U area groups request neighborhood designation

After recognition, the neighborhood would receive more government funding.

by Kevin McCahill

Heralded as the “Civil Rights Movement of 2005,” University-area citizens are seeking funds along with a designation of neighborhood status.

The proposed University neighborhood, covering most University property, including residence halls, and Fraternity Row, has never been designated as a neighborhood; but resident Ron Lischeid wants what he sees as wrong, righted.

Lischeid, who lives on Washington Avenue Southeast, helped form the University District Improvement Association to petition the city for neighborhood standing. By being considered a neighborhood, government funding could be allocated to that area.

Lischeid, along with UDIA President Doug Carlson, has been involved in the struggle to get Neighborhood Revitalization Project money. The neighborhood of 6,000 received nothing during the first phase of funding, and is being allocated $100,000 for phase two – the second lowest amount in the city.

Originally, Lischeid said, that amount was being offered as a startup fee. Now it’s all they can have. Lischeid said he considers this funding “inadequate.”

Rules of the NRP stipulate that 70 percent of the money must be used on housing improvements. Since land in the University area is owned in large part by the University or the city, finding ways to spend that money has been difficult.

“We need to find a creative way to spend 70 percent on something in housing without just giving a gift to the ‘U,’ which I wouldn’t want to see us do,” he said. “They have their own funding sources.”

Representatives of UDIA and NRP will meet later this week to discuss how to spend the money.

Carlson, president of UDIA, helped start the push for neighborhood funding nearly three years ago.

“We felt it was time for that part of Minneapolis to have a neighborhood association,” he said. “It’s the only part of the city that is a no man’s land.”

Carlson said plans to have a neighborhood designation could come in less than a year.

Some are in favor of the designation.

“It’s good to get student voices heard by the city of Minneapolis,” said graphic design sophomore Megan Deau.

Bob Miller, Director of NRP, backs the UDIA effort.

“The ‘U’ has a legitimate neighborhood with a lot of small businesses and a lot of residents,” he said. “There are mostly students, but they deserve some say in their community.”

He cited past discussions of homes along Fraternity Row being designated historic buildings, thus raising the cost for students to keep them running. With a neighborhood, Carlson said, there would have been a neighborhood voice to speak for the students.

Money is tight for the city, according to Miller, who said UDIA will not likely receive any further funding.

Miller said the University neighborhood has been on the map since the 1960s, but there hasn’t been anyone to champion the area’s causes until recently.

“This is the first time we’ve seen sustained effort in the neighborhood,” he said.

Lischeid said he hopes the association will help students who may be overlooked by others.

“Many people think, They are only students, why bother?” Lischeid said. “To me it’s important Ö to make them responsible citizens and be involved in civic issues. Other neighborhoods try and sweep them under the carpet.”