A new outdoor 50-meter pool is taking shape in New Hope, thanks to $2 million in state funding tucked into the bonding bill recently signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

The pool complex, estimated to cost about $10.5 million, would replace one torn out by the city to make way for a new police station and City Hall building.

The plans drew pushback from some pool users, including area swim teams that objected to proposals to reduce the pool’s size and noted that it was one of the few outdoor pools of its kind left in the metro area.

The feedback spurred city officials to seek state funds by citing a regional need for competitive swimming facilities in the west metro, according to a city news release.

New Hope officials are now deciding what other features to include in the swimming facility, said Jerry Beck, a city spokesman.

The pool will be built on the site of City Hall, which will be torn down after city staffers move into the new City Hall building next summer. City officials expect the new outdoor pool will open in summer 2020.

Hannah Covington

Columbia Heights

Construction begins at Keyes Park

A neighborhood park in Columbia Heights known for its popular sledding hill is getting a major face-lift this summer.

Work began this month at Keyes Park, 1345 45½ Av. NE., on two new ball fields to replace the existing athletic fields, which overlap and can’t be used at the same time.

Crews also will be sprucing up two parking lots, trails, a sidewalk and a play area.

The project will cost about $491,000. City officials expect the work to be finished by mid-August.

Keyes Park is the seventh park selected by the Parks and Recreation Commission for renovations under the city’s master plan.

Hannah Covington


Dacy receives state development award

The executive director of the Washington County Community Development Agency (CDA) received congratulations Tuesday from the County Board for a lifetime achievement award for her leadership in housing and community development.

Barbara Dacy was given the Allan Anderson Award of Merit by the state chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. The state chapter established the award in 1979 for officials who have distinguished themselves in the affordable housing area.

The CDA owns and operates more than 1,100 units of affordable housing and oversees economic development in Washington County.

Dacy, who has run the agency since 2001, “takes the extra step and goes the extra mile” and “is building a legacy of leaders imparting these attributes in others,” according to a couple of the nominations for her.

She oversaw the agency’s switch from a housing and redevelopment authority to a community development agency in 2016.

Kevin Duchschere

East Bethel

Open house set for treatment center plan

Residents interested in learning more about a proposed psychiatric treatment center for children and teens are invited to an East Bethel community meeting on Monday.

The Hills Youth and Family Services, a Duluth-based nonprofit, is spearheading the project. It had drawn into controversy when officials with the Hills first approached the Forest Lake City Council, which rejected it on a split vote in April.

Nonprofit officials now are interested in locating the $26 million project on a 37-acre homestead near Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 19001 NE. Jackson St.

Monday’s meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the church, with time set aside for questions.

The 60-bed facility would be a state-of-the-art mental health center to treat children, mostly ages 6 to 17, with severe mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, and neurological conditions such as autism or fetal alcohol syndrome.

At a neighborhood meeting last month, residents largely probed project officials about traffic, lights and security at the facility. East Bethel Mayor Steven Voss has said that his city is “embracing this project.”

Pending formal city approval, the Hills plans to break ground on the facility this year and open in 2019.

Hannah Covington

Dakota County

SMART Center gets $6.2M in state bonding

The Safety and Mental Health Alternative Response Training (SMART) Center, a new regional hub dedicated to teaching police officers and first responders crisis intervention skills, received $6.2 million in state funding from the bonding bill that Gov. Mark Dayton recently signed.

The 35,000-square-foot building, planned for Inver Grove Heights near Hwy. 55 and Concord Boulevard, will provide space for police officers, firefighters and paramedics from Dakota County and around the region.

The SMART Center was the Dakota County Board’s top legislative priority for 2018. Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie touted the center as a place where law enforcement officials could develop the skills needed to help people experiencing mental health crises, which comprise an increasing number of 911 calls.

The county’s growing Electronic Crimes Unit and Drug Task Force also will use the new space.

Officials with Dakota County, which committed $6.6 million to the project, anticipate starting the design phase this year and finishing construction by 2020, according to a county news release.

The HERO Center, another law enforcement training center proposed by the cities of Cottage Grove and Woodbury, received $9.5 million from the bonding bill.

Erin Adler