76th between Nicollet and CedarAt the November 28th meeting, in addition to showing bike path placement they also showed sidewalk placement. In a city of empty nesters that strongly oppose sidewalks, some because they do not have kids and don’t care if someone else’s kids have to use the street to get around, or others, because they hold on to an antiquated notion that no sidewalks = suburban living at its finest and only poor people walk (they do not know there is a tread in new suburban communities for sidewalks by young couples), I suppose I should be grateful for the pitiful few sidewalks proposed the the street scape plans. However the most egregious proposal of them is to only put sidewalks on one side (the north) of 76th street from Nicollet to Cedar. The statement by H.R. Green Consulting was that it wasn’t needed and that the neighbors there “valued” green space. I disagree, the value of the sidewalk – and green space, is in the whole of the 76th street project not just one section.

It would be insane to let the individual property owners decide whether they want a sidewalk in front of their property or “green space”, you would have the sidewalk starting and stopping making it worthless. In a sense that is what is happening here. They are devaluing the asset of the sidewalk by cutting it short to placate one or two people in the east section.

Privatizing of Public Space
The other problem I have with this is the give-away of public land. The road is being narrowed and the land is being handed over to private property owners. Yes the city will still own the land, which also means they will not be tax assessed for it as well. What a deal! The Richfield walkers and kids loose out and some complainers get tax free land.

If the city wants to make it fair, the city should bring back an option it dropped early on, it should move the green space to a center median which keeps it public (and I think looks very sexy). They could then move the road closer to the houses since sidewalks are not valued there.

The real story – Sidewalks are needed
If you ever have walked or biked that area, like I have, you will see that there is a real need for sidewalks on both sides of the street between Nicollet and Cedar even for so than between 35W and Nicollet. There are two major parks many kids walk and bike to, (Washington and Roosevelt) and two churches (Assumption and House of Prayer Lutheran Church) along that south section. I think H.R. Green Consulting’s assessment that a sidewalk isn’t necessary on the south side is incorrect and would be very sad for the community if that comes to pass.