Consultant: Park fees OK to fund city's park needs
A consultant told New Brighton officials that the city has $6.3 million worth of parks needs and is justified in collecting substantial sums from developers to pay for them.
The city ordered up an analysis after questions were raised about its practices in an annual audit, consultant Rita Trapp of the Hoisington Koegler Group told city staffers and the City Council in a memo earlier this month.
At issue are "park dedication fees," designed to ensure that growing suburbs set aside enough land for parks. The state allows cities to require either land set-asides or cash from developers for parks.
But developers have questioned the practice once a city is fully developed, when they say the fees feel more like a convenient revenue source.
One continuing need, Trapp reported, is the increasing demand for trails to connect parks. An example is a $1 million bridge proposed to span railroad tracks to Long Lake Regional Park from the New Brighton Exchange redevelopment project, at Interstates 694 and 35W.
All things considered, she said, New Brighton's fee structure is "likely defendable" when compared to those of nearby communities, although it should be updated to reflect current law. She also recommended that New Brighton join with similar communities to seek privileges achieved by Minneapolis and St. Paul at the Legislature, collecting fees as part of the building permit process rather than just when land is platted.
Voters reject plans for community center
For the second time, Blaine voters have shot down the city's plan to build a community center, turning thumbs down on the proposal at the polls Tuesday.
It's an idea that residents rejected in a similar referendum in 1998. This time around, the $29 million project included plans for a senior center to replace the existing 34-year-old facility. Both centers would have been paid for with revenue from tax increases.
In Tuesday's referendum, about 46 percent approved the project while 54 percent rejected it.
At a community meeting in October, residents expressed reservations about footing the bill for the community center's annual operating costs.
Ryan named United Way executive director
United Way of Washington County-East has hired Jessica Ryan as executive director.
Ryan was executive director of the American Lung Association in Minnesota and before that, senior director of development and marketing with Touchstone Mental Health.
She also has fund development and management experience at Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota and the American Cancer Society.
Ryan, of Chisago City, has a bachelor's degree in marketing communications and broadcast journalism from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and received a certification in nonprofit management from the University of St. Thomas.
City launching live, interactive town hall
Cottage Grove is hosting its first virtual town hall meeting this week, seeking citizen participation at City Hall without forcing folks to leave home for a meeting.
It's part of the city's "visioning" process aimed at deciding what it wishes to become.
The Facebook Live event will begin at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Residents can visit the city's Facebook page and take part in a discussion led by futurist Rebecca Ryan. The address is www.facebook.com/CottageGroveMinnesota.
An in-person, small-group session on the same topics will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the District Program Center, 8400 East Point Douglas Road, Cottage Grove.
As with other communities, Cottage Grove is sorting through its priorities for the next quarter-century to comply with state law requiring a new, once-per-decade long-range plan.
Sessions to be held on use of old Armory site
Roseville is inviting residents to meetings this week to help decide on the future use of the National Guard Armory property at 211 N. McCarrons Blvd.
Rezoning options will be discussed during two sessions on Tuesday. One will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., and the other at 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Galilee Lutheran Church, 145 N. McCarrons Blvd.
Planners will explain what might come under what zoning rules and provide time questions and comments.
City officials will provide updated information online at www.cityofroseville.com/southeast.