Farmington, Burnsville add affordable homes

Farmington was the top-ranking suburb in the metropolitan area when it came to adding affordable housing in the Twin Cities area last year, according to a new report from the Metropolitan Council.

A council committee this week heard that Farmington's 87 new affordable housing units placed the small city ahead of lots of bigger ones, including Plymouth, which came in second among suburbs with 67 units.

Burnsville ranked third in that category with 60 new affordable units. No other cities south of the river were listed among the top contributors.

Minneapolis, with 510 units, and St. Paul, with 212, came in well ahead of any suburb. Together the two accounted for 63 percent of the 1,154 such units added.

The regional planning agency has targets for communities to meet in terms of adding affordable housing. Farmington is one of five that are making strong progress toward their 10-year target by adding at least 10 percent of the decade's total in 2011, the council's analysts said.


City picks new chief

Burnsville has named Captain Eric Gieseke the city's new chief of police.

Gieseke will succeed Chief Bob Hawkins, who will retire Nov. 30.

Hired by the police department as a cadet in 1989, Gieseke worked his way up through the ranks as a patrol officer, sergeant and now captain. He has served as the captain in charge of operations since 2006.

Gieseke has a master's degree in criminal justice leadership from Concordia University in St. Paul and a bachelor's in psychology from University of Wisconsin, Madison.

He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., and was Minnesota Police Officer of the Year in 2003.

He lives in Lakeville with his wife and two children.


Saturday market shifts indoors

Northfield's Riverwalk Market Fair has moved indoors to the Northfield Armory through Dec. 22.

The Saturday market will continue to offer locally grown produce, artisan foods and fine arts and crafts at the armory, at 519 Division St. It's open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, visit or call 507-664-9446.


'Smart Play Spot' at Shakopee library

The Scott County Board was expected this week to approve an agreement with the Children's Museum in St. Paul to build what's known as a "Smart Play Spot" at the library in Shakopee.

The new section is designed to spark children's learning through play, stressing creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving through immersive experiences.

The effort is being billed as a "museum-quality installation," designed by the folks at the Minnesota Children's Museum. Seven other Minnesota libraries have added them, customized for the location and aimed at "children ages birth through 8 and the adults in their lives."

The state's Arts and Cultural Heritage Legacy Fund supports half the cost of design, construction and installation in 12 libraries across the state, selected by a competitive process. Local areas are expected to match with $20,000, and in Shakopee that money is to come from donations, officials say.

The goal is to "work collaboratively with Scott County librarians to develop a design concept for an early literacy environment that will successfully engage children and adults in playful learning," according to a background memo provided to county commissioners. Librarians are to be trained to make sure the spot gets optimal use.