Improvements begin at popular swim pond

The popular manmade swim pond in Lake Elmo Park Reserve will receive a $1.4 million overhaul this spring and summer, delaying its traditional Memorial Day opening to Aug. 1.

New Look Contracting Inc. received the Washington County contract to replace the aging pond infrastructure, built in 1986, and add amenities and better accessibility features under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The project will reduce the maximum depth of the water from 6 feet to 4 feet and replace the liner on the bottom of the pond, pipes that circulate water in the pond and “skimmers” that filter water to keep it safe.

Improvements include more shade trees, sidewalks and benches, as well as accessibility in parking areas, accessible picnic tables, and a hard-surfaced, zero-depth entry into the pond.

The pond draws as many as 5,000 people on a hot summer day, said county engineer Wayne Sandberg.

Funding will come from state and Metropolitan Council general obligation bonds and Parks and Trails Fund appropriations.

Check for details.

Kevin Giles


City comes up short in Strongest Towns’ Final 4

Hopkins lost to Hoboken, N.J., in the inaugural Strongest Towns contest, falling just short of a berth in the online tournament’s Final Four.

In voting last week, Hoboken got 1,969 votes and Hopkins got 1,358, a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent.

The March Madness-styled tournament is sponsored by Strong Towns, a Minnesota-based national advocacy group that promotes citizen involvement, financial solvency and smart planning.

Hopkins was the only Minnesota city in the tournament, which drew more than 30 entrants nationwide.

Hoboken is joined in the Final Four by Sandusky, Ohio; Carlisle, Pa., and Holland, Mich.

Before falling to Hoboken, Hopkins defended Minnesota’s regional honor by upending Fort Atkinson, Wis., with 52 percent to 48 percent of the total votes. Fargo, N.D., also was in the Sweet Sixteen, but lost in a squeaker to Holland, 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent.



City invites residents to weigh in on future plans

Minneapolis is inviting residents to help plan the future of the city at a conference on April 2.

The fourth annual Community Connections Conference will kick off a three-year process for crafting the city’s next comprehensive plan. That 20-year plan will guide the city’s future growth, from land use to transportation policy.

The last update to the city’s growth plan was approved in 2009. City officials hope to have a draft of the new plan done by early 2018.

The plan is one component of the conference, which will also feature discussions of neighborhood funding and effective public outreach. The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Eric Roper


St. Francis plans satellite urgent care center

A new urgent care center for St. Francis Regional Medical Center will open in Shakopee’s Southbridge area on the city’s east side this fall.

Tentative plans call for the new site to be staffed by physicians from 8 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. on weekdays, and all day on weekends. The satellite clinic will offer treatments for the same conditions — such as strep throat, pink eye and minor fractures — as are offered at the main campus.

St. Francis, which was founded in 1938 in downtown Shakopee and moved to its current site south of Hwy. 169 in 1996, serves the south metro area.

The new clinic will occupy a 4,500-square-foot space that includes four exam rooms, a procedure room and an X-ray area and lab, plus 1,500 square feet remaining for future development.

The project will break ground in April or May for an expected fall completion.