West St. Paul City Council

City Council Recap: May 10, 2021

Thanks to Southview Animal Hospital for their support.

West St. Paul City Council had a light agenda this week with just Crusader Avenue reconstruction on the regular agenda and parking minimums on the work session agenda.

2022 Street Improvement Projects

The entire focus of the 2022 street improvement projects is reconstructing Cruader Avenue from Bidwell to Robert Street. The project will also include the Humboldt Ave. cul-de-sac. The project will narrow the street and add a sidewalk on the north side of Crusader. The $1.6 million project is happening with the help of sales tax funds.

Meetings with neighbors impacted by the project have already drawn strong opposition to narrowing the street and adding sidewalk, to the point that Council Members Dick Vitelli and Lisa Eng-Sarne floated the idea of delaying the project to focus on other streets.

However, sales tax money has restrictions on where it can be spent. Plus investment has already been made on the project and water infrastructure will also be replaced.

“We need to decide what’s best for our community as a whole,” Mayor Dave Napier said, arguing against kicking the can down the road.

“I understand the pushback, but it will be same pushback five to 10 years from now,” said Council Member John Justen. “You’re delaying the inevitable.”

Ultimately the Council unanimously approved the feasibility report and scheduled a public hearing for June 14.

Parking Minimums

During the Open Council Work Session (OCWS) the Council considered lowering the parking minimums that dictate how many park spaces developers need to provide. The Planning Commission recommended a 50% reduction while city staff presented a more modest 30% reduction.

Council noted these are minimums not maximums and businesses tend to know how much parking they need and build what they need. Most Council Members were eager to follow the original Planning Commission recommendations. Staff will continue to refine the proposal and bring it back to a future OCWS.

Other Items:

  • No Mow May: City Council approved a resolution supporting No Mow May, an effort to encourage homeowners to not mow their lawns during the month of May to protect pollinator habitat. The city ordinance limiting grass and weed height will not be enforced during May. Mayor Napier stressed it was a pilot project and repeatedly said it could be a “disaster,” but he was willing to give it a shot. Council Member Vitelli was the lone ‘no’ vote
  • Arbor Day: The Council passed another resolution declaring May 10, 2021 as Arbor Day, and May as Arbor Month in West St Paul. Arbor Day was celebrated nationally on April 30, 2021.
  • Flags: Among other donations, the City Council accepted $5,000 from the South Robert Street Business Association for new flags on Robert Street.
  • New city manager: The City Council welcomed Nate Burkett to his first meeting as city manager. “I’m looking forward to all things we’ll be able to do together,” Burkett said.
  • Walmart and Speedway: With limited items on the agenda, Council Member Vitelli asked what the city can do about issues at Walmart and Speedway. Chief Brian Sturgeon met with Mayor Napier about Walmart this week and will prepare a report for Council on both Walmart and Speedway.
  • Tennis vs. pickleball: During citizen comments a resident complained about the tennis court at Emerson Park being converted to pickleball. We reported on this change back in February and updated the story three times as subsequent meetings about the project happened.

City Council meetings are currently held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch the OCWS and City Council meetings online.

We’re able to do these City Council recaps thanks to your support.

2 comments

  1. After reading about the street improvement on Crusader, I have a few concerns. First of all, the street narrowing should be discussed in detail. I live on the corner of Bidwell and Oakview Road and use Crusader almost everyday. Crusader borders a school and Net Ministeries. It gets very congested at different times with busses and parents picking up their children. Making the street narrower has a potential for causing accidents and more importantly the potential for a child to get hit by a passing vehicle. Before the council makes a decision on this, all of them should monitor the bus and auto congestion on certain weekends, during the afternoon and at random times during activities. Narrowing the street for a sidewalk is not worth the safety of a child. Put into perspective what Crusader serves.

    Sent from my iPhone

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    1. Hi George,

      We went through a similar discussion when Marie was redone (I live just up from the church/NET). The new configuration will be much safer than it is currently. The most improvement will come from adding sidewalks. I walk on Crusader (and see lots of other walkers when I drive it, often going from the condos to/from Cub). Currently, we have to walk along the shoulder. Moving that “traffic” to a dedicated sidewalk reduces the need for a wide road. It turns out that narrowing is also generally a safety upgrade as studies show people drive slower on narrower streets. We saw a marked improvement in speeding on Marie after the reconstruction (although there are always some…).

      I hope this is helpful. I’m all in favor of the city doing the homework on it. They’ve taken this strategy with a lot of streets in the last decade, so I hope they have some data by now.

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