Stop the Lynnhurst Plan! No New Traffic at 51st & James Ave.

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12/15/19 UPDATE: Citizen support for this petition continues to grow to over 700 signatures, and Lynnhurst neighborhood appreciates the Star Tribune coverage 12/1/19 (link) article, CBS-WCCO coverage, and supp ...Read More

12/15/19 UPDATE: Citizen support for this petition continues to grow to over 700 signatures, and Lynnhurst neighborhood appreciates the Star Tribune coverage 12/1/19 (link) article, CBS-WCCO coverage, and support from Mount Olivet Church leaders and staff.

THANK YOU, Senior Pastor David Lose, Youth Pastor Kristi Youngdahl, Choir Direcetor Beverly Claflin and other church staff for publicly supporting your 13,000 church members who park and walk along James Ave. and 51st and 50th St.

Keep signing and leaving comments. Your voice matters!

PETITION PURPOSE:

1) Build awareness of Mpls Park Board's reckless plan for altering car traffic on Minnehaha Parkway, specifically the dangerous, if not deadly, consequences of a proposed new path for cars and bikes in the Lynnhurst neighborhood.

We are not anti-bike or anti-change. This is a non-partisan petition concerned with protecting neighborhood public safety and environment from a poorly designed plan;

2) Collect electronic signatures and comments to send the Park Board our feedback in a single file to be included in the public record;

3) Pressure the board to leave Minnehaha Parkway unchanged for car traffic at Lynnhurst, and Nicollet, and Portland (at The Bunny).

This petition and all comments will be forwarded to the Park Board and CAC by Dec. 18th so Park Board Commissioners know our concerns before a vote in Jan. 2020

Please sign the petition or leave a comment.

Feel free to share this petition link on FaceBook, NextDoor, or by email.

Join us on FaceBook at Preserve Lynnhurst to continue sharing ideas and concerns for protecting Lynnhurst neighborhood. Pro bono lawyers are welcome.

Petition: Stop the Lynnhurst Plan! No New Traffic at 51st & James

To Mpls. Park Board Commissioners and Members of Citizens Advisory Council (CAC):

We, the undersigned voters, are not only your constituents in Lynnhurst neighborhood but are also impacted stakeholders from all parts of Minneapolis and beyond.

We are all ages, races, religions, creeds, economic and education levels. We love our bikes and running and walking but we also drive cars and park on city streets. We are diverse!

Some of us are neighbors on a three-block stretch of West 51st Street and W. Minnehaha Parkway/Irving Ave./James Ave. South.

Others of us drive Minnehaha Parkway and adjoining city streets many times per day or week to get to work or school. Some of us drive and park on 51st Street to kayak the creek or bike or rollerblade the trails.

Every week day A LOT of us park on 50th/51st and James Ave.to drop off/pick up preschoolers at Mt Olivet Nursery School or young children at Burroughs Elementary. And A LOT of us park on 51st and James so our young children can participate in Lynnhurst youth sports.

Then there are also THOUSANDS of us who attend Mt Olivet Church every Sunday, and we need to park on both sides of 51st and Knox/James/Irving Aves. because the parking lot isn't big enough.

Mt Olivet Church is a big, busy place every day of the week, including a music school, several youth groups, and choir groups, plus weddings and funerals. Again, there is a lot of driving and parking all along 51st St and Knox/James/Irving Ave. on both sides of the street.

Fun fact: Do you know Mt Olivet is the largest ELCA congregation in the US with more than 13,000 members and 900 staff? If there is any doubt to its size and accompanying traffic congestion, try driving and parking along Knox, James, and Irving Aves and 51st Street on Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Or talk to the team of Mpls police officers who direct traffic at 50th and James every Sunday morning year-round.

The point is this: 51st St. and James Ave S. is a very busy intersection filled with children coming and going every single day, year round. Add winter conditions, and it is very challenging to navigate safely.

Given all of our different backgrounds and our different reasons for driving and parking near Burroughs and Mt Olivet, it is unusual for us to unite behind a single cause. But you've managed to make it happen.

Because when it comes to your preferred concept for W. Minnehaha Parkway at Lynnhurst, we bring you one clear message:

THE PREFERRED CONCEPT FOR LYNNHURST IS AN INJURY OR FATALITY WAITING TO HAPPEN!!

That's right. We strongly oppose your plan and it must be stopped.

Leave the existing northbound W. Minnehaha Parkway south of Minnehaha creek “as-is” from W.51st St to W. 50th St. The volume of all modes of traffic adjacent to Mt Olivet Church and Burroughs School, on both sides of the creek, is too high to support additional traffic.

Besides traffic volume and parking issues, there is also a significant elevation issue between the James Ave. bridge and the corner of James Ave and 51st St. that impairs the visibility of drivers, pedestrians and bikers who cross at the corner.

