October 12, 2010 Minutes

West Calhoun Neighborhood Council

Minutes: 10/12/2010

 

Present:   Michael Wagner (Chair), Seth Doorn (Treasurer), Kathy Cobb, Meg Forney, Gary Knutson, Jeff Peltola (Vice Chair), David Rhees, Rhea Sullivan (Coordinator)

 

Guests:    Amanda Arnold (City of Minneapolis), Adele Hall (Hennepin County), Betsy Hodges (Ward 13 Councilmember), Kathie Doty (Hennepin County), Thatcher Imboden (Ackerberg), Ryan Fox (CIDNA), Paul Setter (MGM Liquors), Colleen Dreher (Lakes Citihomes), Bob Bemel, Amy Mikus, Brad Praff (Calhoun Village), Jack Pfaff (Calhoun Village), Ed Ferlauto (CIDNA), Richard Logan, Dan Blackburn (Whole Foods), Haydee Peterson, Amanda Larsen (3100 Excelsior Blvd.), Scott Eller (Ben & Jerry’s), George Effrem

Administrative Items

 

Secretary’s Report

  • The minutes for September 14, 2010, were approved.

 

       Treasurer’s Report

  • Treasurer Seth Doorn reported that the current balance in the NRP account is $3,044.82 after paying the Coordinator’s September invoice ($585) and October newsletter expenses.  Rhea and Seth will plan to meet with Carsten Slostad at NRP to file a CORF report.

 

Monthly Updates

 

Council Member comments

  • Betsy Hodges reported that the City Council will be hosting a Budget Meeting on November 17 from 6-8 p.m. at Pershing Park.  Betsy is currently the Ways and Means Budget Chair.

 

        Midtown Greenway Coalition

  • Seth Doorn attended the last MGC meeting.  He reported that the September 25 fundraiser was a huge success.  They made $25,000.

 

Community Meeting Re: Light Rail Station Planning

 

        Background

  • Michael Wagner (Chair) introduced our guests, Amanda Arnold (City Planner for the SW sector of Minneapolis) and Adele Hall (Hennepin County Planning Analyst.)
  • Adele passed out a project schedule, outlining the general schedule for the SW LRT from 2002 to 2017.  She explained the history of the project, from 2002, when the Feasibility Studies began, to the present.  In May the route alternative was finalized (Kenilworth-Opus-Golden Triangle alignment) and in May, Station Area Planning began.
  • Adele explained that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) should be coming out in November.  This will look at SW LRT’s impact on the man-made and natural environment.  This report will document all 4 route alternatives.  
  • SW LRT has applied for permission to enter preliminary engineering.  Approval is expected in the first quarter of 2011.  
  • The Community Works Project will address community issues that are not covered in the LRT project, including economic development, access and land use.  This program is still being developed.
  • Amanda Arnold explained that the Minneapolis Comprehensive Plan was updated before the SW LRT alignment was chosen.  This would include the kind of developments the City would encourage near the stations – developments that have synergy with transit.  The City needs to plan for the infrastructure for the stations.  That will be a separate process after Station Area Planning.
  • Michael Wagner introduced Meg Forney, who is WCNC’s representative to the Minneapolis Park Board CAC.  This group will review the DEIS, looking specifically at what is the impact on park property.  Currently the impact area is ½ mile, which includes Lake Calhoun.  
  • Jeff Peltola and Meg Forney are WCNC representatives to the Community Members Working Group.  They have had two meetings so far.  This is another group of local neighborhood groups and business people who are giving input on Station Area Planning.

 

        Station Area Planning

  • Minneapolis is part of a series of Station Area Planning processes.  Last year Station Area Planning occurred for the suburban stations.  We are working at a high level now.  There will be more planning and refinement.  This part of the planning process will continue until the end of 2010.
  • Station Area Planning looks at:
      • the location of the platform
      • access points for walking, biking, cars
      • parking
      • who has priority – bus, bikes, walkers
      • The land use and development potential around each station

 

         Key Concerns/Opportunities

  • WCNC has drafted a list of key concerns/opportunities regarding the West Lake Station.  This list was posted on the white board and provided as a handout to those present.
      • Station as a focal point for the community – not just in/out.  Create a sense of place.
      • Meeting place and neighborhood symbol.
      • Enhances and improves the quality of life for residents and the greater community.
      • Signage/lighting.
      • Traffic (funds for management of traffic)
      • Gateway to urban lakes.
      • Park and Ride?  Or parking ramps funded by private interests?  
      • Station name/identity/branding
      • West Calhoun as a destination.

