Suburbs in south Washington County have reached a tentative deal over public cable TV operations they share and over which Woodbury officials said they have too little control.
It includes a voting structure weighted according to user base; a “more comprehensive annual report to members,” considering that the annual net cost to Woodbury alone is $750,000; and a review of the terms every five years rather than 20 years.
The original arrangement between the five communities was forged when Woodbury was much smaller than it is today, and involved a U.S. Senate-like arrangement in which each entity had equal voting power.
The other communities are Cottage Grove, Grey Cloud Island Township, Newport and St. Paul Park.
Last year, Woodbury officials raised a “key concern,” as a consultant noted that the city “has nearly twice as many subscribers as the other four communities that are members … yet the city has only a 20 percent impact on commission votes. The question really comes down to one of control.”
The move aroused suspicion. “There’s something going on here,” St. Paul Park Mayor Keith Franke said at the time. “What is all of a sudden the problem? What is the end game?”
Now all parties report that a 90-minute conclave this summer among the mayors and others resulted in a tentative solution that is being submitted to each City Council.
City rejects suit’s claims of ‘dysfunction’
An attorney defending Lake Elmo in a lawsuit has denied allegations of “significant dysfunction” at City Hall, while admitting to conflicts involving Dean Zuleger when he was city administrator.
The attorney, Dyan Ebert of St. Cloud, also denied Zuleger’s claims that he had been defamed.
Her response, filed in Washington County District Court, came a week after Zuleger filed suit against the city and former City Council member Steve DeLapp.
Zuleger left his job in June 2015 amid City Council turmoil over land development. He began working for Lake Elmo in January 2012 but left after striking an agreement with the council.
Zuleger alleged “great difficulty” in finding a new city administrator job, because he said some Lake Elmo officials made statements that had damaged his reputation.
Studies ordered to break rail bottlenecks
Ramsey County is ordering up studies paving the way for improving rail capacity out of the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul.
The county’s Regional Railroad Authority said that “current and future rail capacity constraints affect long-term plans for freight growth and future passenger rail connections to Union Depot.”
A 2012 study identified multiple bottlenecks between St. Paul and Hastings, a corridor through which passes 5 percent of America’s freight rail.
The so-called East Metro Rail Yards Improvement Project covers an area from the depot to roughly Interstate 494, including rail yards owned by BNSF Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway and Union Pacific Railroad, officials said.
Bielenberg Center adds orthopedic clinic
A 14,450-square-foot orthopedic clinic and wellness center has opened in Woodbury’s reconstructed Bielenberg Sports Center, providing an annual lease payment to the city of $130,665.
Summit Orthopedics, which has headquarters in Woodbury, built the two-story clinic at no cost to taxpayers, city officials said. After signing the lease Summit donated $100,000 to wellness initiatives, including support for the Madison Claire Foundation to help pay for Madison’s Place, the east metro area’s first completely handicapped-accessible playground that opened in June.
In addition, Summit will donate up to $50,000 per year for other wellness initiatives throughout Woodbury, officials said.
In its new space on the west side of the sports center, Summit will offer physician appointments, physical therapy and sports performance services, and wellness education classes such as yoga and nutrition.
West St. Paul
Council OKs urgent care center on Robert St.
The West St. Paul City Council has approved a conditional-use permit for a medical care center on Robert Street.
The council will allow a MedExpress Urgent Care to move to a new building at 1963 Robert St. It will offer walk-in services and preventive care seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The county also approved a variance for the company to add four parking stalls.