West St. Paul state of city speech at Dakota Lodge.

2023 State of the City Address From Mayor Dave Napier

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West St. Paul Mayor Dave Napier delivered the State of the City address tonight at Dakota Lodge in Thompson Park.

“We need to show our community all the good things we’ve accomplished,” Napier said.

The mayor touted progress the city has made not just in the last year but over the last decade:

  • Property values up: Market value of properties has doubled in 10 years to $31 million, which eases the burden on property taxes. 2022 had the highest permit valuation fees on record, which means residents are investing in their homes. Napier later highlighted a home improvement loan program the city offers.
  • Investment: “In 2013, we had a lot of failing infrastructure,” Napier said, citing buckets collecting leaks in city hall. “We let a lot of things go to keep our taxes low, but if you have a building you want to take care of it.”
  • Staff: Napier alluded to his 40 years at Dodge Nature Center when he talked about Dodge founder Olivia Irvine Dodge and her focus on staff over buildings. “We have a great staff, but we haven’t given them good space,” he said, describing the city hall remodel. “We now have windows!” he said.
  • Public safety:
    • South Metro Fire: Calls are up 40% since 2013, most due to EMS calls. Still, the department delivers an average response time of four minutes. South Metro is also intiating a study to determine if they should consolidate to a single fire station or continue to operate two stations.
    • Police: Crime is down. Serious crimes are down from 1,483 in 2021 to 947 in 2022. Mental health calls have nearly doubled. The city has responded by adding an officer to address mental health and has an embedded social worker from Dakota County.
  • Infrastructure: Napier talked about the construction work to repair aging infrastructure and noted improvements like the trails, boardwalk, daylighted creek at Thompson Oaks. “It’s beautiful,” he said. “Can’t wait for it to get done.”
  • New development: The mayor touched on in-progress projects like Cafe Zupas and the Thompson Square townhouses. He visited the townhouse open houses and asked attendees why they were looking at West St. Paul. “Oh, we love West St. Paul,” he reported them saying, emphasizing how much people want to live here. He also talked about proposed developments like the former Hy-Vee/YMCA space and Doddway Center that are still in the planning stages but should be moving forward soon.
  • Parks: Napier touted park improvements like the ice arena, the River-to-River Greenway Trail, and the coming updates to Marthaler Park (he mentioned a Blue Cross grant funding activity stations in the park). He said recreation programming is up 50% compared to pre-COVID, though the city is having a hard time hiring programming staff.
  • Q&A: In response to a question from the audience, Napier said the one thing he’d change if he could was to get rid of social media.

The address was presented by the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce and will be televised by Town Square Television.

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