Going against neighbors' wishes, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board on Wednesday voted to move forward with a controversial plan to revamp access on Minnehaha Parkway.
The Park Board rejected a resolution offered by President Brad Bourn to prohibit the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) from proposing plans that would close any portions of parkway to vehicle traffic.
"I believe strongly in our Community Advisory Committee to engage community power, and to let the public and the design team work together toward plans that really demonstrate what they want rather than what's politically popular for us to do," Commissioner Steffanie Musich said before the vote.
The CAC is the body charged with shaping the Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail Master Plan, a long-term plan to bring changes to the parkway, creek and adjacent trails and parkland.
Last summer, the CAC proposed installing medians at key intersections to force drivers to turn off the parkway and onto city streets. That idea was axed over the summer, but another plan to close a portion of the road in the Lynnhurst neighborhood surfaced. That plan was pulled after intense backlash from residents fearful about a big increase in the amount of traffic cutting through the neighborhood.
Project Manager Adam Arvidson said they are working on new designs that will be unveiled in January for when the CAC meets again.
"We continue to change and modify designs [based] on community engagement," Arvidson said.
Hundreds of residents had strongly objected to the plans, particularly one that would have rerouted up to 1,900 vehicles a day off the west end of the parkway near 50th Street and potentially sent drivers a block west to James Avenue, then along 51st Street and back to the parkway.
On Wednesday, Commissioner Chris Meyer said the CAC was already looking to keep the entire parkway accessible by vehicle.
While Bourn agreed, he felt the Park Board should step in, as "forcing traffic off the roads does little more than turn Minnehaha Parkway into a private driveway" for people who live along it.
Bourn and Commissioner Londel French were the only ones who voted to approve the resolution. Still, Bourn said before the meeting that the parkway would not be changing drastically in the near future.
The CAC will continue with plans addressing issues such as stormwater management, flood mitigation, trails and recreation facilities.
The master plan is being paid for with $256,000 from the Parks and Trails Legacy Fund, part of the voter-approved Minnesota Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment.