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“I think they just didn’t want a project like this in their back yard,” he said.
Mixed feelings about site
Some residents who expressed general support for affordable housing brought up concerns about this particular spot, pointing out the lack of recreational spaces and nearby schools.
The empty lot abuts the Medina Entertainment Center and Medina Inn on one side, and a wetland and small residential neighborhood on the other. There’s no access to public transit, and the bar and restaurant attached to the entertainment center can get busy.
Still, entertainment center co-owner Paul Raskob said he thought the project was a good fit for the site. The lack of affordable housing in Medina can make it tough for business owners — especially those in the service industry — to find employees who live in the area, he said.
Peg Rasmussen, a longtime Medina business owner and former Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners board member, said she didn’t expect the proposal to go through, but supported the development.
“You know, there were some problems with that site,” she said, “but I think there were going to be problems with every site.”
City braces for growth
Beneath the layers of conflict was something very simple, Rasmussen said — change.
As nearby cities have grown and developed, Medina has remained mostly untouched. Many residents who moved there for its rural feel would like it to stay that way.
“People just don’t like change, Number 1, but they also don’t like increased density,” she said.
Weir said she’s worked to reduce the Metropolitan Council’s population goals for the city, in part because there simply isn’t the transportation infrastructure to handle a burst of growth. So far, she’s gotten the number down from 11,000 people by 2030 to 9,000 by 2040.
Still, recent years have brought a rush of postrecession development, she said, and it’s unlikely to go away.
“Medina will continue to evolve,” Weir said. “And we’ll see how it goes.”
Emma Nelson • 612-673-4509