Stillwater Should Adopt a Complete Street Policy Now

Vice-chair Rick Heidick presented our resolution on January 19, 2021, at the Stillwater City Council Meeting on Zoom

We need streets that work for everyone -- not just cars and trucks. At the January 19, 2021, City Council meeting, SSMN Vice Chair Rick Heidick asked the Council to adopt a Complete Street Resolution for new road construction and maintenance that takes into account all methods of transportation: cars and trucks, plus transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists. When planning future projects, Stillwater needs to consider people bicycling and pedestrians of all ages, types, and abilities. They are the most at risk for serious injury or death when involved in motor-vehicle related collisions. Qualify of life, environmental health, and economic competitiveness are other benefits of Complete Streets enjoyed by 15 other Minnesota cities with the policies, Rick explained.

The councilors seemed interested in the guidelines. They “fit right in” with what the city is already doing, according to Mayor Ted Kozlowski. Currently, Stillwater is at Step 2 of the 5-step GreenStep Cities criteria but it must formally adopt a formal Complete Streets policy to move up the sustainability ladder. A Complete Streets policy is also critical to making Stillwater a Bike-Friendly City.

Planning Director Bill Turnblad said his department hasn't reviewed the resolution (see below) but he thought Complete Streets is consistent with resolutions the city has already made. The Mayor said the resolution might have "too much overlap" with existing city plans and ordinances but he requested relevant city department heads to review the resolution as proposed by Sustainable Stillwater MN.

City Councilor Mike Polhena thanked Rick for making the presentation, adding he "appreciates the "brainpower" Sustainable Stillwater MN is employing for the city.

Complete Streets Resolution

This is the text of a resolution we wrote and presented on January 19 at the Stillwater City Council Meeting

Whereas, the City of Stillwater strives to be the most livable city in Minnesota, and

Whereas, the City of Stillwater recognizes that livability includes safely moving people and goods along all public rights-of-way; and

Whereas, the City of Stillwater recognizes that children and seniors are especially vulnerable to pedestrian and bicycling crashes; and

Whereas, the City of Stillwater recognizes that Complete Streets are designed and constructed for all users of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and vehicles; and

Whereas, the City of Stillwater recognizes that Complete Streets enhance business opportunities by encouraging customer traffic, strengthening communities, and creating safe access to destinations; and

Whereas, the City of Stillwater recognizes that Complete Streets increase public health by encouraging exercise and providing convenient walking and bicycling options; and

Whereas, the City of Stillwater Comprehensive Plan supports Complete Streets by prioritizing sidewalk improvements, on-street bicycle route improvements, and safer connections between pedestrian and bicycle networks; and

Whereas, the Stillwater Department of Public Works is guided by Complete Streets and supports greater implementation; and

Whereas, the City of Stillwater is participating in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Program, which provides cost-effective best practices for transportation options that improve air quality and reduce Stillwater’s contribution to climate change; and

Whereas, the Minnesota Legislature has enacted a Complete Streets statute, which encourages cities to adopt Complete Streets policies that reflect local goals;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Stillwater City Council adopts a Complete Streets policy to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and adhered to during ongoing construction of new streets and the maintenance of existing streets; and

Be it further resolved that the Council intends for Complete Streets to be achieved throughout the City of Stillwater project-by-project, consistently drawing on all possible funding sources; and

Be it further resolved that the Department of Public Works, in collaboration with the Department of Planning and Development, develop implementation guidelines for each category of Stillwater’s streets including residential, parkway, commercial, and arterial. Finally, these guidelines shall be reviewed by the Planning Commission and be presented for consideration by the Council by January 1, 2022.