66th Street decision reconsidered
Council Member Pat Elliott asks to rescind 66th Street Concept 4B
First Ward City Council Member Pat Elliott asked for an amended City Council agenda on Tuesday, January 13 for the
consideration to rescind Concept 4B for the reconstruction of 66th Street between 35W and Penn Avenue. Concept 4B is the plan
approved at the December 9, 2014 City Council meeting that will result in the buyout and removal of 18 homes on the south
side of the street.
Since that December 9th meeting, the City Council has a new member with Michael Howard
replacing Sue Sandahl. So the balance of the decision rested on the new City Council Member. Howard voted in favor of amending
the agenda to allow the discussion, but voted to affirm Concept 4B. So the decision from the December 9th meeting stands.
over the issue was intense. Council Member Garcia called the move "disrespectful" and Council Member Fitzhenry said
it set a bad precedent and criticized the sudden nature of the action, without advance notice to the public. Elliott said
he meant no disrespect and called into question criticisms of his motives. Elliott said responses at open houses ran 2 to
1 against taking of homes for Concept 4B.
The end result, of course, was no change to the 66th Street reconstruction
Parking lot provision
City Council Amends Penn Avenue Overlay District
At its December 9th meeting, the Richfield City Council amended the Penn Avenue Overlay District with a provision
allowing municipal parking lots. The amendment passed with a 5-0 vote.
This amendment, while not impacting
the neighborhood in the near term, addresses an important issue in the neighborhood. Currently the Penn Central of Richfield
commercial district is characterized by having many small parking lots dedicated to specific businesses. Some businesses have
no parking at all. This situation limits the neighborhood as a pedestrian friendly area where a person could park once and
walk to several stores. A municipal lot could help correct this issue.
It should be noted that there
are currently no plans to add a municipal parking lot. But the amendment open the possibility and encourages discussion of
adding such a lot in the future.
homes to be acquired
Richfield City Council votes to adopt
66th Street reconstruction plan 4B
Many city council meetings are frankly rather sleepy affairs. Often times, they are meetings filled with bureaucratic
details and mundane policy decisions. But the Richfield City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 9 was very much the opposite.
On this night, the Richfield Council had a very significant issue to decide, one that would impact the community for decades
At hand was the decision to adopt a 66th Street reconstruction plan
that would expand the street to include better sidewalks, cycle tracks, boulevards, and improved lanes for motorized vehicles;
or limit the reconstruction to a smaller footprint that would restrict many of those enhancements. What made the vote tough
is that 18 homes on the south side of the street would have to be taken to proceed with the more elaborate plan, often referred
to as Plan 4B. The Council voted 3 to 2 to adopt Plan 4B, with Council Members Sandahl, Garcia and Fitzhenry voting yes, and
Council Member Elliott and Mayor Goettel voting no.
Richfield Transportation Engineer
Jeff Pearson opened the discussion with a review of the process that had transpired. Pearson mentioned that the options of
a three lane roadway and a low impact design were seriously considered, but ultimately abandoned in favor of Plan 4B, which
most recently had earned the unanimous support of the Richfield Transportation Commission.
residents addressed the City Council in an open comments session, almost evenly divided between favoring and opposing Plan
4B. Sean O'Leary, chair of the Richfield Bike Advocates, spoke first, strongly urging approval of Plan 4B. Ted Weidenbach,
a member of the Transportation Commission, said the Council was making a "75 year decision" with a long term impact
on the community. He characterized the stretch of 66th Street from 35W to Penn as "not safe for anyone." Jerri Haaven
was the first speaker who opposed Plan 4B and the taking of homes for 66th Street reconstruction. She worried about "those
who are left behind after the dust settles" from this project. Hayden Brockman spoke for a neighbor whose home will be
acquired. Brockman, whose home won't be acquired, currently lives in a house that's the second one away from the street, but
she worries how being the first house will affect her future equity. The open session seesawed back and forth between pro
and con speakers with regard to plan 4B.
