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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.