Call to Order: 6:30 pm by Council President Paul Sawyer.
Quarterly Financial Reports: Postponed until the February meeting.
Presentation: Boys Totem Town Update - P. Sawyer introduces County Commissioner Jim McDonough who provides some opening remarks and then a history of the Boys Totem Town including history, usage and discussions with Hennepin County about a potential merger of juvenile corrections programming and facilities. Conversations have stopped in regards to a joint facility. Recommendations will be coming on what a Ramsey County facility will look like, what programming needs to be done, how close public transportation should be to the site, etc. He believes that the current site does not fit, or will not fit, the recommendations, meaning that a new site will need to be found. He states that it will still be a few years for final decisions to be made about any new location and he has supported a community conversation around what to do with the current site. There will be a City-led planning process for the site when the time is right for it to begin. He states that County Attorneys have concluded that there is no deed restriction or covenant on the land as some people believed (NOTE: letter to this effect on D1 website – Boys Totem Town project page). The property was transferred to Ramsey County in 1912. The county built upon it in 1930. In 1969 it was sold to the city who quit claim it back to the County with no restrictions.
Questions from attendees: What constitutes a “deep crime”? Could be more violent in nature, more than a simple fist fight. What is the foot print of a new site? Never got that far, could be multiple smaller sites. Note is made that previous decisions have been made to maintain the site as nature preserve should it no longer be used for correction purposes. McDonough notes that while there were plans there was never any “real” change in the offering when that plan was made and the community is owed a process to discuss the future of the site as it becomes much more a reality that something could happen (NOTE: that process was also nearly 30 years ago and demographics of the area have changed significantly during that time – see demographic history on the project website). District 1 is currently in a community building process to let the broader community know that input is needed due to the chances of the county leaving the site as a strong possibility. Is the County Board open to input from those not part of the D1 Task Force? “Yes”. Timetable? There will be a report in late March which will include a timeline. It will be another year until a vote would be taken to build on a new site and then 2 years to build and open it. Has any developer or consultant stepped up to discuss the site? “No” – and if one called, the Commissioner would tell them that they would have to wait for the official City planning process to complete. Could someone from Planning and Economic Development come to a meeting to explain the city’s process? Jane Prince notes that she will work with the community and D1 and that she’ll talk to PED to get their feedback. (NOTE: PED has already informed the D1 Council that they will do this as we hear the County’s decision. PED representatives were also at the Visioning Meeting on January 9) What does a new facility look like to keep the youth out of the system? J. McDonough speaks about the racial disparities that can/do currently occur – and, he’s trying to make a difference in addressing those disparities. They are already moving along with consultants and planning to make programming improvements. There will also be more opportunities for people to learn more on the programming side of juvenile justice. (NOTE: There was a community forum around this issue sponsored by D1 on December 6 and efforts have been made to continue discussions.) Is there financial pressure on the County to sell the land in order to raise funds to meet budgetary needs? The county’s real tool for funding its programming is the property tax. The county is very cognizant of trying to increase our tax base - mentioning West Publishing and the TCAAP site redevelopments. So the question the County addresses is can we provide opportunities with the land we have that adds value while also meeting other community needs, including connecting the parks, and do this in a positive-investment way. Will survey data be used to get information on how people would like to see the site used? Surveys could be used but McDonough notes that he prefers face-to-face meetings. P. Sawyer notes that the BTT Task Force is working on surveying community members on broad questions in a variety of ways. B. Leach encourages everyone to visit the District 1 web site at the BTT project page to get a lot of info. Looking yet at other locations for a correction facility? “No”. Where is the more individual information from the Jan 9 meeting? B. Leach notes that she has not yet had time to organize that but it will appear on the Project page. What is the Task Force? B. Leach notes that it is a working group and is deeply informed by the community meetings that continue to be held. What is composition of the Task Force? B. Leach states that it will be 15 people but some recruitment is still needed from the Afton View Apartments. The greatest number (12 or 13 people) are from the neighborhood, with a couple from the broader area. There are also voting and non-voting members. (NOTE: non-voting members are resource people) There was an application process announced at meetings and in the District 1 News.
Jim McDonough concludes by noting that this is not easy work. But the more work that is put in as to what the vision should be is beneficial. He stays to answer individual questions.
Paul Sawyer notes that next month’s board meeting is at Battle Creek Rec on February 27 and will cover transportation issues.
Meeting adjourned at 8:06pm.