As preliminary planning continues to complete the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway through Southeast Minneapolis, residents and other area stakeholders continue to adamantly oppose any route that would necessitate the removal of homes in the Como neighborhood.
Open houses on the proposed route alternatives take place this month — Jan. 16 & 17
In recent months, Como residents convinced Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) planners to eliminate a route along 18th Avenue Southeast, but another route that would mean the removal of homes, called G-5, remains a possibility.
Residents who oppose the loss of homes have been joined by the Southeast Como Improvement Association (SECIA), the University of Minnesota and Ward 2 Council Member Cam Gordon.
Lila Smith, a Southeast Como resident who has spearheaded the opposition, collected 165 signatures on a petition against removing homes and/or student housing. Smith has also circulated information and long letters with arguments and impassioned pleas from longtime Como residents opposing a parkway that would eliminate homes.
Project Coordinator Tom Johnson acknowledged in an email the negative response from residents, SECIA and the university to the taking of homes. However, Johnson said that G-5 is still an option, as is G-1, the north section of G-2, and G-3 and G-4.
“Given that our charge from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is to also find and designate larger ‘open space’ areas in addition to identifying the preferable parkway corridor, my concern has been that we may end up doing neither unless we focus on some of the other large tracks of property within the Northeast and Southeast areas of the city,” said Johnson.
Based on the negative response to G-5, he said the natural migration was to look further east, in the area of G-3 and G-4, where the potential exists for both the ‘Missing Link’ parkway and a large park area.
Residents suggest that the largely industrial area, near the border of St. Paul, is the best alternative for the route. “… the area is badly neglected,” wrote Smith in an email to community members and the press. “Many of us see potential for easement and find the idea of a winding pathway more appealing. Further, it would help keep the speed down. The far eastern areas are better for connecting with potential wetland.”
However, Johnson said the response from business owners in the G-3 and G-4 areas was also negative. “They, like the residents, do not support the taking of their property for park and parkway purposes,” said Johnson. “So, if owner support is necessary to achieving our objectives, it would appear that we have not yet found the magic key.”
Three open houses are scheduled in January, 6:30–8 p.m, two in The Bridge’s coverage area: Wednesday, Jan. 16 at Luxton Park, 112 Williams Ave. SE; and Thursday, Jan. 17, at Van Cleve Park, 901 15th Ave. SE.
The open houses will include photos and drawings of the remaining proposed route alternatives, a presentation about the project, and a question-and-answer session.