A community meeting packed the house. The plan goes to Parks Commission on March 9.
The House of Hope Community room was packed on February 27 for a discussion co-hosted by the Summit Hill Association and the Summit-University Planning Council. The evening began with an overview of the current high-level plan for the regional trail by city staff from Parks and Recreation and Public Works. Summit Hill and Summit-University board members then posed questions that had been sent electronically from community members. During the discussion, there was also time to get some of the 125 additional questions via text.
Jens Werner, Summit-University executive director, welcomed the crowd, acknowledging that the trail plan is a tense and emotional issue for many residents and that “we are all community and neighbors here.” She also reminded those assembled that this project takes place on Dakota homeland, which had a long and rich human history before any settlers arrived. “Keep that in mind when we discuss the history of Summit Avenue.”
The park-like setting and design history of Summit Avenue as a place for gathering, promenading, and recreation lends itself to a regional trail, highlighted in this opinion piece by historian Bill Lindeke. The impact on the tree canopy was estimated to be far greater along Marshall or Jefferson.
Questions posed to the panel showed a continued focus on impacts to the tree canopy (estimated to be 10-15%, similar to other recent road reconstruction projects); cost ($100 million for road reconstruction, $12 million for the trail – all as yet unfunded); maintenance (separated bike trails are easier to keep clear from snow than on-street bike lanes); sidewalks (included in street reconstruction plan – they remain at the current property lines). The project has clearly divided the community, and various factions encouraged their supporters to wear green, blue, or purple or carry bike helmets to indicate their viewpoint silently. The information session proceeded civilly. Trail opponents occasionally raised signs saying “Not True” when they disbelieved the information presented.
The period for public comments on the current (90%) plan draft has closed. Questions and answers from the meeting, along with all public comments received will be posted on the project website.