Hopkins Business & Civic Association board president and ResourceWest executive director Judy Elling worried Wednesday night that a potential Southwest Transitway operations and maintenance facility near Blake Road would undermine the community’s efforts to improve the area.
Listen to Elling's full speech in the audio above.
Elling said the sites under consideration—8098 Excelsior Boulevard and a handful of parcels along Powell Road—would disrupt the vision the city is working toward:
I don’t care how beautiful you make it, it shows a very negative impact to the people living in that area—and it mitigates all the hard work that the City of Hopkins, the Police Department, the school district and all the nonprofits have put in to making this a much more viable neighborhood, a more engaged neighborhood and a safer neighborhood.
Community leaders have long been working on a massive makeover for Blake Road. One of the light rail line’s stations will be on Blake Road, meaning some of the project’s most vital properties are in the Blake Road corridor.
The Cold Storage site, which sits next to the potential operations and maintenance facility location, is the chief among these. Hopkins and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District are working on development that will revitalize the area and take maximum advantage of the incoming light rail.
Meanwhile, Hopkins Police have invested enormous effort into improving the area, bringing down crime in a long troublesome spot.
The corridor is also Hopkins’ most diverse area. Elling noted that 39 languages are spoken on Blake Road. It includes a disproportionate number of the city’s African-American, Hispanic and immigrant families—as well as those who qualify as low-income.
The Southwest Light Rail Transit present at Wednesday’s meeting did note that the Excelsior Boulevard sites pose “environmental justice” concerns. Elling made sure that the crowd understood that bit of jargon referred to the people and the fairness of putting a facility in an area like the Blake Road corridor.
“So when we’re talking environmental justice, we’re not talking the environment. We’re talking: Is this a good place and why are you choosing this site?”
See Related Story — Hopkins Residents Blast Potential Blake Road LRT Maintenance Facility