That’s what Principal City Planner Amanda Arnold and the gang from CPED (Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development) wanted to know last month when they hosted the first of several “open houses” in an attempt to solicit input from residents, business owners and stakeholders as part of a preliminary process in building consensus for the “Lyn-Lake Small Area Plan.” After describing what could be expected as the process moves ahead, planners brought attendees up to speed with an overview and brief examination of existing conditions and land use policy.
Participants were then encouraged to discuss the issues informally among themselves and with staff members who obligingly fanned out among the somewhat spare gathering to field questions and solicit comments. It was the first chance for community members to weigh in and share their thoughts. Finally, inquiring planners invited everyone to respond to three special questions. To summarize, here are some of the themes that seemed to emerge:
1) What do you value most about the Lyn-Lake area?
• Transportation – Good alternative transportation – # 21 bus, the Midtown Greenway; possibility of a trolley or light rail.
• Density – Wide sidewalks; feels like Uptown in the 60s and 70s before it became an “activity center”
• Development – The feel of a small town commercial node – small businesses, many smaller buildings and store fronts, generally 2-3 story buildings – some older/historic buildings; relatively intact streetwall (few parking lots on major streets)
• Diversity – of ownership; no chains; a variety of independent businesses.
• Community – Wonderful restaurants, and things to do within walking distance; arts, culture that’s accessible – galleries, theater, variety of shops and entertainment, kinda funky and eclectic (The Jungle Theater, Greek To Me Patio)
2) What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the Lyn-Lake area?
• Transportation – How to get people around (to and from the area) in a more pedestrian friendly way; car-centric intersections prevent a safe and pleasant pedestrian environment; it’s difficult to predict how the area will develop until light rail issues are resolved.
• Density – Where do we need it for transit and economies of scale, and where and when do we want less density to reduce crowding, traffic and parking problems.
• Development – Improving the existing environment while ensuring that new development is compatible with the scale of existing/older development; providing for the possibility of increased population;
• Diversity – Diversity of ownership – not just one property owner who leases to a variety of merchants, but many owner/occupied businesses; retaining and preserving small, unique, local, independent businesses and services without pricing them out of the area.
• Community – How to encourage a sense of community when there is a large rental population; area can look derelict (much dirt and debris) when property owners don’t sweep sidewalks and pick up trash; litter, crime, lack of respect for property are detrimental.
• Funding – Lack of planning and investment by state/federal agencies could compromise implementation of the best laid plans.
3) What three words describe your vision for Lyn-Lake?
• Diversity of ownership
• Bike culture
• Bustling, shady, walkable
• Serving neighborhood needs
• Colorful, non homogeneous
• Eclectic independent, artsy
• Small scale density
• Model of green/sustainable and working
A small area plan, once adopted, will inform and clarify the goals, policies, and implementation steps in the city’s comprehensive plan for many decades to come. If you have a vision for the Lyn-Lake neighborhood, now is the time to weigh in. The next online survey will be posted sometime in August. Check out the Lyn-Lake Small Area Plan site for updates at: www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cped/Lyn-Lake.asp