Ward 3 Minneapolis City Council Member Steve Fletcher outlined his priorities and fielded questions from constituents at a Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association meeting Tuesday.
The meeting marked one of Fletcher’s first opportunities to engage with the neighborhood since taking office earlier this month. Fletcher discussed parking, housing and safety issues in Marcy-Holmes, and how he’ll address them as a new council member.
“Every neighborhood association is different, and that’s one of the great things that civic engagement at that level does,” Fletcher said. “It lets you focus on the hyper-local issues of that area and look at what’s important to the people who live right there.”
MHNA President Robert Stableski said he was happy to see Fletcher engaging with constituents on the neighborhood’s key issues.
“[Fletcher’s] very articulate, and I think he understands the issues really well. He’s not unwilling to say what he thinks about that even though it may run against the grain,” Stableski said.
Limited parking in Marcy-Holmes was a concern brought up at the meeting. Parking access will likely decrease as the neighborhood’s housing density grows, Fletcher said.
Fletcher said he hopes to address the neighborhood’s parking woes by increasing access to public transit and improving bike lanes.
“I think we have a need to balance the immediate impacts of new constructions with the shifts we’re trying to make as a city to be less car-dependent,” he said. “For me ... if we’re looking at over four years, if I was successful, one thing I’ll be looking at is, ‘did we improve transportation options so people don’t have to live with cars?'"
Grant Simons, Minnesota Student Association’s representative to MHNA's board, said pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood is a safety issue that needs to be addressed, especially as density increases.
“He understands as a pedestrian how dangerous this city can be, and especially this neighborhood, which does have a large mass of people that are walking and biking and taking the bus,” Simons said.
Fletcher also discussed at the meeting his desire to bring more affordable housing options to the ward.
Though Fletcher doesn’t serve on the City of Minneapolis' housing committee, he said he plans to work with its members to push for more affordable housing. But Fletcher is a member of the Economic Development and Regulatory Services Committee, which he says can help improve rent inspection standards in student housing developments.
“There’s a lot of student housing that often doesn’t get maintained the way we’d like it to,” Fletcher said. “That’s something that’s really important that we’ve heard a lot about, and we’ll have a chance to weigh in on that.”
Just over a month into Fletcher’s first term, Minneapolis will host Super Bowl LII. Many events leading up to the game will take place in Ward 3.
Fletcher acknowledged the event may be disruptive to residents of the ward, and added that he was critical of Metro Transit’s decision to close light rail service on game day.
“Stepping in when I am, the decisions have been made. There are definitely things that, had I been in office a year ago, I would’ve done differently,” he said.