Edina officials couldn’t believe their ears.
After a series of public meetings about sidewalks that got so heated even sidewalk haters felt compelled to apologize, the City Council actually faced a group of residents pleading for sidewalks on their streets.
“This is rather refreshing,” Council Member Ann Swenson said at a recent hearing, noting that the city has faced “a lot of grief” over sidewalks.
The council, which has an official policy of encouraging walking and biking in the city, didn’t waste any time acting on the request. It approved the addition of sidewalks along Tower Street and W. Woodland Road between Wooddale and Concord avenues.
City planners and engineers scrambled to fit the sidewalks into already-planned summer street construction projects.
Along with sidewalks previously approved for W. 56th Street, Edina will be adding about 12 blocks of sidewalks on three streets at a cost of more than $200,000. The money will come from the city’s Pedestrian and Cycling Safety Fund, which raises about $1.1 million annually through a small tax on the energy bills of every home and business in the city.
Residents along Tower and Woodland pressed the issue, circulating pro-sidewalk petitions that were signed by more than 80 percent of households on each street.
The neighborhood adjoins a busy area that includes two elementary schools, a middle school, an athletic field and a community center.
“We are thrilled,” said Jackie Olson, who lives on Woodland and collected signatures. “We have 44 kids under 16 on our street, and it’s just a matter of time until someone gets hurt.
“The stars aligned, and we had a little party to celebrate after the City Council meeting.”
Chad Millner, Edina’s engineering director, said city officials were happy to accommodate the residents.
“We always want to move forward — make things safer and more connected, encourage health and wellness,” he said.
“It was really welcome to have that kind of support for sidewalks. It was a nice change. I don’t know if we’re going to see that everywhere,” he added, with a laugh.