Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Anthony Taylor Addresses JACC Housing Committee About Bike Walk Center Proposal...Gets Somewhat Chilly Reception
Stock photo and blog post by John Hoff
After their "Bike Walk Center" proposal failed to obtain approval at the Minneapolis City Council Public Safety Health Committee, as extensively documented in this multi-part video post, click here, Anthony Taylor of the Major Taylor Bicycling Club (which is a project of the Cultural Wellness Center, headquartered in South Minneapolis) appeared before the Housing Committee of JACC two nights ago.
Taylor insisted he hadn't gone before neighborhood organizations earlier because there wasn't anything final, because it wasn't necessary, or something to that effect. However...
...a collaborative effort known as TREADS, which had its own biking center proposal slated for an empty garage building at 26th and Penn, click here, had gone around to seven neighborhood councils and received letters of support. Indeed, it was something of a mystery among a number of informed neighborhood organization members how the "Taylor proposal" had somehow gained more traction than the "TREADS proposal" and gone before the Public Safety and Health Committee...only to be seriously questioned and sent back.
In response to questions by the JACC Housing Committee, JACC members, and audience members, (including this blogger) Anthony Taylor spoke as though eventual success before the city council was all-but-in-the-bag. Indeed, a party is being planned for December 27 at the proposed site of the Bike Walk Center on Lowry and Penn.
However, success did not seem assured, neither politically nor financially. The Bike Walk Center has to be approved by the City Council and, furthermore, there are questions about whether Cultural Wellness Center has any track record of financial success. Click here for a copy of their 2008 tax return, which was apparently in the hands of at least a few of the committee members along with information from the Secretary of State's website about the finances of the organization.
Some of the toughest questions were asked by audience members. For example, one audience member asked about "Free Wheel" in the Midtown Greenway which (according to the audience member) has had "over a million dollars of public subsidies" poured into it, and "has yet to turn a profit." Tough questions were asked about the demographics in other neighborhoods versus the demographics of North Minneapolis. The "Taylor Project" Bike Walk proposal includes a coffee shop, but the question is whether any coffee shop can do well in North Minneapolis. Coffee shops have struggled here. Our neighborhood coffee shops are "mom and pop" affairs, since the major coffee chains have yet to see opportunity in our neighborhood. Is it even RIGHT to subsidize a coffee shop which would compete with private businesses for customers?
If Taylor intends to approach six other neighborhood organizations, it is fair to say the man has his work cut out for him.