I’m trying out a new format for my council meeting recaps.  Due to the number and variety of council meetings, it may not suit to provide a detailed recap of each event.  Instead, I’m going to highlight current council issues and community news.  Each update will have up to four categories- Regular Council Meetings, Work Sessions, Other News, and Information and Announcements.  I hope this format will provide a more straightforward snapshot of what’s happening in the city!

May 5th Regular Council Meeting:

Phase 14 North Lions Park Street Reconstruction

The council authorized the sale of general obligation improvement bonds in the approximate amount of $2,620,000.  The council will consider award of the bonds at the June 16th meeting.

Welcome Park 2015 Alley Reconstruction

The council authorized a resolution approving plans and specifications and ordering the advertisement for bids.  The council will consider this project one more time before giving the final green light.

Repair of the 42nd Avenue Joint Water Commission Water Main

I covered our discussion of this topic in my previous recap.  This issue is of utmost importance to the council.  We have an aging water infrastructure, with most of the city’s water pipes installed in the 60’s when the city was being established.  The recent water main disaster shows that we must maintain our infrastructure to prevent this from happening again.  After considering several options, the council concluded that the most responsible and transparent financing option was to raise the water rate by $1.00 per 1,000 gallons.  The council voted to approve this increase, with the intention to maintain this rate until at least January 2018.  Even with the increase, Crystal provides clean and great tasting water at the rate of less than one cent per gallon.  We can now ensure that this essential service is protected for the future.

Work Sessions:

The Council continues to discuss the ways to improve our Commissions.  Read this Sun Post article for a little background.  The article now contains outdated information, however, since we have made more progress in our conversation. Our ideas are still in a rough draft format, and I welcome your input if you have any ideas to add to this discussion.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me!

We have recently interviewed candidates for the City Code Review Task Force.  This group is charged with reviewing the entire code, and recommend changes to the Council.  We have more Task Force projects planned for the future. For instance, the “Crystal Ball” Task Force will focus on organizing a new community celebration event with music and dancing. Another suggestion is to create an Urban Agriculture Task Force.

Download the Council packets here

Watch the Regular Council meetings here

Listen to the Work Sessions here.

Read Council Member Kolb's update here.

In other news:

Recently, I've been able to go on two bus tours of the city- one organized by the Parks and Rec board focusing on our parks, and the other a general tour of the city.  We were able to see the various projects in process, and get a broad understanding of the needs for improvement.  It's exciting to see the progress of the new Bassett Creek Playground, with the zipline going up first!

newPlaygroundWe have neighborhood parks with a lot of potential and in need of TLC, and this is definitely something we would like to focus on as a Council.

Another great event was the Arbor Day Celebration and Park Clean up at Forest Park.  A fun time of cleaning up, food with neighbors, and the kids planted a tree with the help of our City Forester!








Memorial Day service at Glen Haven Gardens with Julie Deshler speaking on behalf of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.


Information and Announcements:

Basset Creek Park Cleanup is tomorrow morning, Saturday, May 30th, at 9am.

Lion’s Soo Line Neighborhood Community Garden:









Frolics Buttons and Button Registration for Prize Drawings

Crystal Airport Open House

Get ready for Night to Unite!


“Citizen Connection Initiative” – The First 100 Days

Significant Progress Made Toward Goals; Work to Continue

Crystal, MN – In January 2015, incoming Crystal City Councilmembers Olga Parsons (Section II), Elizabeth Dahl (Ward 1) and Jeff Kolb (Ward 2) announced the creation of the “Citizen Connection Initiative,” a program designed to guide their priorities and decision making throughout their term in office.

April 16 represents 100 days since the three new council members were sworn in, and there is much progress to report on the initiative.

“We are pleased to announce that the Citizen Connection Initiative was embraced by most of our colleagues on the council, and with their support we have accomplished several of the initial goals we identified,” said Parsons.

Key initiatives already accomplished include:

• Implementing new council rules to govern the council in a responsible manner

• Implementing a new tracking system to monitor feedback from residents

• Testing a new interview process for boards and commissions

• Sending thank you notes to citizens who speak at council meetings

• Began the Plain Language Initiative to streamline communications from the city to residents

• Restructuring work sessions to include dedicated time to discuss issues raised by residents

• Establishing an Ordinance Review Task Force to streamline outdated ordinances

• Kept residents informed about key issues, such as the proposed rail connection, through various channels

“While we have accomplished many of our initial goals, there is still much work to be done, and we intend to keep the focus on serving the residents of Crystal and maintaining a customer service focus in the city” said Dahl.

