By Andrew Richter
Well the rush to force us out of our cars and take us back to the 19th Century is now hitting Brooklyn Center;
Multiple partners in Brooklyn Center are working together to provide safe routes for students to walk or bike to school, and seek to encourage all residents to use sidewalks and trails.
The efforts are supported by grants issued by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Hennepin County.
Oh yeah, it’s the “free money.”
In 2012, Brooklyn Center received a grant from MnDOT to assist in completing a Safe Routes to School plan. The funds were used to hire a consultant to help the city and school district evaluate school safety zones, signs, crosswalks and sidewalks, public input and options for improvements.
Why, was there a problem? Were kids getting run over on the way to school? Or is this like most of these projects; a solution in search of a problem.
Lisa Austin, the interim Safe Routes to School coordinator for MnDOT, said Brooklyn Center has been a great partner in the program because of involvement from schools, city staff and community residents. “Safe Routes to School really takes a team,” Austin said. The planning funded by the grant should be complete by the end of the school year, said Brooklyn Center Public Works Director and City Engineer Steve Lillehaug. It has focused on schools in the city that serve students in kindergarten through sixth grade, he said. The improvements range from adding or improving sidewalks and crosswalks near schools in addition to signage, according to Lillehaug.
Doesn’t that make us all feel good?
The city’s regular street reconstruction projects could include some of the improvements. MnDOT also offers grants for implementing projects identified during the planning stage, Lillehaug said. “We have a pretty good system but there are some missing elements that we’ve identified and we’ll be addressing,” he said. Students at area schools, including those focused on in the study, learned more about Safe Routes to School last week during National Walk and Bike to School Day May 8.
Yippy! How about we learn math, science, English, and history!
Students typically walk or bike home at the end of the school day with their families during the national event. The rain last Wednesday put a damper on that opportunity, but the students at Earle Brown Elementary walked a lap around the school’s track before gathering in the cafeteria for a snack and opportunity to learn more about Safe Routes to School. “It’s about increasing kids physical activity,” Hennepin County Safe Routes to School Coordinator Cathy Rude said at the event.
It is also about connecting families and reducing vehicle traffic near schools, she said.
I though this was all about safety?? Like I said, where is the evidence there is a problem?
This month, Earle Brown Elementary students and their families have been given the challenge to create “walking school buses.” Groups of students, with at least one adult, are encouraged to walk to school and join their classmates along the route, Rude said.
Boy is our school system in trouble…..walking school buses????
Participating groups may submit a photo of their walking school bus to Michelle Auld, Brooklyn Center’s Safe Routes to School program coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org for the opportunity to win a gift card and end of the year celebration. The deadline is Friday, May 31. In the long term, Brooklyn Center has two programs underway to improve pedestrian routes in the city. A grant from Active Living Hennepin County is funding the development of school route maps in Brooklyn Center, Lillehaug said.
Active living; yet another pressure group promoting complete streets!
Additionally, the city and county are partners in a study of methods to increase walking and biking in Brooklyn Center. The study, which includes a survey of residents, is expected to be complete by the end of the year, Lillehaug said. “The goal of all of this is to encourage students and the community to lead healthier lifestyles,” he said. Overall, the grants have provided the city an opportunity to evaluate all of its systems for pedestrians, Lillehaug said. Residents may complete the biking and walking survey online through Monday, July 1, at surveymonkey.com/s/BCPedBikeStudy.
Info: 763-569-3340 (Steve Lillehaug) or email@example.com
Again where is the problem? Where is the information about how many kids walk or bike? How many kids will walk and bike to school in January if we “build another path?” It’s just the same stupid “feel good stuff” everywhere!
By Jason Bradley
I seem to have an amazing tendency to focus on things as they are unknowingly happening in other spheres of life, and for some reason… the turnaround time is usually very short. Want an example? I often will think about a musician or band I like, but haven’t listened to in a while, start playing their stuff again, and find out they’ll be here in concert in the next couple of days, or they were just here. Like I said, there’s usually not a lot of time to react.
