By Candace Oathout
Well, the folks in Crystal are slammed again. The Metropolitan Council scheduled a number of public meetings to hear residents’ concerns about the Blue Line Extension which completely ignored. Not only did they deal dishonestly with our Mayor and City Council, they ignored our very valid concerns about the safety of both school children and adults. The proposed pedestrian crossing should be built regardless of the light rail alignment.
Bass Lake Road and County 81 is a dangerous intersection as it stands. The Northeast quadrant of the city has no safe way for the non-driving residents, especially children, to get to the Crystal Community Center, Cooper High School or the shopping center. We, residents attend meetings discuss our concerns and ask that they be considered. Our Mayor and Council Members make the needs of the constituents clearly known requesting that both the pedestrian crossing and sound walls are needed. They negotiated in good faith although they were told that these accommodations were “beyond the scope” of the project. Rather than continue a public discussion, the Metropolitan Council moved negotiations to a corridor management committee meeting which voted to remove this addition from the project. Our County Commissioner Mike Opat refused to support the safety needs of the people of Crystal. He spoke against this important safety addition. As a result, Crystal’s residents will be forced to deal with years of construction disruption, increased noise and traffic congestion. This rail line will never be an asset to Crystal or the other pass through communities that will suffer from neighborhood disruption, increased noise and increased safety hazards for pedestrians along the route and increased traffic congestion. We just have to allow our City to be cut in two for a $1.49 billion (and rising) Light Rail Line which will remain drain on the taxpayers for as long as it exists as Commissioner Opat decrees.