St. Paul

Council considering pedestrian safety position

On the same day a driver struck and killed a 78-year-old man, St. Paul city leaders were considering funding for a pedestrian safety advocate.

Ker Par, who was killed Wednesday, was the fourth pedestrian to die in a St. Paul traffic accident this year. As of Oct. 28, there had been 143 crashes in the city involving pedestrians and 112 involving cyclists.

The proposed safety advocate would focus on reducing pedestrian crashes and improving the city’s walkability, according to city documents. The advocate would work on city plans such as the Citywide Safe Routes to School, as well as community outreach.

The City Council will hold a public hearing this week on a $50,000 McKnight Foundation grant that would help pay for the position, to be matched with city funds.

The Public Works Department has budgeted $108,972 for the job in 2017.

Jessie Van Berkel

St. Paul

Thompson Hall for the deaf marks centennial

Charles Thompson Memorial Hall, a longtime social hub for deaf people from the Twin Cities and the state, celebrated its 100th anniversary during festivities Friday and Saturday.

The Friday ceremony drew Gallaudet University President Roberta Cordano, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Patrick Coleman of the Minnesota Historical Society, the Thompson Hall board of trustees and descendants of the Thompson family.

Thompson Hall, at 1824 Marshall Av. in St. Paul, opened its doors for the first time on Nov. 5, 1916. Margaret Brooks Thompson donated the building and a supporting endowment to the deaf community of Minnesota for use as free space to gather for social purposes. She gave the building as a memorial to her husband, Charles, who like her was deaf.

The building was designed by architect Olof Hanson, widely regarded as the nation’s first deaf architect. Hanson and Charles Thompson were classmates at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf. In 2012, the hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

James Walsh


Contaminated debris delays project, closes park

Construction of a stormwater treatment system at Burnsville’s Keller Lake was halted late last month after crews unearthed debris containing asbestos and other contaminants.

Crews were excavating for the stormwater system Oct. 27 when they came across buried construction materials including concrete and lumber. Testing showed the materials, believed to date back to the 1960s, contained asbestos and other petroleum-based contaminants, according to a news release last week.

According to an agenda report for Monday’s City Council meeting, the cost of cleanup and project changes is expected to be more than $200,000.

Part of Crystal Beach Park, located at 1101 Crystal Lake Road, will be closed until the site can be cleaned.

The debris has been covered with poly sheeting in keeping with state guidelines and does not pose a risk to the public if left undisturbed, according to the release.

The city is planning to hire a certified contractor to clean up the debris, and officials are hoping the cleanup process — which is expected to take about a week — will start by next week.

Emma Nelson


City invests $8 million in affordable housing

Minneapolis leaders allocated nearly $8 million Friday to build and preserve affordable housing in the city.

The City Council approved the funding for eight projects scattered around the city. In total, it will create 539 new units and preserve another 30.

The largest project this round, by affordable units, was Bunge Apartments. That project will convert the Bunge grain elevator in the Como area into 150 affordable apartments.

The city’s affordable housing trust fund has helped with the construction of more than 7,000 affordable housing units in Minneapolis between 2005 and 2015, according to a city report. The money is generally a mix of city and federal funds.

Eric Roper