September 8, 2009 Minutes

West Calhoun Neighborhood Council

DRAFT Minutes:  9/08/2009


Present:  Mari Taffe (Chair), Michael Wagner (Vice Chair), Rhea Sullivan (Coordinator)


Guests:  Rodgers Adams, David Rhees (Bakken Exec. Director), Bob Corrick


Administrative Items


Secretary’s Report

The minutes of the August 11, 2009 meeting were approved.


Treasurer’s Report

The Treasurer was not present.  Barb Stevens reported after the meeting that there is currently $5,334.19 in the NRP account.  The development account remains at $481.09.


Monthly Updates


Councilmember Update

Councilmember Betsy Hodges was not present.


Lakes District Council

The next Lakes District Council meeting will be held October 22, 2009.  Barb Stevens will attend as our WCNC representative.


Midtown Greenway Coalition

Michael Wagner reported that they are doing awareness advertising for the Trail Watch Program.  Volunteers ride on M, W, Th, and Sunday evenings on the greenway from 8-10 p.m.  


No update on Excel Hiawatha Project.


No transit update, but the Transit committee has not yet met this month.


The MGC is doing some fundraisers in each neighborhood.  Michael will engage West Calhoun in that to help cover legal fees for the fight against the Excel/Hiawatha Project.


The recent progressive dinner was a success.  Michael said it was a good fundraiser for the MGC.


Guest:  Bob Corrick – Southwest Transitway


Bob said that many people think about the issue and only think: “Is it in my back yard?” or “How will the SW Transitway effect my transit options?”  He said that the Midtown Greenway Coalition thinks in a broader, “big picture” way about it, considering social responsibility and advocating for something that is good for transit for the city and the whole area.


John DeWitt – Transit for Liveable Communities.


Current numbers show that the option that goes down the Greenway through Uptown to Nicollet has two big problems:  

  1. The best bus system in the Twin Cities already goes through that area.  
  2. It costs about $600 million more to go that route.  The state would have to contribute $60 million itself.  


The numbers on Kenilworth look good.  If the route goes through Uptown it would rob riders from the current bus system.


If we didn’t have to worry about money, going through Uptown would make a lot of sense.


Handout from Bob Corrick: “Why SW LRT Through Kenilworth?’’


WCNC Chair Mari Taffe printed out the timeline of the decision making process for the SW Transitway.  The next scheduled meeting is the Sept. 17 public hearing.  


Southwest PAC (Policy Advisory Committee) will make a recommendation to the Henn Cty Railroad Authority in October to narrow from two alternatives to one alternative. The two alternatives are: 3A – Kenilworth Trail and 3C2 – on the Greenway that goes up Nicollet/Blaisdell/or 1st Avenue.


Bob said that the numbers seem to support the Kenilworth route.  It would be difficult to get the other route funded.  It may kill the whole project.


Mari asked what would happen to make the numbers change.  Bob said that the numbers are being questioned.  The Mpls. Comprehensive Plan and the census 2000 and 2010 are the sources for the data.  Bob said that they submitted a revision to Met Council and those numbers have not gone into the ridership figures.  


Bob said that once they have approved and added to the model, the ridership will improve for the Uptown route.  Not likely to be a huge difference.  


May involve degrading the bus service.  Why would we spend more money to degrade the existing bus service?


What went into the capital costs?  Includes a tunnel on Nicollet.  Huge differential in cost.  Will cost more to go through city streets.


Bob said that the PAC will be looking at ridership and costs.  The models are FDA approved.  The have looked at Hennepin, Lyndale, Nicollet, Portland, Chicago as possible alternative routes.  The county has looked hard at the options for routes.  


Mari asked how likely is a streetcar on the Greenway?  Some feel the network alignment will never happen.  Greenway streetcar estimate is $100 million.  Relatively low compared to the extra $600 million.  


The Greenway/Crosstown streetcar line is very small, so they can look at local and regional funding.  The streetcar would connect at West Calhoun and go to Hi-Lake LRT station.  Many streetcars are operating currently, including Portland, and Tucson.  They are starting to receive Federal funding.  For example, the Portland streetcar has been financed with some form of TIF financing.   


Once the alignment question has been solved and then could have Met Transit to label it as a regional corridor.  


The Kenilworth option is faster.  One criticism of the streetcar is that it competes with the 21 bus.  


Transit-oriented development (TOD) is real estate that is built on the streetcar system.  The real estate value creates a tax base for the streetcar system.  Bob said there are more TOD opportunities with the Kenilworth option.  Stops on the LRT create TOD.  Studies need to be done on TOD and the regional impact on ridership.  


Revisions to the zoning code are being made to support higher density development along the Midtown Greenway.


The proposed Greenway/Uptown/Nicollet line would have 9 stops.

The Kenilworth and Greenway would have 12 stops – more development opportunities and more TOD, including Van White Avenue.  


One concern about the Greenway/Uptown/Nicollet line is the 21 bus route.  Would they shorten it?  Riders feel they would still need block by block service on Lake Street.  This has been a criticism of the project.


