Just in time for winter, St. Paul city officials have agreed on a plan to strip and repave 11 of Mayor Chris Coleman’s “Terrible 20” arterial streets in critical need of repair.
On Wednesday, the City Council approved Coleman’s proposal to spend $2.5 million this summer to improve the roads, which include some of the city’s most highly-traveled – Cretin, Fairview, Grand and Hamline avenues, among others.
The work should be done by November.
Coleman thanked the council. “We do not want to repeat the winter and spring we had this past year,” he said, in a statement released Wednesday. “No one wants another polar vortex and everyone wants the roads to be better in St. Paul.”
The plan will use $1 million transferred from closed-out projects and areas such as street sweeping, along with $1.5 million already authorized for the work.
It wasn’t the council’s first choice on how to address growing problems with the washboard-like streets, which many people have been blaming for flat tires and out-of-whack suspensions.
Last month, six council members united around a plan to spend $22 million in bonding proceeds to start rebuilding the streets, rather than simply repairing them. The streets required more than just a short-term fix, they said.
But Coleman maintains that reconstructing all arterial streets will cost about $20 million a year for the next 10 years. His plan to spend $2.5 million now on repairs will buy the city some time until a long-term solution can be found – something he plans to offer in next month’s budget address.
That sounds good to Council President Kathy Lantry. “We believe there needs to be a large infusion of money into rebuilding our roads in the future and we look forward to working with the mayor to identify a plan we can all get behind,” she said.
The streets chosen for repairs this year, based on condition and traffic volume:
City and industry leaders, including Mayor Chris Coleman, have scheduled an update for tomorrow morning on redevelopment of the Ford plant site in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood.
"St. Paul has some of the region's brightest minds, boldest thinkers, and ablest hands who will contribute their talents to propel this site to be a national model of redevelopment and innovative reuse of a former industrial property," said Coleman, in a statement released Monday.
Still, it won't be until next year that Ford, which owns the site, plans to solicit proposals nationally for redevelopment of the site. Only then will we have a better idea about what might actually go there.
City leaders have expressed hopes for a mixed-use development that includes housing, business and green space.
The 122-acre riverfront site has been largely cleared of the structures Ford used for decades to build vehicles ranging from the Model T to the Ranger pickup truck. Demolition began a little more than a year ago.
The big task now will be the ongoing work of cleaning the polluted site to industrial standards.
Participating in the Tuesday news conference, scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Ford site, will be Coleman, City Council Member Chris Tolbert, and Ford site manager Mike Hogan.
The Knight Foundation on Monday announced 69 finalists for its Knight Arts Challenge in St. Paul. Earlier this year, they asked folks for their best ideas for the arts and more than 850 people stepped up to share their projects.
A panel of 10 local artists and arts leaders reveiewed the ideas and came up with the list of finalists. You can see them here:
Winners will be announced in September.
St. Paul faces a budget deficit of $9,6 million in 2015, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman says -- and next month he'll deliver his recommendations on how best to close that gap.
In a statement released Wednesday, the mayor said that he will host four public meetings in the next few weeks to get feedback on residents' funding priorities. People also will be able to share their thoughts online.
"It is critically important that we make it as easy as possible for St. Paul residents to participate in discussions about our investment priorities," Coleman said.
The mayor announced that he will deliver his annual budget address on August 13 at the Schmidt Artist Lofts, the recently-finished West 7th Street project that transformed an old brewery with the help of public money into housing for artists with low to moderate incomes.
It won't be clear until next month whether Coleman will seek a property tax hike to erase the deficit. In the meantime, he has asked each city department to look for ways to cut costs while preserving essential services. It's an instruction that many St. Paul mayors, including the incumbent, have issued at this time of year.
Last August, the mayor proposed no increase in the tax levy, saying that additional state aid had made it possible for St. Paul to close an $11.5 million gap without additional tax revenues. It was only the second time in eight years that Coleman did not seek a higher tax levy; for most of his time in office, he and the City Council have raised the levy to cover budget shortfalls caused by a tight economy and declining government aid.
After Coleman offers his budget recommendations, the City Council has until the end of the year to agree on a final budget.
Residents wanting to submit their ideas are welcome to visit the city website -- www.stpaul.gov -- or go to Twitter, using the hashtag #stpaulbudget.
Here's a list of the public meetings scheduled for community budget talks:
July 16: Wellstone Center, Neighborhood House, 179 E. Robie St., 5:30-6:30 p.m.
July 23: Golden Thyme Coffee and Cafe, 921 Selby Av., 9-10 a.m.
July 26: J & S Bean Factory, 1518 Randolph Av., 3-4 p.m.
August 1: Hmong Village, 1001 Johnson Pkwy., 1:30-2:30 p.m.
A new Rondo Community Center appears to be a step closer to reality.
On Wednesday, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and other city and state officials and neighborhood dignitaries will gather at the planned site for the center in St. Paul's Summit-University neighborhood. The event is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m.
Coleman will officially transfer the deed for the property that will become the center's home. Other announcements are expected at that time, including a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society and the lineup for the July 19 Rondo Days celebration.
Rondo Avenue was once at the heart of the city's black community. But the street and many neighboring homes were bulldozed to make way for Interstate 94 in the 1960s. Rondo Days celebrates the neighborhood's legacy.
The community center site is at 820 Concordia Avenue.