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St. Paul Mayoral Candidates Respond to Questions on Ayd Mill Rd.

The vision of Neighborhoods Firstis a sustainable, livable community that includes an Ayd Mill Linear Park (a true park in which Ayd Mill Road is decommissioned).
 
Our mission is to support sustainable improvements to the quality of life in our community including reduced automobile use, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, better transit, maintenance of water and air quality and more green space with native plants.
 
Neighborhoods First! sent a brief questionnaire to available online web addresses for St. Paul's mayoral candidates: Melvin Carter, Elizabeth Dickinson, Tom Goldstein, Pat Harris and Dai Thao.  Below are the questions and the candidates' responses.
 
Do you support connecting Ayd Mill Rd to Interstate 94?  Yes or no?
"I support extending Ayd Mill Road to St. Anthony Avenue, as a safe neighborhood parkway where neighbors can safely walk, bike and play. I believe our best solutions for our neighborhoods will come from working with our neighbors, so I support pilot projects that can let us see how different changes will work for the people who live by and use Ayd Mill Road. I support projects that allow neighborhoods to have safe transportation for bikes, pedestrians, and cars, while also making space for parks that increase the quality of life for community members."
 
If you support connecting Ayd Mill Rd to I94, do you support a 2- or 4 lane connection?
"I support a 2 lane connection, as long as it preserves safety while enhancing the ability to move people and safely get around our city. The 2 lane connection should include amenities for bikes, pedestrians, and drivers."
 
If you do not support a connection, what uses do you support for Ayd Mill Rd and which uses will you work to achieve?
"Not applicable."
 
Do you support an Ayd Mill linear park?
"I support reducing some car traffic lanes to create a vibrant, multi-use parkway with dedicated, safe options to bike and walk, and greenspace for families to play. We should be investing in projects that accomplish the goals of reprogramming streets to be safe for biking, walking, and driving and increasing the quality of life for community members with shared resources like parks."
 
For more information on Mr. Carter's positions see Streets MN's voter guide.
 
 
Do you support connecting Ayd Mill Rd to Interstate 94?  Yes or no?
"I would not support this, nor take action to connect the two."
 
If you support connecting Ayd Mill Rd to I94, do you support a 2- or 4 lane connection?
"Not applicable."
 
If you do not support a connection, what uses do you support for Ayd Mill Rd and which uses will you work to achieve?
"I wouldn't anticipate making immediate changes to its current use at this time."
 
Do you support an Ayd Mill linear park?
"In theory, yes, I would-but not without significant community input (especially from neighbors and district councils) and visioning first.  In general, I support policies that encourage green space, pedestrian and biking-friendly practices!"
 
For more information on Ms. Dickinson's positions see 
 
 
Do you support connecting Ayd Mill Rd to Interstate 94?  Yes or no?
"No, I don't support a connection of Ayd Mill to 94." 
 
If you support connecting Ayd Mill Rd to I94, do you support a 2- or 4 lane connection?
"Not applicable."
 
If  you do not support a connection, what uses do you support for Ayd Mill Rd?  and which uses will you work to achieve?
"I would prefer to see Ayd Mill as a 2-lane parkway that is usable for local traffic but not the freeway it has become."
 
Do you support an Ayd Mill linear park?
"Yes, I support the effort to develop Ayd Mill into some kind of linear park."
 
 
Do you support connecting Ayd Mill Rd to Interstate 94?  Yes or no?
"No, I do not support a connection at this time, and my work in the past for Ayd Mill did not recommend or encourage a connection on the north end."
 
If you support connecting Ayd Mill Rd to I94, do you support a 2- or 4 lane connection?
"I do not support a north end connection.  Regarding the remainder of the road, I have consistently supported a 2-lane option."
 
If  you do not support a connection, what uses do you support for Ayd Mill Rd?  and which uses will you work to achieve?
"In 2000, as a Saint Paul City Councilmember, I authored a multifaceted resolution regarding Ayd Mill Road which included a range of neighborhood improvements. My resolution reduced Ayd Mill to one lane either way, reduced the speed limit to 35 miles per hour, reduced lanes on Lexington to one lane either way, retooled the exits to make them safer, and added significant green space, bike paths, and pedestrian walkways.  My resolution authorized a connection on the south end and a study of the north end.  The resolution passed City Council, but was not implemented by the administration.  Later, Mayor Randy Kelly moved forward with a southbound connection and no other changes.                                      
 
The state of Ayd Mill today is unacceptable for Saint Paul.  As Mayor, I would move forward with my original plans to bring and build safe neighborhood connections to the area; reduce the speed limit and lanes down to one in either direction; add pedestrian and bike ways along with other amenities, and turn abandoned entrance/exits into green space.  I would repave the road with material to reduce road and vehicle noise, and I would work with groups like Neighborhoods First! to ensure that the resulting effort would be an amenity for our neighborhoods."
 
Do you support an Ayd Mill linear park?
"I support a linear park adjacent to Ayd Mill with connections to the green space, bike paths and pedestrian walkways I would build along the road itself."
 
For more information on Mr. Harris's positions, see Streets MN's voter guide.
 
Do you support connecting Ayd Mill Rd to Interstate 94?  Yes or no?
 "Yes, but I don't see this connection happening anytime soon in the future. It's too expensive and the city would require a large sum of support from the federal and state. I also think that any changes, whether it be connecting to I-94 or changing it back to two lanes should involve extensive community input and process. I do not think the solution lies in creating another task force, there is very clearly a split on what to do with Ayd Mill. We need a combination of environmental and health impact assessments, neighborhood input, extensive city, county and MN-Dot planning, and consultants who've looked at similar issues in large cities. I want to have a fair and equitable input process and create a solution that is safe and livable for neighbors, while also addressing current infrastructure issues."
 
If you support connecting Ayd Mill Rd to I94, do you support a 2- or 4 lane connection?
"If a connection does happen during my administration, I would change the name to Ayd Mill Rd Parkway. I would advocate for a two (2) lane connection with bike, green space, and pedestrian safety. "
 
If  you do not support a connection, what uses do you support for Ayd Mill Rd?  and which uses will you work to achieve?
"I appreciate the fact that, for years, Neighborhoods First! has been advocating for a livable community, more green space and transit options. I do believe we need more community green space, healthy air and water quality in St. Paul. I look forward to working with Neighborhoods First! and members of the community to achieve those values and goals."
 
Do you support an Ayd Mill linear park?
"Yes, if a connection is not made, I would be open to supporting an Ayd Mill linear park. However, I don't know how realistic it is as strictly parkland. There's also the fact of the contention with the Canadian Pacific railway giving an easement to the City. It is my understanding that it's for "highway purposes," but more investigation should be done and I don't think a simple "can't be done" is the end of the conversation either."
 
 For more information on Mr. Thao's positions see Streets MN's voter guide.


It should be noted that any changes to Ayd Mill Rd will require another environmental impact statement.  Crucial for NF! constituents is, in the event an EIS is developed, that a linear park option is included in the alternatives. 
 
Neighborhoods First! thanks the candidates for their time and responses.