North Minneapolis is a very old neighbourhood, with many homes that are almost 100 years old. The streets are fairly narrow, the alleys even more so.
Many of the driveways in the back alleys are only barely usable, fitting one small car- if that. It is not reasonable or appropriate to expect North Minneapolis families to condense their parking needs down to only using these small driveways.
When it comes to using the rear entries to many of these houses, we are talking about smaller doors, usually in less-than-convenient locations in the house. Many are around a tight, small corner, or as part of a nook in a kitchen. Many have smallish wooden deck steps down to a yard that was also not planned to be a main entrance, and may not even have a sidewalk to the back alley.
These homes were designed under the fair assumption that the front door would be the main door. The streets and the alleys were designed to be the same.
People purchased these homes with that being the case – not having to consider the possibility of losing street access to the front of their homes, and forcing them to now use the secondary door – the back entrance – as the main access to the house.
This can cost families on the route hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades to be able to use in any sort of convenient manner – from adding a sidewalk to the back yard (assuming they don’t need a full redesign: gardens and such were also planned under the knowledge that the front yard is the main access point), to having to redesign the area surrounding the back door to make it more usable.
Consider relatively commonplace events, such as a moving day, or purchase of new furniture. Under the proposed greenway, these would have to go in through the back alley.
First of all, a moving or delivery truck will block passage in the back alleys, as there is not enough room for vehicles to pass such a truck, nor are the driveways long enough to accommodate such a truck.
Then, residents will need to either navigate the smaller entrance / less than ideal layout (for us, personally, it would mean going in through our kitchen, with VERY narrow spaces between counters), or to carry the furniture around to the front door of the house. Again, far less than ideal circumstances.
When it comes to events such as home repair, most companies that deliver building materials do so on a boom truck that CANNOT drive down alleys. This means – at the very least – having to go to extra effort and expense to have the delivery handled separately and differently, usually involving a crew with a forklift to bring the goods up the alley, from a drop off point at the end.
Why should we be forced to endure the extra headache and/or expense?
Once the materials arrive at the home, rather than being dropped off on the front lawn as normal, what then? Most back yards and alley access points are NOT set up to have delivery of such materials deposited in the yard. At best, we’re looking at delivery to an unenclosed back alley driveway, which invites theft.
During any sort of home repair or construction that requires a dumpster, residents will have no where to place said dumpster, if not on the front street. Dumpsters are too big for most alley parking, and cannot be placed in the alley itself, for obvious reasons.
After the tornado, residents of this area had a hard enough time finding honest contractors that were willing to work in this area, due to issues such as theft and reputation. Many contractors simply refused to even provide a quote, for this reason. By adding this level of headache and logistical issues onto these existing issues, the city is effectively creating second class citizens of us, should another tornado, hail storm, or wind storm – all common in MN – happen.