May 8, 2023 West St. Paul City Council meeting

West St. Paul City Council Recap: May 8, 2023

Thanks to West St. Paul Chiropractic, Dakota County, and Inver Grove Ford for their support.

West St. Paul City Council covered Smith/Dodd realignment, naming unnamed parks, marijuana legalization, and an unexpected conversation on recent shootings during this week’s meeting.

Shooting Response

Recent shootings became an unexpected topic of conversation as Mayor Dave Napier requested two moments of silence—one for area police officers recently killed in the line of duty and another for the most recent shooting in Texas. Napier later explained that he experienced an active shooter drill at a Rosemount Roseville high school without knowing it was a drill.

“This is real—it can happen anywhere,” Napier said. “I’m better for having gone through that experience, even though I was a nervous wreck.” He emphasized the importance of drills and encouraged parents to tell their kids to take them seriously.

“Our kids go through that several times a year,” Council Member Robyn Gulley said. “I think about it every day.”

If it happens here: Council Member Lisa Eng-Sarne asked about an active shooter response during City Council. Police Chief Brian Sturgeon said there are procedures in place.

  • “We drop down here [under the table] and we all have bullet proof vests,” Napier said.
  • Guns are allowed in Council chambers thanks to a Minnesota state preemption law that prohibits local municipalities from banning guns in city buildings.

Past Council shootings: In 2015, two police officers were injured when a man opened fire at a New Hope City Council meeting. In 2008, a gunman killed five people, including two police officers, at a City Council meeting in Kirkwood, Missouri.

Naming Two City Parks

The city plans to name two city parks that are officially unnamed, currently known informally as the pool park and the art park. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee brainstormed names and presented a list of proposed names to City Council during the Open Council Work Session (OCWS).

Proposed names:

  • Pool park: WeatherheadHeinemann, Orme East, Shady Lane, Shady Grove, Poolside, and Moreland
  • Art park: Imagination, Creativity Corner, Art Park, and Gateway

Input: Council expressed preference for the descriptive, simpler names such as Art Park and Poolside, and shied away from naming the parks after people. Though Napier noted “Art Park” works as long as there’s only one art park (Editorial: Sounds like an endorsement for multiple art parks. Heartily approve!).

Next: Council didn’t make any changes to the list and next it will go before the public at the city open house during Explore West St. Paul Days and future community meetings. After community input, City Council will make the final naming decision, hopefully by late summer.

More Marijuana

With the state preparing to legalize marijuana, the city discussed plans to prepare a proactive moratorium so they can implement a regulatory framework, much like they just completed with the intoxicating THC ordinances. Though it’s unclear how much local control the city will actually have.

Why: The goal is to control the growth of marijuana sales. Cities can always relax regulations, but once businesses are started there’s little a city can do to curb sales after the fact.

More on the Agenda:

  • Smith/Dodd: City Council approved a design contract for the Smith/Dodd intersection realignment. $3.1 million in federal funding is available (with a 20% match from the city), though that doesn’t include design costs. The city expects to spend about $100,000 for design this year. City Manager Nate Burkett emphasized that the intersection realignment is entirely separate from any potential redevelopment plans at Doddway Center.
  • ADA compliance: The City of West St. Paul has no policy to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Federal Housing Act. Council passed the first reading of a policy that would route requests for accommodation through the city manager. This measure will have a public hearing at the May 22 meeting.
  • Savor: The Economic Development Authority (EDA) extended the terms of a loan for a portion of the Savor apartment project in return for paying down $200,000 of the loan.
  • Property tax: Want to better understand property taxes? Burkett gave a presentation on how property tax works during OCWS, emphasizing the importance redevelopment.
  • Translation: Assistant City Manager Dan Nowicki gave an update on translating city materials during OCWS. An online version of the city newsletter will be translated into Spanish, promotion and registration for popular events is being translated, and the language option on the website will be made more prominent.
  • Strategic plan: Council had more conversation to refine some of the Council’s initiatives. Engaging renters and people of color, as well as a plan for connecting with businesses were topics for discussion.
  • AAPI Heritage Month: Council proclaimed May to be Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.


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