15th Ave. “Living Street” Inititive Not Wanted By Most People–Shoved Down Your Throat

Barr Engineering Drawing

GET FREE GRANT MONEY, BUILD IT.

Most notably seen in Europe, the ‘ Living Street” has now landed in one of the poorest cities (Revenue generator) in Minnesota. All Grant and Tax dollars, don’t be fooled. Every cent except for the assessment charge is tax money, just other peoples money from Ramsey County and elsewhere in the state.

With all the curves in the curbing,  trees and swamp like retention areas, please tell me how this will be cheaper to repair 15 years from now.  Common sense says that a straight curb line is cheaper.  Common sense would say that drivers are more likely to collide with each other with curb projections and ill defined straight lines. Just look around where there are curbing projections, like around the community center. There must be a thousand black tire marks and scrapes on them.  The in and out, not straight line  approach is distracting and will more likely hurt pedestrians and drivers alike.

The project is expected to cost about $1.9 million, (which is what NSP gets in LGA each year) with roughly half covered by a grant secured by the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District (that has 100 year floods every 10 years) as well as the organization’s own contribution. The rest would be paid for through resident assessments and other city utility funds. Extra utility funds? Whoa, how about a rebate please, did you look at last months bill?  Another slush fund.

A living street is a street in which, unlike in most 20th century streets, the needs of car drivers are secondary to the needs of users of the street as a whole. It is a space designed to be shared by pedestrians, playing children, bicyclists, and low-speed motor vehicles. This contrasts with the shared space scheme philosophy which gives all road users equal priority in community spaces.

Money to be made, agendas to be pushed, mandates to be met.

Apparently already adopted while you were sleeping by North Saint Paul City officials.

–Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition –Posted on their site 2/10/2011

North St. Paul adopts exciting Living Streets plan

In other fantastic news that I’m a little slow in sharing, the North St. Paul City Council unanimously approved their “Living Streets” Plan on January 18! They use the term Living Streets, but recognize that it is really Complete Streets with the very intriguing inclusion of “Green Streets” principles related to managing storm water runoff. Fantastic stuff here!

The Plan includes a very detailed and innovative way to address older residential streets without sidewalks that could be a fantastic model for other cities with similar challenges. Basically, as these streets are reconstructed (which will be happening over the coming years on many roads in North St. Paul), they will be narrowed to 22 feet wide (from 30 feet) with parking on one side and a “yield lane” to calm traffic and they will use the space saved on the roadway width to add a sidewalk on one side and rain garden boulevard areas. Talk about a win-win-win! Less speeding traffic, zero stormwater runoff, and a place for people to walk safely!

North Saint Paul “Adopted” Translation:

It’s a done deal regardless what the Mayor said just days ago.

“My thought is it’s your street…so I would like to have a sense that a majority of folks are OK with it before I support it.”- Mayor Keuhn

I guarantee he will vote for this without hesitation, because this is what the Cit Manager and the EDA want…Period.

According to Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition, the idea has broad bi-partisan support (than would be in the legislature) how about every day people and their streets, where is the statistics on that.   19 Minnesota cities are having interest in this idea. However. there are 854 cities in Minnesota, cities are being approached and lobbied these ideas, these are cities not residents that necessarily have shown interest. Why North Saint Paul? Because it is FREE and that is the only reason. You can read their hogwash at the following web address.                                    http://www.mncompletestreets.org/

In 2008, the Legislature mandated the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to undertake a Complete Streets policy review that examines the “costs, benefits, and feasibility” of a statewide policy. The final MnDOT Complete Streets Report includes a recommendation for a statewide policy. MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel has spoken about the value of Complete Streets. MnDOT has formed a partnership of state agencies, local government representatives, and other stakeholders to work on the implementation of a MnDOT policy on Complete Streets.

In 2010, Governor Tim Pawlenty passed the state Complete Streets law after strong bi-partisan support in the legislature. The law applies to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and Mn/DOT is working through its Complete Streets Partnership to implement.

On 15th Ave. only 1 in 5 people want this type of street and intend to fight it.  The indecisive often looney Mayor Mike Kuehn (MET council nut) of North Saint Paul said it this way:

“My thought is it’s your street…so I would like to have a sense that a majority of folks are OK with it before I support it.”

Translation: We can get a free road out of it, we have no money of our own to build any street, so shut and pay.

A proposal for North Saint Paul from Barr Engineering states it this way:

In support of efforts to improve water quality and reduce pollution in the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, Barr developed a “living streets” plan for the city of North Saint Paul, Minnesota. Communities across the country are embracing this design approach, which incorporates road networks that are safer for pedestrians, slow traffic, are aesthetically pleasing, and improve the water quality of lakes and streams by reducing storm water pollution.

The living streets guidelines will be used to direct design and construction in the city. Subsequently, the street templates and guidelines will be implemented to reduce impervious surfaces and improve storm water treatment in the right-of-way, as well as to create less resource-consumptive streets for city residents.

____________________________________________________

Responses from some concerned citizens:

Gary Stephanson Owner at GLS Appraising

Fight all of it and fight it hard. They shoved those rain gardens on us in Mounds View and the look like crap, are unsafe(if you have small children in the area) and are a breeding ground for bugs. It’s just more “green” BS and a waste of money

Kevin Sawyer ·

So they are asking residents of the street to pay for unsightly improvements they don’t want in order to benefit a neighboring city? Lemme guess. Cliff Aichinger is another life long bureaucrat with a cushy government job he will never lose. Did I get that about right?

