Greetings! Here’s city-related news for residents of Ward 1 and beyond.
New mayor next year: After eight years as mayor, Jake Spano recently announced he won’t run for a third term this fall. Mayor Spano has represented our city well and his leadership will be missed. I’m confident many other residents are ready and willing to lead, and look forward to a lively election season where we’ll use ranked choice voting to elect our new mayor as well as two at-large council members. Interested in becoming a candidate? The filing deadline is August 1. Info here.
Winter parking restrictions: This winter we received close to 90 inches of snow, compared to a historic average of about 51 inches. We’ll likely see snowier winters as climate change draws more moisture into the atmosphere, leading to heavier and more frequent snow and rain events. Where SLP streets got too narrow, we implemented one-side parking restrictions, and folks seemed to like it. Given the likelihood that we’ll have more super snowy winters in the future, city staff have proposed permanent winter parking restrictions on certain streets. They’ll present details later this year on which streets they recommend.
Police officer shortage & response: Like most cities, SLP is experiencing police officer recruiting and hiring challenges. Fewer people are interested in law enforcement careers, and cities are competing for a limited number of candidates, particularly nontraditional candidates like women and people of color. Enter Pathways to Policing, a multi-agency effort to remove financial and other barriers for nontraditional candidates to pursue a law enforcement career. We currently authorize the SLP PD to have a maximum of 60 sworn officers, which means we sometimes miss great Pathways candidates, because the timing of vacancies in our department doesn’t align with the availability of Pathways candidates. To strategically capture more Pathways candidates for SLP, our police chief recently asked council to support periodic increases, as needed, in our sworn officer strength. That means there may be times when we have more than 60 sworn officers on the payroll. Council is generally supportive, pending a report on financial impacts. I’ll share more about that in the coming months.
Future connection to Luce Line Trail: Three Rivers Park District is kicking off a public engagement process this month to inform the development of a future north/south trail through Golden Valley and St. Louis Park to connect the Cedar Lake Regional Trail to the beautiful Luce Line Regional Trail. Exciting!
New businesses in town: Twin Cities Orthopedics has opened a branch across from Knollwood Mall at 8223 Hwy. 7 and The Skin Standard will open this spring in the Texa-Tonka Shopping Center.
Related: SLP was recently awarded a $15,000 grant to promote equitable and inclusive economic growth in the city. Staff will use the grant award to conduct a survey of the local business community’s perceptions and priorities to inform future programs and policies.
No Mow May or Pollinate the Park? Each year I hear from residents asking council to pass a resolution in support of No Mow May, which encourages folks to create habitat and forage for early season pollinators by leaving lawns alone for a month. It’s a good gesture, but my understanding is that lawns offer only marginal benefits to pollinators. In lieu of No Mow May, city staff propose expanding our current strong programs to support pollinators and proposing new initiatives too. These include converting more of our city parkland to prairie, converting traditional annual flower beds in parks to pollinator pocket gardens, promoting private turf to prairie conversion, and more. We’re also in the process of renewing our commitment to the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge. I'm in support of these initiatives in lieu of active promotion of No Mow May, at least at this time. More information on these pollinator-friendly programs will be coming to the city website soon.
Depave SLP: Everything changes, and areas in our city that once were paved for good reason may today be better suited for green space. To support the development of more natural green spaces, the city has launched Depave SLP, a cost-sharing program to remove pavement and replace it with native plants, trees, rain gardens, pollinator habitats or permeable pavers. Up to $8,000 is available per property for commercial, industrial, nonprofit and multifamily property owners. The program is not available to individual homeowners.
Historical society spring membership drive: The SLP Historical Society is a valuable community resource that flies under the radar for a lot of people. On the SLPHS website you can find information you didn’t even know you wanted, like the history of the Roller Garden (did you know it used to be a horse arena?). I’m a member and encourage you to become a member too! It’s an affordable $25/year and you get a high quality newsletter in the mail each quarter. Join online here today during their spring membership drive.
Here’s a select list of upcoming events:
Town Hall with Rep Larry Kraft, TODAY, April 2, 3:30-5 pm, St. Louis Park Library. Former SLP Council member Kraft represents most of SLP in the MN House. Sign up for Larry’s informative email updates here.
Storytelling Forum featuring Melvin Carter Jr., father of the Mayor, Thursday, April 13, 6:30 pm, St. Louis Park Library. All are welcome!
SLP School Board Listening Session, Tuesday, April 18, 6:30 pm, SLP High School Media Center. Info here.
City-sponsored catalytic converter marking event, April 27, 2-6 pm, Municipal Service Center. Free, but registration is required. Participants will be chosen using a lottery system. Info on how to sign up here.
Thanks for reading and please stay in touch. I'd like to hear from you!
I send out a monthly summary of city-related news to Ward 1 residents and interested others, posted here. If you’d like to receive it via email, let me know here.