Coon Rapids seeks grants for Riverdale, Foley project

Grant applications have been made by the city of Coon Rapids to the Metropolitan Council for a project at the Riverdale Commuter Rail station and another at the Foley Boulevard Park and Ride.

The Foley project would be planning activities, while the Riverdale station project would improve access to the existing station.

If approved, the grants would come from the Metropolitan Council’s Livable Communities Act Transit Oriented Development (TOD) program, a new funding source to enhance TOD development in and around light rail, commuter rail and bus transit stations, according to Matt Brown, city community development specialist.

The Metropolitan Council is considering a first round of funding applications in pre-development and development grant categories, Brown said.

The Foley project would fall under the pre-development category and the Riverdale proposal under the development category, he said.

The two proposed Coon Rapids applications are $230,000 to acquire property and construct a trail on the south side of the railroad tracks at Riverdale station and $40,000 to develop a land use plan for an area near the Foley Boulevard Park and Ride.

“Metropolitan Council staff has reviewed the city’s preliminary applications and has determined that they are eligible for further consideration,” Brown said.

According to Marc Nevinski, city community development director, the trail project to the station from 121st Avenue near Wedgewood Drive to the station platform is needed because the neighborhood immediately south of Riverdale station does not have convenient access to the station and in fact is cut off from the station by the railroad tracks and development.

“Residents in the neighborhood must first go south to 119th, proceed east across the railroad tracks and then turn northwest to the station,” Nevinski said.

“In fact, it is one mile from the intersection of Wedgewood Drive and 119th to the Riverdale station.

“Such routing is not convenient for residents and does not promote multi-modal transportation.”

A trail south of the station will provide convenient access for 394 properties north of 119th and east of Round Lake Boulevard, Nevinski said.

“It will promote the use of transit, be supported by existing trails in Vineyard and Pheasant Ridge parks and will be an amenity that will add value to the neighborhood,” he said.

However, the proposed access point to the station would require the acquisition of a property in the neighborhood, although which one has not been identified, according to Nevinski.

Nor has the neighborhood contacted about the proposal; that would happen if the $230,000 grant is received, Nevinski said.

The railroad and Metro Transit are both supportive of the trail plan, although there are some details to be worked out, he said.

According to Brown, the proposed pedestrian/bicycle trail would involve the construction of a 10-foot wide trail, acquisition of one single-family property to provide access to 121st Avenue near Wedgewood Drive, construction of a six-foot high chain link fence, removal of a portion of the concrete wall at the station platform and construction of a culvert under a portion of the trail.

The TOD grant, if approved, would cover the bulk of the estimated project cost, with the balance of some $20,000 coming from the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) account.

The Foley grant proposal is seeking funding for land use planning, market analysis, pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure planning, future street planning and creating a land acquisition and development staging plan, Brown said.

“At present…the area is generally an automobile-oriented environment with poor pedestrian connections, obsolete land uses and low density development,” he said.

According to Brown, the city’s comprehensive plan identifies the area as a potential TOD site and major employment district and both the city and Anoka County have begun land banking in the area.

“It is envisioned that the TOD area will be redeveloped as a transit supportive employment district with multi-modal connections to the neighboring Evergreen industrial area and Northtown Mall employment centers,” Brown said.

“The TOD project will also establish non-motorized connections to residential areas surrounding the TOD area, including major redevelopment sites for high-density residential development.”

If approved, the TOD grant would require a 20 percent city match or $10,000, which Brown again recommended by taken from HRA funds.

Approval of the pre-development TOD grant would require the Foley TOD area planning to be completed in two years.

The Riverdale project would have to be done within three years in the event the grant is approved.

But Councilmember Denise Klint said applying for the grant does not mean the city will be spending money.

According to Councilmember Scott Schulte, receiving the grant for the proposed Riverdale project does not commit the council to going ahead with the trail proposal.

If it is found not to be feasible, then the city can return the grant dollars, he said.

“Applying for the grants is an opportunity, the city should not pass up,” Schulte said.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]

  • Clayton Watercott

    The Riverdale trail is something I would call “the Doah! of the day!” It has been blatantly obvious (since the station opened)that the original planning for the station was missing this critical link. Why they didn’t purchase the ROW before the land values around the station went up is inexcusable, especially considering that planning is the job of, “city planners”. Now they wasted money constructing a concrete barrier and fence blocking off the station from the adjacent neighborhood and will not only have to remove that but purchase a lot with a house on it at a much higher price than originally would have been possible. Well, better late than never I guess.