Woodbury is thinking of imposing a new tax on hotel stays in order to pay for improvements to its indoor Central Park.

In a memo to the City Council, staffers note that 110 cities in Minnesota collect such a tax, 26 of them in the metro area. Most levy 3 percent, but not all; Bloomington’s lodging tax is 7 percent, St. Paul has a 6 percent tax and Minneapolis 5.6 percent.

Officials in Woodbury, which is soon to have nine hotels, long have been itching to upgrade Central Park, which is attached to a county library and YMCA.

Public facilities such as the park and athletic fields “play a significant role in attracting out-of-town patrons, who support our hotels, restaurants, and other businesses,” the staff memo says.

The topic is coming up in the context of the legislative session, with staffers noting that special legislation may be needed to allow lodging tax dollars to pay for capital improvements in a park.

The lodging tax generally is aimed at convention and visitors bureau needs, according to the memo, but “as we consider an update to this facility, having Central Park serve as a visitor and resident welcoming center is moving to the forefront of our various considerations.”

The last study of possible tax proceeds took place at a time with the city had 627 hotel rooms, which were estimated to spin off between $321,300 and $422,100 in room tax proceeds. The city will move up to 1,026 rooms after a new Courtyard by Marriott opens.

David Peterson

Coon Rapids

Plans emerge to renovate two city parks

Plans are starting to take shape to spruce up a pair of aging Coon Rapids parks.

City officials held an open house earlier this month to showcase preliminary plans to renovate Riverwind Park, located at 11747 Crocus St., and Crooked Lake Park, at 13180 Crooked Lake Blvd. The city is looking for resident feedback on the parks before work begins next year.

Early plans for Crooked Lake Park include fixing up the tennis courts, expanding the parking lot and adding new playground and picnic shelters.

In Riverwind Park, the project calls for six new pickleball courts as well as new park trails, among other improvements.

The City Council is expected to complete project plans and costs in April, city staff said.

The work is part of a multimillion-dollar overhaul of Coon Rapids’ parks system. The city’s $17.4 million park bond, which voters approved in 2013, will pay for the renovations.

Hannah Covington


Parks Department is hiring for summer jobs

Roseville’s Parks and Recreation Department is seeking recreation group leaders and coaches for full- and half-day camps, special events, preschool programs and puppet wagon. Coaches will teach soccer, T-ball and basketball.

The pay range is from $8.50 to $12.50, and hours will run from 15 to 40 a week. Most jobs start June 12 and end between the middle of August and Labor Day.

Information and applications are at www.cityofroseville.com/jobs under the seasonal/temporary link, or call 651-792-7006. Applications are due March 1.

David Peterson

Lake Elmo

City renews Sheriff’s Office contract

In a new agreement extending through 2018, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office will provide law enforcement services in Lake Elmo, a city that doesn’t have its own police force.

The county will furnish and supply patrol officers, supervision, equipment, communications, dispatching and supplies, according to the agreement, which the County Board approved last week.

The city of Lake Elmo will pay about $648,000 in 2017 for the services of one sergeant and four full-time officers. Expenses include salaries and fringe benefits. The agreement runs through Jan. 1, 2019.

Several other Washington County cities, including Hugo, Mahtomedi and Scandia, also contract with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement.

Kevin Giles

Washington County

Bigham reelected to rail authority post

Commissioner Karla Bigham, District 4, was re-elected chairwoman of the Washington County Regional Rail Authority at the group’s annual organizational meeting Jan. 17. Commissioner Stan Karwoski, District 2, was elected vice chairman. The regional rail authority has the same members as the Washington County Board, but different responsibilities.

Bigham, a former state representative, was elected to the County Board in 2014. Karwoski, former Oakdale mayor, was elected to the board in November, filling the seat vacated with the death of Commissioner Ted Bearth in March.

Kevin Giles