Some residents living along a section of County Road C2 in Roseville want to sell their homes, but they say they can't find any buyers.
They blame a controversial road project that will begin in May.
For Eeva Savolainen, anger has festered all winter after the Roseville City Council voted in October to remove a cul-de-sac near her home on the 1100 block of C2 and pave an unfinished section of the road. Now she wants out of the house that sits next to a wooded area to the west of Lexington Avenue, but may have to stay at least through the summer and maybe longer.
"They [Realtors] told us to put it off until the project is done" and the city has cleaned up the mess and redone her yard to improve curb appeal, said Savolainen, who has lived on the block for 14 years. "We plan on leaving, the sooner the better."
Despite strong objections from scores of citizens, the Roseville City Council voted 3-2 to approve the project, which calls for crews to cut down several oak trees and pave a 175-foot gap in C2 between Griggs Avenue and a cul-de-sac west of Lexington Avenue. It will open the road to through-traffic.
The vote came after the city paid $15,000 for a study, which indicated that east-west roads were adequate to handle current and future levels of traffic whether C2 was opened or not.
"This was a hard decision to make, and one which none of the five members of the Roseville City Council took lightly," said Tammy Pust, the council member who brought forward the motion to open C2.
"While no one wants increased traffic on the street in front of their own home, we all want traffic to flow as smoothly as possible and to avoid congestion and the unsafe driving behavior that comes with it. So I decided that it made most sense to open up this east-west roadway, and voted to do so," she said.
When the work on the $544,000 project is complete in late July, C2 will become an east-west thoroughfare connecting Hamline and Lexington avenues. That stretch of road currently sees about 660 vehicles a day, but with the road open, a city traffic study conducted last summer said that number could rise to 3,400 a day by 2030.
Debate on opening the road has been a hot-button issue in the neighborhoods for nearly 20 years, but came up again last summer when Pulte Homes announced plans for a 28-unit housing development in the area.
Residents on nearby Josephine Road, concerned about increased traffic in their neighborhood as a result of the development, asked the council to open C2. After several contentious meetings and petition drives by residents on both sides of the issue, the council agreed.
Jeff Strobeck, a Roseville resident since 1954, said the facts didn't warrant the vote. But traffic issues aside, his biggest gripe is that he feels that the council disregarded the will of the people.
"This whole thing wreaks of wrongness," he said. "It was not the city who came to the neighborhood and said we have a problem with east-west traffic. It was a group of citizens on Josephine Road who didn't want as much traffic on their street as they were experiencing."
Council member Bob Willmus disagreed. He said he heard from an equal number of citizens that supported opening C2.
'It is a balancing act'
"It is a change and this is different; I understand their frustration," said Willmus, who voted in favor of opening C2. "There are legitimate concerns on both sides of the issue. It is a balancing act. I did what I thought was better for Roseville as a whole."
With property values already depressed because of the economy, resident Yi He said the road will bring more traffic, but fewer potential buyers.
"I cannot sell the house," he said. "A Realtor suggested to me to rent it out for two years."
Dave and Donna Miliotis had planned to retire in their home on the 1100 block of C2, but with the road opening up, they plan to move in three years when their youngest daughter graduates from high school.
"I'm bitter," Donna Milliotis said. "We invested in new windows, a new roof; our plan was to retire [in this home], but our plans have been disrupted. I don't like city politics. I'm angry."
Roseville will use state money to pay for the project, so residents will not get hit with a tax assessment. Still, that does not mitigate the anger.
"I think you'd see a lot more people leave the neighborhood if the economy was different," said Jerry McDonald, a neighborhood resident since 2003.
Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @timstrib