Steve Fletcher, 3rd Ward Council Member – September 10, 2021
June 1, 2021
It’s a week of many transitions, all of which provide an opportunity for reflection, celebration, and cautious optimism. Labor Day marks the end of a summer of uncertainty, in which the delta variant further delayed reopening plans for some, and extended the period of economic uncertainty for many workers and businesses. It was also a summer in which needed recovery funds landed, and we’ve been able to begin getting much-needed aid directed to those in need – an effort that will continue into the fall.
This week, kids all over Minneapolis returned to school. I had the chance to wish teachers well and thank them for their work, and I know everyone is sending best wishes to all of the students and staff working to create a nurturing learning and social environment, even with masks and other COVID precautions.
Today, we’re celebrating the re-opening of the 35W/94 interchange – a project that has had a profound impact on that half of our city during construction, and includes major transit, traffic, and pedestrian improvements along that corridor. It’s a welcome transition, and a well-timed reminder to all of us living near big projects like Hennepin downtown, or the Central Avenue Bridge that construction projects are temporary, and the completed projects offer some real benefits.
This week, Jews in our community celebrated Rosh Hashana – the Jewish New Year. To everyone celebrating, I’m wishing you all a sweet and joyous new year.
City Seeks Feedback on Funding Priorities for American Rescue Plan Act Funding Round Two
The City of Minneapolis, including the Mayor and City Council is seeking feedback from residents, businesses, and neighborhood and community organizations as it considers funding priorities for the second round of American Rescue Plan Act funding awarded to the City to address economic and public health impacts from the pandemic.
The survey will be open until Midnight on September 24th, and these results will help City leaders as they determine funding priorities for the remaining federal funding awarded to the City. Earlier this year, the City Council amended and approved the first $102 million spending plan for ARP funds.
The Mayor is expected to recommend a spending proposal for the second round of funding to the City Council in the late fall or early winter coinciding with public conversations around the 2022 City Budget.
The City may use the funds on the following:
Support public health expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency.
Serve low-income communities and individuals, families and businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.
Replace public sector revenue lost due to the pandemic.
Provide premium pay for essential workers.
Invest in necessary improvements to water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
Upcoming Community Conversations with Council Member Fletcher
Based on guidance from our Public Health Department, we will continue in-person meetings for Ward 3 residents to drop in, ask questions, discuss any issues you see in the community, or just have a chat with your neighbors. We’ll attempt to use outdoor seating where it’s an option, and encourage everyone attending to bring masks in case weather or circumstance forces us inside.
Bring your comments, concerns, and questions to this meet-up conversation with Council Member Steve Fletcher. Also: take the opportunity if you haven’t yet to get a glimpse of the beautiful, new, award-winning Public Service Building!
The City Council reviewed and unanimously approved a policy requiring employees to be tested regularly for COVID-19 if they do not provide proof of vaccination.
Minneapolis and Hennepin County continue to uphold mask mandates for City and County staff and City- and County-owned buildings, while all residents are encouraged to continue masking when indoors.
Businesses are urged to adopt universal masking requirements for customers entering indoor areas of their businesses to provide better protection to their employees and customers. Also in accordance with CDC guidelines, restaurants and bar owners are encouraged to follow CDC’s guiding principles for promoting behaviors that reduce virus spread, maintaining healthy environments and operations, and preparing for when an employee gets sick. The City will continue to make masks available to businesses and organizations at no cost. Trainings on workplace safety can be accessed here.
Free COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics, Testing, City & County Offering Rewards
Face coverings also continue to be required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on public transportation, including school buses.
The CDC now recommends that people with certain immunocompromising conditions that received the mRNA vaccine get an additional dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Those who qualify should get the same vaccine product (either Moderna or Pfizer), and the third dose should be given at least 28 days after your second dose of vaccine. There is currently not enough data to recommend that people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive an additional dose at this time.
