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After more than a year of discussion, West St. Paul is officially proceeding with construction of a sports dome that proponents hope will help revitalize the commercial district.
The dome, to be built on city-owned land at Wentworth Avenue and Livingston Avenue, next to City Hall, will operate year-round and is expected to host youth soccer and other sports, as well as a smattering of adult athletics and non-sports events.
Projections presented to the council last week forecast that the dome will make money in its first few years but eventually run at a deficit of as much as $170,000 annually. But most council members agreed that the numbers are based on a conservative estimate of how many groups will rent it, and that a company hired to run the dome can find more.
"There's no doubt in my mind that there's revenue sitting out there," said Council Member David Wright.
The city council agreed to kick in extra money from various city funds to lower the cost of borrowing. The dome will cost just under $7 million to build; of that, $5.1 million will come from the sale of bonds, $1 million will come from a city equipment fund, $500,000 will come from the general fund, and the rest will come from park dedication and technology funds.
Council members voted 4-2 on Tuesday to approve the financing, and they approved necessary zoning changes by the same margin. Members Darlene Lewis and Ed Hansen opposed all the motions.
Neighbors told the council that they're worried about the extra traffic the dome will create.
"Living on the edge of a commercial zone, which we do, it's been a constant struggle to maintain a peaceful, quiet neighborhood," said Richard Rossi, of 23 Wentworth Av.
City officials said traffic studies show that all the intersections in the area will still be acceptable based on state standards, and that road improvements are planned.
"I can't tell you that there won't be an increase in traffic," said Council Member Jim Englin. "But my hope is that they'd be going up and down Robert Street."
Nonprofit social service agency 360 Communities has chosen Sal Mondelli as its new leader.
As chief executive officer of the Burnsville-based agency, Mondelli will oversee programs addressing domestic violence, hunger, immigrant services, child care resources and learning readiness.
He replaces Mary Ajax, whose December 2011 departure came after "a strategic review of the organization and its mission" by the 360 Communities Board of Directors.
Mondelli, a Burnsville resident, brings a business background as a leader of growing and startup companies and as an executive at IBM Corporation.
"I am excited to join this great team of committed professionals who do amazing work," he said. "This is an agency that makes an impact and a real difference in the lives of people who need help and support."
Mondelli is the chairman of the Burnsville Performing Arts Center Advisory Commission, and he serves on the board of directors for Fairview Ridges Hospital, Silicon Informatics, Greater Minneapolis YMCA and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota.
The donated food and money will go toward a summer nutrition program called Hope Speaks, for families with children who get help from the food shelves in Eagan and Lakeville.
People can participate by spreading the word and raising money -- each dollar allows the center to purchase $10 worth of food -- or holding a food drive and delivering the goods on June 11. The donations will be accepted from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Pantry in Eagan, 3904 Cedar Grove Pkwy., or the Lakeville Pantry, 20730 Holyoke Av., Suite 129.
Already, seventh-graders from St. Joseph's Catholic School in Rosemount have organized a food drive, specifying items by grade level. Participants in the Eagan High School Senior Party are packing 300 snack bags to contribute, and Fantastic Sam's in Eagan will donate proceeds from their grand opening.
For more information, including a list of kid-friendly foods, go to www.eaganrc.org. The nonprofit Eagan & Lakeville Resource Centers provide food to more than 1,000 families each month.
Summer reading programs for kids and teens are coming to Dakota County libraries again this summer.
Registration for the Bookawocky Summer Reading Program for kids age 12 and younger and the Teen Summer Reading Program for youth up to 18 years old begins June 11 at library branches.
For Bookawocky, kids can track the time they spend reading or being read to, with small prizes awarded after 10 and 20 hours of reading. There will also be a game card of literacy-related activities for kids to complete in order to enter a drawing for a Nook Color e-reader.
Teens who sign up for the summer reading program get a tickets to a teen night at Cascade Bay Waterpark in Eagan and a ticket to the Dakota County Fair during the Grand Battle of the Bands.
Those who offer book reviews will also be eligible to win books, gift cards and an iPod Touch.
For more information, go to www.dakotacounty.us/library or call 651-450-2942.
The city's police department will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an open house from noon-4 p.m. today.
Residents can tour the police department, see informational displays, watch a police dog demonstration by the West St. Paul police, and see department vehicles and equipment. Refreshments will be served.
The department is at 1101 Victoria Curve.
Hwy. 3, also known as Robert Trail, has closed for nearly two months of construction between Amana Trail and W. 72nd Circle, a section of the road between 70th Street and Hwy. 55. Crews are building a new turn lane for drivers heading onto Autumn Way.
During the closure, those who live in the area will have access to their properties at all time, the city said. The road is scheduled to reopen July 21 at the latest.
For more information, call 651-450-2575.
KATIE HUMPHREY AND DYLAN BELDEN