Ward 8 Newsletter May 1, 2013

News of the 8th Ward

May 1, 2013

All Residential Customers Will Have One-Sort Recycling by June 

 

One-sort recycling, where customers combine their glass, plastic, paper, aluminum and cardboard into one container when putting them out for collection, will be a reality for all 75,000 residential customers by the end of June.

Minneapolis recycling customers will get new blue recycling carts between April and June. All will receive letters in the mail with instructions before they get their carts. You will keep your same recycling pickup day.

With your new cart, you still need to recycle properly. Please rinse recyclables and don’t mix in garbage or other materials such as yard waste, Styrofoam, plastic foam, plastic film or plastic bags.

You can find more information about one-sort recycling in Minneapolis and look for their scheduled rollout dates at www.minneapolismn.gov/onesort.

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City Council Approves Study on Pathways to Cleaner, More Sustainable Energy Options for Minneapolis Consumers

On April 12, the City Council approved a proposal to draft an energy vision that details what the City wants from a sustainable, 21st century energy system. The action also calls for a report that explores the various paths the City could take to achieve its energy goals, including examination of potential utility partnerships, changes to how the City uses energy utility franchise fees, and the potential for municipalization of one or both energy utilities.  Council Member Glidden requested this study, and designation of funding, to help ensure Minneapolis has all options in front of us. 

This action comes as the City prepares to enter into energy franchise negotiations with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. State law currently limits Minneapolis’ authority over utility in franchise agreements; a franchise agreement is not a contract, where the city can freely negotiate with a utility company.  Under state law, cities only have the authority to negotiate about how much we can be paid for the use of our right of way through a franchise agreement. 

Minneapolis is seeking legislative changes to allow negotiations with Xcel and CenterPoint to explore how Minneapolis could make progress towards its goals for sustainable energy, improved air quality, equity, and green jobs. The City also wishes to explore options to achieve its energy goals outside the existing franchise agreement structure.

The April 12 energy study helps frame the future franchise negotiations with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, as well as the City’s work to get more clean-energy options for consumers. The City currently has utility franchise agreements with Xcel Energy for electricity and CenterPoint Energy for natural gas. These agreements, which were signed in the early 1990s, both expire at the end of 2014. The City is in the early stages of preparing for negotiations for new agreements.

The measure allocates $250,000 to draft comprehensive “Energy Vision” goals and complete a thorough review of the options and implications of the various pathways to meet the City’s energy goals. Specifically, the Council action would:

  • Direct City staff to draft an updated set of “Energy Vision” goals for a future energy system. These goals may address the greenhouse gas intensity of the system, use and ownership of renewable energy, energy efficiency outcomes, reliability standards, affordability, and access to energy use information. These draft goals will be presented to the City Council by August 2013.
  • Direct City staff to conduct a study that provides an overview of the various paths the City could take to achieve its Energy Vision goals. City staff will provide a progress update to the City Council in November 2013, and a final report will be presented to the City Council by January 2014. The report will include:
  • A review of the current legislative and legal landscape;
  • An examination of existing municipal utilities in Minnesota and across the country (utility performance, history, shared models, etc);
  • A report on the “municipalization pathway,” to include the process and schedule, preliminary cost estimates to move down that path, how municipalization may help Minneapolis achieve its Energy Vision goals, and identification of any potential barriers.
  • A review of alternative pathways, which may include utility partnerships, state legislative or Public Utilities Commission changes, and how energy utility franchise fees may be used for City programs.

State law changes will be necessary in order to fully explore options around clean energy and energy efficiency as part of our utility franchise agreements. 

In the early 1970’s, Minnesota adopted a state law that requires that cities moving to municipal utilities to pay utility companies not only the fair value of their assets and energy distribution system, but also for lost profits!  Although we have many municipal utilities in Minnesota (Rochester is the largest), no municipal utilities have been established in Minnesota since this 1973 state law was approved.  Here is a description of two bills Minneapolis is pursuing at the legislature to help move our energy vision, and utility franchise negotiations, forward:

  • Green, Reliable, Affordable Clean Energy Bill (HF 1450/ SF 1490; Rep. Ray Dehn and Sen. Kari Dziedzic). This legislation would give cities more power and flexibility when negotiating energy franchise agreements and would require that energy companies provide timely reports on service continuity, meet specific state-established energy goals, and incent consumers to be more energy efficient.
  • Franchise Reform Ending Energy Dependence of Municipalities Bill (HF 945/SF 911; Rep. Frank Hornstein and Sen. Jeff Hayden). This legislation would require that the State Public Utility Commission use a more fair formula for placing a value on an energy company, which would make it more feasible for communities to consider pursuing a municipal-owned energy utility.

Thank you again for your interest in energy issues.  For more information, go to the City’s energy utilities franchise agreements web page at www.minneapolismn.gov/energyfranchise.

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Beekeeping Now Easier in Minneapolis

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The City Council has approved ordinance changes making it easier to have beehives in Minneapolis. Now, once the original permit fee is paid, there is no fee for the annual permit renewal. Also, beehives on a rooftop of two stories or higher no longer require nearby building users’ written approval or a fence around them. The changes will reduce significant hurdles for Minneapolis beekeepers and improve the environment while ensuring public safety.

