Following approval of the first hotels to be built in a decade in Plymouth, city leaders now are considering a lodging tax and possibly opening a convention and visitors bureau.

The City Council, which discussed the tax late last month, plans to take action by the end of the year. The council would hold a public hearing on the issue before taking a vote.

If the tax is approved, Plymouth will be the 27th city in the metro area to levy a lodging tax.

There are 110 cities in Minnesota that have lodging taxes, usually about 3 percent, with most of the proceeds going toward a local convention or tourism bureau for marketing purposes.

Plymouth officials said that such a tax would help the west metro suburb promote itself as a destination for meetings, sporting events, concerts and other tourism.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved a major redevelopment project called Agora that includes two hotels to be built on the site of the vacant Four Seasons Mall, a 17-acre parcel near Hwy. 169 and Rockford Road.

Besides the two hotels — an Aloft and a TownePlace Suites by Marriott — the development includes a 139-unit senior housing project, 61,000 square feet of retail, 20,000 square feet of offices, restaurants and a parking ramp.



Tourney raises money for African ball teams

A Robbinsdale tournament will be held this week to support baseball players in the West African country of Benin.

The 13th annual Wood Bat Little League Baseball Tournament, which started Aug. 3 and ends Sunday, will raise money to support the African teams and build a proper baseball field for them.

Robbinsdale coaches Gary Tonsager and Wally Langfellow started a nonprofit, Baseball in Benin, in 2010 to raise money and baseball equipment to get the game started in the small country.

More than 400 boys and one girl, ages 7 to 16, now play baseball in Benin, but their field is matted dirt and studded with potholes.

Last year, the tournament flew a team of a dozen 10- to 12-year-olds and their coaches from Benin to Minnesota to compete in the tournament and visit local attractions, including a Twins game and a northern Minnesota cabin.

This year’s tournament in Robbinsdale, in which more than 400 Little League players from across the Twin Cities will compete, will use proceeds to build a new field in Benin and bring another team to Minnesota in 2018.

To donate or find out more details, go to



Human rights forum planned on immigrants

The Edina Human Rights and Relations Commission will host a human rights forum on Aug. 14 at Centennial Lakes Park.

The forum, titled “Contributions of Refugees and Immigrants,” will feature four panelists involved in the issue of immigration. They include University of Minnesota professor Stephen Meili and Emilia Avalos, executive director of the Navigate leadership group for young immigrants.

“We intend to cover how immigration in the U.S. works since it’s a very complex system,” Commissioner Heather Edelson said.

This will be the second human rights forum the city has hosted. The first, held last year, was a panel on interfaith issues.

Centennial Lakes Park is located at 7499 France Av. S. To learn more, contact city management fellow Chante Mitchell at 952-826-0429 or

Miguel Otárola

Senior Center closed for construction

The Edina Senior Center will be closed through Friday for a construction project at the Edina branch of the Hennepin County Library.

The two facilities share a building near Grandview Square Park, at 5280 Grandview Square. Crews will be working on surrounding sidewalks and parking lots, so patrons won’t be able to use the senior center.

All regular activities for the center have been canceled. It is set to officially reopen at 8 a.m. on Aug. 14. The newly renovated Edina library, meanwhile, is set to reopen on Aug. 26.

Miguel Otárola


Council looking at energy-efficiency program

Bloomington’s Sustainability Commission is asking the City Council to participate in a state program that challenges cities to achieve energy-efficiency goals.

The commission presented the GreenStep Cities program during the council’s study session. The council is expected to consider joining the program at its meeting on Monday, according to city documents.

GreenStep Cities, created by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, ranks cities by how they implement voluntary steps to reduce energy use and promote sustainability.

Neighboring suburbs, including St. Louis Park, Edina and Richfield, also participate in the program.

Miguel Otárola


Volunteers sought for multicultural group

A new Multicultural Advisory Committee in Crystal is looking for citizen volunteers.

The group will meet monthly with the Crystal Police Department to discuss how better to serve the people who live, work in or visit the city.

The committee is part of Hennepin County’s Joint Community Police Partnership program, a joint effort of the county and local law enforcement agencies. The partnership aims to improve community-police relations and was originally launched with new immigrant residents in mind.

Crystal joins a growing number of cities that are involved in the partnership.

Those interested in applying can do so online. For more information, call Camryn Krause Ferris at 763-531-1043.

Hannah Covington