West St. Paul virtual City Council meeting

City Council Recap: April 27, 2020

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West St. Paul held its third virtual City Council meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics included updates on pandemic impacts and a pair of projects on the former Thompson Oaks golf course.

Pandemic Impact

City staff offered updates on how the pandemic is impacting city operations, including the budget and Parks and Recreation.

West St. Paul Budget and COVID-19

Finance Director Char Stark gave projections on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the city budget. There are still a lot of unknowns, but city staff is trying to be proactive.

So far the general fund is actually seeing savings because several open positions haven’t been filled. That helps offset loses in other areas, especially Parks and Recreation, for a total savings of $141,000 through September.

But the closing of the Dome is the biggest hit. If closures continue through September, the city will lose $325,000. The majority of that loss will come in September when fall sports (and thus rentals) ramp up. And it will get worse if it remains closed.

Through September, West St. Paul is projecting a net loss of $187,000 from COVID-19 impacts. The Council opted to shift some funding to cover loses and is holding off on a decision to call a 2013 bond.

Parks and Recreation Impacts

Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Dave Schletty gave an update on how the pandemic is impacting Parks and Recreation.

  • Field trips, sports camps, and other events through July 6 are canceled.
  • The Movie in the Park scheduled for June is canceled, but the July and August movies won’t be decided until June.
  • All buildings and facilities will remain closed until the governor’s orders are lifted.
  • Fields will remain closed to organized groups until restrictions are lifted and those groups can provide documentation that they’re following recommended guidelines at the time.

Future of Thompson Oaks

Progress continues to be made on the future of the former Thompson Oaks golf course:

  • Thompson Oaks cleanup: The city is again applying for funds to make the Thompson Oaks watershed restoration happen. There’s not a lot of new information, though more pieces have fallen in to place, which could make it more likely we’ll get this grant request.
  • Thompson Oaks phase 2: The Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved a development agreement for 60 to 64 market-rate townhouses on the eastern edge of the former Thompson Oaks golf course. The plan is still preliminary and likely to change, depending on some of the environmental impacts and clean-up grants.

Other Notes:

  • Net Ministries: The final plat review came up for public hearing and was approved with minimal comment.
  • More storage: A proposal for a storage facility on a heavily forested lot off Oakdale was continued until May 26 so the applicant can incorporate suggested changes.
  • Former Maaco: There was a closed EDA work session to discuss the sale of the former Maaco site. We won’t know more until this moves forward, but it’s a good sign that there’s movement even in the midst of a pandemic.
  • Planning Commission: Mayor Dave Napier noted that Planning Commission elected a new chair. Napier thanked former chair Morgan Kavanaugh and congratulated new chair Samantha Green.
  • State of the City: Mayor Napier plans to deliver the State of the City address virtually in the next couple weeks. (Thanks to Julie Eastman for asking, a regular council meeting attender when we could do that, and now a frequent call-in public commenter.)
  • Run for office: Mayor Napier also noted that the filing period to run for West St. Paul offices opens May 19 (here’s our updated list of who’s running). You can file at city hall or mail in your application (though it still needs to be notarized).

City Council meetings are currently held virtually 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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