The St. Louis Park City Council last week adopted a plan that aims to achieve carbon neutrality in the city by 2040.

The plan, approved unanimously by the council, was jointly developed by high school students, the city’s Environment and Sustainability Commission, city staffers and local volunteers.

Among other things, the plan requires charging stations for electric vehicles in parking lots of city-owned buildings. Other goals include reducing energy consumption in commercial buildings by 2030, reducing vehicle emissions by 25 percent by 2030 and cutting solid waste in half by 2030.

Environmental clubs at St. Louis Park High School also will work with the school district to promote green power.

St. Louis Park installed solar panels on two buildings last year. City Hall, the police station and both fire stations are powered entirely by renewable energy.

The climate plan is different from the city’s energy plan, which the council adopted in late 2016 with the goal of sourcing all the city’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The full plan can be found at

Miguel Otárola

City seeks input on ranked-choice voting

St. Louis Park officials want to know what residents think about ranked-choice voting and whether the city should adopt the system.

A panel of experts on ranked-choice voting will answer questions posed by Charter Commission members at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at City Hall, 5005 Minnetonka Blvd. The commission also will host a listening session March 6 to get public feedback on ranked-choice voting.

A livestream for both events will be available at

While Minneapolis and St. Paul both have ranked-choice voting, no suburb has yet adopted the system. The commission is expected to make its recommendation to the City Council on March 13.

Miguel Otárola


Council OKs Friendship Village expansion

A senior living facility in Bloomington will add a new healthcare center and residential building as part of a multiyear expansion expected to begin this summer.

The City Council last week approved the expansion of Friendship Village of Bloomington, at Hwy. 169 and Interstate 494, following a lengthy public hearing. Construction could start as early as this summer, said City Planner Nick Johnson.

The redevelopment will include a three-story, 140-bed health center to replace the existing facility. It also will add a 98-unit residential building rising up to five stories.

The project will require the demolition of four housing units to expand a wetland in the middle of the campus. Those residents would be relocated at the complex, Johnson said.

Miguel Otárola


County awards water quality grants

Hennepin County recently awarded more than $170,000 in grants to improve water quality, enhance natural areas and promote environmental stewardship. Those receiving grants:

• Metro Blooms Autumn Ridge Apartment Retrofit, Brooklyn Park, $100,000 to develop a 5-year stormwater retrofit plan — including raingardens and native planting areas — for a 17-acre apartment complex. The grant will leverage $100,000 in Shingle Creek Watershed grants and a 25 percent match from the property owners, Sherman Associates;

• Minneapolis Public Schools-Field Community School, $19,665 to install two rain gardens and one vegetated drainage way to capture runoff, with the goal of improving the water quality of Minnehaha Creek;

• Metro Blooms Nokomis East Neighborhood Water Quality, Minneapolis, $18,650 to install five runoff control systems, including eleven raingardens, with the goal of improving water quality in Minnehaha Creek;

• Doug and Geralyn McDonald Shoreline Project, Independence, $10,600 to stabilize the Lake Independence shoreline;

• Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association Raingarden Project, Minneapolis, $10,000 to install up to 20 raingardens throughout the neighborhood and improve water quality in Lake Hiawatha and Minnehaha Creek;

• Heidi and Dan Niziolek, Winchester Pond Project, Bloomington, $6,500 to improve the water quality of Winchester Pond, Nine Mile Creek and the Minnesota River with raingardens, upland buffer vegetation and two floating islands;

• Jim and Jennifer Bunker Prairie Restoration Project, Independence, $5,450 to restore native, pollinator-friendly habitat on 4.5 acres of the Bunker property to increase habitat in the Pioneer Creek and Crow River watersheds.



Leaders defend overnight retreat

St. Anthony city leaders and officials are pushing back against criticism from some residents over their annual overnight goal-setting retreat.

Amid concerns about the gathering being costly and inconvenient to attend, they defended the session at a Jan. 23 City Council meeting, saying that other cities have used St. Anthony as a model for effective planning.

“It’s still a good process,” said Mayor Jerry Faust.

For years, council members, staffers and other stakeholders have met at an out-of-town hotel to cement priorities and plans for the coming year, and stayed at the hotel overnight. Though many cities hold annual planning retreats, St. Anthony officials are alone among their municipal neighbors in staying overnight outside the city for a planning retreat.

Costs for last year’s gathering totaled nearly $9,600 and were expected to be about the same for this year’s meeting, held Jan. 11-12 across the river at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park.

“I’m a little disappointed that something that has been a positive thing for the 14 years I’ve been on the council somehow is negative now,” said Council Member Hal Gray at the council meeting. “It’s not like this has been a secret.”

Hannah Covington