Updated: Apr 18, 2019
Any day now, the earthmovers will roar into action and in short order, the priceless urban forest of the Kenilworth Corridor will be history, scraped clean so that construction of the $2-billion Southwest Light Rail Transit commuter line can commence.
Hurdles still remain for SWLRT. Full funding for the Federal Transportation Administration's 45-percent share of the cost is highly uncertain. A decision from the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals on the Lakes & Parks Alliance of Minneapolis' lawsuit is yet to be issued.
Given this uncertainty, neighborhood associations and advocacy groups recently wrote in a letter to Gov. Tim Walz that "it would be a terrible oversight of this administration to allow this park setting to be destroyed without 100% certainty that the light rail will indeed be funded/built."
They are calling on Gov. Walz to "[suspend] the Met Council's plan to begin cutting down trees in the corridor in the upcoming weeks for SWLRT, until full funding from the FTA is absolutely certain."
And on April 12 a remarkable coalition of elected officials wrote to Met Council Chair Nora Slawik to say the same thing:
"We urge you in the strongest terms possible to delay clear cutting the trees
in the corridor until all possible impediments to the construction of SWLRT
have been resolved." [Italics theirs; emphasis added.]
The letter was signed by State Rep. Frank Hornstein, State Sen. Scott Dibble, Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman, and Park Board commissioners Meg Forney (at-large), LaTrisha Vetaw (at-large), and Jono Cowgill (District 4).
Conspicuously absent was the voice and signature of Hennepin County Board chair and 3rd District commissioner Marion Greene. Hennepin County is of course the entity actually paying the bills. Greene's email address is <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
SWLRT is not "the little engine that could," moving pluckily forward (as some would have it) in the face of endless opposition from NIMBYs who want to protect their backyard views.
Rather, SWLRT is a juggernaut, championed by developers, suburban cities, and the Hennepin County board, whose route through the Kenilworth Corridor was decided upon in the early 1980s. Hennepin County commissioners -- whose tax-payer-constituents will be paying over 50 percent of the $2-billion-plus cost -- remain deaf to the folly of insisting that a mass-transit line bypass the tens of thousands of residents and potential riders in south Minneapolis.
But for right now: Gov. Walz and Chair Slawik, please declare a moratorium on clear-cutting the Kenilworth Corridor forest!
The letter to Met Council Chair Slawik is HERE. To add your voice, write to Chair Slawik at the address on the letter or email her at