Though the state legislature didn't include funding for the Southwest Light Rail Transitway in last session's bonding bill, St. Louis Park City Council is still forging ahead with its part of the project.
At a Monday study session, council looked over design guidelines for the proposed Beltline station. The stop is the first of three in St. Louis Park to , thanks to a grant from the Met Council. A grant was also received , so that figures to be next in line for City Council. A grant for the third stop—at Wooddale Avenue—is expected to come the city's way as well.
To study the Beltline station area, City Council set up a resident advisory committee, which drafted the design guidelines. The guidelines set out a vision for the Beltline area as:
“...a transit-oriented hub for jobs, neighborhoods, and recreation. The future Beltline area will have a unique and well-defined sense of identity with strong connections to both local and regional destinations. New development will enhance and reinforce the Beltline area’s role as a regional employment center surrounded by desirable neighborhoods and a wealth of parks and open spaces.”
Ten principles were also set out in the guidelines:
- Create a unique sense of identity for the Beltline area
- Weave together the distinct Beltline districts
- Increase street connectivity and mobility
- Assure superior walking and biking accessibility
- Foster the Beltline area as a growing regional employment center
- Capture the value of transit
- Promote transit-oriented development
- Create a connected network of great public spaces
- Advocate for a convenient, safe and pleasant transit station center
- Manage parking effectively
Meg McMonigal, the city's planning and zoning supervisor, said one of the biggest takeaways she had from the resident advisory committee—which met five times over the last six months—was the idea of making Beltline Boulevard more "comfortable" for pedestrians.
McMonigal said the idea is that as the area develops, businesses will be encouraged to come closer to the street, thus putting more light—and eyeballs—on passers-by.
“It’s really a great beginning," McMonigal said. "(But) we have more work to do.”
This work will include taking a closer look at circulation around the stop and access to the stop—topics that haven't been looked at in depth to date.
Several council members also said it will be important that this station—and the two others—carries St. Louis Park's "brand," as it will be a very visible point in the city.
What exactly that will look like remains to be seen.
“This is an opportunity for us to put a brand on our section of the light rail," councilwoman Sue Santa said. “What is the face we want to show the public?”