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.
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.
- 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.
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