Minnetonka Boulevard Redesign: After more than a decade in the County’s queue, Minnetonka Boulevard (County Road 5) between France Avenue and Highway 100 is set for major reconstruction in 2024. The County is seeking public input to inform decision making on the final design, which may include multiuse trails, a raised (grade-separated) bike lane, lane adjustments, and streetscape improvements. County staff are hosting an open house on Tuesday, April 26, from 4-7 pm at City Hall for the public to review potential designs and provide input. You can also review the designs and provide input here.
City-owned homes to be demolished: Over the past couple of years the City has acquired four single-family homes along Minnetonka Boulevard west of Highway 100 (5643-5707 Minnetonka Blvd.) with the intent to develop new, owner-occupied, affordable housing on the site. City staff are working with Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation on a plan, potentially for row houses. The current homes were used for Police SWAT and fire training in March and April and will be demolished later this month.
New pizzeria in town: It’s always a thrill when a new restaurant opens in SLP. Dave Anderson (founder of Famous Dave’s) and Steven Schussler (founder of Rain Forest Café) plan to open Dave and Steve's Big Dreams Pizza in the former Galaxy Drive-In this spring.
STEP’s getting more space: After an extensive search, the St. Louis Park Emergency Program (STEP) has found the space they need to grow, right next door to their current building at 6812 W. Lake Street. STEP’s plan is to physically combine three existing buildings, which will nearly double their space from 8,000 to over 15,000 square feet so they can better serve our community. STEP is currently accepting donations for their $2.7M capital campaign (donate here) and plan to engage with the community later this year on the specifics of the campaign.
Wooddale Apartment approvals: Earlier this month, Council provided necessary approvals for Wooddale Avenue Apartments, a four-story, 114-unit, multifamily building at 3801 Wooddale Ave. S., currently the site of Aldersgate Methodist Church. Addressing the need for affordable housing, all units in the building will be income-restricted, available to households with incomes that are 30%-60% percent of the area median income, with 53 two-bedroom units and 34 three-bedroom units, making them suitable for families with schoolchildren, a need in SLP. Most of the units will target households earning 60% of area median income which is currently $56,700 for a family of three and $64,940 for a family of four.
Wooddale Station Area public spaces – your input wanted! While anticipated opening of the Metro Green Line Extension (formerly called SWLRT) has been postponed by several years, development planning around the stations is continuing, including for the Wooddale Station Development which will include housing, retail, and new public spaces. The development team is hosting an interactive workshop for community members to inform the design of the public spaces on Tuesday, April 12, 6:30-8:30 pm at City Hall. Please consider attending and providing your input!
Rise on 7: Rise on 7 is an all-affordable multifamily housing development proposed for the former Prince of Peace Lutheran Church site at 8115 Hwy. 7. City staff are recommending a $1.8 million, 40-year, deferred loan from the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) to developer CommonBond Communities to help finance the project. The AHTF was created in 2019 and is primarily funded through a .0185% property tax levy that generates more than $1.5 million a year for affordable housing projects. The 120-unit building will house renters earning 30% to 80% of area median income and include a daycare.
Bias crimes reported on the rise in SLP: Mirroring a statewide and national trend, reported crimes motivated by bias have increased in SLP in recent years, from fewer than five in 2015 to a peak of 25 in 2020. Last year, 21 bias crimes were reported to the SLP PD. SLP’s Human Rights Commission is charged with reviewing bias-motivated crimes and following up with a letter of support to the victim if appropriate. If you’re the victim of or witness to a hate crime, please call the St. Louis Park Police Department at (952) 924-2618.
SLP Human Rights Award: Related - if you know an individual, group, organization or business in SLP that has made an outstanding contribution toward uplifting human rights, justice, equity and inclusion in the community, I hope you’ll nominate them for the city’s 2022 Human Rights Award. Past awardees include the Hope Speaks Project and Perspectives Inc. Nominations are being accepted until April 18. Info and nomination form here.
Rent or own a home? Power it with wind! Marking the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day, the City is challenging 52 SLP households to begin powering their homes with renewable energy this month by signing up for Xcel Energy’s Windsource program. Participating households will be entered to win a portable solar battery charger pack. Here’s info on the Renewable Energy Challenge, which runs through the end of this month.
City fleet idling policy: At the direction of council and after extensive staff research, the city has adopted a fleet idling policy. The policy restricts vehicle idling to no more than one minute in a one-hour period and vehicles must be shut off when waiting to load/unload or when unattended. Exceptions are for extreme outdoor temperatures, idling to maintain accessories necessary for emergency or enforcement activities, to keep medical supplies in a climate-controlled environment, and to power work-related mechanical or electrical operations. The policy is designed to reduce tailpipe emissions, reduce fuel/electricity usage and spending, improve air quality and employees’ respiratory health, reduce engine wear and tear, lower the risk of vehicle theft, and lead by example.
