MINNEAPOLIS — Safety concerns at a downtown Minneapolis hot spot have neighbors working with police and elected officials to fix the problem.
The Commons sits in the shadow of U.S. Bank Stadium, and neighbors say the park's come under a second shadow.
"There is a fair amount of drug activity in the park," said Andy Gittleman, the president of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association.
Minneapolis Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto says the summer months saw "a dramatic increase in reports of … drug use."
Ohotto says there's been an average of nearly an arrest a day in the park since the beginning of September.
A recent neighborhood meeting brought residents together with elected officials, police and city staff.
"I'm optimistic that with the focus on all voices at the table, community involvement, all the tools in the tool kit, that we can really see improvement," said Elizabeth Shaffer, the area's Minneapolis Park Board Commissioner.
Gittleman says he feels finding solutions is a priority for both residents and city leaders.
"If we want our downtown to be thriving, and we want people from the suburbs to come into downtown, we have to make sure that it's a safe place," he said.
Park police have stepped up patrols in the park and last week, court documents show an arrest led to the seizure of more than 100 fentanyl pills.
But Ohotto says the community also must be invested in the space and make use of it.
"Law enforcement and policing is not a good long-term strategy for dealing with folks experiencing homelessness or addiction or mental illness," he said.
A downtown safety summit Tuesday night will bring together several community groups for conversations about solutions.
Gittleman says more than 300 neighbors are expected to be there in addition to top city leaders.
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