Summit Avenue in St. Paul is home to 370 Victorian homes, including the Governor’s Residence, and runs through two historic districts. Residents are anxious about maintaining the park’s unique attractions, particularly its trees, while city-led plans for additional trail linkages are still in the works.
Tom Darling, a retired attorney and head of the Summit Avenue Residential Preservation Association, believes the worst is yet to come.
“I don’t believe the fears are exaggerated. “We’ve been working with the city on this for months,” Darling explained. “I don’t see how they can develop the regional route they plan to build without removing a lot of trees,” says the author.
Andy Singer, a bicycle advocate, believes he is being blamed for the loss of trees due to road construction and other projects. A Ramsey County road project is also anticipated to remove trees off Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul.
“Someone is sending out postcards claiming that adding protected bikeways on Summit will harm trees,” Singer said on Wednesday. “I’m a conservationist.” It’s one of the reasons I ride my bike.”
A proposed road rehabilitation project along the city’s northern boundary with Falcon Heights has already set a bad public relations precedent.
Critics began mailing postcards to Summit Avenue residents in late April, stating that the city planned to remove 10 feet of existing boulevard to establish a paved bike route connecting to existing trails running to the river. When asked about the specifics, Parks and Recreation employees declined to say how much boulevard would be cut out or how many trees would be removed.
In an email, Liz Carey-Linskey, a spokesperson for St. Paul Parks and Recreation, stated that “the current vegetation on Summit Ave. plays a vital part in establishing a recreational parkway experience.”
“We don’t know the full spectrum of influence because the design is still under development,” she added of the trees. “All departments are working together to conserve as much remaining greenspace as feasible.”
Despite opponents’ fears, Singer believes that tree loss may be minimal. Existing bike lanes on Summit would be relocated and made parking protected, thereby switching the position of the cycle corridor and the parked vehicles.
“They’d pull the curb in, thereby narrowing the roadway,” he explained. “You’d have parked automobiles and a bikeway up on the curb, similar to the ones on Wheelock Parkway and Como Avenue” (Avenue). The width of the roadway will not alter in terms of overall layout. Essentially, the bike lane and the parked automobiles are swapped. It shouldn’t have to kill trees, but that’s what people are claiming.”
Amy Brendmoen, the president of the St. Paul City Council, who does not represent Summit Avenue, said she is eager to see the facts. When an elevated bikeway was proposed along Wheelock Parkway from Dale Street to Como Lake, she recalls community pushback.
“Because they dug into the boulevard and there were no sidewalks,” Brendmoen added, “the alteration was considerably more abrupt.” “The issue was that ‘no one bikes here,’ yet no one biked because there was nowhere to bike.” It looks beautiful, terrific, and well-used these days.”