Berwyn District Civic Association Meeting
October 17, 2019
Meeting came to order at 7:35 p.m. Meeting held in Fealy Hall. BDCA Board Members in attendance: Bob Catlin, Chad Stern, Jim Nealis, Lily Fountain, Christy Dollymore, Nick Brennan. Other attendees included PJ Brennan, Patrick Wojahn, Liesl Koch, Claire Volke, Crystal Bergemann, Dan Stafford, Amelia Avis, others who were non-Berwyners.
Candidates’ Forum: Running for Mayor: Patrick Wojahn spoke first, discussed recent
accomplishments – Lidl, Duvall Field repairs,
Questions to the candidates
included concerns about Malsawma’s stance on LGBTQ
said she opposed Wojahn’s pro-gay stance and believed
this was an affront to Biblical values. Pancho said she had no stance on LGBTQ issues and just
wanted city residents to get along. One
questioner expressed concerns about the poor state
What will be your priorities as
wants to bridge the gap between elected officials and citizens. Perhaps we need 311 text messages from the
city, more city surveys, etc. Wojahn wants
to preserve quality of life, and is worried about the number of rental houses,
parking and noise issues. He wants more
rental units to return to owner-occupied homes, wants more engagement and
diversity, and sustainability issues (recycling, food waste composting). Malsawma wants to
build a better identity for
Wojahn was asked why
investors/builders get big tax breaks for new buildings. We are a ‘low-income’ opportunity zone due to
the low income students have. We need to
promote development because summer is a slow season
for local businesses (when students are absent) – we need more non-students downtown
so the city encourages ‘non-student’ development. Pancho
said over-development is causing traffic and congestion downtown. Route 1 is in bad shape, and should include a
bike lane. We need sustainable retail
downtown, and residents should have more say over development. Malsawma said the
University is taking over our city, and we helped them do that by giving them
Closing statements: Pancho is excited to run and meet city residents. The community should work to bring families
and neighbors together. Malsawma said she had lived in
City Council Candidates:
Another question – why doesn’t the city use more referendums to get city residents’ opinions? Brennan pointed out this fall there is a question asking opinions about 2 vs. 4 year terms for city officials, but we also elect representatives to make some decisions for us. Dennis agreed – every issue cannot go to referendum, and we have 8 council members who are capable of discussing/settling issues. Wojahn added that voters hold their elected officials accountable, and can vote them out if they disagree with council decisions. Gregory said we need more referendums – he noted that a tiny number of folks responded to a MNCPPC survey about bike trails, and 75% wanted more trails, but he knocked on hundreds of doors and spoke to folks face-to-face and learned 75% opposed spending more money on such trails.
One questioner asked why we need more parking permits while builders are allowed to erect huge buildings without providing parking lots and UM is reducing such lots? Maybe developers should pay for our permits? Dennis said parking is always an issue, but the new buildings must meet county parking requirements. We should get UM to improve Shuttle routes. Brennan agreed parking is a big issue, but noted the city has no zoning powers. He said more parking spaces just bring more cars. Gregory said the huge number of rental homes bring too many cars to our streets, so we need more home-owners, not renters. We should make UM build more dorms on campus for its students.
Closing statements: Gregory said Rt. 1 traffic is not only students, it is commuters also. He wants city tax payers to have a greater say in how city tax money is spent. Brennan said he is a good listener, has good working relationships with the mayor and council. He cares about the community and wants to serve again. Dennis said it is a pleasure to serve, and wants to continue serving another term.
Due to the late hour, other civic association business was postponed. The meeting concluded at 9:40 p.m.
Notes compiled by Jim Nealis