More trees in SLP: Who doesn’t love trees? They create shade, provide habitat, sequester carbon, reduce air pollution, capture stormwater runoff, beautify neighborhoods, benefit mental health, reduce stress, and more. Like every community, we sometimes remove trees to make way for infrastructure and redevelopment projects, and to prevent the spread of disease. I know I’m not alone in mourning the loss of mature trees when that happens. At the same time, I’m encouraged by our historic and growing commitment to planting ever more diverse and climate-hardy trees, including a new full-service planting program, different from our popular annual tree sale in that it runs throughout the growing season and includes delivery and planting. The new program also provides discounted trees to homeowners in Environmental Justice Priority Areas as well as homeowners who recently removed a diseased ash tree. Check the map - you may qualify for up to three $35 trees! Thanks for helping increase our tree canopy for current and future residents if you can.
Redo CedarLou! With that cute tagline the city is inviting input regarding the stretch of Cedar Lake Rd. from Hwy. 169 to Nevada Ave., as well as Louisiana Ave. from Wayzata Blvd. to the railroad bridge, with the goal to increase safety and comfort for all users, especially walkers, rollers and bus riders. Here’s a user-friendly website that includes a cool interactive map and survey where you can provide hyper-specific feedback on areas of interest and concern within the project area. Check it out and please provide input to make this project the best it can be.
Fern Hill streets & sidewalks: Last month council approved final plans for infrastructure improvements to the western portion of the Fern Hill neighborhood. Thanks to the hundreds of residents who provided input during the 14-month planning process for this project, which includes watermain replacement and street rehabilitation (map), on-street bikeways (map), new sidewalks (map), and the installation of as many as 80 new boulevard trees. Work is anticipated to start in May and conclude in November.
Taking a stand for health equity: Last month, the SLP City Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of the Minnesota Health Plan and Medicare for All, joining other Minnesota cities passing resolutions including Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. Within SLP there are big racial disparities in who has health insurance and can afford the care they and their families need, leading to disproportionately poorer health outcomes for people of color in our community. Health coverage for city staff also consumes a big chunk of local tax revenue - about $2.8 million in 2022 alone. Our resolution lets members of the Minnesota Legislature and the public know SLP stands with other communities in endorsing the Minnesota Health Plan, which would reduce costs, expand coverage, and guarantee health care for all SLP residents.
CM Kraft running for state office: At-large SLP council member Larry Kraft has announced his candidacy for Minnesota House in newly redrawn District 46A. I’ve worked alongside Larry for the past two-plus years and can’t say enough good things about his capacity to listen, respond, think through, and lead on a variety of issues, especially climate action. Larry describes himself as “an unabashed climate candidate” who believes “climate action and racial equity are lenses through which virtually all actions of government should be viewed.” Check out Larry’s campaign website and please plan to vote in the primary & general elections this summer & fall!
Solar award: We got the gold! SLP has earned the gold designationfrom SolSmart for making it faster, easier and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar. If you’re interested in installing rooftop solar on your own home or business, check out Solar Sundown, the city’s cost-sharing program.
How are we doing with community engagement? This question has been on council’s radar for a while now and I’m excited we’ll be taking a deep dive into the topic over the next couple months. How do you think the city is doing when it comes to sharing information, gathering input, and utilizing that input to inform decision-making? What do you think could be different or better? If you serve on a board or commission, how is that going? Please share your thoughts and ideas on this topic here. Thank you!
Related: Board and commission members are residents/business owners/students who volunteer to advise the city on issues related to environmental sustainability, parks & recreation, human rights, policing and more. Spots open up every year and this year there are 15 adult openings and 7 youth openings on six different boards or commissions. Here's info on openings and how to apply. Deadline for applications is March 13.
Small business in Ward 1: I recently met with city staff to idea-share how we can work together to encourage small businesses to launch or expand in current/future commercial space in Ward 1, including on Minnetonka Blvd., in the Historic Walker Lake area, on the CSAH 25/Hwy. 7 frontage road near the future Beltline SWLRT station, and other areas. Do you have thoughts on this topic? Email me here. What businesses would you like to see; what support would you need to start a business of your own? The city provides a variety of services to encourage new/existing small businesses including a 2% loan program and other financing resources. Curious about commercial properties currently available for sale or lease? Here’s an interactive map.
Community book club: The SLP Human Rights Commission is encouraging interested community members to read and discuss a graphic novel featuring first-person stories by immigrants and refugees. Anyone can pick up a free copy of Our Stories Carried Us Here: A Graphic Novel Anthology at the St. Louis Park Library through April while supplies last. Included with the book are discussion questions for book clubs as well as additional reading recommendations. Thanks HRC! I plan to get together with neighbors to do this.
Here’s a short list of upcoming events:
Free drive-up rapid Covid testing, Shoppes at Knollwood parking lot, SE corner, through March 30. Testing site is open Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 10am-1pm. Sponsored by SLP resident Dr. Eric Nussbaum and Rapid Mobile Medical with support from the SLP Fire Department. Info here.
METRO Green Line Extension (SWLRT) virtual town hall, Monday, March 14, 6-7 pm. Learn about light rail transit construction activities that will impact SLP in 2022. 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.