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A year of change

A Penn Central of Richfield review of 2014 

As each year comes and goes, it's always interesting to recall highlights and changes in the neighborhood. In 2014, we witnessed fun times, promising developments and sad news. In short, it was a year like many others. Life is a constant process of evolving stories. Here are a few of the highlights from 2014.


The Xerxes Avenue Bridge over 62 Crosstown was redecked earlier in the year. This reconstruction diverted more traffic into the Penn and 66th area, causing a wee bit more congestion but also potentially bringing more customers to our Penn Avenue businesses.


We welcomes Ambro Alvarado as the new owner of Signs by Tomorrow, 6442 Penn Avenue South, Richfield. Ambro has been an active owner who is making great connections in the community. Signs by Tomorrow can fulfill a wide variety of sign, banner and other visual message media.


One of our favorite homegrown businesses, Uncommon Sports Cards, said goodbye. Uncommon Sports Cards had been a great member of the community and an enthusiastic supporter of our Open Streets at PennFest celebration.


Located at a high profile site at 66th and Penn, our local Brueggers Bagels shop closed its doors. Area residents miss the opportunity to pick up something quick to eat and drink.


Minnesota Magicians hockey team made a guest appearannce at Davanni's in Richfield.


Open Streets at Penn Fest 2014 was a smashing success with food, music, sports, a 5K run and crafts filling the street in September. Fireside Pizza sponsored music at therir doorstep.


Posters on Board celebrated 30 years of business in Richfield this past autumn. The store is a family-owned business offering an extensive collection of poster art and framing services.


The Richfield Gateway Monument at 62nd and Penn was constructed last autumn. The monument serves as a great way to welcome visitors to Richfield.


Penn Central of Richfield welcomed a new store to the neighborhood - Something for Everyone. This gift shop has an amazing collection of unique items.


City Council approved license

Craft beer and wine coming to Davanni's 

Davanni's Craft  Beer.

At its January 13 meeting, the Richfield City Council approved a liquor license allowing wine sales at Davanni's at 6345 Penn Avenue South, Richfield. During the public hearing, it was mentioned that the Richfield Davanni's also plans to add craft beers to the menu. So in the near future, along with a pizza, you'll be able to enjoy a higher quality beer. We'll find out which craft beers and wines are planned for the menu and post the information here. Check back soon!



New store on the avenue

"Something for Everyone" offers exactly that! 

Bill Wasserman (pictured) runs the store with his wife Patricia Bown
Located at 6644 Penn Avenue South in Richfield
Selection includes dolls and stuffed animals
Collectible plates and decorations
Sports memorabilia and more!

Something for Everyone, a new store at 6644 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, offers a sense of adventure when you walk through the door. Step inside and you're suddenly surrounded by an intriguing collection of decorations, memorabilia, toys, models and more. The vast array of items is what makes the store magical. Visiting Something for Everyone is not just a shopping trip. It's a journey of discovery.


The store is run by Patricia Bown and her husband, Bill Wasserman. We stopped in for a visit on Saturday, November 15 and met Bill. Just as the name suggests, the store has "Something for Everyone." Bill mentioned that the store offers items for all ages from kids to adults. You'll find model cars, collectible dolls, decorative plates and figurines, stuffed animals, sports memorabilia and decorations -- and that's just scratching the surface. As the holiday season approaches, Something for Everyone will be a great destination for discovering imaginative and unique gifts. 


Something for Everyone is open Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm and Friday and Saturday 10 am to 6 pm. Sunday hours will start in December for the holiday shopping season.


Stop by to explore this new store in Penn Central of Richfield, and to say "hello" to our new neighbors, Patricia and Bill.


66th Street decision reconsidered

Council Member Pat Elliott asks to rescind 66th Street Concept 4B 

Pat Elliott
Michael Howard

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.


Debate 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 plans.


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.


18 homes to be acquired
Richfield City Council votes to adopt 66th Street reconstruction plan 4B

66th Street today

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 to come.
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.
Thirteen 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:
Mayor Debbie 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 18 homes. 
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.
Council 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."
After 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.
After the vote, the crowd that had gathered filed out quietly.


A Gas Price Milestone
Lerum Auto breaks the $2 gas barrier at $1.99 

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.


Richfield 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.

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Banners marking the identity of the Penn Central neighborhood were installed in September.

Penn Central of Richfield - Your Neighborhood Mainstreet
Building Community in Richfield, Minnesota