By Alex Chhith, Star Tribune. Originally posted May 10, 2021
Online sessions will gather community input.
A bridge proposal to reconnect a historically Black neighborhood in St. Paul is facing its next major test in two weeks when residents are asked to weigh in on the plan to build a “land bridge” over Interstate 94.
Meetings will take place May 24-27 so community members can share ideas for a “cultural enterprise district,” according to a news release from ReConnect Rondo, a nonprofit that’s leading efforts for the bridge.
The proposal calls for 15 to 20 acres of land covering a portion of the roadway with usable land while cars drive below between Lexington Avenue and Rice Street in St. Paul.
The input meetings are important for organizers to know what residents want for the multimillion-dollar project, said Marvin Anderson, who is part of the nonprofit and has been advocating for the bridge.
“You can’t create a historical cultural district without giving people the opportunity to give input,” he said. The neighborhood didn’t have any input when it came to the building of I-94, which he said destroyed the community.
“This is so when we move forward, we can say this is what the community has expressed,” Anderson said. “As [COVID restrictions] change we will make adjustments to our community engagement to get the widest and deepest and most exuberant expression that we can get under the circumstances.”
Sessions will take place throughout the day. Those interested can register at reconnectrondo.com.
On May 24, participants can learn about the nonprofit, then attend sessions that will focus on assuring security and growth in the neighborhood.
The following two days, issues that will be discussed include preventing gentrification, types of businesses that should be pursued and residents’ vision for creating the district.
The last day, there will be public input sessions called “Your Dreams for the Future of Rondo.”
Public funding for the project has been discussed in a measure at the Minnesota Legislature.
It calls for $6.2 million appropriated from the general fund to the project, which could cost nearly $460 million to build.