The shorthanded Maplewood City Council has appointed Council Member Marylee Abrams, just elected to a second term on the council, to be the city’s new mayor.
Abrams replaces Nora Slawik, who was appointed chairwoman of the Metropolitan Council. Abrams will serve until late 2020, when a special election will be held.
“Mayor Slawik left some big shoes to fill but I’m confident I have the vision to help Maplewood continue dreaming big,” Abrams said.
Abrams, a lawyer, has been on the City Council since 2014. She was re-elected last fall after a recount.
In addition to Slawik’s departure, Council Member Tou Xiong was elected to the Legislature. The council will appoint two new members on Feb. 11 to serve until 2020.
City looking for farmers to work land
Farmington is looking for people or groups to lease 31.5 acres of city-owned parkland with the intent of farming it.
The land, at the northeast corner of 195th St. W. and Diamond Path in the Jim Bell Park and Preserve, is slated to become a community park when the city has enough money to develop it.
The parcel was farmed until recently, when the city lease expired. Over five years, the last tenant paid nearly $34,000 to rotate soybeans and corn.
“There’s a history of farming on the land,” said Randy Distad, Farmington’s parks and recreation director. “It’s got good, black soil.”
Sealed bids are due by 11 a.m. on Feb. 15 and should go to Parks and Recreation, 430 3rd St. A map of the plot and application can be found at farmingtonmn.gov/RFP.
Community center project moves ahead
The Andover City Council has decided to move forward with an $18 million expansion project at the community center, despite the concerns of some residents who would like to open it up to a referendum.
Council members voted 4-1 on Jan. 15 to prepare plans to go out for bid in the coming weeks. The estimated cost of the project, reduced from $18.9 million to just under $18 million, could mean a property tax hike of about $107 for owners of a $250,000 house, roughly the median value in Andover.
The expansion would add spaces for teens and seniors to gather, more meeting rooms, a gym, an indoor walking track and a new arena for ice and turf sports.
Library closes for renovation project
The Hennepin County Library branch in Eden Prairie has closed for nine months for an extensive renovation, with plans to reopen this fall.
The $12.1 million project will modernize the library, providing more space for patrons, new lighting, designated quiet areas, electrical updates and improved outdoor seating. It also will prepare for electric vehicle charging stations and potential future solar power.
Architectural and engineering work is being done by Minneapolis-based MSR Design.
Aside from some outdoor additions in 2010, the library building at 565 Prairie Center Drive hasn’t been significantly renovated since 2004. It’s the sixth most-used branch of the Hennepin County system’s 41 libraries. In 2016, Eden Prairie recorded nearly 260,000 visits.