Resident Concerns – Meta C.
August 24, 2016
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.
To whom it may concern from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota,
I am writing to bring to your attention, if you were not aware of it already, the issues regarding the Greenway that’s being planned for Irving in North Minneapolis.
While I was initially in great support of this it’s painfully clear that, in the two years of polling and interviewing of residents, this Greenway board has not listened to or even formed a response to most of the concerns of people living on or near the Greenway. Not only is this test Greenway NOTHING like what people had described to them, but the responses from the Greenway board towards any concerns arising from it have been extremely dismissive if not downright offensive.
My concerns are primarily in regards to how this goes directly against the ADA. New construction to public streets NEEDS to provide access to housing for the disabled. Two of the three “options” proposed in the test would completely remove parking access and access to mobility transport. There is one woman currently on this route that’s been blocked off that must go through the back yard and into the alley to get to her transport that brings her for her chemo treatment. Backyards are not set up to be main entrances and exits, especially for wheelchairs or large transport vehicles, not to mention it would be impossible to have visibility of these areas, making seeing when transport arrives impossible. Upon being told these concerns the response was along the lines of “we shouldn’t let one sick woman stop our bettering of the community” or “they can just reconstruct their backyards to allow for their accessibility needs (on their own dime of course).”
This is an exceptionally offensive, apathetic, and out of touch response. It’s not simply about one woman. Not only can any person find themselves with either a permanent or temporary disability, or with a child or other loved one with a disability they must care for, but everyone in their life eventually needs a little more help in regards to accessibility and mobility. This is why the ADA was created: for those that find themselves in positions where they can’t speak up for themselves. This is why when things like the Greenway are forced upon communities that do not want them lawsuits happen with good reason.
Other concerns, just as valid, were also pushed aside as well as belittled. Concerns of safety when alleys become main access for houses, especially considering recent repeated rapes that had occurred in the very alley proposed to become a main access for these residents, have been called “highly unlikely” (along with a little offensive drawing of a hoodie wearing blackened faced grinning figure holding a knife) in the Greenway councils notes and then were also flat out ignored. Concerns that the proposed benches and picnic tables cause an environment for loitering in a neighborhood that already has trouble with loitering was also ignored, even among people entering residents yards to take flowers, signs, and dump trash under their trees as if it was part of the rest of this “park” during this test closure. Residents also are not keen on this being made into a place that children should feel they can play, as is being insinuated by many of the installments and pictures. Children do not belong by the road.
Alongside this concern was a very valid concern about the trash cleanup. Who would empty the trash cans proposed, or pickup the wrappers, bags, rotting food or diapers (all things left on the Greenway shortly after the councils events)? When asked this the Greenway council either shrugged or that the residents should pick it up. Snow and leaf removal is also something they had no answers for (would they make the plowing of the alleys a priority and would the plows be able to even fit down the alleys without damaging the uneven pavement or running into garages?). This is not acceptable. No answer after so long of a time to get these answers is in no way acceptable. When asked if emergency services would be able to get to residents it was simply stated “yes” with no explanation of how, and yet when the test closure happened the meetings were flooded with angry and concerned police, firefighters and EMTs who had not even been told of the closure in advance.
Throughout all of this we’ve had to put up with very rude treatment for our concerns. Meetings have been canceled last minute or moved up right before the meeting is supposed to start “out of respect for peoples schedules.” People have been removed from the Greenway mailing list or blocked from Facebook groups just for sharing their concerns. Residents who went to the Grand opening which was stated to be “for everyone to voice their opinions” about the Greenway had been told, once they share that they have some concerns of course, that the food (which was paid for with public funds) is only for supporters of the Greenway. This was told to multiple people, including an 8 month pregnant woman on what was a fairly hot day, by representatives of the Health Department. This is abhorrent behavior, especially from representatives for a city department and yet residents have been subjected to it repeatedly.
Again, I am not against a bike path. My suggestion from the beginning, as well as the suggestion of multiple people, has been a straight one-way road with a dedicated parking lane and a combined bike and walking path on both sides with a gradient slope towards the street that would allow anyone access at any point along the way. This would not be a “Greenway” but what is currently being proposed is far from a proper Greenway and should not be called as such unless the buying and demolishing of houses along the path is also proposed. Any part of our suggestions have not been incorporated, in any way, in this test closure and they continue to go unaddressed.
Please help us stop this badly planned project that’s damaging both peoples property values and relationships within our community, and help stop the inevitable lawsuits towards the city and board that allowed it to happen that will follow after these violations against the ADA become permanent structures. A bike safe road can happen and is a great idea but THIS Greenway is not going to happen and is not being received well in any sense of the word. By ignoring peoples concerns it only damages the goal bettering our community further.
Thank you much for your time,
Resident of North Minneapolis