September greetings! Here’s city-related news for residents of Ward 1 and beyond.
Slow down, SLP!: Cars & trucks speeding down residential streets are scary and upsetting. Higher vehicle speeds also increase the risk that someone will be injured or killed in the event of a crash. Until recently, however, cities were limited in their ability to lower speed limits. That changed last year when the MN legislature voted to allow cities to set their own speed limits on city streets (but not county roads or state highways). SLP staff and council are now discussing reducing speed limits citywide, with most streets proposed for 20 mph. If approved, changes will likely be implemented next year. Find a map of current and proposed speed limits here.
Council vacancy: After 11 years of dedicated service, Ward 2 council member Anne Mavity is moving to Minneapolis and has submitted her resignation effective Oct. 31, 2020. I've been honored to work alongside CM Mavity and her strong voice on the council will be missed. At our Sept. 14 study session, council will discuss our process for selecting a Ward 2 resident to fill the seat through the end of the current term which ends Jan. 3, 2022.
Dakota-Edgewood bridge: In case you haven't heard, there's a new ped/bike bridge planned over the railroad tracks near Peter Hobart School. I won't lie, I've lost sleep over this project in the last couple weeks, and here's why: While I am one thousand percent in favor of creating this critical transportation link between north and south, the escalating price tag - now nearly five times the original estimate of $2M - is deeply concerning. If we go forward, what are the opportunity costs - things we won't do while paying off this debt? Who benefits from this project? Who doesn't? These are tough questions and I invite everyone to respect the legitimate positions people have on this project, pro and con, as a decision is made.
Last month, in light of higher than expected project bids, Council postponed a planned vote on the project for reasons including, in my case, a desire to pause, reflect, engage, and learn more in order to make a thoughtful and informed decision. While I still feel there's not a clear right or wrong way to vote on this, I plan to vote in favor of authorizing contracts totaling $8,177,657 at our council meeting on 9/8, for the following reasons:
Superfund designation: Contaminated soils are part of the landscape, literally, in St. Louis Park, and always will be, due in large part to our industrial legacy. Another development in this ongoing story is the Environmental Protection Agency's recent addition of the Hwy 100/Co Rd 3 Groundwater Plume Site to the their Superfund National Priorities List. Formal recognition of contamination in this area is not new; contamination has been recognized and addressed through multiple mitigation strategies (ground plume storymap here). This is a positive development for SLP as we will now be eligible to receive federal funding for long-term, permanent cleanup and hold those who caused the contamination responsible.
Fire Department restructure: SLP Fire Department leaders have proposed restructuring the department, which would result in the elimination of the city's 25-year-old part-time firefighter program and a transition to an all full-time force. The proposed changes are designed to reduce expenditures and improve service. The part-time firefighter program has served our community well in many ways and if the restructuring goes forward as planned, I'll be sorry to see it go.
Here's a select list of upcoming events:
Thai Sunday Market: Today, Sunday, Sept. 6, 11am-6 pm. The Thai Sunday market mimics the vibrant markets of Thailand and Southeast Asia including local vendors, Thai souvenirs, and traditional Northern Thai-styled Khan Tok tables where socially distanced visitors can enjoy Thai street food, Thai desserts, and Thai beverages. Support a Ward 1 cultural community hub while enjoying authentic Thai culture and food! Order food in person at Wat Prom Temple, 2544 Hwy. 100 S., or online for pickup here.
Paintings in the Park, Sept. 12-Oct. 18: Like taking walks? Like art? Now you can combine the two thanks to SLP Friends of the Arts' Art-Walk in the Park. Beginning next weekend and through mid-October, 30 original paintings by St. Louis Park artists will be installed along the trails at Wolfe Park, Westwood Hills Nature Center, and Aqulia Park. Check the schedule here.
Westwood Hills Nature Center interpretive center opening: Sunday, Sept. 13, 2:30 pm. Commemorate the opening of the new building at Westwood Hills Nature Center and enjoy a walk around the nature center trails. This event will be low-key due to the pandemic; a larger celebration is planned next year to commemorate the nature center's 40th anniversary.
STEP fundraiser, Friday, Oct. 2, 7:30-8:45am: Support SLP's safety net organization and learn more about all STEP does for people in our community by joining their "virtual" breakfast fundraiser. Info and registration here.
Thanks for reading, be well, and stay in touch. I want to hear from you!
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