Extending Blue Line light-rail service to north Minneapolis and the northern suburbs may be seen by some as a "transformative" effort, but the project runs the risk of displacing residents and businesses along the way.
With that in mind, Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council are seeking applications from community members and others to serve on a 21-member Anti-Displacement Workgroup for the line extension, which will link downtown Minneapolis with Brooklyn Park.
"Our goal is to ensure the very people these projects intend to benefit are not unduly impacted by these large, transformative projects," said Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle in a statement.
The workgroup will include community leaders, residents and business owners who could potentially be displaced by the project, as well as government representatives, along with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations based in areas to be served by the line.
The University of Minnesota's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) will help community members from north Minneapolis, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park evaluate the potential for displacement while the line is being planned, during construction and after passenger service begins.
"We have the chance to help make sure current residents along the planned Blue Line Extension are not displaced as a result of this important investment in their community," said C Terrence Anderson, CURA's director of community-based research.
The workgroup will craft recommendations and strategies over a 12- to 18-month period to ensure that the project minimizes displacement in the communities it will serve and maximize "investment opportunities for communities to build wealth in place and realize new potential for inclusive prosperity and vitality," according to a Hennepin County news release.
The workgroup "is an opportunity to be at the forefront of community investment in this corridor," said Hennepin County Commissioner Irene Fernando in a statement. "The Blue Line extension will serve communities that continue to experience stark disparities stemming from historic disinvestment and institutional racism."
Zelle said the workgroup is a first for the region "and stands to set a new standard nationally for how communities and agencies can work together early and throughout major infrastructure projects."
Applicants may apply online, or contact CURA at 612-625-1551. The deadline for applications is Jan. 14.