Executive director of VEAP to speak
Richfield Foundation dinner to feature Susan Freeman
The Richfield Foundation will welcome Susan Russell Freeman as the guest speaker at its annual dinner on Friday, April
10 at the Bloomington Knights of Columbus.
Since 1976 Ms. Freeman has guided VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted
to Assist People) in serving the needs of people in our community. She will retire as executive director of the food shelf
and human services agency in April.
VEAP was originally started by 13 churches in Richfield, and today
is Minnesota's largest food shelf and serves Richfield, Bloomington, Edina and south Minneapolis.
public is invited to attend the dinner. Cost is $22 and includes a dinner with an entree choices of beef, chicken, walleye
or vegetarian. Contact Lynnette Chambers at LChambers@cityofrichfield.org for info or reservations.
Funding source secured
New pedestrian-level lights planned for Penn Avenue
Click here to download Penn Avenue lighting plan
A special neighborhood meeting was held on Tuesday, February 10 to reveal plans for the installation of pedestrian-level
lighting along the commercial district of Penn Avenue in Richfield. Karen Barton of the City of Richfield Community Development Department presented the plans along with Craig Churchward of Avenue Design Partners, a consulting firm with expertise in landscape architecture and transportation design. Plans are moving forward to install
new lighting that offers a more aesthetically pleasing appearance with a shepard's hook design.
reports that the City has applied for Federal funds to move ahead with this project. Funds in the amounts of $60,000 for purchasing
lights and benches and $60,000 for installation will allow this project to proceed this spring or summer. This project
will serve as a visible sign that improvements and investments to the streetscape of Penn Avenue are taking place. For a number
of years, our Penn Central of Richfield neighborhood association has advocated the installation of lighting that offers a
more ornamental appearance. The addition of benches makes the area more pedestrian friendly, another positive enhancement
toward the revitalization of the neighborhood.
In looking to the future of Penn Avenue, Mr. Churchward
mentioned creating a "vacation experience" design. He asked those attending the meeting to recall an interesting
place they have visited while on vacation. The idea would be to capture some of those elements and design them into the local
neighborhood. In designing a fun and vibrant environment, you create a place that becomes a destination that draws people.
lighting and benches are just the beginning of improvements that will happen along Penn Avenue in coming years. Plans
are for Penn Avenue, which is a county road, to be redeveloped by Hennepin County at some future date. When that happens,
it will allow for a redesign of the road itself as well as sidewalks and bike paths. The exact timing for a rebuild of Penn
Avenue by the County is undetermined, but attendees at the meeting expressed a wish for the County to make Penn Avenue a higher
Plans are to install lighting with this Shepard's Hook design, along Penn Avenue.
Light poles would include mounting hardware for banners.
While the poles wouldn't initially have flower baskets, they could be equipped to be "irrigation ready"
to allow for flowers at a future date. This irrigation system would allow for daily watering during hot summer days.
Photos and the PDF accompanying this article have been provided by Avenue Design Partners.
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.
Banners marking the identity of the Penn Central neighborhood were installed in September.