By Anne Holzman
A traveler stepping off a bus at the corner of Snelling and Larpenteur avenues would be hard pressed to know which Midwest suburb they’d landed in.
Well, the city of Falcon Heights wants to make those two roads more inviting, in line with its 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Armed with a government grant, the city council voted on July 26 to hire Minneapolis-based WSB consulting firm to conduct a preliminary study covering both corridors for their entire length within city limits.
Ramsey County owns and maintains Larpenteur Avenue while the state owns and maintains Snelling Avenue but Falcon Heights is responsible for sidewalks and adjacent streets. Commercial and residential development possibilities along the corridors will also be considered.
City Administrator Jack Linehan told the council that the county recently decided to lower speed limits on some stretches of Larpenteur Avenue.
The city comprehensive plan sets a goal of “building connections and community identity in Falcon Heights.” It specifically describes Larpenteur and Snelling avenues as “significant barriers between neighborhoods, fragmenting city identity.” And it notes the road design puts a higher priority on vehicles at the expense of pedestrian convenience.
The $50,000 grant from Ramsey County’s Critical Corridors program, funded by the Housing Redevelopment levy, will cover most of the study’s cost. The council voted to fund the rest, a little under $5,000, from city coffers.
At the July 26 city council meeting, Mayor Randy Gustafson commented that the city’s Planning Commission had discussed the proposal in a work session and expressed strong support.
According to the WSB proposal, approved by the council, “The creation of the corridor plan will document the goals and vision for the corridors, assess the existing infrastructure and land uses and provide implementable strategies and ideas for the creation of a more resilient, equitable and accessible city center.” Public comment on the plan is expected to take about eight months.
Anne Holzman is a freelance writer for the Bugle.