Brooklyn Center officials says they are generating ideas to turn the city's stretch of Brooklyn Boulevard from an old, unsafe corridor dotted with blighted homes, into a safe, attractive commercial and residential area that draws people in.
Last fall, Brooklyn Center launched a study assessing the boulevard's current condition and developing a long-term vision for the Brooklyn Boulevard corridor that spans from Interstate 94 to 49th Avenue North. Brooklyn Boulevard is a county road, so city officials are working with Hennepin County, MNDOT and other agencies on this issue. Brooklyn Center officials say the future of this main artery into their city is crucial to the revitalization of its economy.
"This corridor is an entryway to Brooklyn Center," says Brooklyn Center City Engineer Steve Lillehaug. "It’s an entryway to the main commercial area around the old Brookdale Mall this is currently being redeveloped. So it goes hand in hand, especially with some of the improvements made to the Bass Lake Corridor."
Lillehaug says the city is looking at a variety of concepts that could improve the safety and efficiency for drivers, pedestrians, bikers and public transit. Ideas include widening streets, adding medians and improving intersections. Ideas with pedestrians and bikers in mind include creating a buffer between the sidewalk and street, adding a multiuse trail and creating a bike lane.
The city is also planning to spruce up the overall appearance of the boulevard; the study offers concepts that suggest the addition of landscaping and lighting.
"I would like to see the whole area improve," says Jim Jensen, who for 36 years has lived right on Brooklyn Boulevard just south of I-94. Gesturing south toward Highway 100, he adds, "There’s some houses down that way that people have kind of let go a bit."
The city has purchased several homes along the boulevard, with plans to buy more.
"Those areas that the city does acquire, we are looking at possibilities of redevelopment and creating some general concepts of redevelopment," says Lillehaug, "as well as it can just simply be kept as green space."
The city wants to hear from people who live, work or travel along the Brooklyn Boulevard corridor. It is holding an open house meeting Tuesday, June 19, from 4:30 to 6:30 at West Fire Station on Brooklyn Boulevard. There, you’ll get a chance to hear the city’s ideas for the corridor and to offer some of your own.
Once the agencies involved in the study determine plans for the corridor, their next step is the implementation, when they must figure out how to plan for and fund the project. Lillehaug says, hopefully, we could see work begin on the corridor within the next five years.
June 18, 2012