Just last month, Linea Palmisano took over for Betsy Hodges as the City Council representative for Minneapolis's affluent 13th Ward in the southwest part of town.
Heading in, Palmisano recognized that the parking situation near 50th and France is a major issue that needs to be dealt with. So she was less than thrilled to see a blog post on Edina's city website criticizing Minneapolis officials for their handling of the situation before she even had a chance to meet with her counterparts on the west side of France Avenue.
In a post entitled "No Fair," Edina City Manager Scott Neal points out that Minneapolis officials have gotten in the habit of acknowledging "the benefit of Edina-provided free public parking in the 50th & France parking ramps."
"This is annoying to me because we are currently talking about doing over $5 million worth of improvements to those municipal parking ramps, which will be paid for soley by assessments to the property owners at 50th & France, but only on the Edina side of France Avenue," Neal wrote. "We don't have the legal authority to assess these costs to property owners on the Minneapolis side of France Avenue, even though those property owners benefit from our municipal parking ramps, too."
Neal concludes by urging Minneapolis officials "to work together with the City of Edina to create a new Special Services District that would allow Edina to be able to spread the cost of building and maintaining those municipal parking ramps over the properties that actually benefit from them -- on both sides of France Avenue."
Reached for comment Friday, Palmisano said Neal "should not have started that conversation in this way," adding that she has a meeting with him scheduled for tomorrow.
"It started as a very confrontational, negative thing about Minneapolis," she said. "We definitely need to do something, but investing in free parking never solves a parking problem."
Tactics aside, Palmisano said Neal's position doesn't account for the fact that the Minneapolis side of 50th and France is more residential and less dense than the Edina side.
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"50th and France is one continuous activity center, but if you've been there lately you'll notice that on the Minneapolis side you don't have businesses like Cooks of Crocus Hill with million-dollar condos above them," Palmisano said. "This isn't necessarily the kind of business mix that can just authorize paying for free parking in Edina."
Though Palmisano said she supports the creation of some sort of 50th and France "special urban district" that would have legal authority to raise funds for services benefitting businesses on both sides of the border, she isn't in favor of using it to pay for more free parking.
"I think we need to get together and figure out how we can share [costs] on things we both agree on, but Minneapolis investments are not going the way of building free parking ramps," Palmisano said, adding that she'd rather invest in improving transit and pedestrian connections.
Palmisano also said she isn't opposed to trying to reduce congestion issues around 50th and France by making people pay for parking.
"People who say that [a parking fee] would keep people away, I would argue, are significantly underselling 50th and France," Palmisano said. "But yes, you'd absolutely need to have better transit connections and pedestrian options before you would do anything like that."
Neal didn't respond to an email and voicemail seeking comment for this report.
-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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