A dispute over private property next to Big Marine Park Reserve near Scandia has erupted again as landowner Brent Reibel told the County Board he would never sell for park expansion.
“I won’t sell. My kids won’t sell. My kids’ kids won’t sell,” Reibel told commissioners last week. “I don’t care if you want to give me $50 million. It won’t happen.”
Reibel had sued the county to stop its efforts to declare existence of a road that someday could link parkland to the south of his 17-acre property with a planned county campground to the north. District Judge Elizabeth Martin ruled in March that Washington County had no grounds to establish a road across his property, but Reibel remains suspicious of county officials.
“I want the right to do anything I want with this property,” he told commissioners. “I’ve recorded every conversation … if you want to hear some corruption, I’ve got it.”
Commissioner Gary Kriesel said he took exception to Reibel’s suggestion that the county was doing something illegal. The county “is using the willing seller approach. We’re not using eminent domain,” he said.
Over the years, the county has been buying private land from “willing sellers” to add to the park. A portion of the envisioned 1,800-acre park opened in 2008 with a beach, boat launch, picnic areas and trails on the south end of Big Marine Lake.
Commissioners attend national conference
Lisa Weik, who chairs the Washington County Board, and Vice Chair Autumn Lehrke recently joined 2,300 fellow county officials during the 2013 National Association of Counties annual conference. The theme of this year’s annual conference was, “Why Counties Matter.”
Lehrke said she worked on behalf of veterans at the conference. “One of the big issues facing our veterans is unemployment and credentials,” she said. “A service member will have saved lives while in service, but when they return from deployment, they are not even acknowledged as EMTs. This next year, the committee’s focus will be to address this issue so that our service members can get credit for the skills they have obtained while serving our great country.”
Weik said that Washington County, as a “border county,” has greater economic development challenges and the county “can learn much from other county officials who’ve developed best practices in their home states.” She said she will monitor whether benefits to taxpayers exceed the increasing costs of belonging to the national organization.
Volunteers needed for Turkeys for Teens
Youth Service Bureau seeks volunteers who want to Strike a Difference for youth and families in a November event.
On Nov. 10, the bureau will host “Turkeys for Teens — Strike a Difference,” a family bowling event at Stillwater Bowl. Volunteers are needed to help distribute promotional materials and collect prizes before the event, and register guests, serve food and take photos at the event.
Money raised will help youth and families with chemical health services, suicide prevention support and education on topics such as bullying or theft. Contact Allissa at 651-439-8800 or e-mail email@example.com.
Library parking lot closes for surfacing
Resurfacing of Oakdale Library’s parking lot and other outdoor reconstruction projects began Monday, Aug. 19. The library will remain open during construction but there will be limited access to the parking lot.
The contractor, T.A. Schifsky & Sons, will replace deteriorated pavement and sidewalks and repair stormwater drainage problems. Some pedestrian features that don’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act also will be fixed.
Construction is expected to be complete in September.
City to raise sewer, streetlight rates
Homeowners will see their sewer rates rise $2 annually for the next five years, city officials said.
Sewer rates will increase to $4.25 per REU, or residential equivalent unit, council members announced at a meeting on Aug. 15. Streetlight rates will also go up: Residential customers started paying $7.25 per REU this month. That rate will climb to $7.61 in 2014, then to $7.99 in 2015, $8.39 in 2016, $8.81 in 2017 and $9.25 in 2017.
A 2012 study of water and sewer rates showed that the city wouldn’t be able to finance capital improvement projects and maintenance at the current rates.
Beginning in January 2014, water rates will increase to $4.25, then $6.25 the following year, $8.25 in 2016 and $10.25 in 2017.
St. Paul Park
Heritage Park courts to be refurbished
St. Paul Park plans to refurbish the Heritage Park tennis courts, officials announced this month. The two courts will be resurfaced with VersaCourt Elite tile, and one of the courts will be converted into a basketball court, according to City Administrator Kevin Walsh. The other court will be painted for tennis and pickle ball, a hybrid game of ping-pong and tennis played with two to four players using wooden paddles and a Wiffle-like ball.
“They’ve been talking about it for quite some time, because the tennis courts had been in disrepair for years,” Walsh said. “Initially, they’d been talking about just patching and repair.”
At its Aug. 5 meeting, the City Council approved a quote by Dermco-LaVine Construction Co., of Minneapolis, for $65,000 to refinish the courts, Walsh said. The project will be paid for by city funds, he said.
“I think what the big advantage is is that it’s not as expensive as redoing the tennis courts,” he said. “If something happens to one of the tiles, you can actually snap it out and put a new one back in … you don’t have to redo the whole thing. It’s almost like square carpeting.”
City now posting videos on YouTube
The city of Woodbury now has its own YouTube channel to connect with residents. It includes videos from Public Safety, Woodbury Days, Parks and Recreation, Heritage Society and more. Visit www.youtube.com/CityofWoodburyMN.
Kevin Giles, Libor Jany, Jim Anderson