Some Downtowners not relieved by Block E public restrooms

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July 2, 2002 // UPDATED 1:25 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Ellen Nigon
Ellen Nigon

Although Block E's developer has changed course and restored public bathrooms, some Downtown citizens say more is needed.

On July 8, following reports that Block E had dropped many amenities promised in an original city agreement, the Minneapolis Planning Commission tackled the controversy.

Forgone items include an outdoor escalator to the skyways and a first-floor passage between Hennepin and 1st avenues.

However, the change that brought a crowd was the elimination of public bathrooms.

At the start of the meeting, Planning Director Chuck Ballentine told the commission that issue had been resolved. Public bathrooms would be located on the second story, near the movie theaters.

That didn't stop citizens upset about public urination Downtown from airing their concerns.

Andrew Hauer, a longtime Downtown resident, expressed concern that one set of public restrooms is not enough for a place with five new liquor licenses.

Mike Rollin, a community organizer with CCNP Restorative Justice, helps run a justice diversion program that brings offenders of livability crimes before neighbors affected by their actions. Rollin told commissioners that 351 of last year's cases were for public urination.

Planning commissioner Randall Bradley questioned why there wouldn't be public restrooms on the project's first floor. "For $39 million (the amount of city subsidy in Block E) we ought to get a couple of accessible bathrooms," Bradley said. "I am going to step up to the plate and request public bathrooms on both levels."

The commission put off further decisions on Block E's amenity gap until its July 22 meeting, 4:30 p.m. in City Hall room 317, 350 S. 5th St.

Block E's parking ramp is scheduled to open this month, with businesses opening beginning in August.