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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.


Welcome to Richfield 

Richfield Gateway Monument Takes A Step Forward


Richfield Gateway Monument as it looks today
Gateway monument in an earlier stage of construction

The new Richfield Gateway Monument has taken a step forward since the last time we shared a photo. It is not yet complete, but is looking great so far. A "Penn Central of Richfield" branding badge will be added to the monument. Next spring there are plans for adding lighting. 


In addition to this monument at Penn and 62nd, gateway monuments have also been installed at the northern Richfield/Minneapolis border at Lyndale, Nicollet and Portland Avenues. Monuments have been built for both Richfield and Minneapolis to welcome people to each respective city. Funds for these monuments came from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) as part of the Crosstown Commons reconstruction project.


These monuments are a great addition to the community. They welcome visitors to our city and let everyone know they have entered Richfield. We really dislike when people are in Richfield and think they are in Minneapolis, Bloomington or Edina. No offense to any of our neighbors, all of which are great communities. We just want people to be in a "Richfield state of mind" when they are in Richfield. It would be great to secure funding for gateway monuments at the southern border, too. Too often, we have heard people refer to "the Best Buy building in Bloomington." 


We look forward to seeing the monuments fully completed. 


Big decision impacting Richfield is coming

Richfield City Council to consider 66th Street Options

Officials explaining project map to open house attendees

For years, Richfield residents have lived with a congested 66th Street that is also in a state of disrepair. Thankfully improvements to the road are on the horizon. The street, which is a Hennepin County road, is scheduled for a major reconstruction starting in 2016, allowing for a significant redesign. In anticipation of this project, the Richfield Transportantion Commission has studied how to make 66th Street more desirable for vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.


Awhile ago, the Transportation Commission recommended a plan for 66th Sttreet east of 35W that will include improved sidewalks, boulevards and cycle tracks. This concept will create an environment for more pleasant walking and biking, which is sorely lacking from the present state of the roadway.


The stretch of 66th between 35W and Penn posed a challenge, however, for this concept. There isn't adequate space to construct this design with current placement of homes. The Transportation Commission recently reconvened to consider two options: 1) a low impact plan that would limit property acquistion but sacrifice 66th Street enhancements, or 2) a plan known as 4B that would allow for pedestrian and biking enhancements, but require significantly more property acquisition. On November 5, the commission recommended plan 4B, which will modernize the road but require the acquistion of 18 homes on the south side of 66th. The City Council will consider this issue at its December 9th meeting.


The recommended 4B plan was shown at a recent open house at Wood Lake Nature Center on November 13, where attendees had a chance to learn more, view maps and offer input.


This is a difficult issue requiring much thought. A modernized 66th Street with more pleasant walking and biking environments would definitely be an asset for the community, but the acquisition of homes cannot be taken lightly. The loss of homes has both an impact on the residents and a long-term loss of tax revenue for the City, both of which require serious reflection.


Penn Central of Richfield encourages residents, businesses and all concerned parties to weigh in with their opinions on either side of the issue.


To learn more about this project, click these links:


City of Richfield Sweet Streets Web Page


Concept 4B for 66th Street between Penn and 35W (This link will give you a larger map of the photo above)


Stay tuned for more information and updates about 66th Street.



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.


Ribbon Cutting celebrates 30 years of service

Posters on Board Observes 30th Anniversary 

Friends gather for ribbon cutting
Ribbon Cutting
What's a celebration without cake!

Posters on Board, 6237 Penn Avenue South, Richfield, celebrated its 30th anniversary on Thursday, October 23 with a gathering of friends and a ribbon cutting ceremony. Everybody gathered at the store entrance for the big moment. The ribbon cutting was a way to celebrate the past and look forward to the future. The event was held in conjunction with the Richfield Chamber of Commerce.


A neighborhood tradition
Brad's Christmas Tree Lot brings holiday cheer to the community


Brad's Christmas tree lot is a sign of the holiday season in the Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood. The warm glow of lights takes the chill out of the air. Neatly stacked Christmas trees wait for their holiday homes. Festive wreaths adorned with bright red ribbons add cheer and merriment. A Christmas tree lot is a special place where memories are made and traditions are celebrated.


When you visit Brad's Christmas tree lot in the northwest corner of the Lunds lot on Penn Avenue, you are part of a long neighborhood tradition in Richfield. Owner Brad Thompson says he has been selling Christmas trees in the Penn and 66th area of Richfield for about 35 years. During that long tenure, he has moved around, but always stayed loyal to the neighborhood. Prior to working out of the Lunds lot, he set up along 66th Street, just west of where CVS now stands. He also recalls selling trees in both the Car-X and CarHop locations before those businesses were in operation.


According to Brad, setting up the tree lot was once delayed when he operated out of the building where CarHop now does business. It was in 1987 when the Twins won the World Series for the first time. The building, which was an old Arby's restaurant, had been vacant. But with the success of the Twins, temporary souvenir stands were popping up all over town, including at this site. He couldn't set up until the souvenir business vacated. He was happy to wait, however. Being avid Twins fans, Brad and his wife were part of the huge crowd that packed the Metrodome to welcome the team back to town after defeating Detroit in the first round of the playoffs. 


When asked which type of tree is most popular, Brad says that the Fraser Fir is still king. People like the fir for its attractive yet soft needles.


In addition to quality trees, Brad's Christmas tree lot prides itself on top notch service. They will help you get the tree into your vehicle or tied to the rooftop. If transporting a tree is not possible for a customer, Brad's does offer a delivery service.


When not selling Christmas trees, Brad also runs a landscaping service to keep himself occupied during warmer months.  


Check out these links:

Brad's Landscaping - Home page 


Brad's Landscaping - Christmas Tree Lot Page


Brad's Christmas Tree Lot Facebook Page 


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