The Highland District Council voted 8-7 on September 1 to support the construction of an asphalt sidewalk on the Highland National Golf Course side of Hamline Avenue between Highland Parkway and Montreal Avenue.

The HDC will partner with city staff to submit a $305,000 funding request for the project through Saint Paul’s Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) program. The request will go to the Neighborhood STAR Board and City Council this fall, with the goal of construction taking place at some point next year.

Hamline lacks sidewalks on both sides of the street. The golf course side has long been used by runners and walkers.

“Right now, we just have a goat path,” said Adam Yust, legislative aide to City Council member Chris Tolbert.

The sidewalk would be 6-8 feet wide,  Yust said. It would detour around larger trees, and six small trees would be removed and replaced elsewhere.

HDC members were split on the idea, with some raising questions about safety. The city would put up signs warning pedestrians to watch out for errant golf balls.

Others asked if the path could go on the east side of Hamline, but that would mean working with property owners and likely paying to reconfigure some retaining walls.

 

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“Is there really a need for it?” asked HDC board member Rabbi Moishe Kasowitz.

“I’d love a protected sidewalk,” said HDC board member Kathleen Anderson, who lives near the golf course. She said people now walk and run in the street because there are no sidewalks.

HDC board member Lindsay Shimizu said that ideally both sides of Hamline would have sidewalks eventually.

The City Council adopted a pedestrian plan in 2019 that identifies areas where adding sidewalks is a priority. The streets around Highland National and the Highland 9-Hole golf courses were identified as high-priority areas, as are other parts of the Highland Park neighborhood.

The city has about 1,100 miles of sidewalks. Many streets lack sidewalks on one or both sides. In 2019, the city reported 327 miles of sidewalk gaps. Those gaps are most common in industrial areas, and in residential and commercial areas developed after the 1940s to favor automobiles.

— Jane McClure

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