Back-To-School Vaccines Recommended, School-Based Testing Rolls Out
Our kids deserve a worry-free, safe fall back in the classroom, participating in sports and doing activities with friends. Children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, get sick, spread the virus to others, and have severe outcomes from their infection. Since children under 12 years of age are not yet eligible to be vaccinated and children age 12 to 15 are only recently eligible, there is an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission in school settings.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) strongly recommends vaccination for those ages 12 and older. In addition to the consistent use of layered mitigation strategies to help limit the spread of COVID-19, vaccinations also support in-person learning and protect people who are not fully vaccinated, including children, students, teachers, staff, and members of their households.
Testing at school makes access to tests more equitable, which is one of the many reasons the State of Minnesota encourages all schools to create their own testing program and have helped provide the resources to do so. Schools will be able to choose from the following tests to create their own testing programs:
BinaxNOW Professional and Over-the-Counter: individual, rapid antigen test.
Cue: individual rapid molecular nasal swab test.
Vault: individual molecular saliva test.
Battelle: pooled molecular nasal swab test.
Hot Spot Testing: Schools can work with their local public health or MDH to request a temporary testing location in response to local outbreaks.
Terminal 2 vaccination site is at 7150 Humphrey Drive and is open every day from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parking vouchers are available at the MSP Terminal 2 community vaccination location. The vouchers are good for one hour of free parking to any patient visiting Terminal 2 for the purpose of vaccination. Inquire with staff onsite to receive your voucher.
With the variants driving faster COVID transmission at the same time people are going back to school, clubs and other gathering places, testing is an important tool in protecting ourselves and each other along with vaccinations, wearing masks correctly, keeping 6 feet from anyone you don’t live with and washing hands. If you’re traveling to certain destinations or attending some events, you’ll have to prove you’re fully vaccinated or have a recent negative test.
Updated Minnesota Department of Health guidance for who should get tested
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after one dose of Johnson & Johnson.
Find the updated testing recommendations under “Who Should Get Tested” on the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 testing webpages.
Free COVID-19 tests
COVID-19 testing is free. Do not eat, drink or use tobacco products for 30 minutes before taking a COVID-19 saliva test.
Community testing sites are available at no cost to all Minnesotans. Hospitals, clinics and pharmacies may have different pay structures, so be sure to contact both the testing site and your health insurance company ahead of your visit to make sure you won’t be charged for a test.
Participate in Lowry Avenue Reconstruction’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee
Hennepin County is planning a two-phase reconstruction of Lowry Avenue (County Road 153) between Marshall and Johnson streets Northeast starting in 2023. The main objectives are to improve safety operations and facilitate people walking, biking, taking transit, and driving through the area.
The project will replace 60-year-old infrastructure, transforming Lowry Avenue into a livable corridor that balances and serves the safety and comfort for people who live, work, and play in Northeast Minneapolis. “Livable Lowry” represents the very best community-defined vision of how the corridor may be redesigned and reimagined through robust community engagement.
Hennepin County is looking for community members to join the project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee. The Stakeholder Advisory Committee will guide the Livable Lowry process by helping to identify communities, organizations, user groups, populations and others that should be consulted in the engagement process as well as providing valuable input and feedback on design concepts and engineering considerations. The SAC will meet twice each year during the design phase (2021-2022) for a total of four committee meetings.
Applications are open on a rolling basis until 15 seats on the committee have been filled. Accepted applicants will be notified via email of their invitation to serve on the Livable Lowry SAC. The first SAC meeting will take place virtually via Zoom on Monday, September 13, 2021 from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. The second SAC meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, October 6, 2021 and is subject to change based on the availability of the majority of the accepted SAC members. The third and fourth SAC meetings will occur in 2022.
2021 Northeast Minneapolis Storm Drain Challenge, September 2021 Update
Minneapolis Celebrates Welcoming Week to Promote Inclusion for Immigrants & Refugees
The City of Minneapolis is celebrating Welcoming Week Sept. 10-19 to reaffirm its commitment to inclusion for immigrants, refugees and all residents.
Since 2012, Welcoming Week has served as the annual campaign and celebration led by Welcoming America to showcase communities across the country striving to become more welcoming for all. This year’s theme for Welcoming Week is “Belonging Begins with Us,” a declaration that everyone has the power to help others feel seen, embraced and welcomed.