Ongoing and upcoming initiatives include:

• Reevaluating the structure and goals of city commissions and boards

• More neighborhood meetings throughout the summer

• A traffic symposium scheduled for this fall

• A long term branding and communications strategy

“Our goal was to make the Crystal City Government more transparent, open, and responsive to its citizens, and I think we are making good progress,” said Kolb. “I look forward to building on our success over the next few years.”

As a reminder Initial steps to the Citizen Connection Initiative included a pledge by all three incoming councilmembers to do the following:

• Maintain a personal website where they will post information about key votes made by the council

• Maintain a Facebook presence where residents can interact with their representative

• Post occasional updates to about relevant community meetings

• Strive for a 72 hour or less response time to citizen inquiries

For more information on the Citizen Connection Initiative contact the individual councilmembers using the contact information below:

Olga Parsons


Elizabeth Dahl


Jeff Kolb


The Blue Line (Bottineau) Light Rail Project is currently looking for Crystal residents to serve on the Community Advisory Committee, and members from our business community for the Business Advisory Committee. The application process ends February 27, 2015. The application, along with detailed information about the positions, can be found here.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions!

Read more about the Blue Line LRT Project in my recent Council Meeting Recap.

Announcing the Citizen Connection Initiative!  I am actively taking steps to fulfil my campaign promises- to work towards a more open, accessible, and respectful city government. The Citizen Connection Initiative was created by Elizabeth Dahl, Crystal City Council, Ward 1; Jeff Kolb-Crystal City Council, Ward 2; and myself, in which we outline our course of action as council representatives. We plan to work with the rest of the council on this project, starting at the January 8 work session.



Incoming Crystal Councilmembers to Launch “Citizen Connection Initiative”

Initiative Will Help Fulfill Key Campaign Commitments

Crystal, MN, January 7, 2015 – Incoming Crystal City Councilmembers Olga Parsons (Section II), Elizabeth Dahl (Ward 1) and Jeff Kolb (Ward 2) are today announcing the creation of the “Citizen Connection Initiative,” an program which will guide their priorities and decision making throughout their term in office.

“During the campaign, one common theme we all heard from the citizens we spoke to was that they didn’t feel as if they had a voice in their city government,” said Parsons.  “After the election the three of us sat down to discuss how we could tackle this problem once we were sworn in, and ‘The Citizen Connection Initiative’ is the result of those discussions.”

The Citizen Connection Initiative is a program that will incorporate several steps to make the Crystal City Government more transparent, open, and responsive to its citizens.

“This initiative will really serve as a guide to our work on the council over the next few years,” said Dahl.  “Oftentimes politicians make promises during their campaigns and then abandon those promises as soon as they are elected. We wanted to approach this job differently.”

The steps of the program are a mix between things that elected officials can choose do as individuals, and initiatives that the new councilmembers will propose to the full council once they are sworn in.

Initial steps to The Citizen Connection Initiative include a pledge by all three incoming councilmembers to do the following:

  • Maintain a personal website where they will post information about key votes made by the council
  • Maintain a Facebook presence where residents can interact with their representative
  • Post occasional updates to about relevant community meetings
  • Strive for a 72 hour or less response time to citizen inquiries

In addition, residents can expect to see their new council representatives at community meetings and out knocking on doors having one-on-one conversations during non-election years.

Other steps of The Citizen Connection Initiative will include the proposal of key reforms to the way council meetings are structured, how city business is conducted, and how the city interacts with its residents.  Discussion and implementation of these new initiatives will require the support of the full council and city staff. Residents can expect to hear more about these proposals at upcoming council meetings and work sessions.

“As newly elected council members, we have identified some short, medium, and long term goals we want to accomplish to make Crystal’s government more responsive,” said Kolb. “We look forward to having some great conversations with the rest of the council and gaining the perspective of their experience.  The majority of the existing members of the council share our interest in building a more responsive city government, and I expect we’ll be able to make quite a bit of progress with their partnership and leadership.”

For more information on The Citizen Connection Initiative contact the individual councilmembers using the contact information below:


Jeff Kolb                                  Olga Parsons                                   Elizabeth Dahl
612-314-5652                         612-217-2337                                  612-567-3353