Saying that government planning agencies have neglected to adequately consider the impacts of the Central Corridor Light Rail Project on area businesses and residents, neighborhood groups and residents filed a lawsuit in Federal Court today to keep construction on the long-planned project from commencing. (See related article: University Avenue businesses face double whammy with Central Corridor increasing their property taxes)
Citing concerns ranging from increased property taxes to crime and parking for businesses – Rondo community residents and business owners, along with representatives of the NAACP, Community Stabilization Project, Aurora/Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, and Pilgrim Baptist Church – laid out their reasons for the suit at the Central Corridor Resource Center.
Betty Charles, owner of Shear Pleasures on University Avenue in Saint Paul, told reporters, “I’ve owned my business for 24 years. The negative impact I am concerned with is the loss of street parking on University Ave., the increased property taxes, and the lack of a business support fund.”
Rena Moran, a local homeowner, said she bought a home in the Rondo neighborhood because it was a diverse community she knew she could afford. But Ms. Moran shared her concerns that the Central Corridor project would result in higher property taxes that would result in the displacement of her and many of her neighbors.
“My membership will be put out of their homes,” said Rev. Charles Gill of the Pilgrim Baptist Church. “Their taxes are going to go up and as they rise, many of my members who are seniors will be unable to afford to pay them as easily as they once did.”
Following the announcement of the lawsuit, Met Council Chairman Peter Bell said, “I am very disappointed that these groups have chosen to file a lawsuit against the Met Council and the Central Corridor LRT project. I am firmly convinced that the project will help spur the revitalization already occurring in the corridor and provide improved access to employment, educational and economic opportunities for its residents.”
“With the FTA’s change in policy concerning the CEI, I believe it is more likely than ever that we will be able to add one or two of the so-called “infill stations” to the project,” Mr. Bell continued. “However, I cannot envision the budget being large enough to address the wide range of concerns raised by these groups.”