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Monthly updates for Minneapolis Ward 12
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Council Member Andrew Johnson

Upcoming Events


6/13 - Standish, Ericsson,  + Corcoran Neighborhood Garage Sale
6/18 - Folwell Mural Painting Party
6/20 - NENA Neighborhood Garage Sale

6/30 - LCC Summer Celebration
 

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Updates from Andrew

Please consider shopping at businesses along Minnehaha Ave affected by street reconstruction!
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Good news! Burglaries in our community are down nearly 24% year-to-date compared to last year, and down nearly 9% from 2013. Thanks to everyone who helped make our community even safer, from the Police 3rd Precinct to our neighborhood associations and individual residents. Read more below in this newsletter on basic prevention to help this trend continue.

Last month I co-hosted a community meeting with Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association to hear from residents on how we can improve pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in our community. My goal is to leverage City plans and processes to bring infrastructure improvements to Ward 12 that make our neighborhoods safer and more accessible for all users and abilities. For example, many bicyclists are frustrated when crossing Hiawatha because it's not clear where they should be; drivers also report frustration over "unpredictable" bicyclists. By adding dashed lines or striping for bicyclists, we give bicyclists more confidence and comfort while making them more predictable for drivers. It is these types of usability improvements which add up to a better experience for all. While I am working on a number of such improvements, I also need your feedback to identify more opportunities and to help prioritize them. I would like to hold similar meetings in Longfellow and Nokomis East, but until then I encourage you to share your feedback with me on what's working well, what could work better, and how best we can improve our infrastructure for everyone.

Finally, today the City Council voted to repeal the lurking and spitting ordinances. Here are my thoughts on this action. Thanks to everyone who reached out to me on this.

Highway 55 signal improvements
Minneapolis traffic engineering staff has conducted a review of the signal operations along Hiawatha Avenue. This was done as a follow up to the signal upgrade project of 2013 and in anticipation of higher traffic volumes that would be using Hiawatha during the Minnehaha Avenue construction in 2015 and 2016.  As part of this review, Public Works asked residents to send their observations via email (hiawathasignals@minneapolismn.gov). In all, 45 people sent in comments and suggestions. City engineering staff reviewed all of these emails. 

After reviewing those messages and observing operations in the field, traffic engineers adjusted signal timing settings at several intersections in an effort to better allocate the available green time and reduce delays.  City engineering staff will continue to monitor the corridor and make refinements to the operation.  Also, during the course of the Minnehaha construction, comments are still welcome at hiawathasignals@minneapolismn.gov for observations of any issues at these intersections. 

City engineers noticed a few questions that come up more frequently than others. Here are those questions with answers. 
 
Why doesn’t the pedestrian signal automatically come up for crossing Hiawatha? The Hiawatha signals are designed and operated to best balance the needs of all modes and users in the corridor, including 27,000 vehicles per day along Hiawatha and the need for the signals to respond to frequent preemptions by the LRT trains. The pedestrian time for the Hiawatha cross streets is significant. Calling the pedestrian movement up with every signal cycle – even when no pedestrians are present – introduces added delay and inefficiencies to the corridor.  It also hampers the flexibility needed to most effectively respond to the LRT interruptions. For these reasons the signals are operated without activating the pedestrian signal across Hiawatha until a pedestrian is present and pushes the button. 

Why does the eastbound green light come up before every train? Much of the frustration in the corridor relates to the disruption of the signal operation that occurs prior to lowering the gates for the LRT train. Because the train travels at high speed, gates are required. Before the gates are lowered it is necessary to turn on the eastbound green light to clear the tracks of any vehicles that may have stopped on the tracks. (Vehicles are directed to not stop on the tracks, but sometimes they do stop there.) Therefore, prior to every passage of a train our signal system must run through a sequence to invoke the eastbound green light.

Why do I sometimes see very short green light times for north-south Hiawatha? Typically this happens due to the “second train” phenomenon. After a train passes and the gates go up and normal operations resume, if the next train in the opposite direction arrives very soon thereafter the signal must go through it sequence of preparing for the arriving train. This often has the effect of shortening the green light time for mainline Hiawatha. With the need for absolute safety in the corridor relative to train movements this shortening of the Hiawatha green light time for the second train cannot be avoided. 
Open Streets coming to East Lake Street
During an Open Streets event, a significant length of a busy street is closed to automobile traffic for four to six hours to allow families and neighbors to walk, bike, skate, have fun and shop in a safe, car-free environment. On August 2, there will be an event just north of the 12th Ward on East Lake Street from 42nd Avenue South to Elliot Avenue by the Midtown Global Market. This is the fifth year for Open Streets, and there will be eight events from June through September. The first Open Streets event was held on Lyndale Avenue South in 2011 and drew more than 5,000 participants. Since then, it's expanded to multiple areas, drawing thousands of people to each event. For more information on this year's events including volunteer opportunities, visit Open Streets Minneapolis online
Warm weather burglary prevention
As residents are working in their yard and opening windows to let air in, it is important to take simple steps to avoid becoming a victim of crimes of opportunity that come with the warm weather. As the temperature increases, the Minneapolis Police Department sees a rise in burglaries and thefts in the spring because of open windows and doors, as well as thefts from yards and garages. 

