St. Cloud

City Council approves riverfront revamp plan

A plan to improve the riverfront along the Mississippi River in St. Cloud is moving forward after the City Council approved the master plan Monday and added it to the city’s overall comprehensive plan.

The first phase of the RiverWalk plan would add green space, a canoe launch and riverside trail by narrowing 5th Avenue, now often used for parking. That would extend a trail another mile along the river to St. Cloud Hospital and connect to the Beaver Island trail extension, which opened last fall and allows pedestrians to safely get down to the Mississippi riverfront for the first time.

A second phase envisions creating two islands in the river by digging a channel through Cathedral High School’s football field to create a “destination park,” where people could fish, kayak, canoe, put their feet in the water and use amenities such as an amphitheater.

A task force next will pursue local, state and federal funding for the final design and construction of the first phase.

Kelly Smith

Fargo

U.S. Senate holds hearings on ‘Savanna’s Act’ bill

The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing last week on Savanna’s Act, introduced by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

The bill is named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was abducted in Fargo in August and killed when she was eight months pregnant. Police recovered her newborn baby, and two neighbors have been charged with conspiracy to kidnap and conspiracy to murder.

On some reservations, Heitkamp said in a statement, Indian women are murdered at 10 times the national average. About 84 percent of Indian women have experienced violence.

The bill would improve tribal access to federal crime databases, require federal agencies to get tribal recommendations on how to combat domestic violence, create standards for responding to cases of missing and murdered Indians and require an annual report to Congress with data.

John Reinan

New Ulm

School to be turned into affordable apartments

A former New Ulm middle school is slated to be transformed into much-needed affordable apartments.

Minnesota Housing’s board approved funding this month for the $15 million project — called the State Street Apartments — which will offer 55 affordable apartments.

Built in 1918, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was a school until 2005. Since then, Minneapolis-based Community Housing Development Corp. has been working to save the building and add more affordable housing to New Ulm, which has a shortage like many other cities.

Four units will be for homeless people and the rest will be affordable to households earning 60 percent or less of the area median income.

The rehab project, which is expected to start next year, will be funded with $8 million from Minnesota Housing, $547,000 from the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, tax-increment financing and state historic tax credits.

Kelly Smith