Hennepin Avenue – the future — Letter to the Editor

If the city is designing an avenue for the future, then why is it not including electric car charging stations? That is but one question we should be asking as this egregious project is being rammed down the throats of businesses along Hennepin Avenue.
Businesses who neither want, need nor approve of a plan that will kill them, yet they will be required to pay for through assessments.
And why?
Mostly because a small but very vocal lobby has gripped our city government by the throat and holds us all hostage.
Yes, we need to address climate change. But traffic jams and angry motorists racing down once-quiet city side streets is not the answer. But that is what we get when we sacrifice every major corridor to BIKE LANES! – Bike lanes with few riders ever in evidence.
Hennepin Avenue deserves better.
The current “Hennepin Avenue Redesign for the Next 50 Years” plan is a colossal mistake.It is a plan based on a woefully inadequate parking study. One major issue, merely identifying parking lots along the corridor (private lots, by the way) does nothing to inform as to the loss of critical parking. These lots, at The Kenwood, Kenwood Isles Condos, Kowalski’s, etc., are not going to welcome the public. How does this help us?
It does not. It only obscures the issue. Intentionally?
It is a plan based on unacceptably inadequate public engagement (obvious by the ever-growing public backlash) conducted during a major pandemic when few could afford to pay close attention. Well, we are paying attention now and we are ANGRY!
It is a painful attack on needed small business. Why are we decimating the very community city government is purporting to serve? Neighborhoods all along Hennepin rely on these small businesses. They form the backbone of our communities. They are the hub of neighborhood activity.
This plan turns Hennepin into nothing more than a commuter line, funneling people in and out of downtown. There will be no more small businesses.
There are those who believe that this is exactly what the city wants. Small business gone so developers can swoop in, tear down, build larger buildings with more expensive housing, no parking and limited retail on the first floor. Turn Hennepin into just another street that could be in any neighborhood anywhere.No distinguishing landmarks. No charm. No character.
Is this really what we want for our city? Can nothing be done to stop this? Are we just to watch as our neighborhoods disappear? Or do we somehow find a way to push back?
Fight to save our streets. Our landmarks, our hubs, our neighborhoods – the soul of our city.
It doesn’t have to be this way, if we are willing to fight.
There is another way. There is a compromise that serves all who wish to utilize Hennepin Avenue: A dedicated bus lane AND parking can coexist. IF the city can stand up to the bike mafia and move the unsafe bike lanes off of this major car corridor to a far safer option. Irving Avenue is one such, far less expensive option. Irving stretches from deep in Uptown to Douglas Avenue. It could then cross Hennepin into Loring Park and continue into downtown.
Doesn’t it make more sense for bikes to be in our neighborhoods with our children than angry drivers pushed off major thoroughfares by unsafe, under-utilized bike lanes? Can we not at least agree on THAT?
I need to make this perfectly clear. I have no hate in my heart. I do not dislike actual bike riders. Some people in my family are avid riders.
My issue is with a lobby that screams down any voice that dares to disagree, that dares to offer a countering opinion, and has been known to viciously attack those who offer differing opinions. Making elected officials cower and chasing good people from seeking office for fear of being pilloried on social media.
That is what has happened. I am prepared for it. I have no plans for office. And my city, my avenue are worth it.
Think this can’t happen to your street? In your neighborhood?
They are probably already making plans.

Carin Peterson

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