Council vacancy filled: There was a lot of love in Council Chambers last week as Yolanda Farris was sworn in as SLP’s newest council member, replacing Larry Kraft who was elected to the State Legislature. I’m excited to be serving with Farris, who will bring new perspectives to our work as a council. Her term will run through the end of 2023.
Reach out to Larry: Rep. Kraft continues to be very available and responsive to constituents in his new role, just like when he was on council. Here’s where you can find all Larry’s contact information – he will get back to you! You can also follow Larry on his official House Facebook page. Larry asked me to share that he welcomes visitors to his St. Paul office, where they can expect to be treated to homemade (by Larry!) ice cream. Email here to set up a meeting. I’m so glad to have Larry representing us at the state level!
Watermain break report complete: Following last year’s catastrophic water main breaks on the west side of the city, staff contracted with risk management firm DNV to evaluate the cause of the breaks. The report is now complete and can be found here. External corrosion (first break) and brittle fracture (second break) were identified as root causes; contributing factors in the second break were manufacturing stress and stress from the first repair (the impacts of which would not have been evident during the repair). Using the evaluation, city staff are working with engineering consultants to develop a water and sewer risk assessment and determine priorities for future infrastructure replacement projects.
Trained helpers matter: Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members stepped up last summer to provide various types of support in the aftermath of the watermain breaks. Thanks to them! CERT members are volunteers 18+ who receive training from the city in things like basic first aid and triage skills, home/workplace preparedness, and more. There are currently 31 trained CERT members in SLP. Training is free and the next training is March 3-5. Email here to learn more and/or register.
Most crime down: Our police chief reports that most crime categories are down in SLP compared to this time last year, including a significant decrease in robberies and carjackings, many of which were tied to the same two people who have now been convicted. Vehicle thefts were also down in January, although car theft is still a big problem here and throughout the country. SLP was recently awarded a competitive grant to hire an officer focused on traffic safety and DWI enforcement. As a result we’re seeing an upward trend in DWI arrests (16 last month compared to 4 in January 2022) as well as traffic stops (425 in January compared with 225 in January 2022).
PD Related: In response to resident and council desire to ensure transparency and foster trust between the community and the police department in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the SLPD has launched a Response to Resistance dashboard to provide information about incidents where officers use force against a person. The dashboard was a collaborative effort between the police department and other city staff, as well as members of the Community Technology Advisory Commission and Police Advisory Commission which are comprised of residents. The dashboard will be updated at least quarterly.
$270K donation to the city: The Park Nicollet Foundation has donated $270,000 to the city to address the needs of residents with chronic health issues, improving their quality of life and reducing the number of 911 calls for preventable emergencies. Funds will support a full-time care coordinator for the Community Health Alliance, a partnership between the SLP Fire Department and nonprofit Care Resource Connection. In addition to providing direct service to residents through the city’s fire and emergency services and other health care resources, the Community Health Alliance puts out a weekly podcast on issues related to community health.
Solar on The Block: Popular community gathering spot The Block recently installed a 26-kilowatt solar array on their roof, with technical and financial support from the city. City programs supported three businesses and 21 homes in installing rooftop solar last year, increasing rooftop solar community-wide by more than 10 percent. Is now the right time for you? Check out the city’s new bonus solar incentives for homes and businesses here.
More restaurant news: Local salad chain Green + The Grain, which got its start as a food truck in 2014, is coming to 10 West End in March. This will be the restaurant’s seventh location in the Twin Cities and the first outside the core cities.
In case you missed it: SLP snowplow drivers are the best! Here’s a fun piece from last week’s Star Tribune highlighting the work they do. Want to send a quick thank you to the folks in charge of snowplowing in SLP? Do that here!
SLP High School upgrades: Council recently approved updated permits for improvements to the building and grounds at our community’s high school, funded by the recent referendum. As a resident whose kids graduated from SLP High many years ago, I’m very excited for these changes that will benefit the next generation! Improvements include a new district-wide kitchen and expanded cafeteria, new learning commons space, remodeled media center, new synthetic turf football/soccer/lacrosse field, and new running track as well as expanded and improved parking options. Construction is set to start this spring.
Future roundabout: Council recently approved the preferred layout for the RedoCedarLou infrastructure project, at a cost of $20M, $9M of which will be funded through federal and regional sources. The feature that got the most attention in this project is the planned roundabout at the intersection of Cedar Lake Road & Louisiana (read staff’s detailed responses to resident and council questions about the roundabout and other project components here, starting on page 3). Roundabouts are relatively new in Minnesota and SLP so there’s a learning curve about their safety and efficacy. Check out this five-minute video MnDOT created to help people understand how to use roundabouts properly. The CLR/Louisiana roundabout will be constructed in 2025.
Alley project update: Six years ago, the city made a ten-year commitment to improve all publicly owned gravel and bituminous alleys in the city, replacing them with concrete to improve drainage and reduce annual maintenance costs. Inflation-related cost increases and other factors have resulted in certain alleys in the Birchwood and Bronx Park neighborhoods being removed from this year’s project. Info here.
Share your views on the plan for Cedar/Isles: It’s not in SLP, but a lot of us enjoy spending time at Cedar Lake/Lake of the Isles. After a three-year planning process the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board has published its draft plan for changes to Cedar/Isles and is seeking public input. View the plan and complete the survey here. The comment period closes March 10.
Tell someone they’re outstanding! Do you know someone who lives, works or volunteers in SLP and has contributed significantly to our community? Nominate them for the Outstanding Community Member Award! Nominations due by April 14. Info here.
Here’s a select list of upcoming events in our community:
West Metro Home Remodeling Fair, today, Sunday, Feb. 26, 10:30-3, Eisenhower Community Center, Hopkins. Info here.
Bassett Creek Watershed Open House. Tuesday, February 28, 4-7 pm. Share thoughts, concerns, and hopes for water resources with BCWMC Commissioners as they develop the 2025 Watershed Management Plan. Info here.
SLP Annual Spring Tree Sale, opens March 1. Grow some shade in SLP! A total of 250 will be available to residents for $35/each (limit 3 trees). Info here. There will be another sale in the fall.
Children First Champions Breakfast: “Believe in Better”, Thursday, March 2, 7:30 am, DoubleTree Hotel, St. Louis Park. This year’s focus is on youth as agents of change for the better. More info and register here.
Dakota Park Bridge meeting, Thursday, March 2, 6-7:30 pm, Peter Hobart School. Presentation at 6:15 followed by discussion. This is the meeting mentioned in my last update regarding how/whether to replace the aging footbridge. Info on the topic and the meeting here.
Urban forestry presentations, March 7 & 14, April 11 & 20, various locations. The city’s natural resources division is hosting SLP-specific presentations on trees with topics including emerald ash borer, protecting trees during construction, city tree planting programs, and the benefits of urban forests. Info and locations here.
SLP Art Fair applications are open! This year’s art fair will be September 9 at the ROC. About 70 artists will be chosen via a competitive jury process. Application deadline is June 2. Info here.
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.