Resident Concerns – Marie & Michael P.

We recently invited those opposed to the Greenway to email their concerns to a list of politicians and others involved with forcing this fiasco on us. With permission, we are sharing some of those that have been forwarded on to us by the author. 

If you have sent such an email to the powers that be, and would like us to post it, please send a copy to us at fightback at stopthegreenway dot com. Please include information on  how you would prefer your name to appear:  Full name, initials, anonymous, etc.

 

Dear Councilperson

I am writing to you today with some of my concerns about the North Minneapolis greenway temporary installation, and – by extension – plans for a permanent installation.

I live on the XXXX block of XXXXX ave N. My block was one of those included in an earlier proposed greenway installation, and – for all I know – could still end up with a greenway on it. I am speaking both as someone potentially affected directly, as well as someone currently affected by means of additional traffic diverted from the next street over.  I am also speaking as someone with a great deal of empathy for those currently being affected by this poorly planned installation.

We’ve all heard the council touting the supposed benefits of this greenway, and that’s well and good.  The fact is, however, that it’s all pie-in-the-sky dreaming, given the realities of the temporary greenway installation.  This installation has been problematic in both conception and rollout, and promises to cause further problems as it progresses.

 

Throughout the lead up to this rollout, those of us who happened to hear anything about it had to go searching for information. The entire time, it seemed that those behind the project were more concerned with obtaining the feedback of cycling organizations from outside of the actual area, rather than residents on the route.  To this day – almost a month and a half after installation – I am still coming across people who had no idea what was happening, until it happened.

 

As you well know, this area is disadvantaged in many ways. It’s one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city. It’s one of the least educated areas. It’s basically used as a dumping ground for the “undesirables” (see: sex offenders) that the rest of the city doesn’t want to deal with.  Still, there are many of us who work hard, live honourable lives, and just want quiet enjoyment of our homes, as safely as possible.

 

It seems beyond predatory for outside lobbyists, city employees, and cycling activists to be able to impose their will on this area, knowing full well that the neighbourhood is ill equipped to fight back against it.

 

The greenway council has misled people from the start, with dirty data collection practices. Combining data from multiple collection attempts, across several platforms, with no attempt to catalogue/rule out duplicate info, or even so much as verify residency of those replying.  I have personally seen multiple appeals for “feedback” on early polls sent out to non-north Minneapolis cycling groups, encouragement for people to mark themselves as being residents even if this is not the case, and more.

 

I have personally provided feedback at the Open Streets festival – with the representatives NOT recording it – only to see them record feedback from a supporter.  When I brought this up at a meeting, my experience was mirrored by another person.  This was in a very sparsely attended meeting, with very few residents present.

 

At these meetings, they have repeatedly refused to present actual numbers for anything, whether it be budget, expenditures, or what their definition of “majority support” actually means.  “I don’t know” and “We don’t have that information” are the most common replies they have had for residents in attendance.

 

Even the promotion of the meetings themselves have been lacking in transparency.  Many of the anti-greenway residents have reported that they have NOT been added to the email lists they sign up for at each meeting. Several were removed after receiving just one email or two, having to find out information from those still receiving information. For an initiative that has been claiming to be about community, they have taken great strides to keep the community in the dark.

 

Even today, the community has no idea if there is a meeting or not.  Folwell park says there is one booked, but there is NO information out there.  After cancelling the May meeting at the last minute (“because everyone is so BUSY!”, no less!), and the nonsense they pulled at the last minute for June’s “meeting), we’re all very wary of this.

 

The way the Greenway project was marketed and rolled out has been lacking in transparency from the get-go, and – I’ll be honest with you – as a supporter of it, this reflects on you.

 

As far as the implementation:

 

– It’s dangerous.  Home owners are reporting damage to their vehicles as a result of using the back alleys (odd side of the road, 3500 block specifically).  The 3 blocks south of that try to shoehorn 2 way traffic into a slalom course that narrows to the width of a single car at the beginning and end of each “play area”, and  – most bewildering – there is NO bike path at all. The bikes (if there were any, more on that later) would have to fight for that single car width lane, as the imaginary “bike lane” would be superimposed on that single car lane.

