Greetings! Here’s city-related news for residents of Ward 1 and beyond.
City council vacancy update: The difficult task continues of selecting one resident from a roster of many great candidates to fill the vacant at-large city council seat. Seven remaining applicants will participate in interviews and a simulated council meeting exercise at our Jan. 23 meeting. You can watch it live here or on local cable.
New winter parking restrictions: More than four feet of snow has fallen in the Twin Cities so far this winter, 130% more than the historical average for this time of year. To ensure emergency vehicles can safely maneuver our streets, as well as school buses, garbage trucks and the like, the city has enacted parking restrictions on some streets that allow parking only on one side. Make sure you observe the signs or you may get ticketed and/or towed. More info here.
Nelson’s Meats has a new owner: Ward 1 favorite Nelson’s Meats was recently sold to Leroy West, owner of East Coast BBQ. East Coast BBQ has several “on-the-go” kitchens in the metro including at US Bank Stadium and Target Field, but the Minnetonka Mall storefront will be their first brick & mortar location. Former Nelson’s owner Keith Page shared publicly last year that health issues forced him to sell the business.
Dakota Park bridge replacement: There’s a cute little bridge at Dakota Park that spans a stormwater retention area and connects a playground to a dog park. The bridge is deteriorating and can’t be repaired. My colleagues and I experienced sticker shock upon learning recently that replacing the 65-foot-long bridge with a similar structure will cost about $550,000. In response to council reaction, staff has provided additional options including a installing a slightly lower-cost bridge and not installing a bridge at all. Council will provide direction to staff on potential next steps at our Jan. 23 meeting. A public meeting to discuss the project is tentatively set for Thursday, Feb. 9, 6 pm at Peter Hobart School, pending council direction at tomorrow night’s meeting. I’m very interested in community input on this decision. Does a bridge here matter to you? Email me your thoughts here.
Via Sol update: Just after completing construction, nonprofit developer PLACE defaulted on the bond funding they secured to construct Via Sol. The bond trustee has taken over and appointed a receiver to assume oversight and get the apartments leased up. As of last week, 201 of 217 total units were still available, including 11 units available for households earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income. The receiver has lowered the rents and is working to get the apartments and retail space leased as quickly as possible. PLACE is no longer involved with the project.
Cedar Lake Road & Louisiana Avenue improvements: Council held a public hearing last week for the infrastructure improvement project dubbed Re-do Cedar Lou. The proposed project includes new pavement, dedicated bike facilities, pedestrian and streetscape improvements, and a roundabout at the intersection of Cedar Lake Road and Louisiana Ave. Total project cost is estimated to be about $20 million; $9 million in combined federal and Met Council funds will reduce the city’s burden by almost half. Council will vote to approve or modify the project Feb. 6.
Federal funding wins for SLP: The FY23 omnibus bill recently passed by Congress brought good news to SLP. A total of $6M in federal funds was awarded to our city for three projects: $2M for the pedestrian and bike components of the Cedar Lake Road/Louisiana project, $3M for a pilot project to purchase and preserve affordable multifamily housing, and $1M for a home electrification pilot program. Kudos to city staff and our elected officials for helping secure these funds.
Related: SLP nonprofit Perspectives was also awarded $3M in the bill to expand their Family Center. For inquiring minds, here's a list of all the projects in this year’s spending bill that benefit the Twin Cities. Very interesting!
Students against idling: Idle-Free SLP is a campaign to reduce vehicle idling, so harmful to public health and the environment. Did you know that SLP Middle School students came up with the phrase, "Idle-Free SLP"? Here’s a podcast featuring three seventh-graders talking with SLP Schools Superintendent Astein Osei about their involvement in the city-sponsored program, part of a monthly podcast called “Share the Mic” you can listen to on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Pretty cool!
MTC Route 17 changes: I used to ride the 17 bus downtown back in the day, and it was pretty handy. But bus use and services have changed a lot since then. To make trips “better, faster and more reliable” MTC is proposing changes to Route 17 that include reducing the number of stops, improving ADA accessibility and providing more shelters. Here’s a map of the existing route and proposed changes. MTC is planning to reach out to the public in February to collect feedback on the proposed revisions. I’ll share the link to provide feedback when it becomes available. Changes will likely be implemented later this year.
Hydrant heroes needed: It's so snowy out there! The extra minutes it takes firefighters to shovel out a hydrant in the event of a fire can make a critical difference in damage to people and property. When you adopt a fire hydrant, you not only take on the important responsibility of keeping it clear of snow, you get to name it (a quick scan reveals the names Pluggy, Big Red & T-Rex are taken). As of this writing, there are hundreds of hydrants waiting to be adopted. Here’s a map of available hydrants and info on how to sign up. Thanks in advance if you can help!
New business assistance program: Numerous vacant storefronts dot our city, so city staff have designed a program to try and fill them. Called "Advance," the program offers up to $10,000 per business to be used for building improvements, equipment, first-time building acquisition, and other costs for small businesses with between one and 20 employees. Want more info? Email here.
Good deals: The SLP Sunrise Rotary is again selling Park Passports, featuring coupons from 18 local restaurants including great spots like Honey & Rye, Wok in the Park, and Mexico City Café. Books cost $20 and 100% of proceeds benefit the SLP Senior Program. Info & to purchase online here.
School volunteers needed! If you have time and energy to share, please consider volunteering in our public schools. Opportunities range from homework help to reading & math to helping on the playground and more. Info and application here.
Here’s a select list of upcoming events:
George Floyd Global Memorial Exhibit, Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital, through March 3. Info here.
Recycling Champion Class, Thursday, Feb. 9, 6-8 pm, virtual. RSVP here by Jan. 31 to join the class.
Frosty Mug Crawl, Saturday, Feb. 25, 4-8 pm, Shops at West End. $35 gets you free & discounted drinks at West End businesses and a commemorative t-shirt. Sponsored by SLP Parks & Rec. Info & register 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.