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With a week shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday, the West St. Paul City Council had another quick, 20-minute meeting. The official meeting included some routine business as well as a resident rant during citizen comments, with more involved discussions happening during the Open Council Work Session.
The ranting during citizen comments came from the same citizen who spent 10 minutes railing against the council in September. At that time he complained about empty city parks, prompting the city to issue a report on park usage completely debunking his claims.
This time around he only lasted for about seven minutes, complaining about several issues outside the control of City Council. He lamented county spending, noting that he doesn’t use services like the library so he shouldn’t pay for them. He eventually narrowed in on city funding, complaining about taxes and people who want parks and trails, decrying people who come up to the podium and say, “Oh, you know, West St. Paul needs more bike trails” and “I think we need to fix all our parks.”
After he spoke, someone came up to the podium and said we need more bike trails. (Full disclosure: That was me.) And fact check: Parks and Recreation account for 6% of the city budget.
While personally I disagree with his concerns and it’s frustrating to hear a citizen go on about things that are untrue, it’s at least something that he’s trying to engage the process.
- Open House: Last year’s experiment to combine the city Open House with the West St. Paul Days Harmon Fest will not continue. The Council decided during the Open Council Work Session (OCWS) to bring the Open House back to city hall to better show off city services, including potential tours of the remodeled police department.
- Townhall meetings: The Council hopes to have neighborhood meetings early in 2020 at different times and locations to accommodate as many people as possible. During the OCWS they discussed daytime, evening, and Saturday meetings, as well as the idea of offering child care.
- Commission appointments: Again during the OCWS, the Council discussed potential changes to the commission appointment process (as previous processes have resulted in controversy). Now is a good time to apply if you’d like to serve on any city committees.
- Vacant property: The Council passed the first reading of an ordinance requiring commercial vacant properties to register.
- Auto parts stores: The first reading of a zoning change to allow auto parts stores in more places passed (this allows AutoZone to move into the old Chuck E. Cheese space).
- More zoning changes: The final reading for zoning changes related to the proposed Thompson Avenue apartments passed, paving the way for that project to move forward.
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.