In early January, the West Seventh Business Association (BA) surveyed association members and neighbors about key questions raised in relation to the city’s Great River Park Master Plan (GRP). The survey was posted by Michelle Boone of deZinnia Inc. and prepared by Kent Petterson and members of the BA board and the West Seventh Enhancement Coalition. Responses were received from 22 members (about 1/3) of the BA and 74 community members, for a total of 96 responses.
To test for general knowledge of the GRP effort, we asked if respondents had been following recent news about the plan and 72% said yes, either in the newspapers, meetings or on the website greatriverpark.org.
Nearly 85% requested the BA board to take positions on business interest issues presented by the GRP effort.
To the question, would a Mississippi River Corridor that attracts more people through the neighborhood to the river, especially on foot or by bike, have a positive impact on your business, seven in ten said yes.
When asked, would you have an interest in exploring business opportunities in the river corridor, 40% of 74 who answered this question said they would.
When asked if they favored the proposed four soccer fields at Victoria Park, 59 percent said yes. But the question drew the largest number of specific comments, most of which were negative.
Ninety-five people responded to the statement, “It has been proposed that Shepard Road should be modified to be more like a parkway with traffic calming changes to encourage slower driving, better controlled intersections and a slower speed limit in the range of 35 or 40 mph. Do you favor these types of changes?” More than two-thirds of respondents said yes, drawing the second highest number of specific responses and showing a high recognition of the dangers at Shepard for people trying to get to the river.
Eighty percent of those who responded said they favored separation of car traffic from pedestrians and bikers at Shepard Road via a tunnel or bridge. This is a high number given the previous question, but many explained that they thought calming methods should be tried first to mitigate cost prior to expensive building projects providing safer crossing.
A test of interest in changing West Seventh to a two-lane street was opposed by two-thirds of the respondents. The question appeared to mislead some people, who were not sure if it were two or four lanes currently.
The final question was, “Do you support the Great River Park initiative to improve/complete access to the river?” An overwhelming 88 out of 92 responses, or 96% of businesses and neighbors, supported the effort to encourage the addition of amenities for river users and protect the natural character of the river.