Tag Archives: Community Service

I’ve been offline for a while, and need to catch up on some current issues of importance to Section 2.  For an excellent December overview, which covers the Budget and Utility Rates, please read Council Member Kolb's update here.  Take a look at that stack of reading material!  On to my update:

LRT Municipal Consent

We are in the Municipal Consent stage of the LRT project. The Blue Line Open House on Thursday, January 14th, 5:30-7pm, at the Crystal City Hall Community Room. The preliminary design plans of the project will be presented, and community input taken. The City Council will also hold a Public Hearing on February 2, 7:00pm, City Hall, Council Chambers.

Station Area Planning

Community members have been actively participating in the Station Area Planning phase of the project. One of the issues has been the use, and potential improvement, of Becker Park. Residents have singled out Becker Park as one of our most important public assets. The park is in need of updates, and there is significant excitement about the possibilities. Residents and the Council agree that Becker Parks should remain its current size; we now need careful planning and community input to bring out the best in this space.  Another issue is the pedestrian crossing over Hwy 81.  The current design and traffic conditions of the 81 and Bass Lake Road intersection make it nearly impossible for pedestrians to cross safely.  There are several options to improve this intersection and make it more user friendly, including building a pedestrian overpass. Click here to learn more about Municipal Consent and Station Area Planning.

Freight Rail Quiet Zones

City Staff are officially researching the establishment of Quiet Zones at the Canadian Pacific intersections at Douglas Drive and West Broadway. Staff is working directly with SRF (the city's quiet zone consultant), and representatives from Hennepin County, MnDOT-Rail, Federal Railroad Administration, and Canadian Pacific railroad. A meeting was recently held on the actual rail crossings to review the options. This issue will be discussed in more detail at a work session in approximately one to two months.

New Tenant at the Crystal Shopping Center

Robbinsdale School District plans to open an educational facility at the Crystal Shopping Center. This facility will be geared towards children with disabilities and adult learners. The leased space will be 42,000 square feet in the south two- thirds of the west building. Most of the space is currently vacant, with the Dollar Tree and Pro Nails Salon moving to another unit within the Shopping Center. Both the Council and Paster Properties feel that this is a positive step for the area- expanding the Shopping Center’s use by serving the community, and bringing in more consumers for established businesses. The proposed opening date for the school is July 2016.

City Code Review Task Force

City Code Review Task Force is making great progress! This Sun Post article gives a good overview of their work.

Looking for Commissioners

We are recruiting volunteers for our Commissions! Click here for more information.

Personal Update

I am due to have my third baby at the end of January, and will be on a semi-official maternity leave for approximately 6 weeks. In the meantime, I will be watching the council meetings and listening to the work sessions. My plan is to come back as soon as possible, with baby in tow.

A detailed summary of each Council Meeting is now available in this handy format:

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Upcoming Community Events

Light of Crystal Half Way Happy Hour

Friday, January 15th, 5:30pm, Buffalo Wild Wings

Facebook Event Page

Quad Community Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Bowling Fundraiser

Fundraiser to benefit our local Service Members and Veterans.

Sunday, January 31

Sign up at Doyle's Bowling & Lounge begins at 10:30 a.m.
Bowling begins at 11:00 a.m.
$20/participant
(includes 3 games, shoes & lunch)

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!

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Memorialday

 

 

 

 

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:

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Frolics Buttons and Button Registration for Prize Drawings

Crystal Airport Open House

Get ready for Night to Unite!

Our agenda for the evening was very full.  Mayor Adams was absent due to severe illness, and Council member Deshler acted as Mayor Pro tem.  Council members Dahl and Libby were also absent.

Citizen Input Time

The Council has recently put in place a tracking method that ensures timely resolutions of all constituent issues.  We receive updates on all “open” cases, and discuss ways to provide a satisfactory solution.  Our goal is to make sure no one falls through the cracks.  During this Input Time, one resident came to speak about an ongoing issue with the lack of maintenance of a pond located in her neighborhood.  This has been a problem for several years, and the whole neighborhood would like this resolved as soon as possible.  Our city manager agreed to a timeline and a plan that appears satisfactory to the resident.

First Work Session

Representatives from Hennepin County Assessor Department spoke about the process of appealing the estimated market value of a home in Crystal.  Each year, homeowners receive a letter from the County Assessor Department stating the current estimated market value of their home.  If a homeowner disagrees with the estimated value, they can appeal to the County to discuss adjusting the assessment.  Most disputes can be resolved by working directly with the assessor’s office, and some issues are brought before the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization.  The Board meets each year with the specific purpose of ensuring that all local property is correctly assessed, and judge on disputed assessments brought forward by the homeowners.  If the dispute cannot be resolved with the local board, the homeowner can appeal to the County Board, and finally to the Minnesota Tax Court.

