Bryn Mawr residents discuss future

For the past year, a handful of Bryn Mawr residents have sketched out a vision of what the neighborhood might look like in 10 or even 20 years.

"Bryn Mawr is going to change," said Vida Ditter, organizer for the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association, noting the neighborhood has experienced development pressures recently from outside the community.

In light of these pressures, BMNA formed a land use committee focused on nine large sites where they believe development will have the most impact on the neighborhood’s character and uniqueness. The list includes parcels near I-394 and Bassett Creek.

Along the way, committee members discussed and debated the neighborhood’s strengths and weaknesses. Committee member Pat Waddick pointed out that I-394 can be viewed negatively because it splits the neighborhood and creates considerable noise. On the other hand, development along the highway could buffer the noise, he said, "And the views of the city are incredible."

Businessperson Mike Palm, who owns property just south of the highway near Penn Avenue, said he hopes to develop his property to take advantage of those views. He also wants the nearby bluffs to be accessible to the public. In June, he told the committee he was happy to work with them.

Michael Martens, another committee member, said he got involved partly because he wanted to bring a citywide perspective to the group. For example, he said the committee looked at medium-density housing for people at different stages in life. "Creating life-cycle housing is good for the neighborhood and good for the city," he said.

So far, much of the discussion has focused on mixed-use development, which combines housing and commercial projects. Ditter said while the committee’s recommendations would not be legally binding, it would "make sure developers hear the voices of the neighborhood."

With the help of intern Peng Xu from the University of Minnesota, the committee has put together over a dozen full-color boards with maps and renderings of potential designs.

The committee will make a presentation to the BMNA board at its next meeting, Aug. 13, 7 p.m. at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 420 S. Cedar Lake Rd.