Well, the trend continues… If you read this blog regularly, you are probably aware that Community Solutions MN is holding a public forum on “What’s Going on With Bottineau Boulevard?”, tonight, May 9th, 2013 at 7 pm. (By the way, I highly encourage you to come to the Crystal VFW tonight for this event.) This event is now more appropriate than ever.
Last night, the Metropolitan Council approved Light Rail Transit (LRT) as the preferred mode of transportation for Bottineau Boulevard. According to an article at TwinCities.com (http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_23202003/met-council-supports-bottineau-light-rail-timeline-and) the Met Council approved the plan, amending their 2030 plan. The price tag is now up to $1 Billion (yes, with a “b”). They also say that “Funding would likely come from four sources: the Counties Transit Improvement Board’s transit sales tax (30 percent), the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (10 percent), the state of Minnesota (10 percent), and the Federal Transit Administration (50 percent).” Note: All of this is still your tax money. You are funding all of it.
Guest speaker at tonight’s public forum, Norann, Dillon, tried to get an opportunity to speak to the Met Council once she heard this was happening. She was denied the opportunity to speak to the Met Council. Wait until you hear that story tonight! This, to me, is telling. We still have time to have a reasonable discussion. Here’s where our opportunity lies: 1) They have no actual funding yet. 2) Construction may be as many as nine years away. 3) They are afraid of facing the people. That is why they wouldn’t let Norann speak. That is why they run such poor “open houses” that limit or restrict feedback. That is why they have not come to the neighborhoods where the greatest change is to be, and speak to the people that made an investment in a community, only to see that investment squandered.
That is why you need to be there tonight. The real public discussion must begin. One where we’re not dictated to by a bunch of appointed bureaucrats, but for neighbors to meet, unite, and discuss what this does to our community. The Metro Transit may have taxing authority by law, but seeing as we have no direct representation through appointment, you think they might operate with a little more restraint. This is what George Washington and his peers stood against, taxation without representation. Whether we are for LRT or against it, we deserve to have a voice and to be able to hold people accountable at the voting booth when we disagree.
Please, let’s start to move forward together tonight. May 9th, 7pm, Crystal VFW.
By Andrew Richter
Once again Minnesotans can get ready to pay more taxes. No this isn’t a hike on your sales tax, income tax, or gas tax. Yeah those are coming too, but how about paying more for energy!
Electric utilities oppose the idea, and a companion bill in the Senate contains a less-aggressive solar requirement. Minnesota could become the 17th state to mandate that major power companies generate more electricity from the sun.
The state House passed a bill Tuesday to require investor-owned utilities to get 4 percent of their power from solar by 2025. It would be one of the nation’s more aggressive solar mandates, the equivalent of 2,000 solar arrays like the one Ikea installed atop its Bloomington store last year.
“It is a move toward the future,” said House Majority Leader Erin Murphy of St. Paul.
Says who? Why don’t we let the free market determine a “move toward the future?” Are an expert in energy there Ms. minority leader?
The bill’s chief sponsor, Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said the solar bill is modeled after the state’s renewable energy policies that helped make Minnesota a leading wind power state. The state now gets 14 percent of its electricity from wind farms. Solar energy supporters contend the bill promotes cleaner energy and employment. Hortman said that a solar energy mandate in New Jersey has brought that state 5,000 solar industry jobs.
But critics said solar power is unreliable and can’t compete without subsidies. Electric utilities fought the solar mandate, warning that it would increase utility rates.
Sort of like light rail…..
A companion Senate bill sets a more modest 1 percent solar goal by 2025. The Senate could take up that bill Friday. If it passes, both bills would go to a legislative conference committee to address the significant differences.
Power cooperatives and municipal utilities successfully lobbied legislators for an exemption. That’s why the measure applies only to four investor-owned power companies, including Xcel Energy, the state’s largest with 1.2 million customers.
Oh that’s nice……only punish the private sector. If its about the environment then everyone should have to do it right “greenies?”