Bees on rooftops are common in other cities and provide critical, protected habitat – especially in commercial areas such as downtowns. These ordinance changes further the City’s eco-focused goal of locally grown food available and chosen. Call 311 or search “beekeeping” at www.minneapolismn.gov. 

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Protect Your Home as Weather Gets Warmer

Warmer weather is finally here; please also take some practical steps to ensure your home and garage are protected from crimes of opportunity.  Each year the MPD sees a rise in burglaries and thefts in the spring because of open windows and doors, as well as thefts from yards and garages. 

 

  • Pin your windows so that they allow air in but do not open not far enough to allow a burglar to use them to gain entry. Six inches is recommended.
  • When working in the backyard remember to secure the front door!!
  • Don’t leave garage doors open even for a few minutes. The visible items stored there make a very tempting target to someone passing by.
  • Don’t leave valuable items such as bicycles and lawn equipment in your yard, especially overnight.
  • Beware of door-to-door salespeople and home repair contractors. Do your homework before hiring anyone to do work on your home and get a written estimate before work begins. Ask door-to-door salespeople for their City license, which they are required to carry.
  • Never allow someone you don’t know into your home. Common ruses used to gain entry are requests to use a phone or to get a drink of water.

 

Call 911 immediately if you witness any suspicious behavior; a number of home burglars have been caught as a result of neighbor 911 calls.  For more information on burglary prevention, go to: www.minneapolismn.gov/police/crimeprevention.

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Funding Available for Environmental Education Projects

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Schools, park districts and registered nonprofits can apply for funding, project support and free resources for projects that empower residents to reduce waste, increase recycling, reduce toxicity, conserve energy and protect water quality.

Hennepin County’s Green Partners Environmental Education Program has three groups - Seed, Root and Branch - with varying levels of support and requirements.

Root and Branch proposals are due by 5 p.m., May 17. Applications for the Seed group are accepted at any time.

For more information, go to www.hennepin.us and type “green partners” into the search engine. You can also contct Patience Caso at patience.caso@co.hennepin.mn.us or 612-348-9352.

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Arts on Chicago Presents "What Grows Here"

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What grows here is an 80 minute StoryWalk along Chicago Ave. from 33rd to 38th Streets.  Wear shoes to walk in!  FREE Performances start and end at Pillsbury House, 3501 Chicago Avenue S., Mpls. and run from Friday, May 3 / 6:30 p.m through Sunday, May 19 / 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Join Arts on Chicago artists Dylan Fresco and Michelle Barnes as they take a walk along Chicago Avenue, sharing stories of the neighborhood. They’ve spent this winter meeting with dozens of people who live, work, and go to school in the Central, Bryant, Bancroft, and Powderhorn neighborhoods. They’ve been hearing stories of What Grows Here, from kids, to businesses, to families, to trees.

Now they’re leading guided walks along Chicago Avenue, sharing the stories as they’ve heard them. Hear some tales you know—and maybe some new ones as well—about this place we call home.

Performances are free but are recommended:  Call Pillsbury House at (612) 825-0459; more information at www.artsonchicago.org.

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MSP FairSkies Coalition Airport Noise Meeting: May 2, 7pm

On Thursday, May 2, at 7 pm MSP FairSkies will host a community meeting at MLK Park, 4055 Nicollet.  MSPFairSkies is a neighborhood coalition that is beginning to formulate its views on what is acceptable noise and jet traffic overhead and are asking you to be a part of the response to the airport.  MSPFairSkies plans a 60-minute presentation, with plenty of time for discussion. MSPFairskies will show the inconsistencies in the airport plans, and mostly the inadequate sharing of information with the neighborhoods. For more info on FairSkies visit http://mspfairskies.com.

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Nicollet Reconstruction Season Begins

With an anticipating May 1 kickoff date, work will resume for the Nicollet Avenue Paving project completing the section from 36th Street to 40th Street this construction season.

Please note, businesses are open during construction!!  Please buy local and make an effort to support these businesses during the construction season.  Local access to business and residential driveways will be maintained during construction.

Minneapolis Public Works will hold regular construction update meetings. These meetings are to provide an opportunity to learn what is happening with the construction and share potential issues and concerns.   The kickoff meeting is Thursday, May 2, 9 am, at Butter Bakery Café, 3700 Nicollet.  Meetings are currently scheduled for the 1st and 3rd Thursday of May and June at the same time and location.

Want to get regular updates on Nicollet Avenue Reconstruction?  Please sign up for e-mail updates here!

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Traffic Signal Light Upgrades and Pedestrian Friendly Improvements!

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Good news for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers:   Minneapolis Public works is installing many traffic signal upgrades this year, improving safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.

 

What will change?  At select intersections, traffic signals will be replaced to improve signal visibility.  Pedestrian countdown timers will also be installed, to help walkers know how much longer they have to safely cross the street.  Countdown timers have been shown to greatly enhance safety for pedestrians and are being installed in key locations as funding is obtained. 

 

Where are these upgrades happening?  Along 38th Street, at Grand Avenue and Blaisdell Avenue (work already underway).   And, all intersections along Chicago Avenue from 33rd Street to 42nd Street will see these improvements.  Chicago Avenue intersections will also receive upgrades to the pedestrian sidewalk ramps, where needed.

 

As part of the Nicollet reconstruction project, all signalized intersections on Nicollet will also be upgraded with pedestrian countdown times.