After a long meeting Monday night, the St. Louis Park City Council decided to step forward and move up the process of formalizing what limited influence it has on the controversial .
The city is justifiably feeling as if it lacks power in the process and, judging by the numerous comments made during the late-night study session, believes those entities higher up who will likely decide the fate of freight — Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, among others — have basically ignored them.
The county is studying a potential reroute that would bring increased freight traffic through St. Louis Park but would free Minneapolis' Kenilworth Corridor for a proposed light rail line. Many St. Louis Park residents have rallied against the reroute plan, in part because the bigger, faster trains would run by the.
Wanting to convey to the public that it will try to do all it can, the council asked that a proposed series of community involvement steps be moved up so to be proactive and have a stated position based on public input before — not after — major decisions are made by the county and state.
St. Louis Park Community Development Director Kevin Locke presented a proposed process of steps beginning in early May and concluding in the latter half of June. However, councilwoman Sue Sanger argued that the entire process needed to get underway sooner.
Sanger was particularly critical of Hennepin County and MnDOT, saying, “They seem to make things up as they go along.
“Any of our actions and resolutions seem to get no response,” she added.
With council members Anne Mavity and Paul Omodt arguing for a major dose of public input and a clear understanding of the options being weighed, the council believes it still has a slight chance to influence the outcome.
The proposed process calls for the council to first study an analysis forthcoming from SEH, Inc., the consulting firm retained by the city. This would be followed by a community meeting or meetings to look at that analysis. A second council study session followed by a public hearing would then take place. Lastly, a third study session and then a council meeting — where a formal resolution relating to freight could be made — would wrap up the process.
In the end, the city administration said it would be back quickly with a revised schedule and that the entire matter will start being addressed within a few weeks instead of nearly two months.