The District Councils Collaborative of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (DCC) was formed in 2006 to facilitate neighborhood participation in the development of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (CCLRT) and ensure that the needs and interests of residents and businesses are represented. Founding member organizations recognized that planners and policy-makers would be making decisions that, if not analyzed and responded to in a timely manner, might be implemented without the concerns and interests of the affected community members being fully addressed.
The DCC’s has nine Saint Paul District Councils and five Minneapolis Neighborhood Associations who are members and signatories to a Memorandum of Understanding that defines the relationship between the collaborative and its members. Now an independent nonprofit organization, the DCC began as a program of University UNITED, a 28-year-old coalition of member organizations that represents the business and neighborhood stakeholders of the University Avenue corridor.
The DCC’s program focus is the Central Corridor LRT line. The DCC provides the necessary civic infrastructure and coordination to its members to address the varied concerns arising from the vast changes brought about by the planning, development, and construction of the CCLRT project. It identifies priority corridor-wide issues, takes positions, and advocates for the best interests of the Central Corridor communities and those residing in them, especially those with high ethnic and economic diversity. The DCC also provides research and education, and works to strengthen the role of district councils and neighborhood associations in the planning and implementation process. Finally, the DCC is a strong and united community voice ensuring that the transit corridor project is a success for the entire community it will serve.
Over the last four years, the DCC has established itself as a recognized community leader on the CCLRT Project. Working independently and/or in partnership with community and advocacy organizations, small business interests, elected officials, and the foundation community, the DCC has achieved many accomplishments at the local and national levels. Some of the DCC’s accomplishments are listed below.
- Successfully advocating with for build-out of three “missing” stations on the eastern end of University Avenue to ensure that neighborhoods with high concentrations of low income and/or minority populations have equitable access to LRT. The DCC is also working to retain high-frequency service on Bus Route 16, which provides access to local destinations.
- Effectively influencing LRT project design, engineering, and policy decisions through the federal and state environmental review and municipal consent processes. This has empowered neighborhoods to work directly with Central Corridor Project staff to resolve site-specific issues, such as re-locating Tranction Power Sub-stations to allow for future economic development.
- Serving as the lead community organization in convening two corridor-wide Community Summits on the CCLRT Project that resulted in the widely supported Community Statement on issues and concerns about the project and related economic development, as well as the creation of the Central Corridor Community Agreements Coordinating Committee to craft written agreements with cities, counties and the Met Council to find solutions and ensure transparency and accountability as the CCLRT and related development comes to fruition.
- Establishing strong working relationships with CCLRT Project decision-makers by holding more than 50 briefings with public officials and staff from the Met Council, Saint Paul, Minneapolis, Ramsey County, Hennepin County, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Transit Administration.
- Publishing research papers and reports, and communicating the results through community forums and meetings with elected officials and Met Council members and staff.
In addition, the DCC sustains a strong presence in CCLRT-related meetings and decision-making processes, continues its research-based CCLRT advocacy work to address concerns identified through the district council and neighborhood association system, creates and promotes community engagement opportunities, and serves as a primary contact and entry point for governmental and community-oriented entities to engage Central Corridor communities in efforts to ensure that all communities benefit from this major public investment.
The DCC is partnering with MetroTransit to create new opportunities for all communities and groups to share their voice in the upcoming Central Corridor bus and light rail transit service study.
The DCC has launched a survey designed to assist communities in assessing the current walking conditions within a half-mile of light rail stations, and to determine what actions should be taken to make these routes safe and pleasant for all ages and levels of mobility.
Central Corridor construction communication and supporting small business
The DCC is collaborating with various neighborhood and community organizations and the Central Corridor Project Office to help keep the community informed about construction in Central Corridor and spread the word about supporting small business.
The District Councils Collaborative of Saint Paul and Minneapolis wishes to gratefully acknowledge funding support from the Saint Paul Foundation, F.R. Bigelow Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and McKnight Foundation, which makes our work possible.