West St. Paul City Council

West St. Paul City Council Recap: June 13, 2022

Thanks to Blue Sky Bookkeeping and FoodSmith for their support.

West St. Paul City Council in a short meeting Monday discussed their vision for the Hy-Vee property, met with prosecutors working with West St. Paul Police, and formally recognized Juneteenth.

First Look at Proposals for Hy-Vee Property

During the Economic Development Authority (EDA) work session, Bolton & Menk, a Twin Cities engineering firm, presented an initial visioning proposal of the Hy-Vee property based on guidance from the council in previous sessions. The firm had a hand in the city’s Renaissance Plan in 2015, and this proposal reflects some of the goals of that plan. During the work session, Bolton & Menk sought feedback from council, with the goal to present a final vision in the next month. 

In the current proposal, the site is designed to maximize public and private space with both public park space and private buildings, which would most likely be apartments with retail and/or restaurants in the ground level. There would also be a parking garage.

This project still has a long way to go. Hy-Vee still owns the property, and the city has not made an offer to purchase it yet. The project would be done in partnership with the city and private development. The public spaces proposed include an upper lawn area where concerts and gatherings could happen, and a lower promenade space, using the existing grades of the site. The lower promenade could feature a plaza, a pavilion restaurant, or even an area to rent paddle boats.

The goal of the proposal was to illustrate an exciting and vibrant district; a place to gather and play. The proposed housing would be similar in height to the two current apartment construction projects in West St. Paul at Signal Hills and Wentworth and Robert Street, but slightly more densely packed.

The council was excited about the plans, and had additional ideas and questions during the discussion. Council Members John Justen, Robyn Gulley, Julie Eastman, and Wendy Berry all noted the desire to include more retail and restaurant space in the ground level apartments than what was shown in the proposal. Justen said that mixed-use will help get the public on board with the idea. 

Council Member Gulley noted the potential to emphasize an environmental focus, especially with the site’s proximity to the River-to-River Greenway trails, and asked whether wind power, solar power, and EV charging stations could be added to the plan. 

Council Member Dick Vitelli asked if the pond/lake could be made deeper, and the council agreed the water would need to be cleaner to be a centerpiece of the project.

Council Member Lisa Eng-Sarne and Mayor Dave Napier mentioned recently visiting Centennial Lakes Park, a similar community space in Edina. With the YMCA gone, community spaces are needed in West St. Paul. Mayor Napier asked the engineering firm to think even bigger. “We can always scale it down to what we can afford. [This is our] opportunity to do it right, and do something really special.”

Other Items on the Agenda

  • Prosecutors: Though there was not officially an Open Council Work Session, one happened right before the EDA meeting. The council was introduced to new prosecutors, who will be working closely with West St. Paul police officers to provide early intervention for qualifying ordinance violations. 
  • Purchase: The EDA purchased 1619 Oakdale Avenue for $375,000, a single-family home to be redeveloped.
  • Citizen Comments: During the regular council meeting, two residents commented on issues that would potentially be addressed by the Hy-Vee proposal—the need for a community center because the YMCA left, and the need for more restaurants in West St. Paul (here are parts one and two of our sit-down restaurant reviews). Mayor Napier responded (even though typically council does not address citizen comments), agreeing that a community center is something West St. Paul has wanted and needed for some time, and that staff is working hard to build the kind of environment restaurants want to invest in. 
  • Juneteenth Proclamation: Council Member Eng-Sarne read the proclamation that West St. Paul formally recognizes Juneteenth as a holiday. A flag donated earlier this month by the Residents of Color Collective (ROCC) will be flown outside of city hall June 17-20.
  • Upcoming Events: ROCC is hosting a Juneteenth Event on June 19, starting with a Solidarity Walk at the Eagle Point apartments at 12 p.m., followed by food, music, and entertainment at Dodge Nature Center from 3-7 p.m. Cops in the Park will be held June 29, from 5-7 p.m. at Harmon Park. There will be local businesses with booths, vehicles for kids to explore, and food. (See our list of summer events.)

You can watch the City Council, OCWS, and EDA meetings online.

Learn more about how city council works with our Guide to West St. Paul City Council.

Thanks to our members for enabling us to do these city council recaps. Join them and support local news in West St. Paul.

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