‘Time is of the essence’: Frey urges decisiveness from City Council on 3rd Precinct site

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey appears to be running out of patience when it comes to making a final decision on the future site of the police department’s 3rd Precinct.

In a letter to City Council members drafted Monday, Frey expressed his frustration at council members’ choice to send a proposal to relocate the 3rd Precinct back to the Committee of the Whole last week. At the time, council members cited questions about timing, cost and investment for delaying a vote.

“While I appreciate the Council’s role as a deliberative body and its need to ask questions, time is of the essence,” Frey wrote. “Residents who rely on the Third Precinct, City staff, and broader community – need a decision.”

The previous station at the corner of East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue has sat empty since rioters burned and looted it in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. The roughly 75 officers in the 3rd Precinct have been working out of a temporary office space downtown ever since.

In his letter, Frey said it’s the city’s duty to “provide a suitable workspace for our first responders” to ensure “reliable service delivery for residents who live in the area.”

“The City needs a precinct, and community needs you to make a decision,” he continued.

Minneapolis City Council members have been presented with three options for a permanent site so far: repurpose the old building at the corner of East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, build a new police station up the road at 2600 Minnehaha Avenue or co-locate with the 1st Precinct at Century Plaza downtown.

The Century Plaza location was on track for approval until last week’s City Council meeting. It was pitched as a short-term compromise after residents in the 3rd Precinct expressed their dissatisfaction with the prospect of a police station returning to the neighborhood at all.

In July, council members voted 12-1 to eliminate the option to rebuild at the old location. The proposal to build a completely new station on Minnehaha Avenue would have the highest price tag of the three and would take the longest to complete.

No matter the final cost, Frey said it ultimately comes down to the City Council to approve an option — unless they let him choose instead.

“Under our charter, the City Council has the power of the purse. No site can move forward without your decision,” Frey wrote. “If you as a body cannot come to a timely decision, then please grant me the authority to make it myself.” 

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to City Council President Andrea Jenkins and City Council Vice President Linea Palmisano for a response to the letter and is waiting to hear back.

The Committee of the Whole could take up the issue again as soon as Tuesday.