The City of Minneapolis Public Works Department plans to end our partnership in hosting Open Streets Minneapolis, a hallmark of summer for many Minneapolis residents that Our Streets Minneapolis started in 2011. There was no advance discussion of ending the partnership or the future of the event series.
The statement saying this was mutually agreed upon, made by Sarah MacKenzie, Media Relations Coordinator for the City of Minneapolis, is false. The City of Minneapolis Public Works Department requested to discuss the 2024 event series for the first time on August 4, 2023, to schedule a meeting on August 21. Our Streets Minneapolis requested to postpone the meeting to September 18 after the Open Streets West Broadway had finished.
The decision to end the Open Streets Minneapolis program is in direct conflict with City policy goals. Open Streets Minneapolis is a priority in the City of Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan and demonstrates what streets can look like when we prioritize people over cars, incentivize multimodal transportation, and invest in marginalized communities.
Ensure that Open Streets Minneapolis continues to be a sustainable program and evolves. Explore different route types, lengths, frequency and repetition, including ideas like ‘car free Sundays’, low-programmed open streets, partnering with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board for events on parkways, and finding other ways to encourage and give people the opportunity to envision Minneapolis streets in a different way.
The goals of Open Streets include highlighting the cultural richness and diversity of the city of Minneapolis. We have worked hard to achieve this by developing relationships with stakeholders, individuals and organizations across the city, and selecting routes in marginalized communities that are not represented in other city event programs.
We are disappointed that Mayor Frey, Director of Public Works Margaret Anderson Kelliher and the Public Works Department chose to end the series during one of our most successful years, coinciding with three events in communities with the highest concentration of people with disabilities, immigrant people of color, and Black Americans (Near North, North Minneapolis, and Cedar Riverside).
The City of Minneapolis Open Streets agreement goes through 2024 (2022-2024), with the possibility of being extended through 2026. We have signed a professional services agreement (PSA) for 2022, 2023 and, pending a budget decision, planned to sign a PSA for 2024 and seek an extension through 2026.
In 2022, we raised concerns about the financial sustainability of the event and requested funding for the 2022 PSA. These concerns were not addressed, and the agreement remained unchanged. However, that in no way meant we intended to end the program. The funding concerns were expressed to ensure the long-term sustainability of Open Streets Minneapolis, increase the number of routes, and eliminate some of the financial barriers that limit small businesses, vendors and artists from participating.
Presently, the City of Minneapolis plans to no longer solicit a Request for Proposals (RFPs) for Open Streets organizers in the future. Given the logistical costs currently financed by the City (i.e. street closures, Minneapolis Police Department, food permits., etc.), this decision would hinder the financial viability of the program, and harm hundreds of relationships with community stakeholders across the city—effectively making it unsustainable.
Our Streets Minneapolis submitted an $851,000 budget proposal to Jacob Frey, all Minneapolis City Council Members and staff, and Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher on August 4, 2023. With city support, this proposal would allow Our Streets Minneapolis to staff, coordinate and host five events. We also indicated, with additional funding, we would be willing to host up to ten events.
We stand in solidarity with our community partners and the City of Minneapolis community members and ask the Minneapolis City Council, Mayor Jacob Frey and Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher to make sure the 2024 Event Series becomes a reality and to ensure the long-term sustainability of the program.