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Proclamations, presentations, and recognition took up most of this week’s West St. Paul city council meeting. A few routine business items were passed, but some of the more interesting tidbits took place behind the scenes.
The city council meeting included three presentations:
- The West St. Paul Police Department and the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon committee recognized Jack Hinderscheid, a 47-year resident of West St. Paul who passed away on July 31. Hinderscheid served in the U.S. Marines in Korea and was one of the “Monroe Seven,” seven friends from St. Paul’s Monroe High School who all served together in Korea and all returned home. The last living member of the Monroe Seven, Laddy Davis, was on hand and shared his remembrances. Hinderscheid’s son, John, is a sergeant in the West St. Paul Police Department.
- Interim Police Chief Brian Sturgeon introduced the Police Reserves Program. These volunteers help with police department work that doesn’t require a sworn officer. They help with patrolling, traffic control, events, and more. The program was revitalized in 1997 after a hiatus, and since then their volunteer work has saved West St. Paul more than $1.3 million.
- Five people were honored as recipients of the Outstanding Property Award, a record number to be awarded at one time. If you know of an impressive property that needs to be recognized, you can nominate them using this form.
- Cops in the Park: The last Cops in the Park event of the season is this Wednesday, Aug. 28 at Southview Park from 5 to 8 p.m. Free backpacks full of school supplies will be available for kids first come, first served.
- Police Chief Hiring Process: The consent agenda for this week’s meeting included a report from City Manager Ryan Schroeder on the hiring process for the police chief. Schroeder submitted a 137-page Police Chief Hiring Input Report that summarizes all kinds of community and internal perspectives on the department and the hiring of the new chief.
- Housing Homeless: Last year the city council approved a pilot program to allow local churches to serve as emergency homeless shelters. Matrix Housing Services has overseen programs at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church and Augustana Lutheran Church, and last season housed 236 people. This winter season they’ll be running the program again, with the addition of running a resource center to better serve and connect people to needed resources. Matrix gave an updated during the Open Council Work Session (OCWS).
- Former K-Mart and Bank Building: As reported last week, the council considered a proposal to build apartments on the former K-Mart and bank building portions of Signal Hills during this week’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) works session. The developer, Dominium, noted the robust demand for apartments of this type. Council members had questions but were generally receptive and open to moving forward with the proposal and getting more specifics.
- Sidewalks: Also during the OCWS the issue of sidewalks came up again. West St. Paul has a scattershot approach to sidewalks, where some sections of the city have them and others don’t. The city has been working to add sidewalks during road reconstruction when it makes sense, but one of the sticking points is that residents are assessed 100% for new sidewalks. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be a solution for the current Livingston reconstruction project, but there seemed to be majority support for removing (or at least reducing) the 100% assessment and making sidewalks a city-wide expense.