Welcoming Week events
Saint Paul and Minneapolis Immigration Forum 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14 Join the City of Saint Paul’s Immigrant and Refugee Program and the City of Minneapolis Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs for a special Welcoming Week-focused immigration forum. Learn about the cities’ progress developing strategies to include immigrants and refugees through the Gateways for Growth Speakers will include Michelle Rivero, director of the Minneapolis Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, and Edmundo Lijo, who leads the City of Saint Paul’s Immigrant and Refugee Program. Participate in the online forum.
Citizenship Day event 10-11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 17 Join the City of Minneapolis Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and the City of Saint Paul’s Immigrant and Refugee Program for an online event focused on the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen. Watch the online event on the City’s Facebook page.
Come celebrate the completion of MnDOT’s 35W@94 Downtown to Crosstown Project on Sunday, Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on East Lake Street between Stevens Ave. and 2nd Ave. S.!
There’s something for everyone with food, shopping, music, games, and a walking tour of the new community enhancements including the Midtown Greenway connection. Check out a BRT bus and meet Metro Transit staff to learn about the project’s transit improvements which include a new transit station and a new bus-only ramp connecting downtown to expanded I-35W HOV lanes.
The new I-35W & Lake Street Station will open later this year, following safety certification and driver training. Stay tuned for additional announcements as we get closer to opening day.
The Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board (YCB) is launching the Youth in Minneapolis Afterschool Programs (YMAP) Request for Applications (RFA). Back in July, the Minneapolis City Council allocated $940,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board (YCB) in the City’s 2021 revised budget process to “address educational disparities exacerbated by the pandemic.”
HERE is a link to the YMAP RFA, which is intended to invest in qualified organizations to support quality afterschool approaches to address educational disparities exacerbated by COVID-19 in disproportionately affected communities. Proposed projects or programs can be focused on helping children and youth to re-engage, recover, and accelerate learning and development after the severe disruptions caused by the pandemic.
This RFA is a 3-year grant contract staring January 3, 2022. Applicants may request funding amounts between $50,000-$200,000 per year.
Met Council has been collecting community input from residents and businesses on proposed alignment options for the Blue Line Extension Project. The project has also prepared visualizations of how the METRO Blue Line Extension LRT may look and operate in your community.
You can view the possible station locations and visualizations, leave comments on an interactive map, and see with others are saying about the project at BluelineExt.org.
The goal is to identify a single community supported route option by the end of 2021/ early 2022. Following that, environmental review and engineering work will begin.
Celebrate Monarch Butterflies at the Annual Minneapolis Monarch Festival Tomorrow
Saturday, September 11 10 am to 4 pm
Lake Nokomis Park
Free and for everyone!
Scheduled from 10am to 4pm, the festival is filled with music, art activities, games, food, plants that monarchs love and more.
The day offers a host of fun ways for people of all ages to learn about these amazing pollinators and their role in the ecosystem.
The event will stretch from Lyndale Avenue North to Penn Avenue North on West Broadway. The streets will be closed to motorized traffic from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be more than 80 businesses represented at the event, COVID-19 vaccination sites and much more.
Two additional Open Streets events are planned for this season: Open Streets Lyndale on Sunday, Oct. 10 and Open Streets Minnehaha on Sunday, Oct. 24.
Opens Streets Minneapolis is a City of Minneapolis event hosted by Our Streets Minneapolis. Open Streets West Broadway is hosted in partnership with the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition.
Winter can mean higher energy bills, ice dams and cold drafts for low-efficiency homes. Each Minneapolis house can now receive an energy score, which measures how efficiently a home uses energy and how winter-ready it is.
Schedule a visit with the Home Energy Squad or talk to a free energy advisor. Whether you’re a new homeowner or you’ve been in your home for years, energy advisors from the local nonprofit Center for Energy and Environment are here to help you save money and energy.
Thirteen City boards and commissions have openings for appointments this fall. Applications are open now. The positions are open until filled; the application deadline is Oct. 1. The City seeks applicants with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences representing the demographics of Minneapolis to strengthen the work of the City. Translation and interpreting services are available so all residents can participate.