The city of Burnsville broke ground June 6 on the renovation of its shared City Hall and Police Station building at 100 Civic Center Parkway, a facility that has served as a home base for city operations for 30 years.
The project will have several phases. The first phase of proposed renovations, taking place through 2018, “will improve public safety, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility, operational efficiency and visitor convenience in City Hall and the Police Department,” according to the city website.
Elements of phase one include:
• Redesign and expansion of police department property/evidence storage and evidence processing space;
• Redesign of police training, conference and office space;
• Redesign of the detention area;
• Redesign of City Hall community and meeting room spaces;
• General updates, including accessibility improvements for the disabled;
• Police garage and its ventilation system.
Phase one construction is estimated to cost $13.3 million. Construction is scheduled to wrap up in early 2018.
Dayton names McCourt to state disability council
Noah McCourt, a 23-year-old autistic man who ran unsuccessfully for City Council last fall, has been appointed to Gov. Mark Dayton’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.
McCourt will serve a three-year appointment on the council, which aims to provide information, education and training to increase the independence and inclusion of those with disabilities and their families. In his new role, McCourt hopes to focus on causes that promote self sufficiency — like securing and maintaining employment — as well as engaging the community in the civic process.
To further that goal, he hopes to partner with advocacy organizations to launch a voter drive in anticipation of the 2018 elections.
McCourt drew 43 percent of the vote in his own bid for City Council, prompting fellow disability advocates to dub him a trailblazer who will spur a new generation of more diverse elected officials.
This spring, McCourt spoke at the United Nations in New York about his experiences in honor of World Autism Awareness Day.
McCourt has collected diagnoses of Asperger syndrome, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, mood disorder and an attachment disorder. Last year, he successfully petitioned the court to end parental guardianship after building “a compelling case” that he no longer required it, his father said.
Now a freelance political consultant, McCourt said he’s focusing on policy rather than rhetoric to further his political aspirations and improve the lives of Waconia residents. His new mission involves broadening the appeal of the GOP to attract members with a more inclusive message.
The disability council has 25 members. At least 60 percent of the appointees must be people with developmental disabilities, or the parents/guardians of those with mental disabilities.
Art center permit OK’d despite objections
Eagan’s Advisory Planning Commission voted June 27 to approve a permit allowing a former city fire administration building to be bought and used as an art center, despite a neighborhood group’s objections.
Art Works Eagan, a local nonprofit, signed an agreement earlier this year to buy the 12,700 square foot building at 3795 Pilot Knob Road for $500,000. The group wants to create artists’ studios, a gallery, performance space and a workshop in the space but needs a conditional use permit from the City Council to do so. The council approved on a 7-1 vote.
Clean Air Eagan, a group composed of residents from a nearby neighborhood, opposes the project because they fear the noise, traffic and parking issues and pollution they say it will create. They’re especially worried about the fumes that the buildings’ multiple kilns will emit.
Sean Boodoo, a member of Clean Air Eagan, said other sites were more suitable than the residential neighborhood.
Boodoo’s house is next to the building. He said the kilns and their toxic smoke will be 30 feet from his deck.
The group’s concerns about the kilns were ignored by the planning commission at the recent meeting, Boodoo said. He said the commission sided with the kiln builder, “who said there is nothing to worry about.”
The group presented a petition against the permit with 60 signatures on it. Boodoo said those who signed are angry and “gearing up for the next steps.”
The City Council is scheduled to vote July 18 on issuing a conditional use permit to Art Works Eagan.
Historical Society to host baseball games
The Dakota County Historical Society will host a series of vintage baseball games beginning at 10 a.m. on Aug. 19 at Dakota City Heritage Village, located at 4008 220th St., Farmington.
Visitors will experience baseball the way it was played in 1860, when the game had less than 40 rules and “baseball” was spelled as two words. Players could catch the ball after one bounce for an out and some players didn’t even wear gloves, according to a news release.
Food and a silent auction will also be available at the event.
The Historical Society is putting together a team from various cities in Dakota County. Participating teams include the Northfield Silver Stars and the Red Wing Crescents. To play, contact the Historical Society at 651-552-7548 or firstname.lastname@example.org.