LHNA encourages Lowry Hill residents to contact Mayor Jacob Frey and his staff to use his executive powers to delay the approval of this project.
Council Member Lisa Goodman is already supportive of the delay and it is unnecessary and unhelpful to contact her or her staff as they are working diligently to resolve this.
Minneapolis Public Works Staff is recommending a design for Hennepin Ave that they claim “best meets the city’s Transportation Action Plan and aligns with the Vision Zero Action Plan, the Complete Streets policy, and the Climate Action Plan.”
Unfortunately it hurts businesses along Hennepin that have been severely stressed in the last two years with measures like reducing parking along the corridor from 300 spaces to 20.
The success of the businesses and access to them is an important factor of neighborhood livability and our quality of life. This plan falls short of protecting businesses. We do not want the mass exodus of businesses as has happened in other places after removal of street parking.
An example of this is Hennepin Ave between Lake St and 31st where the city’s poor planning process has lead to the departure of dozens of business, most recently Kitchen Window..
According to the project website, the recommended design includes:
- Pedestrian facilities that improve safety and comfort for people walking
- A two-way protected bikeway between Lake Street and Franklin Avenue to improve safety and access for people biking
- Dedicated transit lanes for more efficient and reliable transit service
- Two vehicle lanes, with left turn lanes at key intersections, to maintain mobility for people in cars
- Parking/loading bays where feasible
At this time, City staff are planning to advance the recommended design to City Council for approval in late Quarter 1 or early Quarter 2 of 2022.
This should be delayed until an expert on business viability can review the plans and minimize the impact on businesses.
LHNA unanimously passed the following resolution on January 10, 2022:
The Lowry Hill Neighborhood Association (LHNA) Board of Directors resolved by unanimous vote that the planning and design phase of the Hennepin Avenue South Reconstruction Project should be delayed:
- Pre-2020 input assumptions on the Hennepin Avenue South design are no longer valid. Since then, much has changed in Minneapolis including the Covid-19 pandemic, social unrest, businesses distress, surge in crime and disruptions in patterns of daily life—commuting, working, attending school, shopping, and recreating.
- Design alternatives were not adequately examined. Eight months ago, we were presented with Alternatives A and B. We made it clear we needed to see other alternatives, but none were ever supplied.
- The elimination of parking along Hennepin Avenue South from 300 stalls to 20 will place an undue hardship on businesses that are still trying to recover from civil unrest, an unprecedented escalation in criminal activity and the Covid-19 pandemic. We have already lost many businesses. We should be finding ways to make it easier to conduct business, not harder. We question whether marginally improving transit time through a 1 ½ mile corridor, which benefit has never been quantified, is worth the adverse impact to business viability and neighborhood livability.
- The public engagement process, which was administered virtually, has been confusing and cryptic, especially to Lowry Hill residents unfamiliar with or lacking access to technology that is necessary to partake in this process. Outreach has also been managed in a way that limits stakeholder participation, dialogue and learning from one another about various points of view. As a result, the recommended design lacks depth and will lead to problems that exist in areas that have had similarly flawed public processes. A prime example of this is the design failure of Hennepin Avenue South between Lake Street and 31st Street that has led to a mass exodus of businesses and created unfortunate vehicular flow and parking issues. Allowing for authentic neighborhood stakeholder participation will ensure a better outcome for all.Sincerely,
Chas Scheiderer, LHNA President, On Behalf of LHNA Board Members:
Jackie Brown Baylor
Jennifer Wirick Breitinger
Robert ‘Bob’ Hinck
John Chance Lillehei, MD