Vikings money could upgrade U-area lights

A University group wants $8,497 to offset potential crime when the team comes to TCF.

by Kaitlyn Walek

In attempts to increase public safety around campus, the University of Minnesota’s Student and Community Relations is asking for nearly $8,500 from the Good Neighbor Fund to buy and install porch lights for certain campus-area properties.

The SCR is partnering with student government groups, Minneapolis police, greek organizations and the University District Alliance to request funding for 100 solar-powered porch lights.

It’s still unclear exactly where the lights will go if the request, called Project Lighthouse, is funded.

Jerod Greenisen, the Minnesota Student Association’s representative to the District Alliance, said property owners in Marcy-Holmes, Prospect Park, Cedar-Riverside and Southeast Como will be eligible to apply to SCR for the lights.

SCR, University student government groups and Minneapolis police will review the individual applications, weighing factors like darkness, foot traffic and crime rates to decide which areas need the lights most.

Greenisen said he wants the lights to be available to all neighborhoods around the University, not just those with particularly high student populations.

“We’re not looking to focus on one student-heavy place,” he said.

The SCR’s funding request said University-area neighborhoods will see an increase in traffic and visitors when the Minnesota Vikings play on campus, which could lead to more crime.

Installing more porch lights, the request said, could potentially deter crime.

“A heightened sense of safety will contribute to a more positive, tranquil atmosphere and environment within University District neighborhoods,” the
request said.

Vikings contribute to future U neighbors

The Vikings will contribute $125,000 to this year’s Good Neighbor Fund — $90,000 in cash and $35,000 in in-kind donations — as the team prepares to play at TCF Bank Stadium in the fall.

The Project Lighthouse funding request asks for $7,500 in in-kind donations from the Vikings, which would go toward installing the lights. An additional $8,497 in cash would pay for the lights and promotional materials.

MSA has also pledged $3,500 to buy an extra battery for each light.

University Community Relations Director Jan Morlock said the Vikings will have a representative on the Good Neighbor Fund Management Committee, which will review the requests and award money.

The Vikings will decide how to fulfill the in-kind donation pledge on a case-by-case basis, she said. The in-kind donations could come in the form of appearances by players or services from companies that partner with the Vikings.

Marcy-Holmes request

The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association also submitted two applications for Good Neighbor funds, both of which ask for money to promote the area.

Melissa Bean, MHNA executive director, said the requests ask for money to promote the Dinkytown Greenway and the neighborhood as a whole.

The campaign promoting Marcy-Holmes would include advertising on buses and billboards, to raise “awareness that the Vikings are playing in the University district and awareness that other people play [and live] here, too,” Bean said.

Good Neighbor funding requests were due at the end of January. Final funding decisions are set to be released in April.