Hopkins to combine art with infrastructure on Eighth Avenue

‘The Artery’ includes cycle path, unique features from local artists

by Gabby Landsverk, Sun Sailor Newspapers

The Hopkins City Council received updates Sept. 20 on the proposed reconstruction of Eighth Avenue, which incorporates a community art gallery and cycle pathway dubbed “The Artery.”
“What we’ve envisioned is that the Artery would be an extension of ArtStreet,” said , eg Beekman community development coordinator, referring to the city’s collaborative project to bring sculptures and other public art to Mainstreet and other local landmarks.

The proposed path would run along Eighth Avenue from Mainstreet to First Street North, connecting with a future downtown light rail transit station in Hopkins and extending to the Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail.
Along the way, proposed art rooms, about 10 feet by 30 feet in size, would offer eye-catching, two- and three-dimensional as landmarks for cyclists, with themes like Hopkins history, a garden room and a water room.
“The art rooms are really intended to draw people through the corridors and provide points of interest along the way,” Beekman said.

Many of the spaces will interactive, she added, or rotate on a seasonal basis to keep the Artery engaging and lively for both residents and visitors to Hopkins..
“It really has evolved into a space that we want the community to feel more ownership of,” Beekman said.
Once plans for the Artery are finalized and approved, requests for proposals would be submitted to the local art community, she said.

City staff members would also submit a document called a “request to experiment” in order to establish a special cyclist signal at the Artery’s crossing of Excelsior Boulevard, said City Engineer Nate Stanley. While no official guidelines yet exist in regards to these types of signals, a similar device was successfully used in downtown Minneapolis.
“We’re asking permission to install one of these and see how it works.” Stanley said, and explained that staff members could utilize a pedestrian signal if necessary, but a specialized traffic signal would be ideal. “We really thought given the nature of the cycle track connecting the two regional trails, this would be more appropriate.”
A special monument designated the trail is also proposed for the intersection of Excelsior Boulevard and Eighth Avenue to draw attention to the Artery and help showcase what the city has to offer.
““I think it is going to be a keystone for the entrance to our city,” said Councilmember Jason Gadd.

The total project cost is estimated at $4.88 million, with just over half that amount, $2.78 million, to come from grants and other government units. An additional $1.22 million would be provided through general obligation bonds. The remainder of costs would be covered through various department budgets, including sewer and water funds, Stanley said.
“We’ve worked hard to get our costs down as much as we can,” he added.

The council did not take action on the proposal, as the presentation was an information-only agenda item.
The next steps of the project will be reviewing and approving the final plans in December and advertising for a contract to be awarded in February, with construction to begin in Spring 2017 and be completed in the fall.
“I think the project is really, really exciting,” said Mayor Molly Cummings. “It looks wonderful.”

In other business, the council set a preliminary budget and levy and scheduled a truth-in-taxation hearing for Dec. 6. The total proposed budget amount is $12,859,823, an increase of 8.29 percent from last year, which includes projected financial needs for two additional police officers and two new public service workers.

The total proposed levy amount of $13,064,493 includes $2.1 million in debt service.

City Manager Mike Mornson reminded the council that while the final levy can decrease from the proposed amount, it cannot be increased from the preliminary number.
The council also ordered a public hearing and a final design for proposed 2017 street improvement projects, totalling $7.843 million, about $2 million of which to be funded by assessments of benefiting property owners, approximately 581 residents. Affected streets include East and West Park Valley Drive, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and 10th Avenues South, and Sixth and Seventh Streets South.
The final plans are expected to be brought before the council and approved for bidding Dec. 20.

Contact Gabby Landsverk at [email protected]