Upper Harbor artist rendor

Upper Harbor artist rendor.

The third meeting of the Upper Harbor Development Community Planning and Engagement Committee met to discuss progress on the proposed project.

The September meeting in North Minneapolis was facilitated by Pillsbury United Community.

The discussion focused on the evolution of the property from its’ present profile into the possible future that it can become. The group will continue to facilitate these meetings from now until completion of the information gathering and discussion phase, scheduled to be in the spring on 2020.

This “learning table” event focused on “community ownership,” or, how do public people “own” public land? Prior to the panel presentations, a very interesting and telling question was asked by an attendee regarding past treaties signed by both the State of Minnesota and the then Native-American occupants, tribes of the Sioux Nation. Are these treaties still in effect?

And if so, what will the effect of these treaties be, binding or not, on this project? This question will require research by the appropriate governmental and tribal agencies. More information to follow.

The bulk of the conversation focused on ownership and what can (and possibly what cannot) be owned, by the community. Could the process, or land, or businesses, or intellectual property be owned by the community? Can there be cultural ownership?

Kim Arnone, vice president of Cutting Edge Capitol from Oakland, Jeff Washburne, executive director, of City of Lakes Community Land Trust, Minneapolis, Dave Swanson, attorney with Dorsey and Whitney and World Wise Advantage and Paul Bauknight, spoke regarding specific community ownership projects located throughout the U.S.

Arnone spoke regarding the investment tool structured for Opportunity Zones. These are areas that are economically distressed and have been for some time. These are areas that are also identified as poor or low-income as defined by U.S. Census data. She presented various ways that Opportunity Zone investors may choose to be involved in this project. More meetings and conversations will need to take place before this financial mechanism is selected for this project.

Washburne presented the legal and financial structure of land trust ownership. This organization is very active in residential ownership, with a current focus on commercial ownership. This model may also be implemented on this project. Future meetings will have to review this methodology prior to its implementation.

Swanson, an attorney, presented information regarding legal structures and configurations that should be considered for this project. He suggested that a cooperative legal structure, rather than a corporate structure. He said he would be willing to offer his services on a pro-bono basis if the cooperative model is chosen.

Bauknight, a board member of the Friends of the Mississippi River, and a member of the city’s Collaborative Planning Committee, spoke regarding examples of community projects located in other parts of the country. The Market Creek Project, in San Diego and the Eleventh Street Bridge Project, in Washington, D.C. both began as community-based projects, such as this one. Their evolutions may inform us of what the future may hold for us in our own work effort.

The overwhelming thread of this meeting is that this process is going to take time. These learning tables are scheduled through next spring. These topics will be repeated, altered, modified, added to, diminished, abandoned and re-discovered.

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday (Oct. 23), at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, 1256 Penn Ave. N., from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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