 

It teaches kids to play in the street, adding even more risk for drivers already trying to navigate that slalom course and avoid other drivers (and hypothetical cyclists).  On top of that, between the slalom course and the bright colours, drivers have apparently been treating it as a race course.  When I canvassed the route, the term “Mario Kart” came up on multiple occasions.
– It was poorly planned.  Aside from the issues above, the council never bothered to notify or consult with the fire department ahead of time.  It’s very disturbing to know that the fire department only found out by “happening upon” it while out on a call.  It’s extra disturbing to know that the fire department themselves were telling residents that they were unable to turn onto the 3500 block of Irving from either of the cross streets, because the planters and such made the tight turn impossible.  Many residents of the b lock recounted to me of the time they watched a fire truck try repeatedly to turn onto their block, to no avail.  How is this “healthy”?

 

– On the subject of not consulting with a response agency, they similarly did not consult with the police. At multiple greenway meetings, the council assured residents of “increased patrols” on the street, as well as supposed patrols for the back alleys.
This was fine and good, until the – surprised! – police were asked about it at the June meeting.  They had not heard anything about the greenway before that, and actually LAUGHED when residents asked about these stepped up patrols. Not only were they never consulted, it was something that WILL NOT happen.  They cited being understaffed as it is.
– It’s cheap, and it’s ugly.  Neon pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue paints are in NO way representative of a “green space”, and they devalue the homes on the route.  The cheap metal horse troughs that they are using as planters not only never had their sales stickers removed (tacky!), they were dented with in days, and are currently rusting and slimy.  Just a month and a half in to a year long installation, and it looks like an utter disgrace.  We have to live with these conditions for another 10.5 months, knowing they’ll continue to degrade.

 

Given that they are meant to hold water and NOT to plant in, I also have concerns about standing water, eventually. When they become waterlogged, they will mold and will also become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. With the Zika virus being such a concern this summer, that is absolutely unacceptable…. especially in an area where people already can’t afford decent medical care as it is.

 

In addition to the actual installation being a disgrace to look at, it is also turning into an urban landfill.  Garbage is accumulating on the route, both in the street, and in the very few – neglected – garbage bins on the route.  Those bins are overflowing – did the council not plan for removal?

 

These conditions would NOT be tolerated in any other community in the city.  They would be laughed out of many of the communities, long before installation.  That this was permitted to happen in the first place – and allowed to continue to degrade before our eyes – is an insult.
– No one is using it.   Even on the advertised grand-opening (with the draws of food and activities, as well as beautiful weather that day), protestors vastly outnumbered everyone else until just before the ribbon cutting, where there was probably an equal number.  For the bulk of the afternoon, it was basically just protestors and greenway council volunteers, with the odd kid here and there.  Our own city councilors couldn’t be bothered to show up!

 

Residents along the route are often reporting entire weekend afternoons without a single cyclist to speak of.  Why, exactly, are these people being denied full access to their homes, to host an empty street?

As I’m sure you’re aware, alley entry to the house doesn’t count as legal “access”.

 

Given what people have to go through – obtaining majority approval from surrounding homeowners – to get a CHICKEN for their backyard, I am blown away that this didn’t require anywhere near that kind of approval from those affected.
Also, given the myriad issues and slapped together implementation, why should anyone on the route trust this council – or the city – to implement such a project in a PERMANENT fashion?
I hope the city has a HUGE budget for offering fair market value buyouts to those on the route, for paying for homeowners to install tall fences in their front yards (it’s only right!), and/or to compensate for the expensive renovations needed to make back yards, back doors, and back alleys accessible as a main entryway.
I hope the city’s insurance covers the inevitable lawsuits, as I am not impressed with the idea of that coming out of our taxes.
This is getting long, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing from others.  I encourage you to take some time to read through www.stopthegreenway.com for more details on the issues, as well view the comments on the accompanying petition at :
https://www.change.org/p/city-of-minneapolis-stop-the-north-minneapolis-greenway/c
Marie & Michael P. 07/12/16

PS: Just as residents can be organized for fighting this, they can also be organized come election season.  Given general voter apathy, it won’t even take that many motivated voters to send a clear message about this abomination

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