The Excelsior City Council recently approved a master plan to redevelop The Commons park on Lake Minnetonka.

The council also authorized the park’s work group to develop policies to accompany the master plan, ranging from park maintenance to current and future memorials.

the Commons, a rare piece of public land on Lake Minnetonka, has been in the public domain for more than 160 years. It includes an outmoded band shell and bathhouse that date to the 1950s and ’60s.

The 13-acre park is a popular metro-wide destination, and city officials say that long-needed facility improvements can’t be covered with tax revenue generated solely by Excelsior’s 2,500 residents.

This summer, the city added boat docks to boost park revenue, and a conservancy called Community for the Commons raised $50,000. The city also plans to look into revenue from newly installed parking meters and potential development.

The master plan calls for half a dozen major capital improvements, including a new beach facility, ballpark concessions stand, band shell, circular walkways and boardwalk, and renovation of the port area.

Excelsior residents agreed in 2014 to a sales tax increase of up to 1 percent for the park, but the city so far has failed to get legislative authority for the tax hike. It has also tried in vain to be included in the state bonding bill.



Council expected to raise trash pickup rates

The Bloomington City Council is expected to vote Monday on raising waste and refuse collection fees, more than a year after the city switched from private haulers to an organized trash hauling system.

The rates would rise for all forms of trash collection, including weekly and yard waste pickup. Most would rise by less than a dollar. Monthly trash and recycling fees, for instance, would go from $22.22 to $22.97 for residents with a large bin, and the annual yard waste pickup fee would rise from $79.50 to $81.09.

A public hearing will be held before the vote at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Road. The proposed rates are listed online at

Bloomington began its organized garbage collection system in October 2016, regulating collection by a handful of private haulers. A group of citizens sued the city several times in an effort to continue contracting with their preferred company.

Miguel Otárola

Oleson drops recount in council race

Bloomington City Council Member Jon Oleson withdrew his request to recount the Fourth District election results Wednesday after five precincts were counted and showed no change.

As a result, Patrick Martin’s election to the council seat representing the city’s northeast side was reaffirmed. He will join the council in January.

Oleson had asked for a recount after the November election results showed Martin winning by six votes. Two precincts were left to be counted when he decided to formally withdraw his request Wednesday.

Oleson served one full term in the council. Martin, who attended the recount, thanked him for his work in the community.

“It’s a testament to how strong both of the campaigns were … that it was this close,” Martin said. “I’m looking forward to representing my neighbors.”

Miguel Otárola


Board funds four transit-oriented projects

The Hennepin County Board in November awarded $1.7 million to four transit-oriented development projects.

The funding will help develop 389 housing units and more than 53,000 square feet of commercial space and create more than 50 job opportunities, while improving connections to light-rail transit and high frequency bus networks. The projects will leverage $102 million in private and public funding.

• Green on 4th Apartments, Minneapolis, $600,000. The project, near the Prospect Park Station on the Green Line, will develop mixed-income apartments and townhouses.

• 325 Blake, Hopkins, $500,000. Situated near the future Blake Road Station on the planned Southwest light-rail line, the project will raze a commercial building to prepare the site for redevelopment and includes reconstruction of pedestrian connections.

• Robbinsdale Station area acquisition, $400,000. The project will acquire property for redevelopment near the future Robbinsdale Station on the planned Blue Line Extension.

• The Capp, Minneapolis, $200,000. The project will build a mixed-use development with housing and retail space near the 46th Street Station on the Blue Line.

Since 2003, the county has awarded approximately $32 million to more than 110 projects through its transit-oriented development program.



Council approves housing complex

The Plymouth City Council on Tuesday approved a 47-unit affordable-housing project along Hwy. 55.

The council, on a 5-2 vote, OK’d site plans and rezoning for the Cranberry Ridge apartments, to be developed by Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. The council rejected the recommendation of the city’s planning commission, which had voted against the plans last month.

Some of the planning commission’s concerns regarded access to a commercial zone adjacent to the property, located between Hwy. 55 and Old Rockford Road. Laura Vitelli, the director of advancement for Beacon, said that officials revised the plan and added a public street for access.

Mayor Kelli Slavik, who voted against the project, said it was unsafe for the developer to “squeeze” apartments in that area. “I just don’t think residential development belongs along a highway,” she said.

Most of the residents at Cranberry Ridge would make between $20,000 and $45,000 a year, according to Beacon. Beacon recently opened an apartment building for homeless youth in Edina.

Miguel Otárola