Greetings! Here’s city-related news for residents of Ward 1 and beyond.
SLP Police Chief to retire: After 31 years serving our city, including the last five as chief of police, Mike Harcey will retire from the force in December. Chief Harcey effectively led our PD through the pandemic and civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd. He was also at the helm when many important new initiatives were launched in SLP including the introduction of police body-worn cameras; race data collection during traffic stops to explore potential implicit bias; the Pathways to Policing program to broaden access to jobs in law enforcement; and a new use of force dashboard coming online soon. Thank you for your dedicated service, Chief Harcey! More than 400 community members responded to an online survey (now closed) sharing their perspectives on what they’d like to see in our next chief. Their views will inform the recruitment process which is getting underway this month and will conclude in December with a new chief named prior to Chief Harcey’s departure.
Please vote! Election Day is November 8 and if you haven’t already, please make a plan to vote. There are many important races in this year’s election which will impact our shared future on critical topics like reproductive rights, public safety, and racial equity. You can vote early at St. Louis Park City Hall M-F, 8-4:30 pm now through Nov. 7 (open till 5 on 11/7), as well as on Saturday, Nov. 5 from 10am-3pm. Here’s where to find your polling place on election day.
Selling cannabinoids in SLP: When Minnesota lawmakers approved legislation earlier this year legalizing the sale and consumption of certain products containing cannabinoids, many cities, including ours, were caught off guard. Thanks to quick work by our city staff, council recently reviewed a draft ordinance related to licensing requirements for the sale of cannabinoid products in SLP that could become effective as early as December. The proposed ordinance is designed to protect public health, safety and welfare of youth and all residents and be responsive to the fact that people from BIPOC communities, particularly the Black community, are disproportionately more likely to have low-level marijuana convictions that could serve as a barrier to getting a license. The first reading of the ordinance is tentatively set for Nov. 7.
Support 36th Street businesses: 36th Street will remain closed between Webster and Yosemite through November due to ongoing rehabilitation work. Many businesses along this stretch are impacted by the extended closure. They include Luggage World, Mama’s Happy, Revolution Salon, T-Luxe Nails, Tailors on Blake, and Duende Dance Studio. Please support them in the coming weeks and beyond! Here’s a map showing how to get to businesses along this stretch via car, bike, or on foot during construction.
Minnetonka Boulevard redesign: It’s been 70 years since Minnetonka Boulevard was reconstructed, and can’t you tell? We’ve got sidewalks directly adjacent to a very busy street, intersections that don’t meet ADA requirements, a fast-moving four-lane road zipping past schools, congregations, homes and businesses, and a storm water system that isn’t working properly, in case you didn’t know. Hennepin County staff have been working alongside city staff for nearly two years to design a modern transitway that is safe and comfortable for all users. They’ve proposed a design for the roadway between France Avenue and Highway 100 that includes multi-use trails on both sides; new boulevards, trees, and other landscape features; lane reductions; and a significant reconfiguration between France and Inglewood Avenues to improve safety and traffic flow near Yum! and other businesses. The goal, according to County staff, is to shift fast-moving through traffic from Minnetonka Boulevard to Highway 7 and create a safer and more beautiful Minnetonka Boulevard for local users. Here’s where you can review the county’s preferred design (be patient, the map is slow to load and maneuver) and here’s where you can provide input on the design. You can also contact Engineering Project Director Joe Shamla via email with questions about the project. A public hearing on the project is tentatively set for Nov. 21. Work is expected to begin in 2024 and last 1-2 years.
Fern Hill pavement management update: Fern Hill residents and business owners have received notice that a few remaining segments of the project, originally slated for completion this year, will be postponed to next year. Here’s info on what’s left for 2023.
Idle-free SLP has launched! This public education campaign is aimed at reducing vehicle emissions and creating cleaner air, including outside our school buildings where children, who are especially vulnerable to the health risks of vehicle exhaust, are regularly exposed. Join the movement to stop idling! Here’s more info on why it matters.
SLP Library temporarily closed: Who doesn’t love the SLP Library? My kids and I made many happy memories there. The library is an important connecting point to technology and resources for many members of our community. It’s closed through the end of the year for building repairs. Info here.
Rugged wheelchair at the Nature Center: Cool news - the city is acquiring an all-terrain wheelchair for use at Westwood Hills Nature Center. The GRIT Freedom wheelchair will allow people with all levels of mobility to fully experience all the nature center’s trails year-round. Use of the chair will be free.
Help our water: If you care about water quality and have the time and energy to make a difference, please consider applying for the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District’s Citizen Advisory Committee. Applications are accepted from residents living within our watershed through October 21.
New EV showroom in town: Electric vehicle company Polestar has opened a showroom in the Shops of West End where folks can view and learn about the company’s electric vehicles, available for purchase online. Info on the business here.
More new Texa-Tonka businesses: Coming soon...more places to shop! Construction is underway for new tenants at the Texa-Tonka Mall including Amazing Lash Studio, Westside Wine & Spirits, and Brookies Fish Market. All three businesses are expected to open within the next month.
Here’s a select list of upcoming events:
STEP Coat Distribution Registration, Oct. 3-21. If you or someone you know in SLP needs a winter coat, register for an appointment to shop for a free coat and other winter gear here. Thank you STEP!
SLP Historical Society Open House, Saturday, Oct. 22, Jorvig Park Depot. Celebrate the addition of two historic displays in the park. Free, refreshments provided. Here’s a link to the historical society’s fascinating website. While you’re there, become a member!
Mental Health Education Conference: Sunday, Oct 23, 9:30am-3pm, Temple Israel. For people living with mental health concerns, family members, professionals and all people who are curious about mental health. Free and open to all. Info here.
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.