Twelve years after the initial idea to physically reconnect the Rondo neighborhood took root, three milestones were met in July at the state, federal and regional levels that improve the initiative’s likelihood of moving forward.
The Minnesota State Legislature approved, and the Governor signed into law through the Budget Bill, funds to start predevelopment activities including master plannning for the land bridge; Congresswoman Betty McCollum has sponsored and included funding specifically for Rondo as part of the INVEST In America Act within the Biden federal infrastructure process; and the Metropolitan Council has approved a $150,000 allocation for ReConnect Rondo to create a specific plan to address potential negative impacts of development on neighborhoods.
The $6.2m state appropriation to create a master plan marks a significant turning point for the land bridge, say organizers. Now they are able to launch plans that address specific housing, jobs, health, and environmental measures that will assure that the development will ultimately benefit the residents and descendants of Rondo in the way it was always intended.
Neighborhood concerns persist over gentrification, property taxes and other forces that are feared may accelerate resident displacement spawned by the establishment of an African American cultural enterprise district connected by a community land bridge. With community input, master planning will be key to developing safeguards through tactics such as creating a community reinvestment trust, cooperative housing systems, and the securing of air rights for the new land being created as stated examples of the possible ways that residents will retain control over their collective destiny.
“Our years of persistence is beginning to really pay off,” said Keith Baker, Executive Director for ReConnect Rondo.“ More at https://reconnectrondo.com/engage/