Rick Evans, Xcel’s director of regional government affairs, said that the House bill’s 4 percent solar mandate would require the Minneapolis-based utility to add nearly 1,000 megawatts of solar capacity — the equivalent of a major power plant — at a cost of $1 billion. “We think [it] represents an extraordinary waste of money for our customers in the current economy,” Evans said in an interview.
And of course that cost will be passed on to the customers; middle class Minnesotans.
The bill passed 70-63, largely along party lines. To win over Iron Range legislators, Democratic supporters of the measure agreed to protect mining companies and paper mills from any rate hikes caused by the solar mandates. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said the deal was an “admission that this bill is bad for business.”
Again, why are some exempt? Why are some industries protected if this is a “move toward the future” to “save the environment?”
Republican legislators also said the bill’s customer-funded subsidies will shift the costs of solar to customers who can’t afford to install rooftop solar arrays. “You are taking money from poor people and giving it to rich people,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington.
Other investor-owned utilities affected by the solar bill are Minnesota Power, based in Duluth, and Otter Tail Power Co., based in Fergus Falls, and Interstate Power & Light, a unit of Madison, Wis.-based Alliant Energy that serves southern Minnesota.
The bill would create new utility incentives for installing solar panels at homes and businesses. It also extends a subsidy for solar panels made in Minnesota, which benefits manufacturers Silicon Energy in Mountain Iron and TenKsolar in Bloomington.
If Solar we doable it wouldn’t NEED government incentives!
Solar energy developers would be encouraged to build larger arrays under the measure. Customers would be allowed to invest in community solar projects, and get credit for a share of power sales on their utility bills. The legislation establishes new regulatory policies for how utilities pay for solar power, including some that Xcel and other utilities supported.
Minnesota’s existing energy standard requires all utilities except Xcel to get 25 percent of their power from wind and other renewable sources by 2025. Xcel’s mandate is 30 percent by 2020. The House bill also boosts those overall renewable requirements to 40 percent by 2030. The Senate bill makes no change in those percentages.
Tarryl Clark, a leader in the Blue Green Alliance, a coalition of union and environmental groups that supported the measure, said solar standards have been passed in 16 other states. They include New Jersey, with a 4.1 percent solar mandate, and Arizona at 4.5 percent solar mandate.
“Our goal is to get 10 percent,” Clark said of the alliance’s long-range goal, “and we believe that is attainable.”
Why don’t they mention that Clark is a former DFL senator? Ms. Clark why don’t you just build a huge solar panel on your roof and leave me alone!!!!!
By Norann Dillon
In reviewing Bus Rapid Transit as an option for the Bottineau line, they looked at running only one bus on the line at the time, much like is constrained by light rail.
Station platforms should be 120 feet long in order to accommodate two 60-foot articulated BRT vehicles stopped at the station at the same time.
What small thinking!
The real strength and absolute advantage of buses over trains is that the former can pull over and be passed. If each of the stations along the exclusive busway were designed with a curb cut-out, then multiple routes can use the corridor at the same time.
Here are the alternative routes that were advanced to the ‘second round’ of study and consideration.
Bottineau alternative routes advanced to second round
The study team considered having both Maple Grove and Brooklyn Park as termini. But the ridership numbers weren’t additive maybe because they were locked into the one-train-at-a-time paradigm.
Some of the study areas where buses “lost” to trains were in time travel savings and reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). If there were curb cuts at the stations, then express routes could use the corridor, zipping past local routes at the stations, and that would greatly improve travel times. The VMT assumption was that commuters would drive down I-94 and board at Maple Grove if it were a train, but not a bus. If it were a dual termini bus line, riders would have faster travel times and more station options! Imagine a worker from St. Michael who could board in Maple Grove, transfer at the station where the lines join and continue to his job at the Target campus in Brooklyn Park.
LRT costs twice as much as BRT, but doesn’t come close to delivering twice the benefits. The price tag of each light rail line is around $1 billion, so taxpayers and commuters should demand consideration of the more flexible, less cost option.
