Sidewalks battle for hearts and minds of Edina

Sidewalks? Well now you’ve just gone too far, Edina!

The Star Tribune’s John Reinan says the new battleground in the fight between suburbanites and people who walk is the sidewalk.

Like several suburbs, Edina is waking up to the fact that there’s more to the way people live than sitting behind the wheel of a car. So it’s proposing more sidewalks in town to be a friendlier place to bikers and walkers.

That’s meeting with significant unfriendliness.

“We know that millennials are looking for this kind of living circumstance,” Mayor Jim Hovland said. “In survey after survey, all across the nation, the millennials say they want these things.

Ah, millennials. Well, then.

“We have a beautiful, natural neighborhood and now they want to citify it, make it like Minneapolis,” said Grace McNeill, who has lived for 41 years in the Highlands neighborhood.

“We’re really up in arms about it,” said Robert Tengdin, a Highlands resident for 51 years. A neighborhood survey a few years ago showed that more than 90 percent of residents were against sidewalks, Tengdin noted: “What part of 90 percent can’t they read? We don’t want sidewalks.”

Residents expressed a range of concerns, from shoveling to liability issues to construction hassles and potential loss of trees. But time and again, they came back to this: Edina has always been a city largely without sidewalks, and they want to keep it that way.

“I grew up in Edina, and we have always loved it as it is,” said resident Ann Compton. “The council wasn’t always trying to push things on us. It’s like they’re trying to cram it down our throats.”