Oct. 24, 2022 West St. Paul City Council meeting

West St. Paul City Council Recap: Oct. 24, 2022

Thanks to our members for enabling us to do these City Council recaps. Join them and support neighborhood news in West St. Paul.

A new intoxicating THC ordinance, survey results, and street assessments were passed at the West St. Paul City Council meeting, but advocates for a community center packing the room drew all the attention.

Residents Demand a Community Center

While not on the agenda, a group of residents organized and 25 spoke during citizen comments to ask for a community center. The Council chambers were standing room only, with an estimated 75 people in attendance.

What do they want?

  • The group asked for a joint community center as a partnership between South St. Paul, Mendota Heights, and West St. Paul.
  • Some people specifically asked for it to be located at the former YMCA site, which is currently being redeveloped by the city.
  • Needs mentioned included a community gathering space, swimming pool, indoor pickleball courts, classes, and specifically a place for youth and seniors to gather.

Where are things at? In September, City Council discussed a feasibility study for a community center, which received strong support. We recently explored the various issues at play in bringing a community center to West St. Paul. The challenge is paying for a community center: Can the city find partners to share the cost and will residents support a tax increase to pay for it?

National Community Survey Results

During the Open Council Work Session (OCWS), City Council got a first look at results from the National Community Survey.

What: Over the summer, the city surveyed the community, sending out 2,800 surveys in English and Spanish, using the National Community Survey model, a standardized, nation-wide survey that was developed in 2021. This is a more scientific survey than informal neighborhood meeting surveys that happened in the past.

Participation: 431 people participated, a 16% response rate.

Survey highlights:

  • Safety is a major priority from the survey, with 90% of residents saying the city should focus on safety over the next two years. Only 60% of residents say they have an overall feeling of safety.
  • Snow plowing was rated higher than most communities.
  • City: 74% rate the quality of services provided by the City of West St. Paul as excellent or good (the federal government received only 40%).
  • Parks: 82% rated parks and recreation opportunities as excellent or good.
  • Community: Only 49% said connection and engagement in the community is excellent or good.

More: An overview is available in the agenda packet.

What’s next: City staff will continue to go over the results, though it’s worth noting the survey shows perception and not actual reality. Conducting the survey annually and seeing trend lines over years will give a better indication of how the city is doing.

Other Items on the Agenda:

  • New officer: Christopher Karl was sworn in as the latest officer to join the West St. Paul Police Department.
  • Intoxicating THC: After enacting a moratorium on intoxicating THC products after the state legislature accidentally legalized them, the City Council approved a new regulatory framework, which includes a limit of two licenses for specialty retailers, zoning requirements, and other details for selling the products. 
  • Street assessments: City Council held a public hearing and approved street assessments for the reconstruction of Crusader Avenue.
  • City communication: During the OCWS, Council discussed a proposed project communication plan to standardize city communication about various projects (street improvements, park updates, etc.). The goal is to create a minimum standard of communication to better inform the community.

You can watch the City Council and OCWS meetings online. You can also watch the video recap from Ward 2 Council Members Robyn Gulley and John Justen.

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 neighborhood news in West St. Paul.

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