Woodbury has City Council permission to explore plans for what could be a $9.6 million public works building.

The city of 68,000 expects to grow to 80,500 by 2030, and officials say the last public works expansion happened 12 years ago.

Exact costs won’t be known until a needs study is conducted, according to a memo by Assistant City Engineer Paul Kauppi. But plans call for construction in 2018.

“Current needs are exceeding the space available for all operations performed” by public works and park maintenance staff, according to Kauppi. They’ve “adapted to the space by juggling equipment and operations, however this has introduced inefficiencies in our operations.”

Residents will have a chance to be involved throughout the design process and construction, officials said.

Added spokesman Jason Egerstrom: “This is only the first step in a long process that could result in an architectural contract to design and ultimately construct our future facilities. … It could result in a possible facility expansion or new facility on another site in 2018 or later.”

David Peterson

Oak Park Heights

City joins opposition to school closings

Oak Park Heights has joined other cities, townships and elected officials in opposition to a Stillwater school district plan to close three elementary schools.

The City Council, voting 5-0, defended Oak Park Elementary as a neighborhood school essential to community events. The Feb. 9 resolution noted that the city had installed playground equipment at the school intended for everyone’s use, and questioned what would happen to the building and surrounding athletic fields if the district closed the school.

Superintendent Denise Pontrelli has said Oak Park students would attend either Lily Lake Elementary in Stillwater or Andersen Elementary in Bayport if the school closes. Opponents of the closing plan, including a minister at a nearby Presbyterian church, said the district is unnecessarily forcing low-income families out of a school that’s walkable for many children.

Under the district plan, Oak Park would be remodeled into offices for district administrators.

Kevin Giles


Biotech firm’s move to Roseville is set

A deal to move the food products firm Calyxt Inc., from New Brighton to Roseville has been struck, with a subsidy from Roseville to clean up the polluted site, city officials say.

The company, which develops healthful food products, will occupy the northern part of the Pik Terminal property on Mount Ridge Road, including a new office building and outdoor research plots.

Calyxt employs 24 people but expects to add 70 more over several years’ time. The Roseville City Council has set aside up to $400,000 to clean up contamination on the site, and the state chipped in financial help as well.

David Peterson

Washington County

Library plan doesn’t include Lake Elmo

County commissioners OK’d a new strategic plan for Washington County libraries at last week’s board meeting, but Lake Elmo’s independent library wasn’t included.

The city had hoped the county would grant “associate” status to its library, which would allow access to materials at county libraries, said Keith Ryskoski, the county library director. But he said the county has no plans to add more associate libraries.

Lake Elmo withdrew from the county library system in 2011 and isn’t assessed taxes for county libraries. Stillwater and Bayport also have city-owned libraries, but their associate status was grandfathered in with the county several years ago.

Ryskowski said he would welcome Lake Elmo’s full return to the county system if the city decides to do that.

Kevin Giles

St. Croix Valley

Steinbeck novel to be subject of Big Read

Free copies of the John Steinbeck novel “The Grapes of Wrath” will soon be turning up in coffee shops, laundromats, Little Free Libraries and other public places across the lower St. Croix Valley.

The annual Big Read program, which starts April 1 and is sponsored by the nonprofit ArtReach St. Croix, will circulate numerous copies of the novel in hopes that residents read and then discuss it. Go to www.ValleyReads.org for dates and times.

David Peterson