Then it was the City Council's turn to
speak. Here is a summary of their comments in the order they spoke:
Goettel expressed a wish for revisiting the 3 lane option. She said we should proceed with painting the street in a three-lane
fashion and see what happens. According to the Mayor: "We need a road diet." She also voiced concern about losing
Council Member Pat Elliott, whose ward includes the homes in question,
believes Plan 4B is not going to decrease traffic, but rather increase it. He was also concerned about what he described as
the sudden notion to take the homes, saying the idea only became apparent about 6 months ago. Elliott feels Richfield is paying
a price for incompetent decisions by MN DOT regarding Crosstown reconstruction. He firmly says Plan 4B is not going to work
and he has no belief that it is going to increase safety.
Council Member Sue Sandahl
said we are making a 50 to 75 year decision. With only two routes spanning Richfield from east to west, she believes Plan
4B is necessary. She cited how staff had said the three lane option won't work. She also believes the medians, boulevards
and trees planned for the new roadway will have a traffic calming effect.
Member Edwina Garcia described how Richfield has changed over the years, going from a farming community to a bedroom community
to what it is today. She suggested this decision is just one more change as the City moves into the future. She described
the acquisitiion process that homeowners will experience, believing it is a very fair process. She said: "I don't want
to make a short decision for only 25 years. We have to make tough decisions if we're going to sit up here."
the first four members spoke, it was apparent that they split two to two in their opinions. It all hung in the balance with
Council Member Tom Fitzhenry.
Council Member Tom Fitzhenry said: "If we
don't take the 18 homes, we impact a lot more homes." He expressed concern about the prospect of taking twelve feet of
the front lawn of the homes on the north side of the street, which would happen with the low impact plan. He mentioned his
days as a police officer in Richfield, saying he recalled many accidents on what is a dangerous road. He said: "I can
find no other way than to agree with 4B."
Once Fitzhenry spoke, it was apparent
that Plan 4B would pass. The vote was merely a formality of what was to come.
the vote, the crowd that had gathered filed out quietly.
Gas Price Milestone
Lerum Auto breaks the $2 gas barrier
|Price as of January 3, 2015
Lerum Auto, 6420 Penn Avenue So., Richfield, reduced their gasoline price below the $2 level as of January 3, becoming the first
station in the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood to go that low.
With how frequently prices change,
we can't guarantee how long thsi will last, but it was fun to see!
Local non-profits working in our neighborhood
Organizations working close to home!
During the recent Give to the Max Day, we mentoned a few non-profit missions close to home where you might consider
making a donation. Give to the Max Day is now done, but the opportunity to give lives on. The links below will take you directly
to online donation pages for the organizations below. Donating to these causes will help strengthen our community.
Foundation - This local foundation is an all-volunteer run organization that grants money to causes that work for
successful kids, secure families, and a strong community. To read more, click here.
Wood Lake Nature Center - Our local Richfield Nature Center has a donation page
asking for funds so that children from low income families can attend summer camps. To read more, click here.
Richfield Band Shell - Supporters seeking to build an outdoor performing arts
band shell are seeking funds to enhance the planned community asset. To read more, click here.
Fraser - Located in the heart of the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood,
Fraser is making a world of difference for youth and adults with special needs. To read more, click here.
Assistance League - Another resident of the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood,
the Assistance League operates a thrift store to raise funds to feed and cloth children from low income families. To read
more, click here.
Emily celebrates her 101st birthday on October 20
Wood Lake Nature Center dedicates new pavilion to Emily Day
Wood Lake Nature Center dedicated a new pavilion on Sunday, October 19 to Emily Day, who is celebrating her 101st
birthday on October 20th. Emily is a long-time Richfield resident who taught for many years in the Richfield School system
and was an original member of the Friends of Wood Lake Board. Emily is a dear friend to many people throughout the community.
Happy birthday to Emily Day! Photo above shows Emily with Karen Shragg, who serves as director of Wood Lake Nature Center.
Banners marking the identity of the Penn Central neighborhood were installed in September.