Growing party size, frequency concern committee

by Jens Krogstad

A local committee convened Thursday morning to discuss crime, safety and parties in University neighborhoods.

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee is composed of Minneapolis and Hennepin County officials. They met at Coffman Union with representatives from East and West Bank neighborhoods, the University and the business community.

Community leader Wendy Menken, who represented the East Bank, focused on “disruptive behavior” in the Como neighborhood.

She said she feared neighborhood and police complacency in combating loud parties, and said neighborhoods must start by “not accepting (loud parties) as normal behavior.”

Minneapolis City Attorney Jay Heffern agreed and said the University could take a leadership role in reducing the tolerance of disruptive behavior.

Menken said the growing size of parties – the largest have 100 to 200 people – and the attendance of high school age kids shows the neighborhood is gaining a reputation as a party hub.

She said permanent residents are not the only ones suffering from excessive partying.

“Students are living in worse and worse housing because of increased costs to home owners,” Menken said.

The neighborhood has taken initiatives such as the “party task force,” which has planned police “saturation weekends” during high-risk times such as Spring Jam.

Menken proposed more police patrols, more citations resulting from a “zero tolerance” policy, stiffer penalties and volunteer patrols.

The University proposed more late-night programming on weekends to give students an alternative to partying.

University student representative Gina Nelson said one of students’ biggest concerns is nighttime safety.

She proposed improved off-campus lighting at places such as 15th Avenue in Dinkytown, which Nelson described as “dark and intimidating” at night.

Nelson also proposed late-night busing, which would run more frequently than the Campus Connector or city buses.

She said the idea has met opposition in the past because critics said the program will be nothing more than “drunk buses.”

Jens Krogstad welcomes comments at [email protected]