set aside $100,000 for the group, if it becomes the official neighborhood association for the University area.

“I expect you to put most of it to housing, because I think you are going to need that in the future,” he said to a clapping crowd. “I am extremely encouraged by this group.”

Group leaders said they started the nonprofit improvement association to give representation and a sense of community to students living on campus, fraternities on University Avenue and local businesses.

Should the city officially recognize the neighborhood, it would fill in the area not currently claimed by other neighborhoods in the area, giving it an official title and association to the University area.

“We are certainly interested in creating a sense of community for the University,” Lischeid said.

He said he was unsure of the University administration’s role as the group enters the initial stages toward official formation.

University administration has had very little involvement with the association’s formation, said Kendre Turonie, the University’s student and community relations coordinator.

She said there has been some support given to a few organizational issues such as flier distribution, but the University has otherwise let the group form without interference, despite neighborhood boundaries encompassing the Minneapolis campus.

The University will not ask to have a seat on the neighborhood’s board, Turonie said.

“We didn’t think it would be appropriate to have administration on the board,” she said. “The neighborhood (association) needs to be made up of the people that live there, not the people that work there.”

University urban studies sophomore Jeff Rosenberg attended the meeting to see how local politics work, but said he is hesitant to support the group.

“I just can’t see how it is a good thing, and not just draining money from the city’s coffers,” he said.

Doug Carlson, the group’s organizer, said he feels the group is necessary for student representation.

“Forever, we’ve been without this type of body to represent the students,” he said.

The group does not have a set time or place for future meetings, but explored several options that won’t conflict with other neighborhood groups.

The group has been around for more than two years, but has a long way to go, Lischeid said.

“This is not the beginning of a journey, but very close to the starting point,” he said.