Adding 1,900 more cars per day onto W. 51st St to James Ave. will increase odds significantly of the most unfortunate scenario: a walker or a biker, most likely a child, crossing the intersection just south of the creek's James Ave. bridge will be killed by a driver who cannot see the person crossing before cresting the highest elevation point of the bridge.

Background

Minneapolis Park Board is developing a (link) Master Parkway Regional Plan for the parkland running along Minnehaha Creek from Minnehaha Regional Park to the western city limit.

A Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) is responsible for recommending changes for all parks and road infrastructure, including Lynnhurst. CAC members are appointees selected by Park Commissioners, City Council representatives or neighborhood associations of unknown origin.

The CAC’s (link) preferred concept for Lynnhurst to redirect cars from the corner of W. Minnehaha Parkway and W. 51st St a block west along 51st Street and Irving /James Ave. to 50th Street makes an undesirable traffic situation much worse and is intolerably risky.

One would presume the preferred concept is focused on improving the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists or drivers over the current condition. Or maybe making it easier to drive around our neighborhood.

However, according to the Master Parkway Regional Plan’s own project manager, Adam Arvidson, the only reason the Board is looking to close the road to car traffic is because there is anecdotal feedback the existing intersection at Lynnhurst Community Center is too congested and "awkward".

Yet there have been zero reported accidents or fatalities with the existing traffic configuration. In fact, there are none reported within the entire parkway system!

So how is moving traffic congestion one or two blocks west on 51st and James Ave any better in terms of perceived feelings or actual risk potential for accidents?

Park Board Power Grab

Even though there is no data to back up claims of injuries or accidents at the existing Lynnhurst intersection, the Park Board is looking to engineer a solution where there is no real problem other than "awkward" design and traffic congestion.

And we agree - it is awkward driving around Lynnhurst Community Center.

But instead of closing the road to car traffic altogether, has the Park Board considered less drastic measures such as adding more signs or painting arrows on the street and bike path?

Or how about widening the parkway at the SE corner of 50th and Minnehaha Parkway to improve safety and traffic flow for cars going north to Lake Harriet or turning right onto eastbound W. 50th?

We accept the awkward bottleneck at Lynnhurst Community Center (50th St. & W. Minnehaha Parkway) is the price we pay for living in a popular, high-density corridor along Minnehaha Creek where thousands must share the roads and trails. And cars do indeed drive extra slowly and carefully in that area.

We also expect these congested intersections will become the “norm” in Lynnhurst once more high-density housing is built up along W. 50th St. per zoning code changes adopted with Mpls 2040 Plan.

So what is Mpls Park Board striving toward by “lifting and shifting” traffic a block or two west from the current roadway?

And can we even begin to speculate the astronomical cost of building and maintaining new infrastructure as proposed in the Master Plan? Why are you proposing such massive infrastructure changes to which the majority of your constituents are opposed?

For a Park Board that struggles to keep the lakes clean of milfoil, cut the grass, and fill potholes on bike trails, how do you think you can manage all the upkeep that comes with new interpretive art installations, new ADA-compliant boat launches and fishing piers along Minnehaha Creek or a new park no one wants underneath a dark, creepy bridge at Nicollet?

The people charged with making decisions about our tax-funded infrastructure do not appreciate how we Minneapolis residents and tax-payers will suffer for these changes and the risks involved with rerouting 1,900 cars per day in Lynnhurst as forecasted by a two-day (link) traffic study.

Residents on 51st Street and James Ave. Specific Concerns

We who own homes on W. 51st St and Irving/James Ave are impacted especially unfairly.

Unlike our neighbors' homes on Minnehaha Parkway which were built with long, front yard set-backs to minimize noise and pollution from cars, ours do not enjoy the same long set-back. This means our homes are too close to 51st St. for us to be so exposed to the constant noise and pollution of an extra 1,900 cars a day driving by our houses.

Also, parkway homes were designed with access to garages off an alley. Some of us on 51st St and James Ave. have driveways that back into 51st St. or into James Ave. which adds more risk of accidents.

Will we need Mpls Police to help direct all the new traffic so we can leave our own driveways?

General Concerns on the Regional Master Plan

Breaking Up Minnehaha Parkway

People from around the world who visit Minneapolis are AMAZED at our beautiful parks and miles and miles of parkway for cars, bikes, and pedestrians. Being able to drive the parkway is the ideal way to showcase the "jewels" of the City - our Chain of Lakes and Minnehaha Creek running from the Minneapolis/Edina border to Minnehaha Falls.

We are proud to drive the parkway showing off our beautiful city and what makes Minneapolis unlike any other place: an oasis of clean lakes, green parks and a beautiful creek that meanders through forested greenways among stately houses built in bygone days.

These features are why the Twin Cities Marathon course is on the parkway and billed "The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon In the Country".

These features are why (link) Lynnhurst is named one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the nation.

