City to unveil new $50 million complex

After years of planning, Fridley's new $50 million civic center campus is ready to make its debut this week.

City staffers will move down University Avenue from the old City Hall and expect to be open for business at the new place Tuesday. And residents will be able to explore the new City Hall, public safety and public works facilities, 7071 University Av. NE., at an open house from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

The City Council approved the project in December 2016 after nearly three years of studies, meetings and workshops. The council raised the levy to pay for the project, increasing city taxes by about 16 percent for the average homeowner.

Hannah Covington


Valley Library to grow, get upgrades

Washington County's Valley branch library will be expanded and remodeled next year at its leased space in a Lakeland strip mall.

The new lease, approved last week by the County Board, extends the current agreement for 10 years and will expand the library's footprint by 40 percent. The lease will cost $45,500 a year, with a 2 percent increase at three-year intervals. The cost of design, construction and new technology is estimated at $1.2 million.

The county hired an architectural firm last winter to identify options to remodel or relocate the library and draw up layout plans. Construction is planned to start in April and finish in June.

Mara Klecker


Council appoints new city planner

The Excelsior City Council has named Emily Becker to be its new city planner.

Becker, 32, and currently the city planner for Lake Elmo, said a big focus of her new job "is definitely historic preservation. ... Almost any alterations within the historic downtown district does require review by the Heritage Preservation Commission to protect the character of that area."

In Excelsior, planning focuses heavily on how to welcome new businesses and residents while maintaining the city's vintage small-town charm. Some residents have formed a "Protect Excelsior" campaign to keep old homes from being torn down and replaced by bigger houses.

Before her job in Lake Elmo, Becker worked in community development in New Hope.

Katy Read


Mesko Lee named new city manager

The Burnsville City Council on Monday approved Melanie Mesko Lee as its next city manager. Mesko Lee, who is city administrator in Hastings, was waiting for her contract to be finalized before accepting the position, though she was expected to do so, said City Council Member Dan Kealey.

Mesko Lee, interim city manager Dana Hardie and Nathan Burkett, Shakopee's assistant city administrator, were the finalists for the job.

Heather Johnston, Burnsville's previous city manager, resigned in late May to spend more time with her family, though a couple council members said they thought sexism and ill treatment by some city officials had led to Johnston's resignation.

Shortly after Johnston's departure, the council named Hardie, formerly the city's administrative services director, as interim city manager and hired an executive search firm to manage the search.

Erin Adler