Rodgers Adams reported that there has been a big fight on the Central Corridor, saying they are going to degrade the 16 bus service.  Many riders say you can’t degrade the bus service, that you still need the same bus service with the Central Corridor LRT in place.  We don’t have quite the same problems here as they do there.  In that area the LRT has replaced the 16 bus line in some places – but the LRT doesn’t stop every block.  They are reducing the 16 service.


Bob said you can’t do that in South Minneapolis because the lines go perpendicular to each other.


The bus lines go all the way up north.  You can’t just can’t stop the 6, 17, 12, 4.  Too many issues to stop that service.  The 12 could perhaps stop at Uptown.


We do not have $100 million lined up yet for the Greenway streetcar line.  Nobody wants to influence the decision on SW LRT.  


Mari asked why they can’t the plans for the streetcar be linked to the Kenilworth plan.  It’s only $100 million more.  Why couldn’t the plan include the streetcar connection?  Bob explained that the FDA doesn’t fund AB lines (lines that split – one going downtown and one to Hiawatha).  We need to treat the streetcar line as a separate line. There is a lot of support for the streetcar, Bob said.  The Lake Street Council, MGC, Councilmembers, etc. support it.  There won’t be any more studies regarding the streetcar until we know the final alignment.


The City will have to be part of the discussion.  The City is divided on the preferred route.  It’s a political question.  Lisa Goodman favors Kenilworth and possibly the mayor, though he hasn’t yet stated it publicly.  Ralph Remington sponsors 3C2.  He is questioning the numbers.  No one else has come out in favor of it.


Rodgers commented that the recent community meetings were just about the suburban stations and did not include the West Lake station.


As we have discussed in the past, the West Calhoun station has some issues.  It is at the MGC access point behind Whole Foods.  Bob said that one idea would be to cut down the Lake Street Bridge and make it lower so people could get to the station.  You can’t get to the access point from the North.  They could make walking paths.  Cedar Shores owns the “wild” areas.  They may make the bridge wider and lower it and perhaps add an extra lane to let people off.  Also need wheelchair access.  


Why so little attention to West Lake station?  It will be slightly different depending on the selection of the route.  Will there be a Park and Ride?  Would it be a ramp or a drop off?  The City says there will be no park and ride.  There is currently a policy not to put park and rides within city limits.  The city would have to make an exception to put one in.


How will the bus service connect to the Transitway?  


Will there be money left to solve the issues at West Lake?  


Engineering and design work is needed to come up with numbers for the West Lake station.  In next stage, studies will include environmental, vibrations, do they need to redo West Lake station, what about the bridge?  This will happen after they choose the route.


At what point can West Calhoun get involved?  Bob feels we should work up a position and look at the big picture.  We may want to weigh in on streetcar going across.  Parking and bus access are important questions.  How we get from the north to the station?  How are they going to handle the traffic?  Bob recommended we try to do it in September.  The next meeting WCNC meeting is October 13.  The public hearing is Sept. 17.  He suggested we submit something in writing prior to the hearing and have someone bring up our concerns at the hearing.  We could raise the visibility of those issues by speaking at the public meeting.  


There are parking limits to protect residents on adjacent streets on the existing LRT.  We may want to set parking time limits.  


How do we know how many people are coming in?  Who will use that station?  Will likely be Linden Hills, Fulton, Edina people?  


Mari said that we talked about this a lot last year when Todd was here.  Art Higginbotham is against park and rides.  CIDNA is against the Kenilworth alignment.  How do we support the commercial area at Calhoun Commons?  It is a commercial hub in the neighborhood.


Bob suggested that we list five major concerns.  In order to deal with these concerns – we can ask for more information.  For example:  


  1. Need to focus on the West Lake station issue at the public hearing – parking, West Lake Station, how to handle that on Lake Street with the limited space we have.  How will they handle the traffic?  Park and ride issue.  
  2. Written statement can include other things.


David Rhees said that here was a company at the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair that focused on rental bikes where you can use a credit card to pay to rent a bike.  West Lake would be perfect for an installation of rental bikes.  Mention that for other stations.


West Lake is a gateway to the Lakes and is the only one.  Goes back to NRP Action Plan.  It could be a very positive thing for the area.


One concern is that there are so few streets here and there is a huge influx of people in the summer.


What will happen to Calhoun Village in the next 15 years?  Being able to have direct easy access to a mixed-use development there.  That could be a major connection to that station.  


To sign up to testify, you can send an e-mail.  You can also send written comments to Katie Walker.  Send it to their e-mail, copy Katie and Gail Dorfman.  We need to build on what we have been talking about in the past.  Bob is willing to help us if we need it.  


MPRB – Letter of Connection to Lake Calhoun:  Rhea will forward the e-mail to David Rhees.  WCNC needs to respond by October 1.  


Next meeting:  Monday, Sept 14 at 2:30 p.m.

  1. Letter of Connection
  2. SW Transitway
  3. Talk about October newsletter


Most of our agenda move to next month.  


The Bakken – Energy Initiatives.  They may get an electric vehicle.  David Rhees will write something up for the October newsletter.  For the proposed LED solar-powered sign, they would need to come to us for conditional use permit.  


Also talk about available NRP funds.  Rhea will send David the deadline for the October newsletter. David may want to be on the agenda for next month.  

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Rhea Sullivan, Coordinator

West Calhoun Neighborhood Council