Letters to the editor

A call to honor Horace Cleveland’s legacy

With all the pressures of this modern world, we often forget that once we destroy our natural treasure, it is gone forever. In the name of progress and light-rail transit, we are forgetting the story of Horace Cleveland and his contribution to our city, our heritage and our culture.

Many in Minneapolis don’t remember who this outstanding landscape architect was, but he left his indelible mark on who we are. One of his crowning achievements was our very
own Grand Rounds. Within this design, we can actually see the influence that Ralph Waldo Emerson had on Cleveland’s life, and thus on our national culture, as Mr. Emerson was a close friend to the Cleveland household when Horace was growing up.

Perhaps that is why so many of us flock to the Chain of Lakes every weekend when the weather allows. Cleveland believed in preserving the natural features of any landscape that he was tasked with. How sad it is to think that a light-rail train moving at high speed through this rare natural treasure will soon spoil what is considered to be the foremost landscape architect’s greatest life achievement.

This area was designated a Minnesota State Scenic Byway by the Federal Highway Administration in 1997, and a National Scenic Byway in 1998.

In the 1880s, Mr. Cleveland was hired to create a series of parks and byways that would increase the value of property, connect larger parks, drive up the desire for further private development, and hopefully increase the general revenues for the city over time. I believe he reached his goal, as the neighborhoods that exist within the Grand Rounds and the Chain of Lakes are the most stable in the city and represent the largest share of our residential tax base. As it stands today, the Grand Rounds and the Chain of Lakes are a national treasure, and are known as one of the best urban park systems in the world.  

The proposed LRT Southwest Extension route cuts through our world class park land to slide downtown without any stops designed to be of use to our city residents.

This plan is designed to bring suburbanites to downtown without offering any usable transportation to city-dwellers. This is especially appalling as a much better alternative has been offered which would preserve our scarce precious green space at the same time it would actually serve the citizens of our fair city. How much more sensible would it be to use the greenway and create stops where people live, thus allowing those in the city to benefit from the expense and inconvenience incumbent on a train in the neighborhood? If our great Parks Commissioner Theodore Wirth could find the means to purchase Como Park for St. Paul at his request, we can find a way to preserve the legacy he left us.

Please let the Met Council, The Hennepin County Board, and our mayor and City Council know our objections before it is too late.

Michael Katch

Letters to the editor

‘Bump outs’ don’t help bikers

If the city wants to help bikers and bus riders then they should cease installing the new “bump outs” along Lake Street and other roads.

These were designed to help pedestrians apparently, but at the same time they jut out in front of bikers trying to ride along side auto traffic — making it more likely bikers will bump into the “bump outs” or into cars driving next to them.

How much money is being wasted on these supposed improvements? They supposedly make pedestrians waiting to cross the street more safe, but that’s a rather abstract idea since the pedestrians will still have to hop off the curb and walk in front of cars for the majority of the distance, and because cars not paying attention may just bump into the bump outs and fly over them hitting any pedestrians standing on them with a false sense of security.

Further, these bump outs have bus stops on them sometimes, which means buses will stop a whole lane of traffic while passengers board and disembark.

The minuses are obvious to the bump outs and the alleged plus of making pedestrians safer is rather abstract and possibly non-existent.

 Christopher Loch, Whittier