Minneapolis Mayor’s 3rd site endorsement for 3rd Precinct fails City Council committee with split vote
It was another no-go for a proposed future home of Minneapolis’s 3rd Police Precinct on Tuesday.
Mayor Jacob Frey’s third site endorsement — a former office and warehouse building at 2633 Minnehaha Ave — failed a vote of Minneapolis City Council’s Committee of the Whole.
With Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson absent, the votes were split 6-6.
There will be another chance for Mayor Frey’s proposal in front of the full City Council on Thursday, following committee approval to forward it for further discussion and a vote.
Ward 11 Council Member Emily Koski, who brought the motion in mid-October that delayed the vote (initially on another proposed site) until Tuesday, voted in favor of buying the building at 2633 Minnehaha Ave, “which again is the cheapest and quickest option,” she said.
“If we then proceeded with a decision last cycle, this option that you have brought forward to us today may never have been reconsidered,” she added, addressing the city’s new Public Safety Commissioner Todd Barnette, who was present to take council members’ questions on behalf of the mayor’s proposal.
“If it’s fiscally responsible, I’m with it,” said Ward 4 Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw, who also voted in support.
The crux of the disagreement on Tuesday was over which of two steps should come first: The site selection or additional public engagement regarding expanding the site into a community safety center, including services beyond policing.
“I think it’s definitely a mistake to believe that a building simply, alone, can be the catalyst towards moving us in a different direction when it comes to our public safety system,” Ward 2 Council Member Robin Wonsley said, voting against buying the Minnehaha Ave building.
“This is not supposed to be divisive,” Ward 7 Council Member Lisa Goodman responded. “We owe it to our employees to have a place for them to work. We owe it to the community to have a place for the police to work out of…It is a simple real estate transaction.”
Once a site is selected, Barnette said he and city staff will begin work on setting up the time and space for public engagement.
“I am 100% committed to having a community engagement process that helps us to determine what those services will be in that facility,” echoed Council President Andrea Jenkins, also expressing her support for the site.
The votes in favor of the motion to purchase the building at 2633 Minnehaha Ave came from Koski, Vetaw, Goodman, President Jenkins, Vice President Linea Palmisano and Ward 3 Council Member Michael Rainville. Voting against the motion were Wonsley, Ward 1 Council Member Eillott Payne, Ward 5 Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, Ward 6 Council Member Jamal Osman, Ward 9 Council Member Jason Chavez and Ward 10 Council Member Aisha Chughtai.
The meeting ultimately ended in gridlock and some finger-pointing, following an additional, last-minute site proposal from Council Member Chavez.
The Mayor’s office previously ruled out the location, a former grain mill site along Cheatham Avenue, due to alleged cost and environmental complications.
“It’s extremely expensive, and it puts a massive amount of environmental liability on us. So this is just another ‘let’s delay this,'” Council Member Goodman directed at Council Member Chavez, adding, “Otherwise, Council Member Chavez could explain to me how he would see this working since he brought this forward.”
“This is what I’m proposing that we can move forward on a new vision of public safety that brings the community along, simply put,” Chavez responded.
The exchange escalated as the two members began to talk over one another, ending in a call to order from Vice President Palmisano.
Both proposed sites were forwarded to Thursday’s City Council meeting, each without the committee’s recommendation.