After worrying for six months that a 6-lane road would cut through their neighborhood, residents along Inver Grove Heights’ Argenta Trail can finally rest easy.
The Dakota County Board approved a relatively low-impact realignment design. Now, the city can move forward with development plans and residents can settle into their homes for the foreseeable future.
“It was extremely stressful all winter trying to deal with it,” said Chad Hagman, whose home was one of several possible acquisitions.
The Argenta Trail realignment project has three parts — north, south and middle — and will ultimately connect Hwy. 55 and Interstate 494. Designs for the northern side threatened to remove up to 10 homes. The close-knit neighborhood fought for alternative designs that would affect fewer homeowners, ultimately settling on a resident-created design, “3A,” that would take out just one house.
After the Council officially signed off on 3A on April 13, the Dakota County Board followed suit April 21.
In addition to the house, 3A will take out an existing water basin. Though a project realigning the road’s southern end is planned for next summer, there’s not yet a timeline for the northern end.
“It’ll be dependent on the need for the road,” said Assistant County Engineer Brian Sorenson. “There’s going to have to be a substantial amount of development, I think, before we’re to the point of needing to build Argenta on a new alignment.”
With County Board approval of the road realignment on the books, the City Council on April 27 approved the plat for Blackstone Vista, one piece of the 3-part Blackstone development planned around Argenta Trail.
The city has been hungry for development in the area. It invested $13 million in water and sewer infrastructure there in 2008, but the anticipated growth never came. The city continues to pay debt service on that infrastructure.
Central to the road realignment conflict was a discrepancy between what was best for residents and what was best for the Blackstone development.
Blackstone developer Jim Deanovic preferred realignment options that impacted his developable land the least — but those designs would take out the greatest number of existing houses.
Option 3A will encroach on some of Deanovic’s developable land. Now he, the city and the county will start negotiating a price for it.
Residents move on
The people living along Argenta Trail’s northern stretch learned in the fall that their neighborhood might be at risk. They spoke out early and often, maintaining a stronger presence than residents in the other two project areas.
Hagman said that persistence was a key factor in the city and county decisions. “If we wouldn’t have done all these steps and attended all the meetings and joined together as a neighborhood, it would’ve never turned out like this,” he said.
It’s also brought the community closer together, he said, introducing neighbors who didn’t know each other very well before.
So what’s next, now that the battle has been won? Throwing a neighborhood-wide party.