Unless it’s not what “the powers that be” want. This is from the “Bottineau Land Use Planning Framework:”
The Bottineau Corridor has been studied for future transit since 1988. A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project was explored from 2000 through 2005… After seeing the success of the Hiawatha LRT line, the Partnership changed its focus from BRT to championing LRT and remains committed to integrating transit and land use efforts in the Bottineau Corridor.
Could it be that “the fix was in” as far back as 2005?
Read more from Norann Dillon here
I’m sure that if you’ve driven past the Crystal airport or what used to be a row of businesses on Co. Rd. 81 and 63rd Ave. N. lately, you’ve seen the changes underfoot. What is happening there? Why is everything being torn down? You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers. We’ve gone over a ton of their documents, and pulled the facts and figures out from them so that you can be prepared for all of the effects it will have on you whether you live, travel, or pay taxes around this project.
An evening roundtable discussion that will address:
- Where did this idea come from?
- How much will it cost you?
- What are they planning for the future?
Get the unbiased truth without the sales pitch from Hennepin County!
5/9/13 Crystal VFW 5222 Bass Lake Road at 7pm
Hosted by Community Solutions MN’s own Jason Bradley and Andrew Richter
with special guest, Norann Dillon
By Andrew Richter
Show me the money is what local governments want! Here is just an absurd article on Local Government Aid;
Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeffrey Lunde has joined Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and other Minnesota mayors in supporting legislation to make local government aid (LGA) from the state simpler and more reliable.
Both Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis are huge cities that have large tax bases so why should they get a dime?
Brooklyn Park, which has not received LGA for a decade, could get more than $1 million a year if similar proposals in the House and Senate are approved. Under both plans, the state would annually invest an additional $80 million in LGA, bringing the total aid intended for distribution each year from $426 million to $506 million, plus inflation. Of that, Brooklyn Park would get a little more than $1 million in aid this year and about $1.2 million next year.
Since 1972 the state has provided cities with local government aid to supplement property taxes they collect. The money is supposed to be determined by the amount of “unmet need” in a city based on its property tax base.
According to the House Research Department, Brooklyn Park hasn’t received LGA payments since 2003, when it got about $660,000. The city had expected nearly $2.8 million that year, but the Legislature slashed the amount during its 2003 session.
A new formula for calculating aid took effect in 2004, and the city hasn’t received LGA since. “It was at that time the city was forced to make changes,” Lunde said. In some years, Brooklyn Park was slated to receive LGA, but the Legislature cut those funds before they were paid. The city was supposed to get $1.3 million last year – but it didn’t see a dollar. Fortunately for Brooklyn Park’s budget, the city stopped counting on the aid years ago.
Yes they’ve jacked up property taxes! Of course they didn’t cut spending.
“We have told the state we need a reliable partner,” Lunde said at the April 23 press conference. “That partnership has been broken,” Rybak said. The press conference was held at the Zanewood Recreation Center at 7100 Zane Ave. N., where the city has made significant investments in youth programing since 2009, when the building became a full-time recreation center.
Is that an essential government function?
At the press conference, Lunde emphasized the importance of investing in programs for youth. He said not only will such investments help the youth but they will also save the city money in the long run because crime will go down. He said the city measures and tracks progress and can show a link between quality youth programming and reduced crime.
Yeah right, government says that about every program they have; spend now save in the future…..where are the savings????
Lunde said having the state as a reliable partner, would make it easier for the city to invest in important programs for youth without raising property taxes. Local legislators are also on board with LGA changes.
“LGA is basically property tax relief,” said Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park.
No it just transfers the cost of local government on someone else.
Nelson sits on the House property and local tax division that considered the proposal. He said the plan serves cities across Minnesota well.
“It’s predictable,” he said. “Cities can count on it.” Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, who represents Brooklyn Park north of 85th Avenue, also supports the plan.
What DFLer doesn’t support more spending?