Scooters are back: Bird plans to renew its license in SLP for the 2022 season, with up to 250 scooters allowed in the city this year although the actual number of scooters deployed will likely be a lot lower. More info on mobility sharing in SLP here.
Tethered drones in SLP skies: Most places we go today, we’re being surveilled – including by phones, computers, doorbells and other devices. SLP has added to the mix by purchasing two Fotokite tethered drones for emergency response and other uses, including by other city departments. Earlier this month Council approved a policy for these drones that addresses issues related to privacy and data retention. At that meeting, I shared my concerns about the potential pitfalls of over-surveillance in a productive conversation with SLP police officers. While I still have some concerns, they’re mitigated by the fact that surveillance is already so widespread and bringing the data to a local level could save lives (for example find a missing person) and improve the efficiency of other city departments. The two drones cost about $50,000.
Opioid settlement: The City is set to receive more than $327,000 from a multibillion-dollar settlement involving opioid distributors and manufacturers that SLP signed on to last year. Funds can be used for a broad range of activities designed to remediate aspects of the opioid epidemic and will be dispersed over the next 18 years. City staff will propose uses for these funds in the coming months. If you're curious about the devastation opioids have caused in our state that warrant financial compensation and more, here’s info from the Minnesota Department of Health.
Ward 1 down one precinct: Every ten years, following a complete census, the City is required to redraw ward and precinct boundary lines to balance them by population. Last month, Council approved staff’s recommendation to reduce the number of precincts citywide from 16 to 12. Precinct reduction is a common trend across metro area cities, as voters increasingly are using absentee/early voting methods leading to lower Election Day turnout. Ward boundaries were unchanged. Here’s a final precinct map and here’s more info on redistricting & polling locations.
Cool classes and programs, close to home: SLP Community Ed has a great roster of programs for people of all ages this spring and summer. I know my life and my family members’ lives have been enriched over the years through Community Ed programs and I’m grateful! Here’s the new catalog which includes youth enrichment, early learning, adult enrichment, and senior programs.
Here’s a select list of upcoming events:
Wooddale Station Site community workshop, Tuesday, April 12, 6:30-8:30 pm, SLP City Hall, Council Chambers. Info here.
Community Storytelling Event: Thursday, April 14, 6:30-7:45 pm, St. Louis Park Library. This free community event focuses on a different theme each month, and April’s theme is Gratitude. Hear community members tell stories of their own gratitude and come ready to share your own if you choose. Supported by St. Louis Park Friends of the Arts.
“Tenant Empowerment: Know Your Rights” webinar: Thursday, April 14, 1-2:30 pm. Join a presentation & discussion on issues affecting renters including how tenants can approach repair issues with their landlords, rules around when and how a landlord can charge late fees, and a general overview of what a tenant can and should do if they are facing eviction for nonpayment of rent, particularly in light of easing Covid-19 restrictions. Hosted by nonprofit HOME Line. Information and to register here.
Thursday Night Food Truck Night at Muddy Paws: Thursdays, April 14-October 20, 4-8 pm. Enjoy live music, food trucks, cheesecake, and community every Thursday during the warmer months at Muddy Paws, 3359 Gorham Ave. in the Historic Walker Lake District. Here’s a list of all the food trucks and bands that will be appearing through October. This is a popular and fun event and I hope to see you there!
Minnehaha Creek Cleanup, Saturday, April 23, 9-11am, Knollwood Canoe Landing, 8800 Hwy. 7. Gloves, waders, cleanup tools and disposal bags will be provided. Hosted by the SLP Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission. Info here.
Minnetonka Boulevard Redesign Open House, Tuesday, April 26, 4-7 pm, SLP City Hall. Info here.
Historic Walker Lake Pop-up event, Thursday, April 28, 4-7 pm. The Historic Walker Lake Business Association is organizing an open streets event to promote area businesses including Sota Clothing, Muddy Paws Cheesecake, The Block, and Mexico City Café. Come on out for food, music, shopping, and more!
Arbor Day Community Tree Planting Celebration, Saturday, May 7, 8:30-noon, Texa-Tonka/Lake Victoria Park, 2750 Virginia Ave. S. Support our urban forest and natural environment by planting trees throughout the park. No experience required and training is provided. Supervised dogs and kids welcome; registration is required. More info and to register here.
St. Louis Park State of the Community, Sunday, May 15, 1-4 pm, Dakota Park. City staff is working with The Musicant Group to plan this event with the theme “We’re All Connected.” Activities will include the mayor’s state of the city speech, presentation of the outstanding community member award, ribbon cutting for the Dakota-Edgewood bike/pedestrian bridge, displays from city departments and other community organizations, food and music. Peter Hobart kids and public art will also be involved. Mark your calendars and hope to see you there!
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.