For some homeowners in Hopkins’ Interlachen Park neighborhood, the curb appeal has a lot to do with the fact that there are no curbs. But that’s about to change.
The Hopkins City Council has unanimously approved installing curbs and narrow gutters there as part of an $18 million street improvement project for the neighborhood, set for 2020-21. The decision came a month after residents presented a petition opposing the changes that was signed by owners of more than half of Interlachen Park’s nearly 300 properties.
The project also may remove as many as 150 trees, but officials said they will work to reduce that number.
The Interlachen Park area claims about 4 of the 6 miles of curbless and gutter-free roads left in Hopkins.
Mayor Jason Gadd said the decision would save on future maintenance costs, which would get passed on to all residents of the city. That wasn’t enough to convince some residents.
“I object to the thoughtless uniformity that somebody else wants to impose on us,” said Ellen Hancock, who has lived in Interlachen Park for more than 30 years and remembers a similar fight against curbs and gutters back in the 1990s. “I think a lot of us feel like stewards of a little gem that we want to get passed down, with a reverence for how it was.”
Those against the addition of curbs and gutters worry that the new look will detract from the quaint charm of the neighborhood, which is tucked against both the Meadowbrook and Interlachen golf courses. With minimal traffic in Interlachen Park, they questioned the need for overhauling what has worked in the area for decades.
Other residents, however, said that adding curbs won’t threaten the neighborhood’s cultivated charm.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides will still happen around the holidays, as will the Fourth of July gathering. The neighborhood newsletter will circulate and kids will still ride their bikes up and down the quiet streets.
Those supporting curbs and gutters said they will stop people from parking or driving on lawns, causing tire ruts and standing water to form.
“It’s not the neighborhood that’s opposed to the project,” said Matt Pavek at the council meeting.
“It’s some people in the neighborhood. I don’t think streets without curbs are necessarily historic. It’s a piece, but it’s a small piece of the overall aesthetic of the neighborhood.”