Mixed signals for Lyndale lighting

A survey of Lyndale residents, business and property owners shows fewer than 40 percent of respondents support a $3 million neighborhood pedestrian lighting initiative.

The results, released at the Oct. 28 Lyndale neighborhood meeting, showed 337 of those who returned survey cards supported the lighting project and 503 opposed it. (The neighborhood mailed 3,695 surveys, not counting returns, and had a 23 percent return rate.)

The survey responses indicated:

 

  • Property owners opposed the lighting project 2-to-1; 110 sent in "yes" cards, and 224 sent in "no" cards.

     

     

  • Renters were evenly split, with 144 supporting the lighting and 143 opposed.

     

     

  • Business and rental property owners sent in 81 cards in support and 132 in opposition.

     

     

  • The remaining 25 cards did not indicate a category.

     

    The survey results do not mean the project is dead, said City Councilmember Dan Niziolek (10th Ward), who represents most of the neighborhood. The survey stands in contrast to an earlier petition drive that showed more support for the lighting project.

    Pedestrian lighting supporters said that, among other things, the lights would improve neighborhood safety. They circulated a petition and got 523 property owners and 215 renters to sign, said Norma Pietz, project manager for the Lyndale Development Corporation, which provided staff support. The signatures represented 65 percent of the assessable square footage in the neighborhood, she said.

    The petition triggered a city review — including a calculation of the lighting cost to each property owner’s property tax bill. Not all residents knew of the petition, and opposition catalyzed when the city mailed notices about the projected assessment, roughly $2,500 for an average-sized lot.

    To address criticisms of the petition process, which started in 1998, Niziolek, the neighborhood association and lighting opponents crafted the neighborhood survey as a second measure of neighborhood support.

    Niziolek said he was not surprised that the majority of survey respondents opposed the lighting project. Opponents were more motivated to send back their survey cards, he said.

    The city would look at the Lyndale surveys, analyzing the "yes" and "no" cards and how each translates into assessable square footage, he said. He would consider both the petition and the survey in reaching his decision.

    The City Council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee will take up the Lyndale lighting petition Thursday, Nov. 14 at 9:30 a.m., Niziolek said. The meeting will be held at City Hall, 350 S. 5th St., Room 317. That is the place where residents will have a chance to address the council.

    The measure is expected to go to the full council Friday, Nov. 22.