The Minnesota Student Association and Office of Off-Campus Living are looking to add more street lights in areas west of Dinkytown to increase neighborhood safety.
MSA and OCL have identified residential blocks between 13th Avenue Southeast and I-35W as areas that could benefit from the extra lighting. The two groups have been discussing the project since 2016, but the effort has gained momentum this semester.
MSA Infrastructure Committee Director Austin Kraft and other members will meet with OCL Program Director Kendre Turonie on March 8 to discuss the project’s future.
MSA used their previous research and neighborhood crime data to determine that areas just west of central Dinkytown would benefit most from the additional lighting. Their meeting with OCL will help determine which sites should be targeted first.
The infrastructure committee started researching lighting options for Dinkytown in 2016. Students began advocating for changes last year.
“Since August 2017, the infrastructure committee has regularly attended Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association meetings, demonstrating students' interest in making a safer environment,” Kraft said.
Turonie said OCL and MSA worked with MHNA nearly a decade ago to install low-level lighting along 15th Avenue Southeast.
OCL will help MSA determine which street lights to propose, where they can be placed and how much they will cost.
Turonie said the City of Minneapolis updated its street lighting policy in 2015, which could complicate the project.
The city will only fund street lighting if it’s installed during reconstruction, according to its Street Lighting Policy.
Since the streets targeted by MSA and OCL are not under reconstruction, the proposed lighting would have to be funded by outside sources.
“We need to convince property owners in the area [to add lighting] because they bear the cost of the project,” Turonie said. “The street lighting would bring property [costs] down for owners, but they would have to pay the cost of the lighting up front, which they might be opposed to.”
If property owners agree to fund the lighting, the project would have to be approved by the Minneapolis City Council before construction could begin.
Kraft said MSA will push city officials to approve the project.
“We are hopeful that street lighting will be improved in the next several years,” he said. “It is a lengthy process to advocate for these improvements, but the work that we do now is crucial in making positive, long-term change happen.”
Kraft said additional street lighting would make Dinkytown more appealing and benefit residents and businesses.
“When people feel safer in the neighborhood, they're more likely to engage more with the community, including with businesses. So I see lighting improvements as a very wise investment in the area,” he said.