“(The) current formula is complicated, unpredictable and not an accurate measure of need,” he said in a written statement. “The new approach is need-driven – those cities with the biggest unmet needs compared to current aid receive precedence.”
He noted the formula would redirect aid to 41 cities, including Brooklyn Park, that currently receive no aid. He also added that the proposed formula would respond “more accurately to the needs of suburban communities.”
Lunde said predictability is what the city needs most. He expects Brooklyn Park would be a bit “gun shy” at first and would likely treat any LGA received as a windfall and use it for one-time investments instead of counting on it in the budget process. But he hopes that in time, the program will be reliable enough to bank on.
What? A windfall profit? LGA is supposed to be for NEEDS that local government can’t meet? A windfall? One time investment???? This is just absurd!
By Andrew Richter
When I was reviewing New Hope’s City Center proposal, I came across a group call the Corridor Development Initiative or CDI. It turns out that they are a group that is “pushing a new process” to streamline “corridor development.” There is too much to talk about in one post but here’s a sample of what they are pushing;
Tired of the cost, time, and conflict involved in contentious development proposals? Discover a better way—the Corridor Development Initiative.
After a particularly difficult development project, have you ever wished there were a better way? Now there is. The Corridor Development Initiative can help you make and keep great neighborhoods by fundamentally changing the way you approach development opportunities. We offer a proactive, facilitated process that brings together all interested parties –governing agencies, developers, and neighborhood and community interests. Through discussions and hands-on planning experiences, we learn, discuss, analyze, and grow to understand market realities that face a particular development site—all before any proposal is submitted to a governing agency.
Hmmmm…..well that sounds harmless until you see the details. Here is what they consider “ideal”
Implementing the growth area goals of your comprehensive plan
Which of course is approved by the Met Council
Developing strategies to strengthen the tax base by replacing deteriorated, blighted, or underutilized areas.
In other words buying more property, tearing it down, and rebuilding at taxpayer expense. Then the cities will get into bed with large corporations who will develop the city’s “vision.”
Connecting greater density and mixed use projects to transportation corridors.
As always, higher density, TOD, mixed use, and transit. The same thing everywhere.
CDI then claims to “streamline the process” quickly.
The goal is to do things quickly once the plans are made. Study groups and comprehensive plans get put together, the groups like CDI push them through as quickly as possible.
Once the plans are on paper and moving forward the CDI call for a “block exercise”
The interactive block exercise is a hands-on opportunity for community members to explore different development options and find out whether their development ideas are financially viable. The process helps people understand the financial issues and tradeoffs a developer will be working with when considering options for a specific site (i.e. mix of residential and commercial uses, surface level or underground parking, amount of green space, number of units, integration of affordable housing, etc.). The goal is to give community members a greater working knowledge of what it takes to make a development project financially viable and to identify a range of preferred development concepts to help guide future development in the area. It was developed as part of the Corridor Housing Initiative, convened by the Center for Neighborhoods.
Look at all the government speak! Do you notice some familiar words? Words like green space, number of units (ie density), affordable housing, options, opportunity….it’s all the same stuff.
Residents are supposed to “leave with a deeper understanding about economic constraints of development, design opportunities in their neighborhood, in addition to issues relating to density, land use, and housing types.”
Here is a section on why you should use CDI;
Our Corridor Development Initiative is a proactive, facilitated process that helps communities make smarter, more informed, less contentious decisions about development opportunities along transportation corridors.
Smarter, more informed, and less contentious? Says who?? Why is whatever the government wants to do always smarter?
Now tell me if you haven’t heard these other reasons before;
Yes, cities can implement agenda 21 even quicker.
It builds consensus
Like Margaret Thatcher once said; consensus is the absence of leadership.
It saves private and public resources
No, cutting government spending and leaving the private sector alone would do that.
It explores higher density development along transportation corridors
Once again, higher density housing, more transit, walkability, biking, trails, and all that crap. The same thing everywhere again. No city can be unique or have its own identity.
So how does this relate to New Hope’s City Center Vision? Find out in the next post!!!!