The following letter-to-the-editor by Steven R. Goldsmith of Minneapolis was printed in the August 29, 2014 edition of the Minneapolis Tribune. And on August 29, 2014, the Minneapolis City Council did vote, but not unanimously, to grant consent for SWLRT.
SOUTHWEST LRT: EXPECT LEGAL ACTION
The Aug. 27 commentary by James Lindbeck (“Southwest LRT: The wrong project for the wrong reasons”) was spot-on in revealing the actual motivations behind the current iteration of the effort. Also, in his reference to author Louise Erdrich’s eloquent comments, he summarized well the consequences to the “soul” of Minneapolis.
But the train as now planned is not inevitable, as he fears. The Lakes and Parks Alliance has retained senior legal representatives, including a former Hennepin County attorney, who believe that the Metropolitan Council has violated both state and federal statutes in requesting municipal consent without a completed environmental-impact statement. If the Minneapolis City Council grants consent, there will very likely be a lawsuit in federal court.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has publicly opposed the current plan and has legal grounds for injunctive relief under a different federal law relating to transit alternatives in historically significant environments. Whether the Park Board would undertake a legal challenge is not known. But the point is clear: This remains a highly controversial plan.
In a highly competitive process, the Federal Transit Authority is unlikely to award funds to a project that not only does not have broad community support but is the subject of legal action. The best way to ensure the future of Southwest light rail would be for the Minneapolis City Council to withhold consent and send this project back for reconsideration a year from now when a full and proper EIS has been conducted, and when other reasonable alternatives to the controversial aspects of the plan have received additional study.
Steven R. Goldsmith