Changes abound in and around Dinkytown

Max Rust

Students who cross the street in Dinkytown while the “Don’t Walk” sign is illuminated might need to think twice in the near future.
At a Dinkytown Business Association meeting Thursday, several business owners expressed their concern about increased speeds on Fourth Street Southeast and pedestrians crossing the street while the light is red.
Association members also discussed the Dinkytown building vacancy situation, potential zoning changes to the area and a new litter receptacle program.
“It is an issue; it is an illegal situation that’s taking place,” said Minneapolis police officer Robert Patrick Sr. of people crossing the street while the “Don’t Walk” sign is on.
“If I stand there and don’t do anything about it, I’m as much as saying, ‘It’s OK to break the law.’ If I do something about it, then I have my hands full trying to write tickets to 30 or 40 people,” he said.
Patrick cited reports from Seattle, where the law is more heavily enforced, saying people are more cautious to cross the street in fear of being issued a ticket.
As of now, the police do not have any formal plans to step up enforcement of jaywalking laws.
However, the police increased the monitoring of bike riding on Dinkytown sidewalks for the beginning of the school year, focusing their efforts at certain times of the day. Patrick would not say what times officers will be looking out for sidewalk bike riders.
Those who do choose to ride their bike on the sidewalk might have less of a chance of hitting someone now compared to years ago because several buildings in Dinkytown remain empty.
Dan Zielske, president of the Dinkytown Business Association, said association members have been discussing with area property owners — many of whom live out of town — what kind of retail development would be good for the area.
Filling one of the several commercial holes in Dinkytown, the Loring Pasta Bar should be moving into the building once occupied by Gray’s Campus Drug on the corner of 14th Avenue and Fourth Street Southeast sometime this winter.
Though plans have not been finalized, the pasta bar — which is seeking liquor and entertainment licenses — has received support from several business association committees.
The association also discussed different zoning options for Dinkytown. The city of Minneapolis is embarking on a city-wide zoning change plan and has already drawn up plans for what city officials think will be good for Dinkytown.
“It’s now up to us to voice our opinion,” Zielske said. “If we do nothing right now, the new zoning may be too restrictive and businesses we want to attract to Dinkytown would not be able to fit in with the zoning requirements.”
Whatever happens with the zoning codes, new businesses might soon have to take out the trash that collects around their storefronts or pay the city to do so.
A new plan by the city, called “Adopt a Litter Container,” would have local businesses take responsibility for lining sidewalk trash receptacles with garbage bags and disposing of full receptacles in their own privately contracted dumpsters. Otherwise, each receptacle will be serviced by the city for a fee of $12 per month per pickup.
Meeting attendees discussed different ways in which local businesses can comply with the new order.

Max Rust covers communities and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3227.