Proposed land annex faces fight

Eric Swanson

The organizers of a proposed University neighborhood could face difficulty trying to annex land from part of the Prospect Park neighborhood.

Although it is possible for one neighborhood to take land from another, it has never successfully happened between two Minneapolis neighborhoods, said City Council member Paul Zerby, 2nd Ward, who represents the area around the Minneapolis campus.

The University District Improvement Association, a nonprofit group, is trying to create a neighborhood composed mainly of University students and area businesses, filling a gap between other neighborhood boundaries.

The main problem for the group is obtaining land that is composed mainly of student housing and is part of the Prospect Park neighborhood.

Zerby said he would support a neighborhood filling the hole where no neighborhood exists, but would not support one group taking land from another without the approval of both.

“I try to respect what the neighborhoods do and I don’t want to dictate what that is,” he said.

For the land in question to officially become part of the proposed neighborhood, the Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association must approve the boundaries that members of the University group said could be tough to come by.

“We can do without the section of (Prospect Park) but we felt it would be wise to include these students in the group,” said Doug Carlson, board member for the University neighborhood group.

Neighborhood Revitalization Program funding could be a point of contention between the neighborhood groups when possibly moving boundaries, said Stadium Village Business Association President Jim Rosvold.

Neighborhood funding is largely based on population and residents’ income, said Bob Miller, Neighborhood Revitalization Program director.

Many times students are considered low income, making neighborhoods with large student populations eligible for more funding. That’s something that might make Prospect Park less likely to give away the land in question, Rosvold said.

Miller said a change to neighborhood boundaries will modify current fund distribution although it is not a significant amount of money.

If the Prospect Park neighborhood does not allow the proposed University neighborhood to annex the land, the Stadium Village Business Association could be divided between two neighborhoods.

Rosvold said it makes sense that University-area businesses become part of a University neighborhood because many of their customers are students.

Asa Pearson, Harvard Market East manager, agrees.

“We are removed from Prospect Park. Since most of our customers are students, it makes sense to be part of the new neighborhood,” he said.

A University neighborhood group could allocate money to local businesses, something Prospect Park is not doing, Rosvold said.

“(Prospect Park) does not seem to want to give (the Neighborhood Revitalization Program) money to (businesses in) Stadium Village,” Rosvold said. “We have given up asking Prospect Park for funds.”

Graduate student Oleh Brychka also favors annexation.

“I think it would be a good thing to have students in charge,” he said.

Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association members are willing to consider possible annexation, but will not make a decision anytime soon.

“They showed us a very preliminary plan and we listened to them,” said Florence Littman, who is on the Prospect Park zoning and planning committees.

“Changing neighborhood boundaries is something that doesn’t happen overnight,” she said.