The Hennepin County Board tweaked its 2018 legislative agenda this week, adding support for a $5 million bonding request to make improvements for the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.
The Children’s Theatre is seeking the funding as part of a $10 million renovation of its 42-year-old building. State and private investment will be used to refurbish and modernize the theater’s roof, windows, lighting, stage floor, rehearsal space and security systems.
Hennepin County owns the building that houses the theater. For the Legislature, 2018 is the bonding year in its biennial budget cycle.
Large infrastructure projects for specific communities are more likely to be included in a bonding bill, such as with Hennepin County’s $26.2 million request for a new regional forensic science center in Minnetonka. The $58 million facility would serve Hennepin, Scott and Dakota counties.
Besides adding the theater request, county officials removed a $3 million bonding request for the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.
Council OKs $10M in bonds for projects
The Hopkins City Council last week issued $10 million in bonds to finance road and facility projects for the year.
About $6.6 million would go toward the reconstruction of Blake Road, smaller street and utility projects and replacement of city equipment.
The rest would be used to expand and upgrade the Hopkins Pavilion, a sports arena.
Blake Road will be reconstructed from Excelsior Boulevard to Hwy. 7, in part to accommodate the proposed Southwest light-rail line. Hennepin County is contributing about $6.3 million for the project, and the city is expected to issue more bonds in 2019.
The Hopkins Pavilion will be closed from May until early September for the reconstruction project, which includes adding a warming house and replacing the arena’s refrigeration system.
The Hopkins Youth Hockey Association and Hopkins School District are also contributing to the project, according to city officials.
The bonds will be awarded on April 17, according to Hopkins Finance Director Nicholas Bishop. They will be paid back over a 16-year period through a tax levy and special assessment charges.
Council finalizes dockless bike program
Golden Valley has entered into a pilot program with LimeBike to deploy 500 dockless bikes in the city starting April 1.
The City Council unanimously approved the partnership with the bike-sharing company last week, making it the first city in the state to try out the system. Docked bike stations already are widespread in the Twin Cities.
LimeBike’s green bikes self-lock and have GPS tracking systems. Riders can unlock them using a smartphone app and can leave them anywhere in the city, and pay for rides by the half-hour.
LimeBike employees will maintain and monitor the bikes, which come at no cost to the city. If bikes are left in a dangerous or inappropriate location, employees are expected to retrieve them.
The pilot program will run until the end of the year, but can be canceled or extended by Golden Valley.
Other cities, including Edina and St. Louis Park, have shown interest in deploying dockless bikes in the near future.
City adopts welcome statement
The Golden Valley City Council adopted a welcome statement last week that emerged from what Mayor Shep Harris called “intense conversations” on the topic of immigration.
Last summer, a group of residents encouraged council members to approve policies to protect undocumented immigrants if they were being sought by federal authorities.
“One idea that came out of that was a welcome statement,” Harris said. “I think it’s a great way to let people know that ... anyone and everyone is welcome at Golden Valley.”
The mayor pulled the item from the council meeting’s consent agenda and read it aloud.
“The city of Golden Valley believes in and stands for the values of social equity, inclusion, and justice,” the statement read. “We embrace diversity and recognize the rights of individuals to live their lives with dignity, free from discrimination, fear, violence, and hate.”
Harris said he hoped the statement would offer direction for future proclamations or resolutions adopted by the city.
Hocevar announces bid for re-election
Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar announced last week that he will seek re-election to the position he has held since 2014.
Hocevar came to the county attorney’s office in 1995 after serving in the U.S. Navy for four years as part of the Judge Advocate General Corps.
He rose to head the criminal division and then became chief deputy, a job he held for 12 years.
He leads an office of nearly 50 people and oversees the county’s drug court and the Juvenile Crossover Youth Program, initiatives that help offenders turn their lives around, according to a news release.
He also serves as co-chairman of the Scott County Drug Prevention Task Force.
Hocevar initiated the transition to a paperless office to save money and improve efficiency, the release said.