The applications are in for donations from the Minnesota Vikings to the 2014 Good Neighbor Fund, with projects ranging from coaching community sports to painting murals along the river.
Neighborhood, business and city organizations submitted 15 proposals for the fund last month. The Good Neighbor Fund Management Committee, which consists of five people from the University and a representative from the Vikings, will make its final decision in April.
The Good Neighbor Fund began with an endowment from the TCF Bank Stadium project to fund projects benefitting the surrounding neighborhoods. As part of the Vikings’ agreement to play on campus next year, the team contributed $90,000 in cash and $35,000 in in-kind donations. This funding will go to projects with “significant scale and visibility.”
Vikings associate counsel and deciding committee member Kieron Frazier said that the Vikings are looking forward to seeing projects that bring the neighborhoods together.
University Community Relations Director Jan Morlock said the community was especially excited this year, and groups have submitted strong, diverse proposals.
“The amount of collaboration among different groups has increased over the past few years, but I think it’s especially strong this year,” Morlock said.
Money for Van Cleve Park
The Southeast Como Improvement Association’s proposals are meant to be “shovel ready,” said Neighborhood Coordinator Ricardo McCurley.
The application includes improvements to Van Cleve Park, like a computer lab, more park equipment and a series of one-time, weeklong sports clinics.
McCurley said the clinics would help gauge community interest in different sports and create a pool of well-trained youth coaches who the neighborhood could use in youth programs.
“One of the best resources for us in terms of coaching is to get college students, whether they’re involved in varsity sports or not, just coming out and being coaches or assisting,” he said.
The clinics would focus on a variety of different sports and specific activities inspired by college students, McCurley said, like free running, tightrope walking, archery, yoga and Pilates.
“We felt like [the park] was a really good place to spend money because it’s not just Southeast Como that uses Van Cleve Park; everybody uses Van Cleve Park,” he said. “It’s one of the few fully functioning parks in the University district area, so money there is money well-spent.”
Finding your way
The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association submitted two applications focused on tying the surrounding neighborhoods together.
The first application requests funds for improving trails and recreational areas between Dinkytown and the Mississippi River, through increased signs on the Dinkytown Greenway, which MHNA President Cordelia Pierson said could have a lasting impact on the area.
“Newcomers’ perception of the area is that it’s hard to get around,” Pierson said. “The signage that we’re planning to put in will help strengthen the sense of identity, clarify how to get where you need to go and highlight the assets.”
The project also has an artistic component, with proposals for murals on the greenway beneath Dinkytown or near the University Law School. The association also wants to work with art and landscape architecture students on the mural and greenway.
The association’s second proposal, titled “We’re Playing Here,” would implement marketing opportunities, like bus stop ads, to show the cooperation of the Vikings and the surrounding community.
“We looked at areas where we would need to work with others to see that visible impact,” Pierson said. “The marketing campaign and the way-finding and signage complement each other, and they tie the neighborhoods together in a really good way.”