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This week’s virtual West St. Paul City Council meeting was punctuated by moments of silence amid some good news of proclamations and recognitions as well as the not-so-usual business of COVID-19 response. The big news is that West St. Paul restaurants will be able to do expanded outdoor dining to better cope with reopening restrictions.
Moments of Silence
There were three moments of silence during the evening, the first coming for George Floyd, the man who died while in Minneapolis police custody Monday night. Four Minneapolis officers were fired on Tuesday and criminal actions are pending. The incident sparked protests on Tuesday night.
Council Member Lisa Eng-Sarne asked for a moment of silent reflection, saying, “His name was George Floyd.” Two residents called in during citizen comments to express their concern and Mayor Dave Napier echoed their sentiments: “We have a long way to go in this country.”
Council Member Wendy Berry expressed her anger and frustration, but noted the importance of starting conversations to address these issues. She said that West St. Paul Police Chief Brian Sturgeon has been very open to dialogue and provided a long list of training our officers receive.
“The good thing is our officers are aware and in constant training, and more is always better,” Berry said. “I said this before during Black History Month and I’ll say it again tonight—black lives matter, and it’s time we all understand that.”
Council Members Bob Pace and John Justen reiterated the comments of their colleagues.
Mayor Napier asked for two more moments of silence in honor of Memorial Day and recent deaths in our city and state (presumably COVID-19 deaths, though Napier didn’t specify) and for family who couldn’t be with their loved ones at the end due to pandemic restrictions.
Recognitions and Proclamations
There was some good news during the meeting, including recognitions and proclamations.
First, the city recognized Sibley High School senior Taylor Gonsalez for receiving the 2020 Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship. Gonsalez showed outstanding community service, academic performance, and leadership skills, and will be attending the University of Pennsylvania with the help of a $2,500 scholarship.
The city also accepted the donation of cleaning products, masks, and gift cards. The gift cards were donated anonymously for the police department to hand out to homeless people in our city.
Finally, the City of West St. Paul proclaimed June 2020 as LGBTQIA Pride Month. The city first recognized Pride Month in 2019. A 2020 Pride in the Park event has been cancelled due to the pandemic, but there are efforts for a virtual and/or socially distanced celebration in the works. (You can also color a picture of the Pride picnic.)
The proclamation read in part, “[We] call upon the people of West St. Paul to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.”
Temporary Outdoor Dining
In the wake of the pandemic shutdown and the easing of restrictions coming on June 1, the City Council approved a temporary measure to allow more outdoor dining. This allows local restaurants and bars to comply with the new reopening restrictions that limit capacity.
The measure passed unanimously.
- Storage: City Council approved a 122,739-square-foot climate controlled storage building on Oakdale, a project from More Space LLC.
- Predatory offender notice: Council Member Anthony Fernandez noted that notice of a sexual predator moving into West St. Paul had gone out, but due to pandemic restrictions there was no community meeting. Instead a video addressing questions was posted.
- Town hall: Dakota County Commissioner Joe Atkins is holding a virtual town hall meeting on Thursday, May 28 with local mayors, including West St. Paul Mayor Dave Napier.
- YMCA demolition: Council Member Dick Vitelli noted that demolition of the YMCA building had begun to make way for Hy-Vee.
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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