Meeting on Foley station area planning Jan. 8

A meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 8, 3:30-5:30 p.m., at the Coon Rapids City Center to focus on the Foley Boulevard station area planning process.

The meeting is called a charrette “pin-up” by Matt Brown, city community development specialist.

It is an opportunity for agencies, property owners and members of the Coon Rapids City Council and its Planning Commission to comment on preliminary concepts for the study area generated earlier in the day by the consultant team, which has been hired by the council, and city staff, Brown said.

According to The Town Paper website, a charrette “is an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and other collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers.”

In November, the council retained Minneapolis-based Hoisington Koegler Group, Inc. to do planning work in the area of the Metro Transit park and ride facility on Foley Boulevard between Coon Rapids Boulevard and East River Road.

While Hoisington Koegler Group, Inc. is the lead consultant, the project team also includes SEH as the engineering subconsultant.

The city has received a $40,000 Livable Communities Act transit-oriented development grant from the Metropolitan Council grant for pre-development activities near the park and ride.

According to Brown, the planning initiative will aim to guide future development and infrastructure improvements so they support and accommodate potential future transportation projects, for example a station for the Northstar Commuter Rail line and/or the proposed Northern Lights Express high-speed rail passenger rail service between Minneapolis and Duluth-Superior.

In the last month, the consultant team has met with agency officials including Metro Transit, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Anoka County and Northern Lights Express, Brown wrote in a report to the planning commission.

The team has also met with property owners in  the area to find out their future plans and concerns they may have about planned improvements in the study area, he wrote.

Those meetings took place in early December.

“This long-range planning effort is intended to identify potential future land use configurations, as well as roadways, connectivity and pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure improvements,” Brown said.

“It is anticipated that public and private redevelopment in the study area will occur over a number of years.”

Under the planned study timeline, following the design workshop, implementation strategies will be identified in March and April with station area planning wrap-up in May and June.

According to Brown, the city’s comprehensive plan identifies the area as a potential transit-oriented development site and major employment district and both the city and Anoka County have done some land banking in the area.

The area covered in the study is 60 to 70 acres including property either side of Foley Boulevard from Coon Rapids Boulevard to East River Road, property the Anoka County Regional Rail Authority has acquired in the area for the possible Foley Station site and land north of TH 610, according to Brown.

The planning will also involve taking into account the county’s future plans for an overpass at the Foley Boulevard railroad tracks, Brown said.

The county has sought federal funding for the overpass project more than once without success.

The Foley Boulevard park and ride has 3,200 parking space with both surface parking and a two-story parking ramp.

It is also close by the proposed Foley rail station just east of the Burlington-Northern Santa-Fe Railroad crossing on Foley.

A rail station at that location has been proposed as part of any expansion of the Northstar Commuter Rail line and the proposed Northern Lights Express passenger rail project.

However, the Anoka County Regional Rail Authority is no longer part of the Northern Lights Express planning group.

Information on the study’s progress can be found online at www.foleyblvdstation.com.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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