Some tips include: When working in the backyard, remember to lock the front door. Don't leave garage doors open or leave valuable items such as bikes or lawn equipment in your yard, especially overnight. Close windows when not in the house and at night. Report suspicious activity in your neighborhood to 911 immediately. A number of home burglars have been caught as a result of neighbors calling 911 right away. Never allow someone you don't know into your home. Common ruses used to gain access include requests to use a phone or get a drink of water. For more information on burglary prevention visit the City's website. To see information on recent burglaries in your area, use the Minneapolis Police Department's crime mapping function on their website. 
Reporting airport noise
For some residents, time outside in warmer weather means experiencing noise from planes overhead. The Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) maintains a 24 hour complaint and information hotline at 612-726-9411 where noise complaints can be made, as well as through an online form. The City has limited power and authority to affect change on the issue of airport noise. Complaints from Minneapolis residents get tracked and this data is useful to illustrate the issue of noise to the entities that oversee the airport, such as the Federal Aviation Administration and the MAC. The most recent report on airport noise shows that total number of flights and runway usage during day and night are similar to the same time last year. Noise complaints from Minneapolis have increased since last year, but there are a similar number of actual individuals filing reports. Also same as in 2014, there are roughly twice as many complaints about departures compared to to arrival complaints. 
Pet licensing is the law
All dogs and cats over four months of age in the City are required by law to be licensed. This helps keeps residents safe by ensuring that animals are vaccinated against rabies and helps lost pets get returned to their owners. If your licensed pet is found in MInneapolis, it will get a ride to your home instead of an animal shelter. When pet owners license their animal, they also get a rewards program card with discounts at dozens of businesses citywide. 
Start a school garden 
School gardens can be a fun, experiential learning tool to expand students' learning outside of the classroom. They can also beautify the school and be an opportunity for physical activity. Starting a school garden is easier now thanks to easily accessible information on the Minneapolis Homegrown website. Resources include guides to get started, funding sources, Minneapolis Public Schools policy on gardens, and many local organizations whose work is focused on gardens and agriculture. For any questions about school gardens, the best resource is Callie Recknagel at school.gardens@mpls.k12.mn.us or (612) 668-2854. 
Minnehaha Reconstruction Updates
In order to address the deteriorating pavement, utility and drainage concerns along Minnehaha Avenue, it is in the process of being reconstructed now through late 2016. Minnehaha Avenue is a Hennepin County road, so the county is managing the reconstruction in partnership with the city. Residents can sign up online for project updates including street closings and detours. Now through August 2015, reconstruction is focused on the area south of 42nd Street East. There is also other related work along the Minnehaha Avenue corridor, including CenterPoint Energy's improvements to the gas main, and City of Minneapolis water main cleaning and lining
Free home energy workshops
On June 10 and 16, there are free Home Energy 101 workshops being held for Minneapolis residents. Workshop attendees will learn from experts how to save energy and money at home, including info about home improvement financing. Home Energy Squad Enhanced is offering great exclusive features for Minneapolis residents, and attendees can schedule a discounted home visit for $50 (normally a cost of $70) and will get a free energy-saving goody bag. Home Energy Squad Enhanced in Minneapolis is supported in part through an initiative of the Clean Energy Partnership between the City of Minneapolis, CenterPoint Energy, and Xcel Energy. Center for Energy and Environment is the nonprofit that delivers the program's services. The June 10 workshop will be at 6:30 pm at East Side Neighborhood Services, The June 16 workshop will be at 6:30 p.m. at Dr. Martin Luther King Rec. Center, 4055 Nicollet Avenue S. To register, you can contact Hannah Strong at 612-335-5828 or hstrong@mncee.org.
Homeownership resources
For residents who didn't think homeownership was possible or weren't sure where to start, the City has resources to help. Thanks to a partnership with Minnesota Housing and the Minnesota Homeownership Center, residents can have access to down payment assistance, quality, affordable mortgages and free, non-biased housing experts that can help them become a successful home owner. The City is providing up to $7,500 to qualified buyers to cover down payment and closing costs when purchasing a home within the city limits. There are specific eligibility requirements outlined on the program website


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