 

        Comments

  • Where will the station be located?  Somewhere along the 100-ft. right-of-way behind Whole Foods, between the trail head and the bridge.
  • Concern about the traffic in the neighborhood.  Establish the neighborhood as a pedestrian and bike neighborhood.  
  • What will be the timing of the Comprehensive Land Use and Development Plan?   Amanda Arnold said that we still need to identify funding streams.  Community Works could fund more planning.  She clarified that the public process last fall was to make the Midtown Greenway Rezoning Study match the City Comprehensive Plan.
  • Regarding a possible traffic circle, recommendation that we need data on the number of cars.  Adele agreed that more traffic work needs to be done.  The current roadway network can’t handle potential traffic.  Need to look at alternatives.
  • Need to look at the pros and cons of a Park & Ride.
  • Consider having Nice Ride available at the station.
  • Look at the impact on Lake Calhoun.
  • WCNC concerns/opportunities boil down to four categories: Safety, Accessibility, Economic Development and Livability.
  • Regarding access, it is currently difficult to walk in the area.  Parking is a problem now and it will increase with the new station.  The area is already past capacity.
  • Concern regarding winter parking problems.  Need to enforce parking laws.  
  • It’s very difficult to cross Lake Street.  Consider a pedestrian crossing bridge.
  • Consider speed bumps on West 32nd Street to calm traffic.
  • Chowen and Lake might be a more accessible location for the station.
  • If France Avenue were reconnected, it would help alleviate heavy traffic in this area.
  • Have stairway from the station up to the Lake Street bridge.
  • For livability, no more freight trains.
  • Impact area is larger than ½ mile.  Need to look further out.
  • There is a strong correlation between providing more parking (with a Park & Ride) and increasing traffic.  Why encourage more traffic?
  • There is a Park & Ride and station at Beltline Blvd.  Add more parking there and make Beltline bigger.
  • Lakes Citihomes resident lives within 150 yards of the station.  He wants to stay informed.  He is concerned about noise and visual impact of the SW LRT.  Do the trains have to ring the bells in the station?  We aren’t sure.  They do ring at at-grade crossings.  The frequency of trains is every 7-1/2 minutes, each way (a train about every 3 minutes).  Adele Hall stated that the DEIS will have information about noise.  People can stay up to date with the DEIS by signing up on the “Contact Us” page of the project website: http://www.southwesttransitway.org/contact-us.html.
  • Adele Hall offered to come and talk to us after the DEIS is published and help us comment on it.
  • Did they monitor the Lakes Citihomes?  One factor is that higher elevations get an echo effect and more vibration.  
  • There is a difference between a freight train and light rail.  The noise and vibration should be less.  The LRT is shorter, smaller and lighter than a freight train.  Also, LRT runs on continuously welded track, which provides a smooth surface, unlike freight trains.  LRT is also electric powered, so there is no engine noise.  
  • Include light pollution in study of effects of light rail.  (This should be covered in the DEIS.)
  • We should look at things we can do now to improve the current problems in the neighborhood.
  • Suggestion: Build better community bathrooms including showers.  There is a large homeless population in the area.

    

        

West Lake Station Concepts

  • Adele Hall handed out two West Lake Station concepts from the Station Area Strategic Planning.  These are long term plans.  She said that they have been talking about the need for a short term plan to prepare for Day One.
  • Option A:  Concern about how the drop off will affect traffic on Excelsior Blvd.  
  • Park & Rides: Amanda Arnold stated that the City of Minneapolis does not support Park & Rides, but Hennepin County shows demand for a Park & Ride.  There is no final answer yet.
  • Parking lots now service individual properties.  Perhaps in the future we will convert to more district parking lots with pay parking.  We don’t want people to park for 8 hours, but it does make sense to encourage people who are already in the area to use the LRT to go downtown for a shorter trip (rather than driving a car).  
  • Option B eliminates the Fire Station.
  • Lake Calhoun Executive Center lot is ½ park land and ½ for the building.  Park users may park there after hours and during the weekend.  
  • Perhaps consider a Park & Ride at Lake Calhoun Executive Center.
  • Consider who would use the Park & Ride.  In a study of the Lake Street LRT parking lot, most parkers live within 3 miles of the station.  It is likely that other SW Minneapolis residents from adjacent neighborhoods like Linden Hills and Fulton would drive to the station and park.
  • We need to consider how we can help Metro Transit get local residents to the station.
  • Metro Transit will do a study of the current bus lines and how they would interact with the SW LRT, probably in about two years.  
  • It is the same distance from 44th and France to West Lake and Beltline Blvd.
  • CIDNA is looking to get a group of neighborhood associations together to try to arrive at a common position on mitigation for the West Lake and 21st Street stations.

    

The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.

 

The next WCNC Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at The Bakken Museum at 6 p.m.  

 

Respectfully submitted,

Rhea Sullivan, WCNC Coordinator