Greetings! Here’s city-related news for residents of Ward 1 and beyond.
Busy month for the SLP PD: May was the busiest month so far in 2023 for the St. Louis Park Police Department, with forgery, vehicle theft, and fleeing from police seeing the greatest percentage increases over this time last year. Of additional concern was a sharp increase in 911 hang-up calls, with 738 such calls in May. This increase is likely tied to a recent software update to Android phones that can – and should!—be disabled. Catalytic converter thefts are down from earlier this year, but still a concern, with 37 thefts in SLP since March. Traffic stops are up 68% from this time last year, attributable to a traffic safety officer hired in 2022 to address an increase in traffic violations over the last few years. Stay safe out there!
Speaking of traffic safety: The city has free 20 MPH signs you can place in your yard to remind neighbors (and yourself) that slower is safer. Signs (one per yard) be picked up at City Hall, the Rec Center, and other locations. Info here.
Arrive + Thrive in SLP: The City is seeking community input (that’s you!) to guide decisions about future land use and development in four parts of the city considered “gateways”: our three METRO Green Line stations (Beltline, Wooddale, and Louisiana) and the area along West Excelsior Boulevard. The project has been dubbed “Arrive + Thrive " and there are three ways you can provide input: through an online survey open now through July 7; at an Open House Tuesday, June 27, 4-7pm at the SLP Municipal Service Center, or by contacting project manager Laura Chamberlain via email. Help city staff identify issues and opportunities for creating beautiful, inviting, user-friendly gateways to our great city for visitors and residents alike. Thanks!
Assessing watermain break potential: Most folks know we had some very serious watermain breaks in our community last year, the scale of which we hope to never see again. To be preemptive, the city is piloting the use of a new technology called SeeSnake® to assess the condition of certain watermains before they reach the point of breaking. Earlier this month, the SeeSnake® traveled through 5.3 miles of watermain along Minnetonka Boulevard, Louisiana Avenue, and Cedar Lake Road, using magnetic waves to determine pipe wall thickness. Results should be available by the end of this month.
Taking a fresh look at our boards & commissions: Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of residents have served on one of our city’s boards and commissions since the 1960s. If you're one of these people, thank you! Boards and commissions can be highly impactful and a steppingstone to other types of service, including city council. But over the years many people in SLP, including council members, have become frustrated by a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities for these valued and valuable volunteer groups. The City recently engaged a consultant to evaluate the structure, roles & responsibilities of our boards and commissions and make recommendations. For those interested in this topic, here’s the consultants’ report.
State money for big road project: The state’s recently approved bonding bill included $5M for long-planned Cedar Lake Road and Louisiana Avenue improvements, reducing the burden on local taxpayers for this major infrastructure project. Good news!
Children First wins state money too: Children First was awarded $250,000 from the MN Department of Education this year, a big win for the 31-year-old local nonprofit whose vision is that all kids in St. Louis Park get the care and support they need to grow up happy, healthy and successful in a thriving community. Funds will support summer enrichment programming for school-aged youth focused on youth leadership opportunities and mental wellness programming. Funds will also support a bilingual summer learning program to support young children and families least benefited by current programs as they prepare for kindergarten. Congratulations, Children First!
New mural near Steel Toe: My family tells me I’m the last one to know, but I’m guessing there are at least a few others who aren’t aware that a colorful Adam Turman mural will adorn the massive exterior of the parking ramp for the new Corsa Apartments just east of Steel Toe Brewing. The mural is currently in progress and features a biker, a runner, and a dog. What you may not know is that the artist is in conversation with nearby business REM 5 to explore the possibility of a virtual reality component to the mural. The mural should be completed later this summer.
Webster Park update: Sorensen neighborhood residents will be happy to hear that after many years of waiting, and thanks to the persistence of city staff, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is expected to offer to sell the Webster Park land to the city soon. Once the anticipated purchase is finalized, the city will hire a consultant to work with residents to design improvements to the park that will likely take place in 2024 or 2025. Stay tuned.
Dakota Park Bridge will not be replaced: Council voted unanimously earlier this month to install a new multi-use trail around the stormwater retention basin in Dakota Park rather than replace the footbridge at a cost of $550,000. I know many residents were fond of this bridge and route through the park (me too) but financial and aesthetic considerations (a new bridge would have been much more substantial to meet ADA and snow removal needs) made rerouting the right choice. Work is anticipated to start in August. Info here.
School district construction: Thanks to last year’s overwhelming approval of a $135M bond referendum for our schools, much-needed improvements are currently underway. For those who are interested, the school district has a newsletter which you can find on their construction page website.
Native plant sale for SLP: As part of our Pollinate the Park initiative, the City is hosting a native plant sale through July 23. Plant kits are designed for St. Louis Park and grown in Minnesota by Minnesota Native Landscapes. Info here.
Please adopt a drain: Have you noticed all the leaves and other organic materials blocking storm drains in your neighborhood? Storm drains flow directly to our local lakes, rivers, and wetlands, acting as a conduit for trash and organic pollutants and damaging our waterways. If you have a little time to spare (doesn’t take much) please consider signing up to adopt a drain or two. SLP has a total of 6,120 storm drains and currently only 481 have been adopted. Lots of opportunity to help! Info and sign up here.
Here’s a select list of upcoming events:
Birchwood Neighborhood Garage Sale, Saturday, June 24. Pick up maps & free refreshments at the Birchwood Park between 9-11 am. Mini-sale at the park warming house too!
Latin Expo Fair, Saturday, June 24, noon-6pm, Recreation Outdoor Center (the ROC). Hosted by Showtime Productions MN. Demonstrations, tastings, raffles, prizes, live music with local bands, arts and crafts, children's shows and entertainment. Info and tickets here.
Thai Sunday Market, Sunday, June 25, 11am-7pm, Wat Promwachirayn Temple. Thai street food and beverages, shopping, live music and performances. Future Sunday Markets will be held July 23 and August 13. Info here.
Arrive + Thrive Open House, Tuesday, June 27, 4-7 pm, Municipal Service Center. Info here.
Trail of Small Wonders Opening Day Festival, Monday, July 10, 4:30-8pm, Westwood Hills Nature Center. Stilt walkers, music and dance performances, face painting, story tellers, hands-on art stations, magic, and a puppet show. Info here.
West End Wednesdays Farmer’s and Artisan Market, Wednesdays 4-8 pm, through Sept 13, The Shops at West End. Food trucks, live music, and vendors.
Food Truck Nights at Muddy Paws, Thursdays 5-8pm, through Sept 14, Muddy Paws Cheesecake.
West End Twins Shuttle: Buses depart 90 minutes before the scheduled start and return 2.5 and 3 hours later for every home game. Tickets are $5 but if you shop or dine at the West End before the game the ride is free. 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.