‘Good Neighbor’ grants give aid for stadium preparations

The University has set aside $69,000 to enhance stadium-area communities.

Joy Petersen

TCF Bank Stadium will be able to seat the largest crowds the University has had in a while, but it’s the University-area neighborhoods that will feel the effects of the visiting population.

In preparation for the stadium’s first event and the long-standing changes it will bring, the University has allotted $69,000 to “Good Neighbor” grants this year.

The grants will allow people, businesses and organizations to “enhance and protect the beauty, serenity and security” of their stadium-area communities. The deadline for grant applications is today.

The money came from the interest from a $1.5 million endowment fund that the state Legislature designated for communities, Jan Morlock, director of University Relations, said.

Residents, businesses and organizations immediately adjacent to the stadium – such as Southeast Como, Prospect Park, Marcy-Holmes and Cedar-Riverside – and communities near the St. Paul campus – the city of Falcon Heights, St. Anthony Park and the State Fair – were encouraged to apply.

The St. Paul-area communities will be used for parking, where fans will shuttle to and from the stadium on game days.

Justin Miller, city administrator for Falcon Heights, said the city isn’t applying for grant money because the University has said it will help with parking and policing.

“We’ve been told that we won’t have to worry about any extra policing,” he said.

While Falcon Heights may not experience as many changes, Southeast Como Improvement Association president Wendy Menken said the neighborhood prepared applications for grants it will need.

One of SECIA’s planned grant applications is for money to conduct a survey of the stadium’s effects on neighborhoods, Menken said.

Menken said the neighborhoods don’t know how exactly the stadium will impact them.

“The first years of that stadium will be culture shock,” she said.

SECIA will also apply for funding for more policing, sidewalk garbage bins and bicycle initiatives for the neighborhood.

“I think we don’t really know yet what’s going to happen,” she said.

Menken said she had asked Second Precinct Cmdr. Robert Skomra what police had planned for patrolling the neighborhood.

Skomra said he suggested adding 16 police officers to the area, but he doesn’t know if the suggestion has been heeded by city council members.

Problems won’t only be on game days, Skomra said. He said patrolling the neighborhoods will increase from game day and onward – around the clock, indefinitely.

Skomra said he predicts “an increase in parties, underage drinking and noise violations,” in the city’s future.

Casey Martin, a political science senior and student representative to the Stadium Area Advisory Group, said students and neighborhoods have similar concerns about the stadium’s effects.

“A lot of things that students are concerned about have to do with traffic, trash and noise,” he said.

While two students serve on the SAAG, Martin said involvement from other groups, such as the Minnesota Student Association, would be beneficial.

“It does put student views a bit underhanded,” he said.