With a minimal agenda for the regular West St. Paul City Council meeting, most of the action came during the Open Council Work Session (OCWS), with updates on the Annapolis reconstruction project, the Thompson Oaks wetland restoration, redistricting, and charter changes.
The room was also emptier with Council Member Lisa Eng-Sarne, City Manager Nate Burkett, and Marketing and Communications Manager Dan Nowicki all joining remotely due to COVID exposure. Council Member Robyn Gulley was also absent.
Council received an update on the Annapolis reconstruction project, which has drawn lots of attention for the proposed changes to the Annapolis-Dodd-Charlton intersection. Several options were proposed for that intersection, though a roundabout is not one of them due to the cost of land acquisition. The city conducted a study on the intersection in December and will use that and public input to finalize a few options to present at a February open house to gather more public input.
Council did show a preference for bike lanes along Annapolis as opposed to a separate bike trail.
Thompson Oaks Wetland Restoration
Dakota County is moving ahead with the $5.4 million wetland restoration project on the former Thompson Oaks golf course, and shared the latest plans during the OCWS. The project will remove contaminated soil, restore a former wetland that will help with on-site stormwater treatment, daylight a historic creek with a waterfall feature, and include trail loops, a boardwalk, and connection to the River-to-River Greenway trail. This project has been in the works for several years as the city tried and failed to secure grants. With half a million in funding expiring in 2022, the county opted to pick up the remainder of the cost. West St. Paul is contributing $676,000 in storm utility funding.
Construction will likely happen in the fall of 2022.
Other Items on the Agenda
- Redistricting: Potential changes are coming to city ward boundaries after the 2020 census in order to balance population between the three wards. The city has to wait for the state legislature to finish their process and then has until March 29 to approve changes. The Charter Commission will be meeting in February to propose changes.
- Charter changes: The council also considered several proposed changes to the city charter before the Charter Commission meets in February. Since charter amendments require unanimous council approval, this was a first pass to make sure council is generally on board with the changes. The proposed tweaks are relatively minor changes proposed by the city manager that adjust cost thresholds for purchasing and public bidding.
- Donations: The council accepted $30,000 in donations from the South Robert Street Business Association (SRSBA), half for the upcoming Winter Fun Fest and half for locker rooms at the ice arena.
- Partnership: The council approved seeking membership in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, a request from the Living Longer and Stronger in West St. Paul group that hopes to partner with AARP.
- Routine: The consent agenda included a number of routine annual items, including approving the council’s code of ethics, designating a mayor pro tem for the year, etc.
- EDA: The scheduled Economic Development Authority (EDA) meeting was canceled.
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