Park Board Commissioners, how can you defend breaking up Minnehaha Parkway connecting the (link) historic Grand Rounds as they were designed, including at Lynnhurst? Besides creating unbearable traffic burdens on our city streets, and for no good reason and which threaten public safety, what a shame to lose forever this unique asset and pleasurable driving experience on this National Scenic Byway.

And the vast majority of people don't want it! Not here in Lynnhurst, or at Nicollet or at The Bunny at Portland. (link) 86% of nearly 800 people polled on neighborhood app NextDoor do not want the parkway changed at Nicollet Ave.

Our point is this: We want to be able to enjoy the city's natural beauty by driving the parkway without stressful detours onto already busy city streets and risking life or limb. Not everyone is able or wants to ride a bike!

Managing Underground Water Storage At Lynnhurst Park and Burroughs Fields

Another key component of the Lynnhurst Preferred Concept is underground water storage for capturing water from creek flooding and storm water run-off both at Burroughs School fields and Lynnhurst Park as shown on the (link) map.

While better management of the Minnehaha Creek watershed sounds like a great idea, we are concerned whether Park Board and Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) have conducted a hydrology and geology assessment and have a coordinated plan to mitigate risks of unintentionally creating or worsening flooding for nearby homes and fracturing old sewer lines.

We've read your two-day traffic study and found it flimsy and flawed. We are concerned Park Board has taken a similarly superficial approach for studying the risks to our homes in Lynnhurst.

Our concern is best explained by looking at what is happening right now a little further down the creek from Lynnhurst.

Neighborhoods at (link) Lake Nokomis and Hiawatha have tremendous water damage due to heavy rainfall in recent years. But evidence also points to the MCWD's failed water storage plan along with Park Board's failure to pump the stored underground water and maintain the above ground wetlands.

As a consequence, increased hydrostatic water pressure has fractured city sewer lines and forced underground water to seep into basements of homes which have never had water issues.

These homeowners are now saddled with STAGGERING home repair bills, and neither the MCWD or Mpls Park Board is assuming the costs. Click here, here, or here for more information.

Our point is this: We do not want our houses and sewers damaged with the MCWD and Park Board's plan to manage the underground water table or wetlands in Lynnhurst. Please don't make us a new problem while trying to fix another! We want to see a hydrology and geology report with risk assessment along with a coordinated plan for mitigating water damage to sewer lines and homes.

We have been sharing concerns for months! Do you hear us?

Since at least spring 2019, residents and other stakeholders have consistently and respectfully shared concerns at CAC meetings, on Mpls Park Board surveys, and in person with Park Board Commissioners and the Project Manager.

And we still see no changes to the proposal after nine months of talking.

We are told: Contact the CAC. Go to a Park Board Meeting. Take the Survey. Or dismissed with “Your concerns about increased traffic are your own value judgmentsFor residents this translates to: “OK Boomer, you’re in the big city and we know best. This isn't Mayberry.

From our experience, the Park Board’s process of communicating recommendations and collecting and responding to stakeholder feedback has been generally LOUSY for these reasons:

  • Communication - By the time we hear about a plan, it feels like a “done deal” that was sprung on us. We go to Park Board presentations and only the CAC members are allowed to speak, not the general public.
  • Accountability - There is little or no transparency for how CAC members are appointed and to whom they are accountable or who they represent.
  • Practical Problem Solving- Why isn't there a phased approach so we can easily implement some easy-to- fix and cheap solutions to real problems with our existing design? (i. e. fill the pot holes on the bike paths so bikers don't need to ride on the street. Add a speed bump on the James Ave. bridge)
  • Stakeholders - Not enough collaboration with residents. Why haven’t you valued input from neighbors, both residents and school or church leaders who have first-hand knowledge of what to expect? (Sorry, but a two-day traffic study counting cars from a lawn chair does not begin to capture the real implications of this poor design.)
  • Rushed Decision Making - Why the rush to make a decision on a massive infrastructure overhaul? Put this on a ballot and let us vote.
  • Budget - We ask about a budget and there is no number shared. We are to be mollified with "Don't worry, we'll find the funds from County and State taxes too!" That is not a satisfactory answer to give to the people already paying very high City taxes plus to County, State, and Fed. We want to know the bottom line cost with any proposal and then vote on it during an election year.

What’s coming next?

The CAC will vote on a plan in January 2020. After the CAC adopts a plan, the Park Board will make a final vote.

We need all our voices heard now. With the hope there is power in large numbers, please take a moment today to sign the petition and forward it to others.

Also, email feedback to MPRB Project Manager, Adam Arvidson, (Aarvidson@minneapolisparks.org) and President & Commissioner, Brad Bourn, (BBourn@minneapolisparks.org) You can send feedback to MPRB directly here.

Our goal is to send this petition and all of its comments to all Park Board Commissioners, CAC and Ward 13 City Councilwoman Linea Palmisano by December 18th as part of the official feedback record.

Sincerely,

Your Constituents and Other Impacted Stakeholders

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