Mariellen Wood

Those rainwater gardens that extend into the street are going to make it SO much easier for the city to plow the snow in the winter time (/sarcasm). What do you want to bet the snow will be allowed to pile up in the spaces between those “gardens” and they’ll never get plowed at all because no one will be allowed to park there anyway, so why bother to plow that space? More ways to waste taxpayer money in a time when there’s so little of it to begin with and the social safety net is being cut all over the place. Yeah, that’s a top priority, all right.

Jim Moore

I call those curbside gardens “Gutter Gardens”. People in St Paul plant them on city easements from their side walk to the curb, and then as soon as they plant them they forget about them in most cases, and they end up looking terrible. The people living on the street have the right to protest and if they do it correctly the improvements, or so called improvements will not be done. Yes people the average citizen can overturn a silly idea if they do it right.

Scott Funk · University of Minnesota Twin Cities

I realize that people like Kevin and Gary hate the idea of altering anything, but personally I LIKE the idea of narrower streets with more sidewalks. Makes the towns more walkable and generally livable! Besides, if it will save dough on maintenance overall, why not? We ARE kinda broke after all, and a change like this gives the opportunity to fix the electricity and water supply maintenance up a bit. Seems pretty sensible to me.

Dave Tracy

I grew up in NSP 2 blocks up from 15th, and my best friend lived on 15th in the area in question-hence, I know the area. Aside from the fact that not many of the resident seem to want to participate in this little social experiment, having ACTUAL knowledge of the street in question, I can’t imagine how this is going to work out well for 15th ave residents.

Mariellen Wood

Those rainwater gardens that extend into the street are going to make it SO much easier for the city to plow the snow in the winter time (/sarcasm). What do you want to bet the snow will be allowed to pile up in the spaces between those “gardens” and they’ll never get plowed at all because no one will be allowed to park there anyway, so why bother to plow that space? More ways to waste taxpayer money in a time when there’s so little of it to begin with and the social safety net is being cut all over the place. Yeah, that’s a top priority, all right.

Paul Schleck

Hey No. St. Paul and water shed district! what about Silver lake? storm sewers on lake blvd, 19th, Century or 120 run directly into the lake. I live on Silver lake its so polluted from run off, I never.  would eat the fish. in the 40s and 50s and 60s people used the lake for thier dump. Two years ago when the lake was 15 feet lower I cleaned as much of the trash I could from the 100 feet and made art from it, every year more purges up. there are four to five street sewers that run directly into the lake. Instead of fixing Maplewoods issues lets look at No. St. Paul first. If anything let Maplewood. fix it at the point it enters Koleman lake.

Sarah Thompson ·

I love how they say that “narrowing the streets should slow traffic.” Oh really? That would require drivers to actually pay attention to the conditions and drive accordingly. I don’t know where the planners of this project have been driving, but I certainly do not find that to be the case in most of the metro. Also, did they forget that when there is snow on the ground that the streets become even narrower with the plowed snow taking up a large spot on either side? This seems like yet another pie in the sky “great” idea that nobody thought through the consequences of. I would be STEAMED if I was a North St. Paul resident who was paying for this dumb idea.

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 15th Ave. “Living Street” Inititive Not Wanted By Most People–Shoved Down Your Throat

  1. Mike Hanson says:

    I live on 15th (the one in question). I do see how narrowing the street, adding a sidewalk and a bike lane could benefit the neighborhood. I have 2 kids in who attend the elementary school 2 blocks away (Also on 15th). During the school year, parents and buses use our street as a short cut to the south entrance of the school, where they can pick up their kids. A lot of the time, people fly down this street (especially exiting from McKnight). There is a lot of traffic accumulating during the school day and more than often, people don’t realize how fast they are driving. There are lots of families with small children up and down the stretch of 15th in question…… A sidewalk would be great for the children to use to walk to school. It makes sense to put one on this street and it would add curb appeal. A lot of the houses are being bought out by young families who enjoy owning homes in a neighborhood that is far from cookie cutter. A Bike lane would be great as I see kids, families, (including myself and my family), and bikers of all ages going down my street. On the other hand, that will draw more bike and foot traffic through the neighborhood… And there’s a “Not so good neighborhood” in the area. I’ve had bikes, tools, lawn mowers, and other stuff stolen from my yard already, even caught some teens in my garage last summer.

    Regardless, if there’s a sidewalk, I think the design needs be straight lined. The gardens are lame. It’s already swampy around here and there are billion bugs and mosquitos as I type this….. Drawing more pests is not a favorable (as mentioned before). Sure would be nice if they could keep the trees at the edges of the yards too. It creates a nice canopy and shade all the way down the street in the summer.

    Regardless of what they add aesthetically, they have to fix this area, not just this street! Just months ago, we experienced record flooding in our neighborhood. My basement continued to flood slowly for 4 days…. This is the 2nd time this year it’s happened to my house too. After the big snow melt from this past winter’s big snow amounts, it drained into my basement as well. Some of my neighbors experienced the same or much worse. Thats what they should be spending $ on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>