Amid the beginning of the latest phase of Golden Valley downtown planning, Hennepin County Active Living has stepped in with a few proposals. Chief among the proposals is a temporary connection between the downtown area and the Luce Line Trail.

At the June 4 Golden Valley City Council meeting, Senior Planner Emily Goellner said the trial would “help people see how they can connect those facilities.”

This will be built this year, and feedback will inform the city and county whether there is a need for a permanent connection. It is hoped the addition will drive more traffic from the Luce Line into the downtown area, Goellner said.

The Minnesota Department of Health and Hennepin County will fund the temporary improvements. Goellner told council she didn’t think the grant would’ve been attainable if downtown planning study wasn’t underway and the comprehensive plan hadn’t been recently completed. The council authorized beginning the work with Hennepin County Active Living and the latest phase of study for the downtown area.

Phase II of the downtown study will cost $35,000 and enlist Hoisington Koegler Group to find “guiding principles and preferred concepts” for the four downtown areas intersected by Winnetka Avenue and Golden Valley Road.

The city has referred to the areas as quadrants. Priorities in long-term planning include the shopping mall and the vacant Park Nicollet building in the southwest quadrant; a “freshening up” and improved trails of the southeast quadrant; light industrial areas in the northwest quadrant; and the city hall property in the northeast quadrant.

The pedestrian bridge over Olson Memorial Highway at Winnetka Avenue will also be an area for study. Planning manager Jason Zimmerman said users have reported it is difficult to access and is not currently up to accessibility standards. The crossing is a priority, Zimmerman said, because it has the opportunity to act as a “gateway to the city.”

Transparency and involvement with everyday users and primary stakeholders were the themes of the council conversation. Councilmember Gillian Rosenquist mentioned a previous meeting with residents of Cornerstone Creek, a housing complex for adults with developmental disabilities, had been “illuminating.”

Councilmember Larry Fonnest said local business leaders should “be at the table” as the process continues.

The Phase II study will be completed this fall. A final phase that looks into more concrete options for the areas will be completed the following year.

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