The following article by Nick Halter was published in the March 11, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal:
Plan would connect bike trails between Calhoun, Cedar, Isles
For bicyclists navigating the city’s Grand Rounds trails, one of the loop’s most dicey areas is Dean Parkway, which connects Lake Calhoun, Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles.
A community advisory group has been brainstorming over the winter for a way to fix the area, making it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The most significant part of the plan is to add off-road bike and pedestrian trails between the Kenilworth Trail near Cedar Lake all the way to Lake of the Isles.
While bike commuters use the area often, it’s also heavily used by recreational bicyclists, who prefer off-road trails. Under the current configuration, bicyclists share the roadway with cars on Dean Parkway.
The committee had three goals: improving safety, making the trails more usable and preserving as many trees as possible.
The area is home to many big, old and unique trees. Preliminary estimates say about 15 trees will have to come down, said Project Manager Deb Bartels.
The existing bike trails inside Dean Parkway — which are cracked and pockmarked — would be repaved.
The plan’s estimated budget is $870,000, which exceeds the amount the Park Board has budgeted for the project. Bartels said the committee will also recommend some cost savings options, such as reducing the number of benches, making a smaller pedestrian loop on the south part of Dean Parkway and opting for asphalt in a few places where concrete was planned.
Prior to a March 6 Park Board meeting, several Dean Parkway homeowners began organizing to protest the plan. They argued that they had not been properly notified of major changes and successfully petitioned for a delay in a decision.
“[This plan] threatens the safe accessibility of pedestrians, bikers and and drivers who might pass through this beleaguered Dean Parkway-Cedar Lake Parkway maze, as well as the safety and access to residents who live here and must navigate through this space every day,” said resident Claudia Swager.
If approved, construction would begin in August.
(Park Watch note: Commissioner Anita Tabb and staff had a meeting with the neighbors and CAC members on Monday, March 11 to address neighbors’ concerns. It was decided that some changes would be made to the plan. The item will go back to the board for a vote.)
To view the plan, visit http://tinyurl.com/axulcux