The Crystal Board of Appeal and Equalization will meet on April 7, 2015, at 7:00pm. Click here for more information on this meeting.  Click here for more information from Hennepin County on how you can appeal the estimated market value of your home.

Regular Council Meeting

Following the approval of the agenda, we heard the following presentations:

Tech Dump event presented by the Environmental Quality Commission.  Click here for more info.

The 5th Annual “Firefighters Fighting Hunger” Drive presented by Assistant Fire Chief Joel Nelson.  Through the end of March, The West Metro Fire-Rescue District is collecting food and monetary donations to benefit The Food Group.  On Saturday, March 21st from 11:00am-3:00pm, they will be out in many of the local grocery store parking lots collecting donations.  The Crystal City Council will be assisting by bagging groceries at the Cub Foods on Hwy 100 and 36th.  I am very excited for this event!  Click here for more info.

We breezed through the Consent Agenda, heard one resident speak during Open Forum, and moved on to the Regular Agenda with the reading of disbursements over $25,000.

The Council continued by approving contributions of $750 each to NEAR and PRISM food shelves.  NEAR and PRISM food shelves serve hundreds of local families each month, and provide food for school children during the summer.  All monetary donations are matched during the month of March, and I highly encourage our residents to pitch in with this very important service to our community.

The Council considered civil penalties for the illegal sale of tobacco to an underage person by A-1 Liquor.  A-1 Liquor failed an annual compliance check conducted by the Crystal Police Department.  City Code outlines the following civil penalties that the Council may impose against the business owner:

First violation results in a fine of up to $750, and loss of tobacco license for one day.

Second violation within 24 months is a fine of up to $1,500 and a loss of license for up to five days (three days for alcohol)

Third violation within 24 months after the first is a fine of up to $2,000 and a loss of license for up to ten days.

Fourth violation within 36 months after the first is a permanent revocation of license.

The council recently changed the penalties for underage sales of tobacco and alcohol, and this was the first case in about a year.  This Sun Post article explains the history of the revision.

This was the first violation for A-1 Liquor.  The Council received the police report with details on the incident, and the business owner appeared before the council for questioning.  According to the owner, the clerk responsible for failing to properly I.D. the underage customer has dyslexia, and has been sent to receive proper treatment.  The owner was respectful and apologetic, and understood the severity of such an offense.  Following the questioning and a thorough discussion, the council unanimously voted to impose a fine of $750, but forego the license suspension.  I felt that suspending the license on the first offence in this case was too harsh.  The fine, along with the arrest and having to appear before the council, is a punishment that meets the crime.  Much tougher consequences should be reserved for repeat offenders.  I felt that the council treated this matter seriously, and A-1 Liquor fully understood their responsibility in the matter.

Next we considered imposing penalties for a failed alcohol compliance check by Liquor Liquidator.  This was their first alcohol offence, and the penalties are similar.  The owner appeared before the council, and informed us that the business purchased an electronic card reader to ensure that this never happens again.  The council had a more difficult time arriving at a consensus, with Mayor Pro tem Deshler wishing to suspend their liquor license in addition to the $750 fine.  The council finally voted to impose the fine in the full amount, and forego the license suspension, with Julie Deshler voting No.

Both decisions were difficult.  The council had to fairly balance several factors- the health and safety of our community and youth, the needs of small businesses, and imposing proper punishment that will deter repeat offending.  I feel that we were able to strike that balance.

Following this, the Council heard a presentation about Crystal’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program.

We approved a resolution ordering hearing on proposed assessment in Phase 14 North Lions Park Street Reconstruction.

We approved the 2015 Alley Reconstruction Feasibility Study.

We approved expenditure for the new Bassett Creek Playground.  This project is funded mostly through Grant money, and will be a wonderful addition to our community.

We approved several expenditures for the new Public Works facility.  Many of the purchases are coming in below budget, and we are happy to see the savings.

The council was presented with a Cooperative Agreement with Hennepin County on the purchase of the land necessary for CP-BNSF freight connector track.  This article provides some background information.  Hennepin County wants Crystal to cooperate in this process.  We felt that the language in the document needed clarification, and more discussion was necessary before approval.  Our city attorney agreed to work with the County to obtain better verbiage.  The council voted to continue the discussion during our work session on Thursday, March 19th.  The council received the revised document on Thursday, and we voted unanimously to approve the agreement.

The final item on the agenda was approving the second reading of the city code amendment relating to council rules.

EDA

We approved the sale of three residential plots to developers. We were happy to see a new company expand their operations into Crystal.

Second Work Session

The Crystal Police Department presented their annual report.  You can read it here.

City Manger Anne Norris provided an update on unresolved constituent issues.

That’s all for Tuesday, March 17th!  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like clarification, or to discuss any issues.  You can listen to the Work Sessions here, and watch the Regular Council Meeting here.