The last gravel road in Edina, a short lane named Brookside Terrace, is set to be paved in the coming months. And some residents are mourning what they see as a loss to their neighborhood’s rustic character.
“When I was a little kid, my dad and mom would drive down it saying, ‘You know, this is the secret road,’ ” said Jennifer Bowles, who grew up on the street and whose mother still lives there.
“The people that live along that road chose to live there, because it has a very particular, special feeling of being a kind of bucolic country road,” she said. “It’s really sad to lose that. It’s beautiful.”
Edina this week began to upgrade utilities, storm sewers and sediment removal along Brookside Terrace and neighboring Motor Street. Brookside will be reconstructed with asphalt, according to the city engineer’s report.
City Manager Scott Neal said the project had been on the charts for years and is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2019.
“The reasons for repaving this road are pretty similar to reasons that we use for doing other road projects,” Neal said. An asphalt road is easier to plow in winter, and it limits sediment from running into Minnehaha Creek, he said.
“It also was a road that required constant maintenance, because it was a gravel road,” Neal said. “It had to be graded every year, sometimes a couple times a year.”
The project was the subject of open houses, studies and a public hearing for three years before the City Council awarded the construction contract to Bituminous Roadways Inc. in March.
Not everyone on the street agrees with Bowles. Andrew Vick, a wedding photographer, said he mostly welcomes the change. He and his wife are the only family on the street with children.
“We’re the ones with the young kids, just starting off in kindergarten, and the idea of a safe road with a cul-de-sac where two young boys can grow up playing alley hockey and throwing footballs — those are things that get us excited,” Vick said.
With just three homes on Brookside Terrace, Bowles said that few in Edina know that the curbless road, in the city’s north end near the St. Louis Park line, even exists. She said that the majority of people within the project limits were against paving it.
“I talked to one woman and she said, ‘I came out and I said my prayers and I made peace,’ ” Bowles said.
Neal, however, said that Bowles and her mother were the main voices in opposition to the street work.
“We had some interaction with her mother, who had questions about why and how it happens and that sort of thing,” he said. “But aside from that, we haven’t had much public feedback on it.”
The five single-family homes within the project boundaries each will be assessed $11,700 for the work, to be paid upon receipt or with future property taxes. Residents 65 years and older with specific income requirements could defer payment, according to city documents.
Bowles said it seemed unfair to charge residents for what she sees as largely unnecessary work. Many of the sewage issues, she said, are on Motor Street. She said her parents built their house in 1979 and were charged then for sewer and water pipes.
“So they’re charging my mother, who’s in her 80s, quite a bit of money to do this project,” Bowles said.
Neal said that both sides had the chance to make their case before the City Council, which decided to go forward with the project.
The unique charm of the neighborhood won’t disappear for Vick and his family, who have incorporated in their home colors and materials from the nearby railroad tracks.
“It was always this little quaint part of the city, just across from the Minnehaha [Creek]. Everything they’re pulling out now has been there for a hundred years,” Vick said. “It’s just a road, but it’s our little nook.”
Bowles, who was in town Tuesday visiting her mother, said she will have some time to enjoy the gravel road before it’s gone. “I’m devastated that they’re doing this,” she said.