Division St. observations: start with low hanging fruit
The Record Eagle headline: “Solutions for Division St. sought : Mayor wants city, state to get serious about the road” (RE) is welcome attention to a lagging issue, but offers nothing new in the City’s approach to the problem. It is a new round of resolutions to “find a solution” to an under-performing corridor of repletion that by its very design is dangerous, uninviting, inefficient…what some may call repulsive. Uncomfortable for the community is the fact that this street is part of several valuable neighborhoods.
We’ve seen these liminal moments come and go in the saga of Division St. and despite copious amounts of collaborative input and work done in the past 2-years, we still have City Commissioners who think that a pledge to find a solution is a first step. The community has already taken 10,000 steps, like the Division St. recommendations. What we lack is the clarity of whether or not we have been on path forward or simply on a treadmill with, thankfully, a broken odometer.
Act on the low hanging fruit
We continue to hold out hope for a solution without making improvements that are right in front of us, already on the table, and simply waiting to be implemented. The City can begin today to make plans to improve this corridor and do so with streetscaping proven to alter how we interact here. Street trees, inviting sidewalks on both sides of the street, pedestrian scale lighting, and general landscaping can have an impact that doesn’t break the bank. Some improvements happened this past summer, like the installation of countdown pedestrian lights. Go team!
We need small investments like these that improve the quality of the space, not aim to solve traffic. If we make people the priority, traffic improvements will follow. Further down the
road street, bigger investing in public spaces that increase human focused activity along the corridor are needed. One reason why the City’s parks and recreation commission favored the old Veteran’s Park for the dog park was the impact it will have in improving the context of the corridor. A small step with some barking that will slightly slow us down when we drive-by.
Looking south from Veteran’s Park, there are improvements on both sides of the street that can happen. On the eastside, from Bay St. to Randolph, a sidewalk and landscaping is dearly needed. South of Immaculate Conception, a bridge over Kids Creek is hardly noticeable–it could be a point of interest. Further down, past 8th St., there is adjacent parkland that is maintained but barely used. Let’s develop a plan that will create activity in this space, including full commitment by the City to help with the Buffalo Ridge trail near the 14th and Division Streets’ intersection.
As we approach the City limit, let’s seriously begin thinking about changing the entrance to the City with points of interest along the side and ultimately seriously considering a modern roundabout to replace the signalized intersection that has outgrown its use. The latter, obviously involves MDOT and will take real investment in energy, political-will, and
investment money. Still, those challenges don’t make it impossible.
In 2010, MyWHaT conducted a walking observational tour of Division St. attended by a diverse set of eyes, including MDOT’s regional director, the majority of the observations remain in the same condition: Observational walk of Division St._
Let’s make it happen. I’m in full support of action that moves it forward. Tally ho!
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