Residents sound off on Hammond Avenue reconstruction plan
Online comments will be taken on the plan through Aug. 31.
SUPERIOR — A final round of public comment on the Hammond Avenue reconstruction project is underway through Aug. 31. The portion of Hammond Avenue from Belknap Street to North 21st Street is slated for reconstruction beginning in 2023.
An open house Wednesday, Aug. 10 at Superior Public Library drew more than a dozen residents to view materials and voice opinions. The streetscape plans are about 95% set, according to Superior Public Works Director Todd Janigo, but there is room for small changes if residents speak up.
“This is what we heard from the first meeting; this is the input we received,” said civil engineer Matt Bolf with SEH, which is designing the project. “So right now this is our plan unless, through tonight’s meeting and our online feedback, we would get enough pushback or request for changes.”
He encouraged everyone to visit the project website, superiorhammondave.com . The materials presented at the meeting are available at the website, as well as online survey. People can also submit comments or questions through the site, Bolf said.
“If there’s something that we completely overlooked, which certainly happens, I’d like to make sure we catch it now and not have to change in the middle of the project or change it after,” Janigo said.
Resident input on where to put crosswalks, in particular, is being sought.
It’s an unusual area of the city, Janigo said. Hammond Avenue is the seam along which two different property plats abut each other. Along the stretch being reconstructed, only two side streets line up — North 21st and North 18th streets. Some, like Lincoln, Faxon, Harrison and North 25th streets, only exist on one side of Hammond.
“It’s an extremely daunting challenge to try and line everything up with nothing lining up,” Janigo said.
The plan presented during the meeting would allow traffic to flow the same way it currently does because the median would be built as a series of smaller chunks. Herb Lahr, who lives across from Hammond Park, said he’d rather see one long median on his section of street.
“It wouldn’t bother me to turn here,” he said, because it would make the crosswalk safer for kids coming to the park. “It would close it off so they’ve got a safe spot in the middle.”
Superior Mayor Jim Paine also questioned how the smaller median sections would fare during snow plow season.
Chris Lahr lives on the east side of Hammond Avenue. He attended the initial reconstruction meeting in January and was back with son Eros to see the nearly completed design. He liked the fact that the boulevard along his side of the street had been restored, but expressed concern about a 10-foot wide bike trail that would replace his sidewalk.
Building a trail along Hammond Avenue aligns with the city's goals to develop a connected trail system and to connect the Osaugie and Millennium trails, which were identified in the 2019 Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. Janigo said it would also save homeowners on that side some time in the winter, as they wouldn’t have to clear snow from the trail.
Chris Lahr said neighbors he’s talked to don’t want the trail.
“It starts at a sidewalk, ends at a sidewalk. This is not a trail to a trail. It’s just a road to nowhere,” he said.
Another Hammond resident, Jeff Gardener, asked if the trail width could be pared down to 8 feet instead of 10.
Paul and Kay Freer, who live on the 2300 block of Hammond Avenue, discussed the upcoming reconstruction with Janigo.
“I just wanted to see what it was like. I’m not sure that I want a boulevard,” said Paul Freer.
Fresh out of high school, he worked for the city's Parks and Recreation Department and took care of the Hammond Avenue boulevard between Belknap and North 21st streets — mowing, weeding and cutting bushes — before it was taken out in the late 1960s.
“It’s a job,” he said.
John Ludwig, whose wife Ruth is the councilor for the district where the reconstruction is taking place, said he liked the idea of bringing a boulevard back.
“It really improves the look of the community. It makes the neighborhhoods a little bit more relaxed,” Ludwig said. “It does slow the traffic down there a little bit and there’s always people complaining about crossing Hammond, especially around the park.”
Visit the Hammond Avenue Reconstruction website to view plans and fill out a survey. The public comment period ends Aug. 31.