I got this email yesterday from a Way Park area citizen, Tom Kotula:
On Monday, Jan 5th, the city council will hear discussions about whether or not to close off first street west to connect the two halves of Way Park. Perhaps this might be a good place to start a discussion concerning that possible decision.
See pps 24-26 of today’s Council Agenda packet (PDF) for more details on the public hearing. I’ve converted it to plain text below for convenience.
ITEM: Public Hearing for Closure of 1st Street West at Way Park
The City Council is being asked to hold a public hearing for the closure of 1st Street West at Way Park.
The City Council is being asked to hold a public hearing for the closure of 1st Street West at Way Park. The 1st Street reconstruction project is dependent on a discussion on this issue. On December 15, 2008 the City Council received the feasibility study for the reconstruction of 1st Street. At this time staff asked for direction on the issue relating to the closure of the street at Way Park to maintain the project timelines. The Council made the motion for staff to move forward with the process required to close the street. The first step in this process is to hold a public hearing. A notice of the public hearing was published in the Northfield News on December 24 and 31, 2008. A notice was also sent to the residents potentially impacted by the project on December 23, 2008. The next step will be for the City Council to act on the closure at the second meeting in January 2009.
The Way Park Master Plan was approved by the City Council on April 16, 2007. Prior to adoption there was an extensive planning effort by the Parks Board that focused on development of the park for park and recreational purposes. The resulting concept plan includes the closure of 1st Street, with 72-foot diameter cul-de-sacs located at the west and east ends of 1st Street where it intersected Way Park. See Figure L-10. There was an in depth discussion of the use of this design, a hammerhead, from a functionality perspective.
However, there was not discussion on operation and maintenance of the design and how it relates to the overall city budget and staffing levels. The plan was approved contingent on further review of the vacation of the street as required by the charter. On October 20, 2008 the Council ordered the feasibility study for the 1st Street reconstruction project. At this time they also gave staff direction to provide information on seven items related to the project that included three related to closure of the street:
1. Report/Comment from fire/police chief on closure of 1st Street.
2. Cost implications of options
3. Vacation vs. Closure of the street
The feasibility report was presented to the council and received on December 15, 2008. The council also passed motion 2008-0165 with a 4-3 vote to move forward with the process necessary to close First Street.
A motion (M2008-0165) was made by C. Nelson and seconded by C. Pokorney to DIRECT STAFF TO CLOSE THE STREET THROUGH WAY PARK CONSISTENT WITH THE WAY PARK MASTER PLAN WITH POSSIBLE SIZES OF THE CUL DE SACS STILL UNDER CONSIDERATION.
Yes votes by Pownell, Nelson, Denison and Lansing. No votes by Vohs, Pokorney and Davis. Vote is 4-3. Motion carried.
The options for 1st Street through Way Park can be lumped in two categories, a thru street or street closure. The attached table presents information related to each category.
Closure Vs. Vacation
If 1st Street is closed through Way Park, the City could consider vacation of the street Right-of-way. However, the street could be closed without vacation. When a ROW is vacated the land ownership is turned over to the surrounding land owners, in this case the City. To go through the vacation would require the services of a land surveyor, attorney and staff time. Staff does not feel that there is a benefit for ROW vacation that would justify the expenditures. It should also be noted that the vacation procedure will require a public hearing adding an additional procedure to the project process.
There was an extensive public process as part of the Way Park Master planning efforts. Throughout that process overall there was neighborhood support for the Master Plan as adopted by the council. A questionnaire was completed at that time related to closure of the street and parking. The full summary is attached.
Below is a summary to the question, “1st Street West should be closed at the east and west property boundaries of Way Park?”
1st Street Residents 6 6
2nd Street West and St. Olaf Avenue Residents 23 6
SUBMITTED BY: Katy Gehler-Hess, P.E., City Engineer
Brian Hilgardner, P.E., Design Engineer
1. Notice of Public Hearing
2. Figure L-10
3. Table on Issues related to Street Closure
4. Way Park Survey Results Summary