The Excelsior City Council has passed a nine-month moratorium on any significant development in the lakeside area dubbed East Town and is expected Monday to approve hiring a consultant to help with the planning process there, which could result in separate development regulations.
The moratorium was passed because “that whole area is all of a sudden exploding with redevelopment,” City Manager Kristi Luger said.
Major changes could include redevelopment of a popular event center’s parking lots and a former police station.
Bayview Event Center, which also includes the Bayside Grille and has hosted hundreds of weddings and events since it opened in 2002, abruptly closed its doors for renovations this year and is up for sale. No formal plan has been submitted yet to the city, Luger said, but preliminary proposals from a potential buyer include renovating the restaurant and event center and redeveloping the parking lots into residential housing.
“There’s the potential for those buildings to be huge,” she said.
The city also is looking to sell a former police station building at 810 Excelsior Blvd., with proceeds of the sale slated to pay for City Hall renovations. In September, the city received five proposals to build residential housing on the site, ranging from single-family homes to a four-story condo building.
In November, the City Council decided to hold off on making a decision on the police station site after concerns about how redevelopment — especially possible high-density buildings — would affect other properties in Excelsior, which is striving to preserve its small-town charm.
The East Town area of Excelsior is significant to the city not just for its prime Lake Minnetonka location but also its history. The popular Excelsior Amusement Park was located in that area from 1925 to 1973.
Howard named mayor pro tempore
The Richfield City Council on Tuesday unanimously appointed Council Member Mike Howard mayor pro tempore to temporarily replace Mayor Debbie Goettel, who will soon step down to join the Hennepin County Board.
Howard, who serves at large on the council, will remain mayor pro tempore until a new mayor is chosen in a special election early in 2017.
“I’ll keep the seat warm,” joked Howard, who also served as mayor pro tempore this year in Goettel’s absence.
Goettel is expected to resign as mayor on Jan. 2. She will take over the County Board seat held since 1979 by Randy Johnson, who is retiring.
Tuesday’s City Council meeting was the last for Goettel and Council Member Tom Fitzhenry, who also is retiring. In Richfield, the mayor sits on the City Council.
Watershed district wins top DNR award
A west metro watershed district has been named the state’s best this year by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The DNR honored the Eden Prairie-based Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District with its “District of the Year” award on Dec. 2, the first time the district has received the award.
The DNR singled out its work on a first-ever creek restoration and a spent-lime filter that removes phosphorus pollution from stormwater.
The Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek District, established in 1969, covers a 50-square-mile area in Hennepin and Carver counties that includes parts of Bloomington, Chanhassen, Deephaven, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Shorewood.
The DNR recognizes one watershed district in the state each year for its work to protect and restore water resources. For more information, go to rpbcwd.org/.
Nonprofit to raise funds for lakefront project
Wayzata has established a new conservancy group to raise money for major projects in its lakefront improvement project.
The new nonprofit, the Wayzata Lake Effect Conservancy, has the job of raising $15 million. It’s headed up by Kathy Coward, who has her own consulting firm and has led a capital campaign for Minnesota Public Radio.
Coward also has built and managed philanthropic support and public affairs for a 12-state region of the Trust for Public Land and worked on a naturalized shoreline project with the Grays Bay Lakeshore Restoration.
Earlier this year, a split City Council accepted designs for its lakefront concept plan called the Lake Effect, which includes a lake walk and an expanded city beach.
City officials have said that the project could cost an estimated $19 million if all the pieces are built, plus annual operating expenses.