Whats broken?

On a six-block stretch of Upton Avenue South from West 44th Street to West 50th Street, drivers are required to stop only once. People have voiced concern about traffic problems before, but the area proved dangerous last week.

On Oct. 19, 39-year-old motorcyclist Amos Louis Sims III collided with a car at West 46th Street and Upton Avenue South. He died at the scene.

City Council member Betsy Hodges said she has received more messages about the issue since Sims’s death.

“It’s certainly become more acute,” she said.

Hodges said she would meet with Public Works staff to discuss the traffic problem on Upton. She asked the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council to put the issue on their meeting agenda for Nov. 11, and said Public Works staff will be present to talk with people.

There is also a crosswalk at the intersection of West 49th Street and Upton, but some residents claimed drivers aren’t following the rules of the road.

 “I can’t say that one time I’ve had a car stop for me while I was in the crosswalk,” said Jason Walker, who lives between West 49th Street and West 50th Street on Upton.

The crosswalk is one block away from the Lake Harriet Elementary School, and Walker said cars have gone as fast as 40 miles per hour through the intersection.

Between the stoplights on West 44th Street and West 50th Street, there is only one stop sign – a sign on West 47th Street that marks the border of Linden Hills and Fulton.

Cars park on both sides of the street, and passing vehicles are forced to swerve around each other in order to pass. Trucks and school buses have traveled down the street, and made the road even narrower.

Walker said other residents are worried about their kids playing between parked cars, especially when the passing cars are speeding.

“When a street is that narrow, you just can’t have people driving fast on it,” Walker said.

Walker filed an online traffic sign request to the city six months ago. The Web site stated a request may take 60 days for a resolution, but Walker never heard anything. He filed another request three months ago, and still no word.

“It’s the longest thoroughfare without a stop sign other than Xerxes,” said Linea Palmisano, board chair of the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council.  

A resident recently lobbied for a stop sign at West 46th Street and Vincent Avenue South and succeeded. Palmisano said that area was trouble in general.

“It’s the road that all the Southwest High School runners go to get to Lake Harriet,” she said.

Traffic engineers said four-way stop signs and crosswalks don’t necessarily increase pedestrian safety, a former transportation committee member told Walker in an e-mail.

Walker disagreed and thought even lowering the speed limit would help avoid the kind of accidents that have already happened.

“Would we rather inconvenience a few drivers to insure that nobody gets hurt?” he said. “I mean one person getting hurt is too many.”

What’s broken?

As the amount of graffiti showing up on storefronts and vacant buildings continues to be a problem in parts of Kingfield, some in the neighborhood are concerned that it isn’t being cleaned up fast enough.

Steve Rosch, co-owner of the ACE Hardware at 3805 Nicollet Ave. S, is one of those. The building across the street from his store, owned by the Lander Group, an urban development company, has been a target for graffiti for quite some time, he said.

“The graffiti has been an issue… and even now we’ve been calling for a week and a half to get it removed,” Rosch said.

The Lander Group bought the building in 2005 with the intention of redeveloping the site for condos, but that changed when the market slipped. The company is now planning a mixed-use building with no residential units.

Michael Lander, founder and president of the Lander Group, said graffiti has been a problem at the site, but it shouldn’t be for long.

“We’ve had some problems with graffiti,” he said. “We are very close to finally making the improvements that will change the boarded upon, graffiti prone condition.”

For now, the sides of the brick building are boarded up and repainted a maroon color each time graffiti becomes an issue. A few of the red awnings around the front door have also been removed.

“The owner pulled some of the awnings, so now it even looks like a vacant building,” Rosch said.

Seeing the building as a vacant lot is an invitation for graffiti, he added.

 “The building is asking for taggers. The graffiti seems to spread when it is present on surrounding buildings and this becomes expensive for us.”

Previously, the ACE Hardware had to replace their store’s front glass for around $2,000, Rosch said.  

“We totally understand the community member’s concerns,” Lander said. But he said his company has not received many complaints.

The Lander Group is working on repositioning the corner building to a mix of retail, office and studio tenants. Lander expects the project to be completed by late 2009. And the Lander Group plans to move their offices to the second floor of the building later this year, he said.

If you see something broken on the streets, or notice some other nuisance issue in the neighborhoods that needs to be resolved, please let us know. We’ll spotlight the problem in the newspaper and onlline. We’ll work to get it fixed and identify who is responsible for addressing the problem.

Reach us by e-mail at [email protected], via fax at 825-0929, or by mail to 1115 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55403.