Summit Avenue in St. Paul passes through two historic districts and is home to 370 Victorian mansions – including the governor’s residence – and, along the city’s planned regional route to include the avenue, residents live in many of its buildings, including its trees. Concerned about preserving attributes.
Tom Darling, a retired attorney and president of the Summit Avenue Residential Preservation Association, said he is in a worst-case scenario.
“I don’t think the concerns are high. We’ve been involved with the city for months on this,” Darling said. “I don’t see any way to build the kind of territorial trail they want to build without felling trees — a lot of trees.”
As a cycling lawyer, Andy Singer said he is feeling the scapegoat for the loss of trees during road reconstruction and other projects. St. Paul’s Cleveland Avenue is also expected to lose trees due to the Ramsay County road project.
“Someone is mailing postcards that say ‘Protected bikeways at Summit are killing trees,’ and there’s no evidence of that,” Singer said on Wednesday. “I’m an environmentalist. It’s part of why I ride bikes.”
A planned road reconstruction project by the city’s northern boundary with Falcon Heights has already set a negative precedent in terms of public relations.
Singer, co-chair of the St. Paul Bicycle Coalition, considers himself a fan of tree shade, aesthetics and environmental benefits. He said it was astonishing to learn that 160 trees would be removed from a one-mile-long stretch of Cleveland Avenue during road and utility work over the course of the next year. It includes 71 trees from a block near the University of Minnesota that will soon accommodate an off-street path.
Singer and Ian Buck, their co-chairs on the coalition, wrote in a letter Wednesday to Ramsey County Public Works and the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, “We lean back in choosing and supporting options that do not involve tree removal.” is.” To have them redo both the engineering and public engagement process.
“We were told that the bike parts of the Cleveland Avenue project would have no effect on the trees,” the bike advocates wrote. “It is completely unacceptable that we are being informed about this as the construction of the project begins, three years after our participation in the public process, especially when we were told that (in the street) to accommodate No trees will be removed. Bike lanes and (an off-street) multi-use path.”
Ramsey County officials have already publicly apologized for the limited notice about tree removal to community residents and other stakeholders along Cleveland Avenue. And they have indicated they will slow the road project by two weeks or more to listen to concerns. The extra time will help ensure that no more trees are removed than necessary or explicitly desired by the property owners.
Sports in Summit Avenue
Already, a similar issue is going on along Summit Avenue, where some homeowners are blaming cycling advocates for potential tree damage. Some 80 ash trees are already scheduled to be removed along Summit Avenue this year as part of the city’s program to address emerald ash borer infestations.
Meanwhile, city planners with St. Paul Parks and Recreation in the driver’s seat are in the midst of preparing a “regional trail master plan” for Summit Avenue that examines park and trail connections from the Mississippi River to Downtown St. Paul, Including the Sam Morgan Regional Trail, which follows Shepard Road along the river. Improved bike accessibility is likely to play a big role in the master plan, which is set to enter its final design phase next month. It could be submitted to the city council this fall.
The design concepts are likely to be made public later this month. In June, a draft master plan, advisory meeting information and other details will be published online at attachments.org/summit.
“There is very little information out there,” said Gretchen Kudak, a Summit Avenue resident and member of the St. Paul’s Garden Club. “Are they really going to cut trees for this when we suffer from taking down the ashes (trees)? I hope there will be a lot more information available to the public before the vote is taken. This is the first time I’ve seen the timeline. We don’t know what’s going on.”
Darling of the Summit Avenue Residential Preservation Association said the city is particularly interested in the section of Summit Avenue between Lexington Parkway and Victoria Street, which is scheduled for complete reconstruction in 2023.
“They want to incorporate any changes that would be necessary to build a regional trail,” said Darling, recently raising concerns about potential tree damage to a fellow Summit Avenue resident. said. “As I see it, the reality is they will do whatever they do from Lexington to Victoria.”
Tree Loss for an Enhanced Bikeway, Real or Imaginary?
In late April, critics began circulating postcards to Summit Avenue’s homeowners, claiming that the city was building 10 feet of existing boulevard to create a paved bike trail connection to existing trails leading to the river. planning to remove. When asked about the details, Parks and Rec staff did not specify how much of the boulevard could be built or how many trees could be brought down.
“The existing vegetation on Summit Avenue plays an important role in creating a recreational parkway experience,” St. Paul Parks & Rec spokeswoman Liz Carey-Linsky acknowledged in an email.
Regarding trees, “we don’t know the full scope of the impact because the design is still in development,” she said. “The goal for all departments is to preserve as much of the existing greenspace as possible.”
Singer said that despite the concerns of critics, it is possible that the loss of trees is limited. One possible concept calls for relocating existing bike lanes at the summit and making them parking safer, essentially swapping the space for bike corridors and parked cars.
“They’ll take the curb in, so actually they’ll narrow the road,” he said. “You would have parked the cars, and then a bikeway on the curb, like they put on Wheelock Parkway and Como (Avenue). In terms of the overall configuration of the road, it’s not going to change the width of the road. You essentially They are swapping bike lanes and parked cars with them. It shouldn’t destroy trees, but people are claiming this.”
St Paul’s City Council President Amy Brendmon, who does not represent Summit Avenue, said she looked forward to seeing the details. She recalled neighborhood protests in her area when an elevated bikeway was proposed along the Wheelock Parkway from Dale Street to Lake Como.
“The change there was a lot more drastic because they cut across the boulevard and there was no sidewalk,” Brendmon said. “The concern was ‘no bikes in here’ but no one was riding there because there was nowhere to bike. (Nowadays it looks) amazing, luxurious, well used.”