Summer greetings! Here’s city-related news for residents of Ward 1 and beyond.
THC sales in SLP: In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new Minnesota law that allows people 21 and older to buy and consume foods and beverages containing hemp-derived THC, which is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. Because the new law is silent on where and how THC sales can occur, cities like ours are left to figure out their own rules, at least for now. SLP City Council recently directed staff to fast-track the development of licensing requirements for THC modeled after our tobacco ordinance, with an emphasis on preventing sales to minors and considering racial equity implications. We expect to see a draft ordinance in September.
PLACE/Via Sol is open: Five-plus years after the first iteration of PLACE was approved by City Council, PLACE’s Via Sol has been issued a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. For those who have followed this development’s complicated journey to completion, this should be welcome news. Rental applications are currently being accepted for the 217-unit complex, which includes 152 income-restricted units, eight live-work units, and 65 market rate units. A full Certificate of Occupancy is expected to be issued once Via Sol’s solar energy system, delayed due to supply chain issues, is completed. More details on the development here.
Vote Yes for Schools by August 9: Our community’s children need safe, modern places to learn, and our community needs schools that attract families to enroll in the district, and stay. Please take time to read about the two school referendum questions on the ballot and please vote yes on both questions. Also on the primary ballot: District 5 U.S. Representative; Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Hennepin County Attorney, and Hennepin County Sheriff. Here’s info on when and where to vote between now and August 9.
National Night Out: NNO is this Tuesday, August 2. There are 140 registered parties in the community, including 45 in Ward 1 alone! I plan to get to as many as possible. Perhaps I’ll see you!
New public art in Bronx Park: Earlier this summer a mural featuring art by Peter Hobart students was installed on one of the piers of the new Dakota-Edgewood Bridge, located in Bronx Park. A second mural, also featuring student art, was recently installed facing the regional trail. Nearby, the Nelson Park basketball court will soon include public art too, with a colorful design and message covering the entire court surface that celebrates and brings awareness to women’s sports. SLP native Paige Bueckers and fellow collegiate athlete Jamad Fiin teamed up with SLP Parks & Rec to make the court mural possible. Pretty cool!
Protected bikeways: Many of us on Council have heard from residents regarding their preference for protected bike lanes, which best serve what city planners call the “interested but concerned” cyclist because they feel (and are) safer and are therefore more inviting. Protected bikeways can be expensive to build, and we’re a long way from having a protected bike network citywide, if we ever do. But we’re making small steps. We piloted the use of flexible bollards along busy a segment of Dakota Avenue last year, and it slowed vehicle traffic, increased the number of bikers on the route, and saw fewer bicyclists using the sidewalk, among other impacts. Given these outcomes, council has directed staff to install seasonal bollards along at least some segments of 6.6 miles of road in the city that are already buffered. Installing bollards where the bike lane is already buffered minimizes costs.
Contamination cleanup: Nearly two decades after the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency began an investigation into harmful chemicals found in groundwater in and around St. Louis Park, a permanent, long-term solution to the contamination may be within reach. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun overseeing cleanup of the Hwy 100/County Road 3 Groundwater Plume site as well as investigation into who caused the contamination so they can be held responsible. As part of their process, the EPA is seeking public input, particularly from people who live near the site. Here’s more information, including maps. Project managers from the EPA are inviting 30-minute phone or virtual meetings with residents on August 23, 24 and 25 between 10am and 7pm. You can schedule an interview here.
Help for limited-income entrepreneurs: The City has signed a purchase agreement for the building at 4300 W 36½ Street, most recently home to Second Debut clothing store. Staff plans to work with Partnerships in Property Commercial Land Trust (PIPCLT), who will convert the building into multiple commercial spaces and make them available for purchase to qualified, limited-income business owners. Development fund (not general fund) dollars will be used to purchase the building for about $1.8M, most or all of which will be returned to the fund once the building is sold to PIPCLT. This activity aligns with our community goals around equity, wealth building, and supporting small businesses.
Minnetonka Boulevard reconstruction: This exciting project is going to transform the way we experience Minnetonka Boulevard between France Ave. and Highway 100, and I can’t wait! Work proposed for 2024 includes reconfigured vehicle lanes, grade-separated mixed-use trails for walkers and rollers on both sides, safer crossings, streetscape improvements, and more. The County will host an open house to showcase their preferred design in August, with the date TBD. Here’s the County’s website where you can view the proposed designs (spoiler: County staff are likely to recommend Concept A; click on “Potential Roadway Concepts” to view it), provide feedback online, and sign up for updates, including information about the August open house.
Fern Hill Neighborhood Association is back: After a multi-year hiatus, the Fern Hill Neighborhood Association is back. Congratulations Fern Hill! Neighborhood associations can add so much to the quality of life in SLP, bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together to build community. Fern Hill now has a quarterly newsletter. To receive it, send an email here with your name and email address. The Association is also hosting a get-together on Sunday, August 14, 1-3 pm at Fern Hill Park. Email here for info.
Related: The Fern Hill Pavement Management project is in full swing with completion anticipated in Fall 2022. City Engineering staff provide weekly updates for residents on the project; sign up here to receive them. I’ve seen many children playing safely on the new sidewalks and it makes me smile.
Here’s a select list of upcoming events in our community:
National Night Out, Tuesday, August 2. If your block isn’t having a party this year and you’ d like to host one next year, here’s where to find out more.
St. Louis Park Summer Reading Festival, August 8-13, various locations. Eleven free events including live music, free book giveaways, artmaking, author meetups, and more. Schedule and locations here.
Birchwood Neighborhood Food Truck Night, Tuesday, August 9, 6pm, Birchwood Park. Food from Finer Meats & Eats and The Brick Oven Bus.
Thai Sunday Market, Sunday, August 14, 11am-7 pm, Wat Promwachirayan Temple, 2544 Hwy 100 S. Food, shopping & performances. All are welcome! Menu here.
Fern Hill Neighborhood Get-Together: Sunday, August 14, 1-3 pm, Fern Hill Park.
Thanks for reading and please stay in touch!
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.