Group can continue to explore parkway changes

Minnehaha Creek
The CAC shaping the future of Minnehaha Creek parkland can continue exploring designs to limit vehicle traffic on the parkway after commissioners rejected a measure seeking to prevent plans altering traffic flow. Photo by Andrew Hazzard

Minneapolis park commissioners have rejected a measure that would have limited the ability of a community planning process to discourage through traffic on Minnehaha Parkway.

The measure had been advanced by Park Board President Brad Bourn, who represents the area around Minnehaha Creek in Southwest. It would have altered the mandate of the group tasked with master planning the Minnehaha Creek area — requiring the community advisory committee (CAC) to “maintain the continuity of parkway for motorists.”

The Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail Master Plan, a 20-year plan to shape the parkland around the creek, has been held up by staunch opposition from some residents to designs that would discourage through traffic on the parkway by installing roadway barriers at certain intersections and eliminating two short stretches of the parkway in Southwest.

Bourn said he believed the discussion around the parkway was distracting from the good work the CAC is doing and that he didn’t want the parkway to become a “private driveway” for its residents.

But most commissioners opposed interfering with the work of the CAC, which only has the power to recommend designs that are ultimately decided on by commissioners. Only Bourn and Commissioner Londel French supported the measure.

“I believe strongly in our CAC process to engage our community power,” said Commissioner Steffanie Musich, who represents the areas around the creek in South Minneapolis.

She said the board should not politically interfere in that process to appease certain residents.

Adam Arvidson, the project manager for the Minnehaha Master Plan, said his team is continuing to modify the plan and will release new concept designs in January.

Members of Preserve the Parkway, a group opposing plans to alter the road, said they’ve been told those new designs will not include any barriers to continuous traffic on the parkway or the removal of a small one-way stretch of the parkway that runs under the Nicollet Avenue bridge.

Some members of the public urged commissioners to support plans limiting traffic, arguing it would decrease noise and air pollution while creating a sanctuary for park users, pedestrians and cyclists.

Current design concepts would discourage through traffic on the parkway by installing roadway barriers at Humboldt and Portland avenues and by removing the two stretches of parkway in Southwest. Opposition to those ideas led to a pause in the master planning process this summer while a traffic study was conducted. That study, presented to the public in November, led park planners to believe they need to alter plans near Portland Avenue, but made them confident design changes in Southwest were feasible.