Neighborhood group asks for student input

by Jake Kapsner

Students living in the Marcy-Holmes area have a voice in more than just University politics.
Issues like Dinkytown parking congestion, better bike paths to campus and rental property conditions are handled monthly at the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association’s general membership meetings. However, few students have been involved and officials are seeking their input.
The association meets at 7:30 tonight in the University Church of Hope, as well as every third Tuesday of the month.
The Marcy-Holmes neighborhood borders the Mississippi River from Central Avenue to 15th Avenue S.E. up to the railroad tracks and includes Dinkytown, the St. Anthony Main area and residences on both sides of Interstate 35W.
While officials are pleased with the overall turnout, renters, students among them, usually comprise only 30 percent of attendees.
The low student turnout is because of busy student schedules and high residency turnover in the area, said Melissa Bean, an association coordinator.
But officials say students should get more involved in these decisions, which could affect them and their surroundings.
One of the association’s top priorities is environmental issues.
Marcy-Holmes residents will gather on Saturday at the Stone Arch Bridge for the annual Mississippi River Clean-Up.
“We clean up literally tons of trash,” Bean said.
Maintenance and pollution issues involving the Stone Arch Bridge and the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail are just two reasons why Ahne Hall joined the association’s board of directors.
Hall, a senior in University College, stressed the importance of community awareness of these issues.
“Creating a sense of community is a little more difficult here than in other areas,” she said. This is also because of the large population and turnover in student renters, she said.
These renters can also address housing issues at the meetings.
“If (students) live in a crappy building and want help fixing up their property, we’d be glad to help them,” said Joe Fusco, who coordinates the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Revitalization Program.
The program cooperates with the Marcy-Holmes association, but differs in that it serves business and property owners as well as renters, Fusco said.
“We have the leverage to go out and do things and the resources to do it,” Fusco said.
From the city’s point of view, localized citizen action is a “quick and easy way to inform people and get their opinions,” Fusco said.