Complete Streets recommendations accepted by Park and Rec

NEW ULM – Cindy Winters of Heart of New Ulm gave a Complete Streets presentation to the New Ulm Park and Rec Commission on Monday.

The Complete Streets initiative involves comprehensive planning and development for all transportation methods in New Ulm.

“Complete Streets looks at all users of the streets, not just the cars,” said Winters.

The Heart of New Ulm Project commissioned the Walkable and Livable Community Institute (WALC) to visit in October to provide feedback on safe walking and biking in the city.

The Coalition for Active Safe and Health Streets (CASHS) was formed to prioritize and create a report based on the report’s recommendation.

The recommendations were:

1. Create a school arrival and departure process. Winters explained the plan was to have children who walk to school come in on South Payne Street and those driving enter on Garden Street. n addition school buses would be kept off campus.

2. Redesign Garden Street behind the school. Because Garden Street is being resurfaced this summer, it would bean opportunity to make changes. A related recommendation suggested a mid-lane crossing be created near the school on Garden Street.

3. Revitalize downtown. This suggestion would include adding a bike boulevard on Minnesota Street by decreasing the speed limit to 20 mph. Minnesota Street would also be converted to a two-way street to better serve the businesses. Downtown businesses would also have the option replacing parking spaces with sidewalk extensions to allow outside dining.

4. Add a bike trail connection to the route that already surrounds New Ulm. The hope is to make bicycling a viable transportation method.

5. Transform the Center and Garden intersection into a roundabout. “When we observed that intersection during school drop off,” said Winters, “it doesn’t function well as an intersection during that time of day.” Winters said this project had a high cost but would be safer.

Winters said all the commendation came from WALC, and that the Coalition was still looking to determine what was appropriate for New Ulm and was seeking community input.

The Commission voted to recommend that the City Council support Complete Streets planning and implementation where feasible.

Garden Street

Rehabilitation

Assistant City Engineer Joe Stadheim spoke on the Garden Street project coming this summer. He said that many of the recommendations made by CASHS coincided with the project. He presented an option that would allow parking on the east side of Garden Street adjacent to the school, but eliminate parking on the west side. This layout would prevent kids from darting across the street during drop-off situations.

A mid-block pedestrian cross would be placed between the main entrance of Vogel Fieldhouse and 2nd South Street. The crossing would create a pedestrian island that would stretch a block. No parking would be allowed in this section of Garden Street, but bike lanes would continue on both sides. Stadheim estimated this plan would eliminate between 20 and 40 parking spots; however, the school favored moving parking into the school lot.

The Commission voted to recommend the South Garden Street rehabilitation.

Dog Park

In another matter, the Commission recommended the authorizing an application to a Bank Midwest Dog Park development grant up to $15,000. At this time the Dog Park volunteers have raised $7,000 in private funding. The development plan is to enclose the park with a perimeter chain link fence, which is estimated to cost $15,000.

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