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EP residents to commission: Road would pollute spring

(Created: Wednesday, July 12, 2006 9:36 PM CDT)

A proposed road in the Hennepin Village development would become a funnel for dumping pollutants into Riley Creek and Fredrick-Miller Spring, a group of Eden Prairie residents told the Planning Commission Monday.

The Planning Commission delayed, until at least mid-August, a decision on approving changes in the comprehensive guide plan, zoning and development plans for Phase B of the Hennepin Village development in southwest Eden Prairie.

Questions about Prospect Road were among the reasons for the delay.

Plans called for the extension of existing Prospect Road by 1,000 to 2,000 feet, so that it would form an east-west roadway connecting Spring Road to Eden Prairie Road. Public safety is the key reason why the road is needed, said City Engineer Alan Gray.
But Michael Boland of Eden Prairie called Prospect Road "the road from nowhere, to nowhere." He said the road is not needed because there already are east-west routes to the north and south. The road, and the 20,600 cubic yards of fill needed to build it, could result in contaminants, such as sand and de-icing chemicals applied in the winter, entering Riley Creek, which is the source of some of the water in the Fredrick-Miller Spring.

The spring, on the east side of Spring Road just north of U.S. Highway 212, was believed by Indians native to the area to possess healing power. Eden Prairie resident Jeff Strate said he talked, on one day in July, with people who had come from communities such as Glencoe and Minnetonka to fill multiple bottles with the water, using a fountain with a trough that the city dedicated two years ago.

Strate said he does not oppose the Hennepin Village Phase B development plan itself. He praised the developers, Pemtom Land Co., for decreasing the proposed density from 167 units to 96 units, and for incorporating filtration that would allow up to three-quarters of an inch of rainfall to be cleansed naturally through the soil. "I think the developer has done a good job of protecting the environmental integrity of Riley Creek and Fredrick-Miller Spring," Strate said.

At issue, he said, is the effect of the Prospect Road extension, and what it might do to water resources in an environmentally sensitive area. "We're dealing," Strate said, "with two natural resources that are very important not only to the people of Eden Prairie, but also to the people who live in surrounding suburbs."

Boland, who once chaired the board of managers of the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District, said Prospect Road would create additional impermeable surface in the hilly, rugged topography. Building it to a 10 percent grade (a variance on the city's maximum 8 percent grade) would require raising the roadway about 35 feet and bringing in fill that could weigh as much as 50,000 tons, Boland said. Water for the Fredrick-Miller Spring, he said, comes not only from underground sources, but also from Riley Creek. Pollutants that enter the creek would eventually end up in the spring, he said, potentially rendering the water undrinkable.

Gray responded that eliminating the Prospect Road extension would do little to lessen the impermeable surface in the area around the spring - which includes, among other things, a 10-acre paved parking lot for Grace Church. "Eliminating the road doesn't significantly change the quality of water going into Riley Creek," he said. ( * See comment below.)

But eliminating the road would compromise public safety, Gray said, in an area that could someday be home to as many as 1,000 people. The city's long-term plan includes the possibility of closing the intersection with Eden Prairie Road and Highway 212, because its steep grade has long posed a safety hazard. "From a public safety standpoint," he said, "I'll take my chances with Prospect Road."

Jan Mosman of Eden Prairie suggested the possibility of making Prospect a non-hard surface road, though she conceded that even then, the large amount of fill could create environmental problems.

Other residents expressed concern about the safety of any road with a 10 percent grade and 35-foot-high roadbed, especially in the winter. Dean Edstrom of Eden Prairie said he believes concerns about Prospect Road are belated, because any development in the rugged terrain overlooking the Minnesota River Valley could potentially compromise the environment. He said he would favor building Prospect Road, partly because he lives near the Hwy. 212-Eden Prairie Road intersection and has witnessed traffic fatalities there. "I think Prospect Road is probably a necessity," he said.

The Planning Commission plans to revisit the Hennepin Village proposal at its Aug. 14 meeting.

* The following comment on Mr. Gray’s comments at the July 10 hearing was generated for the presentation of Ms. Jerde’s article on this website and does not appear in the Eden Prairie Sun Current: Mr. Gray may not have remembered that rainwater runoff from Grace Church’s campus and parking lots are directed to an infiltration pond far from the creek. The infiltration pond and sandy soils beneath it clean pollutants from the church property. Little if any of the runoff from Grace Church reaches the creek or the springs near the creek via the city’s storm sewer system.

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