The Bloomington City Council last week approved the expansion of a charter school inside the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center from 60 to 84 students.

Success Academy, a K-6 school at the center, has seen an increased number of applications in recent years. The school has had a cap of 60 students since it opened, and school officials had shown interest in doubling that number at the end of the last school year.

In October, city officials learned that more than 60 students were attending the school. The expansion approved by the council last week will accommodate the students currently enrolled.

Along with the school expansion, the council also approved the closure of a 20-student day care and two fitness centers inside the Dar Al-Farooq building.

Dar Al-Farooq, which opened in 2011, was the target of an explosion last August that left part of the center severely damaged.

No one was injured in the bombing, but the center canceled after-school activities as a result, according to its officials.

Success Academy has operated as a charter school at the center since 2014, according to the Minnesota Department of Education.

Miguel Otárola

St. Louis Park

Plans readied for $12 million nature center

The Westwood Hills Nature Center is presenting plans for the construction of a $12 million interpretive center that will update its aging and smaller building, with hopes of beginning construction next year and opening in 2020.

The current nature center, now almost 40 years old, is used by Westwood Hills staffers to host activities for children, exhibitions and other programming.

According to officials, it is too small for its needs and too far from the main parking lot, making it hard to reach for visitors with disabilities or young children.

The new building would be significantly larger and closer to the parking lot. It would have new rooms and exhibit spaces that are separate from classrooms.

The center will hold two sessions for the public to see the designs and ask questions about the project. The first presentation will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, and the second will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 28.

The nature center is at 8300 W. Franklin Av.

Miguel Otárola

Brooklyn Park

Tater Daze to cook at community center

Brooklyn Park’s long-standing Tater Daze festival, which pays homage to the city’s potato-growing roots, will move this year from Noble Sports Park to the Community Activity Center.

After six months spent considering a location switch, the Tater Daze planning committee announced its decision earlier this month.

Organizers cited concerns about weather and accessibility as key reasons for moving the event to the community center, 5600 85th Av. N.

They said the new spot is more centrally located, offers indoor options in the event of rain and can be reached using local buses.

Not all City Council members were sold on the switch when it was discussed during a December meeting. Some raised concerns about parking and street crossing safety at the new site.

The move will be the latest for the city-sponsored festival, first held in 1964. Tater Daze, which has cost the city on average about $57,000 in recent years, attracts thousands of people each summer.

The city-sponsored event will be held June 14-16.

Hannah Covington

St. Anthony

Public input sought for Lowry Grove study

University of Minnesota researchers want to tell the story of the controversial sale and closure of Lowry Grove, St. Anthony’s only mobile home park, and they’re looking for people to interview about it.

Project leaders are casting a wide net and seeking input from several groups, including former residents, the attorneys who worked with residents after Lowry Grove was sold, officials with the nonprofit that tried to buy the park, volunteers who helped displaced families, St. Anthony city officials and the developers that purchased the property.

Ed Goetz, director of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, said the focus of the project is twofold: The impact on residents of the park’s closing, and the broader story of the park’s sale and the fight to keep it open.

Researchers hope to document the lives of residents at Lowry Grove, their relocation experiences and current situations.

Those interested in participating in the study should contact Goetz at 612-624-8737 or

Hannah Covington

Hennepin County

County gets help to prosecute sex trafficking

The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has given a $100,000 grant to Hennepin County to prosecute sex trafficking crimes.

The grant will pay for a criminal analyst to target felony-level prosecutions.

The analyst will use proactive investigative techniques and meet regularly with prosecutors to share intelligence, update cases and focus on specific traffickers.

Sex trafficking cases are among the most difficult to detect, investigate and prosecute.

Nearly 40 percent of the 235 statewide trafficking arrests in 2016 happened in Hennepin County. The number of trafficking and prostitution cases submitted to the county attorney’s office tripled from 27 to 2015 to 95 in 2016.

That same year, Hennepin County designated a prosecutor, investigator and analyst to investigate and handle trafficking crimes.

David Chanen