National Day of Racial Healing event TODAY: I hope many of you will join me at our city’s second annual National Racial Day of Healing Event today, January 15, from 4-7 pm at Westwood Hills Nature Center. I attended this event last year and left transformed. The event provides an opportunity for community members of all ages (including children) to learn about each other’s diverse backgrounds, cultures, perspectives and lived experiences, and participate in a community conversation facilitated by SLP high school students. The program is free and dinner is provided. Please bring a nonperishable food donation for STEP, and RSVP here so staff can plan.
Minnetonka Blvd about to get torn up: Get ready for some major disruption on one of our city’s main arteries as Hennepin County and the City partner to reconstruct Minnetonka Boulevard between France Avenue and Highway 100. The two-year project will commence this spring and likely include lane reconfigurations, new multi-use trails, crossing beacons, streetscape improvements, stormwater management improvements and, potentially, undergrounding of overhead utilities. Attend an open house later this month to ask questions and learn about traffic impacts during the closure. Open house information is in the events section below.
Perspectives closure: For 40 years, nonprofit Perspectives has provided low-income women and their children safe, stable housing, early childhood programming, chemical dependency counseling, and other services in St. Louis Park including after-school and summer programming for low-income students across the SLP School District. Financial challenges led to Perspectives abruptly laying off most of their staff and closing most programs last month. This is devastating news for the families served, their dedicated staff, and the entire community. Perspectives is an independent organization and does not receive funding from the city; still, city staff and residents are looking for ways to provide support to those impacted. Here’s a recent Star Tribune article on the topic.
Galaxy Drive-In, the next chapter: The iconic Galaxy Drive-In at Hwy 7 and Quebec has been sold to Craft N Crew, owners of the Block. According to city staff, the buyers are still working on concepts, but initial plans envision it to be rebranded as “Wells Roadside” featuring a variety of specialty hamburgers, hand-cut fries, ice cream, beer and wine. Stay tuned.
Restaurants in taprooms & cocktail rooms: For years, Minnesota state law prohibited taprooms & cocktail rooms from also including restaurants. State law has changed and now the city is catching up. Council is expected to approve a change to our city code soon that will allow restaurants to be located in a taproom or cocktail room. Think Steel Toe, Ullsperger, Dampfwerk, and Copperwing.
Cedar Lake Trail reopens: After being closed for three long years, the last segment of the South Cedar Lake Regional Trail in St. Louis Park, including the new bridge over Beltline Boulevard, opened last month. I haven’t walked the new bridge yet but look forward to a new perspective on our community. Information on the status of the trail east of St. Louis Park can be found here.
First-gen homeownership program yielding results: I’ve written a lot about historic barriers to homeownership/wealth building for people of color, particularly African American households, the result of redlining, racial covenants, and other practices that made it difficult if not impossible for African American families to buy homes in communities like St. Louis Park. That reality is reflected in the fact that still today only a tiny fraction of SLP residents who are African American own their own homes; the vast majority are are renters. To address these historic inequities, SLP implemented a first-generation homeownership program in 2021 that provides meaningful financial support to qualifying households – those of any racial background who have never owned a home and whose parents did not own a home. I’m pleased to report that as of last month five households have benefited from the program and become homeowners in St. Louis Park, further diversifying our residential neighborhoods and providing an opportunity for people to build generational wealth who have historically faced barriers.
Gas-powered leaf blowers: I’ve been in conversation with some of my council colleagues about what, if anything, to do about gas-powered leaf blowers. They’re extremelely polluting and very loud, and several cities across the U.S. have banned them or restricted their use. If you have thoughts on this topic, I welcome them here. Thanks!
Outdoor rinks re-opening: I’m excited to report that all outdoor rinks in the city are expected to open today, Jan. 15, at noon.
Here’s a select list of upcoming events in our community:
National Day of Racial Healing, today, Monday, January 15, 4-7 pm, Westwood Hills Nature Center. Free; but please register here.
SLP Friends of the Arts Community Art Exhibit Opening Night, Friday, January 19, 5-9 pm, Brookview Golden Valley. Work by 40+ artists from SLP and Golden Valley on display along with live music, food, and beverages. Info here.
A Trip to the Moon, SLPHS Theatre Winter Play, Friday-Sun, Jan 19-21. The play will be performed at the SLP Middle School Theater due to construction at the high school. Info and tickets here.
Recycling Champions Training, Tuesday, January 23, 4-6 pm, Municipal Service Center. The Recycling Champions program is for residents interested in learning more about recycling, including how they can be ambassadors in the community to encourage more people to recycle and improve how it’s done. Email email@example.com to sign up.
Minnetonka Boulevard Reconstruction Project Open Houses, Monday, Jan. 29, 2-3 pm (virtual) and Tuesday, Jan. 30, 5-7 pm, St. Louis Park City Hall. Zoom link for the 1/29 meeting will be on the project website as the date draws nearer. Email here with questions.
SLP Storytelling Series, Thursday, February 8, 6:30 pm, St. Louis Park Library Community Room. The theme is Love Stories.
Thanks for reading and please stay in touch!
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