The way we think about the place we live in seems so incredibly backwards and upside down when we leave the planning to self interest. How those parties come up with spaces that the rest of us have to live in is worth our two cents. Just yesterday there was finally an article in the local paper decrying the Vikings stadium zero development around the Metrodome in the past 30 years. I posted the very same opinion recently. What I found interesting was the article didn’t go far enough and a well informed reader made the comment the powers at the time did not want a second entertainment area downtown so zoned it as tech. Now as the city of Minneapolis is cutting a deal to tear down the stadium and stick up a new sports palace, land owners in the area are crying foul. They contend that a new stadium on the present site does more to harm development than improve it. Owners would like to see a medical and health campus on the Vikings site and the stadium located on the west side of downtown. So it goes. There has not been a word from Vikings owner/developer Wilf, who fought for the Arden Hills venue so he could develop old style surface parking for tailgate partying and a mall of shops. What this says about the deal in my opinion is that if the voters in Minneapolis roll over to these self interested parties we will have to live with another 30 years of abandoned store fronts and surface parking around the new Stadium. When these deals are struck there needs to be a vision with a competition where designs are submitted to create a place that dove tails with the entire city not just a pocket area. What kept out development were men 30 years ago who didn’t want competition, we can’t afford to make the same mistake again. Going forward the investment from the city looks like a cool $1,000,000 per month X 338 months which, does not take into account interest to service loans and bonds. Update from todays StarTribune has local citizen response which seems silly because the deal the city wants to make is not transparent enough to make an educated opinion. Put the project on the table and then maybe we’ll show you the money.
In another local rag, another reference to development but in this time frame its 30 years into the future. The man speaking was Shaun Murphy, the new bicycle coordinator for Minneapolis, is quoted in the Southwest Journal Mar 5 as saying about bicycling. ” If you put us up against most European cities it’s not even a comparison. Getting there will probably take 30 years but that doesn’t mean you can’t mimic some of those things right now.” On the street this is called a smoke screen. The city hired Mr. Murphy to oversee bicyclist interest in the near future. His position would be phased out if a Republican gets in office. So, again, the self interested parties, and in this case small time grant recipients are keeping a vision going that insures them a job for the time being. Putting a spin on bicycle interest is a hard sell these days. Minneapolis has seen a huge investment in the Greenway and Sabo bridge. I for one am not impressed by the investments and with the amount of usage per se. Would not the Greenway have been a more ideal corridor for light rail than the Hiwawath line? How about the vibrant life on Lake street as being complete only if bicycles were accomodated? These are questions that are probably 30 years away. Then it will be too late for Minneapolis. Mistakes made by this generation can be readily addressed when policy towards cars is “snap” and “crack” What I mean by that is start by reducing automobile speed limits on surface streets to 20mph and enforce that limit. Then and only then will bike riders suffer less casualties at the hands of inattentive car drivers. For Minneapolis to call themselves bike friendly is egotistical. Take it from one that is on the street five days a week, there is nothing safe about it in these times of speeding and congestion. The more that people learn to leave their cars at home and bike ride the sooner policy will change to lower speed limits. So, as always, bike more and drive less.