Elliot Park community works together to improve the surrounding neighborhood.
By Blake Mayes
News of crime in the Elliot Park neighborhood is something students in downtown Minneapolis are often confronted with.
Consequently, this neighborhood is often perceived as a dangerous and crime-ridden area.
“When I walk around at night, I feel slightly uncomfortable and a little uneasy because the environment is not as welcoming and friendly as small-town Iowa,” said Allie Schaal, freshman undeclared major.
Along with many North Central students, there are local residents that are concerned about the state of their neighborhood, and they desire to take action.
As a result, the Elliot Park Community Livability Task Force was formed in 2009 by Elliot Park Neighborhood, Inc., to give residents a voice.
Once a month, the task force convenes in order to discuss current issues such as crime rates, upcoming events, and community projects.
Representatives from North Central’s security department, the Minneapolis Police Department and the security department of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) frequent the monthly meetings. Landlords and representatives from different properties and businesses are regularly present as well.
However, not many students on campus are aware of the task force.
“I had not heard of the task force, but I think that it is a really good idea,” said Josh Green, junior intercultural studies major. “I like the idea of having different parts of the neighborhood communicating on different issues.”
Despite the neighborhood’s negative perception of the Elliot Park area, the task force has made great strides in cleaning up the neighborhood’s problem areas.
The area in front of the Opportunity Center, located on the corner of E 15th Street and Chicago Avenue, in 2009 it had become a common place for drug trafficking. The task force focused its initial efforts on stopping the drug trade there by having Minneapolis Police Department officers patrol the area during heavily congested times, such as when meals were served. In the month of September, there were zero drug related arrests in that area.
The task force has improved other areas as well and believes that the Elliot Park Neighborhood is much safer than it used to be.
The mission of the task force is to provide local residents, business owners, and representatives from organizations the opportunity to voice their ideas in a way that is constructive to the long-term health and success of the neighborhood and its constituents.
Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of every month at 4 p.m. The meetings are located at 721 10th St. S. and are open to the public.