Minneapolis City Council’s reasoning to move and expand Water Yard into East Phillips remains a mystery

The city of Minneapolis suppressed a report that said it would be less costly to expand its Water Yard in its current Marcy Holmes neighborhood location than the City Council’s current plan to relocate it to the East Phillips neighborhood.

Surprisingly, the report didn’t sway a majority of councilmembers.

On Oct. 18, I filed a Data Practices Act request with the city for more information on the report.

I am requesting emails and other communication (both internal and external) to and from the Public Works Department regarding the production of the June 2021 report: “Minneapolis Water Yard: Proposal for New Two-Story Structure on Existing Site.” This includes staff directions, discussion around the report’s purpose, drafting, and distribution of the report, and any communications with City Council members.

I had no inside information. I was just curious about the internal conversations around what seemed like an important report.

On Monday, I received an email with 1,022 pages of documents. None of them helped answer my questions.

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Critical vote on East Phillips Urban Farm Wednesday: Will Mpls City Council live up to its promises?

West side of the old Roof Depot building in the East Phillips neighborhood.

The old Roof Depot site near East 28th Street and Hiawatha Avenue in the East Phillips neighborhood covers a city block and its waiting for redevelopment.

Starkly different proposals are on the table: One would consolidate the city of Minneapolis’ Public Works facilities to create greater efficiencies; the other would create an Indoor Urban Farm, with affordable housing and neighborhood friendly-businesses.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fulfill a community-led, community-owned project — an economic investment in an economically depressed area,” said Joe Vital, a volunteer with East Phillips Neighborhood Initiative and Urban Farm supporter.

A key vote on these divergent plans is expected Wednesday, Aug. 18, 1:30 p.m. at the Minneapolis City Council’s Policy and Government Oversight Committee. This committee includes all 13 council members.

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