City Council Recap: Nov. 12, 2019

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After two very long meetings in a row, last night’s 20-minute West St. Paul City Council meeting was a welcome breather. The main agenda didn’t include much, though more interesting discussions happened during the Open Council Work Session (OCWS).

Veterans Day

This week’s meeting happened on Tuesday instead of the usual Monday due to the Veterans Day holiday. Mayor Dave Napier attended a dedication of an honor wall at The Sanctuary honoring eight residents who are veterans. Council Member Lisa Eng-Sarne noted that West St. Paul is home to 1,094 veterans and she thanked them for their service. Eng-Sarne also pointed to West St. Paul’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon committee and the services they provide to veterans.

Special Business District on Robert Street

If you’ve seen the U.S. flags and banners along on Robert Street and wondered who paid for them, you’re not alone. The South Robert Street Business Association (SRSBA) has paid for them, but it’s not a sustainable plan. During the OCWS, the City Council discussed the creation of a special business district along Robert Street to oversee these needs.

The plan would involve business and property owners being assessed and creating a committee to recommend how those funds are used. It would likely include beautification efforts (such as the flags and banners) as well as marketing to promote Robert Street and West St. Paul as a destination—similar to other business thoroughfares like Grand Avenue or Lake Street.

The idea is still in the very early stages and would require buy-in from businesses. SRSBA has been working with the Dakota County Chamber of Commerce to explore the idea and the Council seems willing to take the next step of hiring a consultant and fleshing out the idea so it can be fully presented to businesses.

Other Notes:

  • Silence: Mayor Napier held a moment of silence for 17-year-old Da’Qwan Jones-Morris, a Sibley High School senior who died last week in a shooting on the West Side, and 13-year-old Patrick Vitek, who was killed in Eagan while biking earlier this month.
  • Run for office: Council Member Wendy Berry gave a nod to National Run for Office Day and encouraged anyone wanting to see a change in the city to get involved and run for office.
  • Police remodel: Back in September the city heard about plans for a remodel of the police station. Originally slated as a $1.1 million project, the successful bid went to West St. Paul company Parkos Construction for a total project cost of $752,600.
  • Ice arena: During the OCWS, the Henry Sibley Hockey Boosters and the Sibley Area Youth Hockey Association presented a $1.5 million plan to expand and upgrade the John V. Hoene – West St. Paul Arena.
  • Climate change: During the OCWS, the Council looked at a climate change resolution from the Environmental Committee. The resolution would encourage Congress to acknowledge climate change and put a financial penalty on pollution. The Council was receptive to the resolution and will consider it at a future meeting.
  • Sidewalks: The city updated their long-term planning documents to note progress on sidewalks and detail ongoing needs. They also added the proposed $500,000 from increased property taxes the Council supported when they changed the way new sidewalks are assessed.
  • Lower tax increase: The originally proposed 2020 budget and property tax levy increase came in at 7.19% back in September. Looks like that will come down to 6.51%.
  • New firefighter: The city welcomed new firefighter Jake McCann to the South Metro Fire Department.
  • Zoning: The Council continued the final reading of two zoning changes related to the proposed Thompson apartment to the Nov. 25 meeting so the full council could vote on the measure (Council Member Bob Pace was out sick tonight and Council Member Dick Vitelli was out of town).

City Council meetings are open to the public and generally held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch this meeting online.

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