Edina residents concerned about sidewalks, school food

Nearly a dozen people turned out on a Saturday morning to talk with Mayor Jim Hovland while walking a two-mile loop around Southdale Center.

The first monthly Walk With the Mayor on Saturday, Jan. 19, concluded a week that included a telephone town hall with Hovland and Edina resident Dr. Courtney Beckler, a cardiologist with Allina Health, hosted by do.town, a Blue Cross Blue Shield health initiative in Edina, Bloomington and Richfield.

Hovland also announced during the town hall a new initiative called Invitation To Do, where residents can pledge to do anything that advance the health of the family or neighborhood. It can be as simple as swapping a candy dish for fruit or setting up a walking group in the neighborhood, he said. Pledges can be made at do-town.org.

The trend is that children today will have shorter lifespan that their parents, Beckler told the residents in the town hall.

“It’s more than a visit to the doctor. It’s hundreds of decisions you make every day,” she said.

She said she can see a shift among residents in Edina toward being healthier.

People should be encouraged to have a healthy lifestyle, but public infrastructure also needs to be considered, she said.

During the 40-minute town hall, residents said they were concerned with a lack of sidewalks and bike paths in some areas of the city, the food served at the schools and poor street lighting.

In response to a parent concerned that lack of sidewalks makes walking her child to school unsafe, Hovland said the city is working with the Edina school district on the Safe Routes to School program.

Hovland also agreed that the city needs to work on better lighting around Lake Cornelia in Pamela Park after a resident pointed out there’s no lighting if people want to walk around the lake in the dark.

Something needs to also be done about getting people across Vernon Avenue to Jerry’s Foods safely, one resident told Hovland. Hovland also agreed with a resident that sidewalks are needed on West 58th Street between Xerxes and France avenues.

Hovland pointed out that the city is planning an analysis of how the city can build more sidewalks in the city, funded by the franchise fee residents will be charged on their utility bills beginning in 2013.

“We hope to create a sidewalk system so we can separate kids from cars,” he said.

People who live in an area that is walkable are two times more likely to exercise, Beckler said.

An 81-year-old Edina resident wondered about indoor places for seniors to walk, adding that his wife ends up looking in the stores when they walk around the Galleria.

Hovland responded that the city needs to figure out if an indoor amenity where people can walk is needed, but both Southdale and Galleria like having people doing their walks in the mall. Beckler also added that the Silver Sneakers program for seniors at the YMCA is usually covered by Medicare.

Hovland said he wants Three Rivers Park to get moving on the Nine Mile Creek bike trail. Half of the project’s funding from the Metropolitan Council is scheduled for 2016. The council wants the project done in the next four years.

“We feel like this project is overdue,” Hovland said.

Beckler also encouraged parents to get involved with the school district’s Wellness Committee after a parent asked what they can do about school food.

A do.town supper was recently held in the Morningside neighborhood to discuss the topic of the food served in Edina’s schools, according to do.town. Afterward, some neighborhood residents began visiting the cafeterias at lunchtime and working with the district to make its Wellness Committee more accessible to parents.


Contact Lisa Kaczke at [email protected]