Prior to 1999 the Greater Phillips Community had a series of neighborhood organizations. Phillips Neighborhood Improvement Association and People of Phillips were the most recent. Unfortunately, the mismanagement of People of Phillips forced the City to withdraw funds from that entity. Many groups came forward wanting to be approved as the new association to be funded as the official Phillips neighborhood association.
A small group of residents in what was then District 2 of Phillips, decided the best way forward for the northern area around Franklin Avenue, was to separate from the Districts that border Lake Street. It was felt that Franklin Avenue was lost in the process in the past. They founded Ventura Village and obtained Non-Profit status under Section 501C3 of the IRS Code. The goal was to make District 2 a safe livable neighborhood. Residents of District 2 asked the City to reallocate the remaining Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) funds so that District 2 would receive its fair share of the funding, and the ability to make fair decisions for the best use of the funds. They also asked that District 2 be recognized as a separate neighborhood.
The reallocation of funds was approved for all Districts of Phillips early on. The recognition of being a separate neighborhood was a lengthy process, because the City had no real definition of a neighborhood. Once the City Council approved the definition in 2004, Ventura Village became a separate neighborhood. One of the first decisions made by Ventura Village was to not hire staff. People of Phillips ended due to mismanagement of staff and funds. Ventura Village decided to use all funds to implement programs to achieve goals, not to pay staff. Board members wanted to spend their volunteer hours in the community, not managing staff.
The NRP Funding was available to neighborhoods for what was called “bricks and mortar” improvements. Ventura Village used the funds to prepare a Neighborhood Master Plan that would address the more than 30 vacant lots and boarded houses, while improving transportation, and the common spaces. One of the goals of The Plan was to provide up to a thousand additional living units in the neighborhood. Over the next ten years Ventura Village used NRP funds to implement the plan through grant programs, and through partnerships with neighborhood partners and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB). When the NRP Program ended after 2010, there were eight new apartment buildings on Franklin Avenue, there were Plans to improve both MPRB properties, the Phillips Community Center and Peavey Park, there was pedestrian lighting on the bridges over the freeways that connect Ventura Village to other neighborhoods, there was neighborhood signage, etc.
After 2010, the City no longer had an NRP department. They created a Neighborhood Community Relations Department (NCR). The focus changed from “bricks and mortar” to engaging with residents and community partners. Ventura Village increased engagement by supporting programming throughout the community such as youth programming in the parks and programs at the Franklin Library.
Under this new funding source Neighborhoods were allowed to create Neighborhood Priory Plans NPP). Ventura Village created a NPP to improve the two MPRB properties in the neighborhood. A large amount of funds was allocated to saving the PCC and specifically the swimming pool. Allocated Funds were used for developing and implementing a Plan for Peavey Park. We partnered with the University of Minnesota Urban Design Department (who described the Park in 2012 as 4 blocks of vacant land) to develop the plan. It took eight years of many meetings and compromises to get Peavey Park improved. Ventura Village funds were used for many of the improvements including the cameras, pavilion, swings, the soccer fields, benches and tables, and more. More improvements are planned in 2023 including a raised bed community garden.
As Ventura Village moves towards 2023 the City of Minneapolis has again changed their focus. It is not supporting neighborhoods as they have for the last 30 years. Ventura Village has not changed its focus. The goal remains to make Ventura Village a safe livable neighborhood.