What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

INTERACTIVE: Tour of proposed Mpls. light rail stations

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: July 17, 2014 - 8:07 AM

What do the proposed Southwest light rail stops in Minneapolis look like today?

That was the question the MPLS blog aimed to answer one recent afternoon on a bike tour of the five proposed Minneapolis stops within city limits. Finding the stops can be a challenge, since all but one of them are located in undeveloped areas likely not familiar to most transit riders.

The city recently negotiated a deal with the Metropolitan Council to spend about $30 million on improving access to the Minneapolis stations. The city has until August 30 to vote on the $1.6 billion Southwest route.

When the deal was announced, council member Elizabeth Glidden said the stations are in “challenging locations” because they are hard to access. “That is one of the reasons why this has been a bit of a challenging route for Minneapolis,” Glidden said.

The city’s transit-oriented development director, David Frank, sees opportunities to build out the station areas. He observed that the lack of existing development at most of the Minneapolis stops likely means fewer neighborhood debates over height, density and traffic when projects are proposed.

“On the other hand, you need a special kind of developer and a special kind of resident or office user to say, ‘Sure I’ll be the first one to go in here,’ with no assurance that the rest of the neighborhood-to-be will follow,” Frank said.

Get a feel for each stop in the interactive below, featuring 360-degree panoramas, annotated maps, photo galleries and descriptions of the station areas.

Park Board sets 4.9 percent levy hike goal

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Parks and recreation, People and neighborhoods, Politics and government Updated: July 16, 2014 - 7:37 PM

Minneapolis park commissioners set a goal Wednesday night of achieving a 4.9 percent increase in the parks levy for 2015.

Four percent of that levy increase would be for normal operating and capital purposes, while .9 percent would continue the tree replacement program the board began this year.

The direction to Supt, Jayne Miller followed a debate over whether a 2 or 4 percent levy increase was more realistic, given that the city's levy is slated to rise by 2 percent in its five-year financial plan.  Mayor Betsy Hodges has not yet made a levy recommendation for 2015.

Some commissioners questioned whether a 4.9 percent increase is politically realistic. But Miller already has projected that with a 2 percent increase the Park Board faces a $1.3 million budget gap just to maintain current programs. The board raised its 2014 levy by 2 percent, but devoted all of the increase to beginning a multi-year program to remove and replace trees damaged by storms or the emerald ash borer.

The board also seeks added money to repair neighborhood parks, where Miller said a dearth of maintenance funds has increased the cost of replacing mechanical systems once they fail. The board directed her to devise a strategy to fund those needs.

The overall city levy, which includes separate city and park levies proposed by different governing bodies, will be set by the Board of Estimate and Taxation, on which the Park Board holds one seat.

Bumps and grinding ahead on Grand Rounds

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Parks and recreation, People and neighborhoods, Politics and government Updated: July 16, 2014 - 6:43 PM

The Grand Rounds system of Minneapolis parkways will become the ground rounds this summer with the advent of five planned projects to grind off existing pavement and lay fresh layers of asphalt.

Two projects began this week. The more ambitious will last five to seven weeks on two sections of E. Minnehaha Parkway, where seven inches of deteriorating pavement will be removed and replaced. The work will happen on both directions where the parkway is median-separated.

The longer segment is between Woodlawn and 38th avenues, but the project also includes a one-block segment between Cedar and Longfellow avenues.

Also starting this week is a shallower milling and repaving on Theodore Wirth Parkway. That includes two short segments, one just north of Plymouth Avenue, and the other several blocks south of Plymouth.

Cedar Lake Parkway will also get a grinding and repaving starting next week.  That work is scheduled to stretch from the Kenilworth Trail crossing to the bridge over the Cedar Lake Trail.

Although parkways are owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, repaving projects are supervised by the Minneapolis Department of Public Works. 

What happens after students graduate from high school?

Posted by: Alejandra Matos under People and neighborhoods Updated: July 16, 2014 - 10:33 AM

The Minnesota Department of Education released a new data tool this month that tracks how students fared after graduating from Minnesota's high schools. 

The state can now track how many students completed college and even what schools they attended. It's called the Minnesota Statewide Longitdunal Education Data Systrem (SLEDS). 

Here is how the class of 2008 in the Minneapolis Public Schools district fared in receiving post-secondary education. 

Feel free to discuss below, and if you want to see more information visit the SLEDS website here.

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