Residents voice trail, skate park concerns

The street reconstruction project is slated to include 147th Street (west of Hwy 61 to Finale Avenue); Flay Avenue (from 147th Street north to the cul-de-sac); Finley Avenue (from 145th Street to Upper 146th Street); Fitzgerald Avenue (from 146th Street to 147th Street); Upper 146th Street (from Finale Avenue to Fitzgerald Avenue); and 146th Street (from Finale Avenue to Hwy 61). 

HUGO — Some residents hope the City Council will reconsider both the proposed trail along 147th Street and the location of the skate park within Lions Park. 

As construction season quickly approaches, the city of Hugo is working to solidify plans for not only the 2021 proposed downtown street project, but also the improvements at Lions Park. 

The street reconstruction project is slated to include 147th Street (west of Hwy 61 to Finale Avenue); Flay Avenue (from 147th Street north to the cul-de-sac); Finley Avenue (from 145th Street to Upper 146th Street); Fitzgerald Avenue (from 146th Street to 147th Street); Upper 146th Street (from Finale Avenue to Fitzgerald Avenue); and 146th Street (from Finale Avenue to Hwy 61). 

The project will also include the new construction of 147th Street from Finale Avenue to Oneka Parkway through existing fields, and the removal of Finale Avenue from Upper 146th Street to 147th Street. The existing portion of Finale Avenue bisects expanded Lions Park and will be removed. The developer of Hugo Gardens will construct the new alignment on the west side of the park. 

The street reconstruction project is estimated to cost $3.66 million; $264,840 of that will come from assessments. Per the city’s assessment policy, benefiting residential properties will be charged $5,200 per unit. 

Five residents attended the public hearing for the project March 1. One main point of concern for the neighbors is the proposed 8-foot-wide bituminous trail planned for the north side of 147th Street, making the connection from Highway 61 to Lions Park. 

Resident Jeff Marier agreed the roads need to be improved, but said he was concerned about the new trail being placed “right underneath the neighbors’ windows.” “It’s not a greenway, it is a neighborhood. Maybe a sidewalk would be more appropriate,” Marier said. “There is a lovely, wide bicycle path south of City Hall … that’s not somebody’s front yard.” 

Resident Ron Gerdesmeier agreed that a sidewalk might be more appropriate. “This is something that has got us scratching our heads quite a bit. You already have access to that park off of that county trail. We can’t quite figure out why you would put another access over there, through the yards, and make it the size you make it,” he said. “I don’t get it.” 

Resident Bob Shields added, “To have this 8-foot-wide trail, you are going to be within 25-30 feet of our home. I commend the city and council for trying to improve the streets, we drastically need them, but this 8-foot trail going right though our yards is a bit of overkill.” 

City Engineer Mark Erichson explained that pedestrians will utilize the easiest path to get to the park, which could be the road if the trail is not constructed. “We want to provide that movement in a safe manner,” he said. “We don’t want to have a trail go from 8 feet to 5 feet to 8 feet. We want to provide that continuity for a multiuser-type (of) trail, whether it is pedestrians, walkers, rollerbladers or bicyclists.” 

Mayor Tom Weidt said, “My concern would be, if you have one person coming down the sidewalk and the other person goes on the street to avoid them on their bike and it causes an accident or somebody gets hurt, that would be a shame.” 

Parks Planner Shayla Denaway explained that a trail on 147th Street has been included in the city’s Comprehensive Plan for about 20 years. “This is likely to be a major pedestrian connection to the park,” she said. “We know pedestrians often take the path of least resistance. We know there are going to be a lot of pedestrians coming from the east side of Hwy 61, and they likely will not walk all the way south on the Hardwood Creek Trail, but just take the roadway (147th).” 

To accommodate the proposed road width and the new trail, the city will need to acquire permanent and temporary easements along 147th Street. The city will also need a temporary easement along Fitzgerald Avenue for constructability. Erichson said that the necessary easements for the project will be about 15 feet closer than the existing right-of-way line. 

Council Member Becky Petryk inquired about whether the green space on the sides of the trail could be reduced to create less impact for the neighbors. Erichson explained that typically, you need at least 5 feet of green area between the road and the trail. Otherwise, the trail can be difficult to maintain and snowplowing/storage of snow can be difficult. 

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing city staff to present offers to the impacted residents for property needed for the project, either by negotiation or eminent domain. It is estimated that the city will have to pay out $98,900 in compensation to impacted property owners. The council also authorized the preparation of plans and specifications for the downtown improvement project. 

A neighborhood open house is scheduled for April. The council will accept plans in May, award a contract in June and begin construction in June. Construction should be done in November.

New skate park location faces opposition; council moves ahead

Residents also voiced their concerns regarding the relocation of the skate park from its current location to the northeast corner of the park near 147th Street and Fitzgerald Avenue. Denaway said one of the reasons that location was selected was due to its high visibility. 

Resident Steve Bernier suggested switching the location of the skate park and the pickleball courts. “Noise is a big thing … We have got to listen to rap and skateboard wheels going back and forth all night,” he said. “Especially with the neighbors having that 8-foot sidewalk, that is kind of a double slap in the face to them, in my opinion.” 

Shields suggested moving the skate park closer to the cemetery. “We are going to have that trail going right by our house, we have the skateboard park there, we are going to have an awful lot of noise. Please just listen to us.” 

Gerdesmeier suggested moving the skate park to another park within the city or getting rid of it. “It is a minimum of kids that use it. I don’t know what the advantage of having them is. We really don’t have that many kids in this neighborhood that use it. This area is a little older.” 

Weidt said that users from multiple neighborhoods in the city and from neighboring communities travel to Lions Park to use the skate park. “I think it is one of our more popular features that we have there.” 

He added, “I think we can do things to quiet the park, police the music and control some of the noise. I have not heard noise complaints or complaints on the current location in the park from residents across the street.” 

Denaway said the city is working with the manufacturer of the metal ramps and talking with other cities to see what they have done to minimize the noise coming from the equipment. As far as music goes, she said, there can be enforcement. 

The council did not support changing the proposed location of the skate park. 

Lead Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or citizennews@presspubs.com.

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