DOWNTOWN EAST wants a fix

July 3, 2012

I had planned on attending the input sessions last week regarding the development plan for the new stadium, but unfortunately I had conflicts for both meetings.  So I was relieved to see in the press coverage that Mayor Rybak  explained today’s vision includes using the new stadium and the Downtown  East lightrail station as a link to the Mississippi River, the West Bank, the University of Minnesota and Elliot Park. Although there are no detailed plans, per se, at least that is reassuring.

I certainly hope so.  I remember very well attending the Opening Twins Game the year the Dome was built.  Basically, the whole experience was a shock to the system.  Several hours of blah did not compare well to the wonderful ambience of the old Met in Bloomington.  I never went back to a game!  Oh yes, over the years, I was in and out of the Dome for one reason or another, but never a Twins, Vikings or Gopher game…just too much of a bad experience for me to bother…not even a World Series could tempt me. 

Not long ago, a friend took the train in from the burbs for a morning at Mill City Farmer’s Market and brunch.  Past experience told me I would not be successful explaining it was only a 2-3 block walk straight towards the river on Chicago, so I drove over and picked her up.   Even in light of day, the first couple blocks of that walk from the Dome to the river is almost downright scary! Yes, I walk it frequently, but the vast parking lots and decrepit street are pretty discouraging to a visitor!  Even I, who travel Chicago Avenue  frequently still have a negative reaction as I turn off Washington and head south through no-man’s land.

So from my perspective, ANYTHING would be an improvement.

Fortunately though, the need for a second “gateway” to the river and the need to develop the black hole between Washington and the stadium will keep me interested and involved. 

I am hoping more than me thought the discussion with Landry about building housing around the base of the place was intriguing.  That may not be the RIGHT answer, but I’m hoping it stimulates some good thoughts.  If you ask WHY does it have to be so ugly and such a barrier, it becomes easier to explore some of the innovative and creative solutions and then say WHY NOT.  That will, indeed, connect the Elliott Neighborhood to the river. 



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