Cedar-Riverside neighborhood organizations face uncertain future

The City of Minneapolis can only fund one neighborhood organization in Cedar-Riverside. There currently are two.

Kelly Busche

The City of Minneapolis is gathering community input to decide which Cedar-Riverside neighborhood organization to fund.

The West Bank Community Coalition and the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood Revitalization Program are considering a merger to solve the funding issue, which many residents support.

Cedar-Riverside is the only neighborhood in Minneapolis that had two organizations – which exist with the goal of improving the city’s neighborhoods – apply for funding from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. 

The city hired a consultant to assess what the community needs from a neighborhood organization, what current organizations want and other future recommendations.

“The community actually gets to determine what they want the organizations to be working on,” said David Rubedor, director of Neighborhood and Community Relations for the City of Minneapolis. “This is participatory, grass-roots democracy.”

Residents and staff from the Cedar-Riverside NRP, WBCC and others attended a Nov. 28 community conversation about a future neighborhood organization. 

Many shared that Cedar-Riverside is “home-base” for them, and said they want an organization that reflects the neighborhood’s diversity. 

David Alderson, program development officer for the Cedar-Riverside NRP, said the decision will impact many in the community.

“I think that everybody could agree that if we had one strong organization that would be a bonus for the community,” Alderson said.

Mohamed Jama, chairman of the West Bank Community Coalition, said the Cedar-Riverside NRP has agreed to merge with the WBCC.

“We believe that is the most successful, and… the most impactful way of addressing the community needs,” Jama said.

He added it’s important the funded organization is led by people from Cedar-Riverside.

“No decision about us, without us,” Jama said.

Rubedor said the potential merger has received positive feedback from residents because it would benefit the community.

“I think there’s a desire by the community to have one group that really helps to support their issues and making sure that they get addressed,” Rubedor said. 

Cedar-Riverside is the only neighborhood in the city with two neighborhood organizations, Rubedor said. But the two have a history of conflict.

“Both of them have been doing a lot of really good work over the years, I think they’re tired of the conflict that has emerged from time to time,” he said.

The possible merger would not be immediate, Rubedor said. 

The city will continue assisting the organization regardless of the outcome, he said. 

“I think there is a way to do this where neither organization loses anything,” Rubedor said. 

If the organizations do not agree to a merger, Rubedor said he would then bring the discussion to the Minneapolis City Council.  

Another community conversation was held Wednesday, with a final one planned for Dec. 13.