May 31, 2023

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Alice Gubera is a former Conservation Commissioner, Townsend, Massachusetts;

former president, Garden Club of Harvard, Harvard, Massachusetts;

founding director, Townsend Conservation Land Trust

Summit Avenue Trail: What was unheeded, unheard

The most disturbing aspect of the May 24 St. Paul City Council vote on the regional trail on Summit Avenue was Council Member Mitra Jalali's speech rationalizing her support for the plan ("Summit Av. bike trail OK'd after lengthy fight," May 26).

I noticed that throughout the testimony Jalali spent much of the time looking at her cellphone. She apparently didn't feel the need to even pretend to listen to citizen testimony. Listening is the bedrock of democracy. Not listening is the first step to ignorance. Not listening is a theme that has run throughout the fractious trail debate.

Read full Star Tribune editorial

Thank you for a good fight and

for adding your voices to the cause.

Our priorities remain:

  1. Protect the valuable, mature tree canopy
  2. Prioritize safety for pedestrians and bicyclists by minimizing conflict points.
  3. Preserve parking -- it's an accessibility right.
  4. Preserve Summit Avenue's historical character which earned the honor of being named one of "America's 10 Greatest Streets" by the American Planning Association.

Austin Tran, Marilyn Bach, Colin Will

SOS supporters sporting their green.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Andy Flamm explaining that he voted "no" on the plan due to lack of community support.

Following four hours of public testimonials at the Saint Paul City Council meeting on Wednesday, May 24th, the city council voted 6-1 to approve the visionary plans for the Summit Avenue separated bike trail.

Road construction for the aging infrastructure was loudly used as an excuse.

  • SOS maintains that road reconstruction is a separate project that would not need to impact the valuable tree canopy.
  • Destruction of the tree canopy happens when you make room for the bike trail-- Plans call for removing all the curbs for trail construction and widening the motorist lane on the western half. After trail constructio, the new curbs will be placed within 1-2 feet of their original location. Unfortunately, the trees cannot be put back into place.

The damage to the trees left standing will be complete at this point -- approximately 950 trees (conservatively) will be lost according to our independent arborist assessment.

If the facts don't matter, we can keep pushing for accountability as this visionary plan pushes closer to reality and the shovels move into position.

  • We have four city council members rolling off their posts after the November elections -- if you want to get involved, pay attention to who is running for these seats: Wards 1,3,5 & 7.

Ask the good questions: How/who will pay for this trail? How will the city pay for trail plowing/maintenance? Why enhance the Summit bike facility (east-west) when we really need more north-south connections?

Material release to SOS DPA requests shows that the Saint Paul Bike Coalition also questioned safety in an email on 9.22.22 to city officials Alice Messner, Andy Rodriquez, and Sean Kershaw (Blog 6, pg 28: Data Dump):

"Every year, I bike in cities around the US and the world. In New York City, Chicago, Boulder, Boston, Oakland, San Francisco, and even here, cities take an 8-9 foot parking lane and make one-way bikeways. They are very safe. We have a ton of data on this. They don't even bother to put them up on a curb. Many of these places have snow but they plow. It works."

More intel sourced by SOS DPA requests sheds light on the city's planning process and the constant ear they had for the Saint Paul Bike Coalition. We have these linked below and on our website.

Meanwhile, we hope you get out there and enjoy Summit Avenue greenspace as it was intended by those early park planners -- as an oasis in the city for all to enjoy.


Feel strongly about safe walking and biking on Summit, protecting the mature tree canopy, and historic character?

Our fight is not over. Join the cause and contribute here:

Click here for our GoFundMe page.

Scroll to the bottom of the home page to sign your name.

3159 petition signers and still growing.

ABOUT SOS (Save Our Street)
Save Our Street is a citizen group that seeks to educate and advocate for the preservation of the historic streetscape of Summit Avenue as a treasured St. Paul destination and a safe, tree-lined, multi-modal corridor for generations to come.

SOS Steering Committee Chair: Gary Todd [email protected] 651-470-4720

SOS Public Relations Carolyn Will [email protected] 612-414-9661