Tag Archives: Economic Development

Budget and Parks

Our 2018 Budget focus has been long term planning, and eliminating special assessments and debt. The Parks Master Plan was a big topic of discussion.

We started the Parks Master Plan because we had no clear direction, and no understanding of how much it costs to improve our parks, or even to maintain them. Now we have a clear picture of the costs. Maintenance is our first financial hurdle. Previously, the entire parks department received about $100K for improvements per year- replacement of aged equipment, fences, benches, roofs, etc. The process of thorough inventory revealed that maintenance actually costs over 300K/year. Over the years, our parks have been treading water at best, and will be falling into full decline if we do not provide adequate funds. During our recent budget talks, we have committed to provide at least this funding. The Master Plan outlines our entire wish list for improvements and development, but we are not bound to execute every detail. We can amend as financing dictated. Some ideas are grants, private/public partnership with business and civil groups, and selling unused park space. We will be discussing all the options in the near future. The Parks Department leadership is qualified and motivated to tackle this challenge, and the council is committed to investing in our public assets. 

Check out the latest on the Parks Master Plan here.

On Septermber 5, the Council voted on the preliminary levy, and we have agreed on no more than 6% increase.

This includes:

Adjustments in wages and insurance

Potential addition of another parks maintenance employee, or more capital Parks funding, or leave this off entirely, brining the levy lower.

Police (body cams, two additional officers)

Parks and capital maintenance

It is important to note that Crystal is dramatically different from other cities: we are eliminating hidden fees, debt service payments, and assessments. We want to be transparent and upfront- what you see is what you get on your tax bill. Your tax bill from Crystal is full disclosure. At this time, the budget cannot increase by more than 6%, but can only decrease. The maximum increase amounts to approximately $40 per capita. The amount you pay depends on your property values. Property values have seen a dramatic recovery, especially in our part of town, so residential tax load is increasing. Despite this, the amount you pay can actually go down or remain unchanged. Chances are, however, if you live in the north half of town, you will see an increase.   

We are offering an opportunity for public comment on October 3, and also on December 5th, during which time we will have another presentation, and a final vote on the budget.

You can watch the tax presentation here. Click on agenda item 5.2 to jump ahead. Click here for the meeting calendar if you'd like to attend a meeting. As always, please contact me with your input!

Quiet Zone

We are really getting a rail road crossing quiet zone! Construction begins in October, and the trains will sound their last horn sometime at the end of November. Great news for the Holidays, and the overall quality of life in Section 2. Update here.

Bass Lake Road and Hwy 81

We recently acquired a four-plex apartment building near the Bass Lake Road and Hwy 81 intersection. This property was notorious for its unkempt appearance and high crime rate, and was a nuisance to the neighborhood. On October 3rd, we will decide to either tear it down and offer the lot for a single family home construction, or make slight improvements to the parking configuration and put it back on the market. Demolishing the property will make the corner more favorable for a construction of three single family homes, while preserving the building will allow the market to dictate its future, leaving room for one single family home. Area residents greatly favor demolishing the property. Their consensus is that it will cut back crime, beautify the area, and prepare the way for positive development once light rail comes through. The private market can do all these things as well, but having the city take charge appears to guarantee a positive outcome. The price tag is hefty- well over $400,000. This money comes from the Economic Development levy, and we would possibly recoup some of the costs from the sale of the lots. Check out the EDA Work Session packet here, jump to page 130 to see the details. I'm currently taking phone calls and emails from residents with their opinions on the project.

Public Works

Flashing yellow arrows are being installed at Bass Lake Road and West Broadway; 57th Ave and Broadway; Bass Lake Road and Sherborne Ave; West Broadway and 55th Ave. Flashing yellow arrows are surprisingly expensive, requiring a whole hardware update. Hennepin County and city of Crystal are splitting the cost on this set. Thanks to Public Works for making this a priority!

On a different note, we ask you not to flush "flushable" wipes.  We approved a city code regulation "banning" the flushing of wipes. This really is an impossible code to enforce, but it communicates the dangers of these wipes to our infrastructure. Public Works employees actually have to pull them out from the sewer by hand, as they do not disintegrate like toilet paper. Here is a short video from Consumer Reports demonstrating the issue.

Congratulations to Mark Ray for receiving the American Public Works Association 2017 Myron Calkins Young Leader of the Year Award! Residents have reported high levels of satisfaction with Public Works since Mark took the reigns. He is considerate, professional, and deeply committed. We are so lucky to have you in Crystal, Mark. Learn about the award here.

Bass Lake Road Street Scape

Update here.

Crystal Resident Survey

It's still going on!  Give us your feedback here

Openings on Commissions

We are looking for volunteers! Commissions serve the Council and Community by providing information and guidance on various issues. Please check here for details.

In the Community

Diaper Drive

 

 

 

 

 

Run for Rocco

 

 

 

 

 

Coat Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waffle Breakfast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Order your Crystal flag here.We also have buttons and decals available for low cost. You can pick them up at City Hall. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's all for now!  Thanks for reading!

Parks Master Plan

Planning for the future of Crystal parks is in full swing.  Having a plan will equip us to approach parks maintenance and recreation in a methodical and thoughtful manner. We have had several meetings to gather input from residents and other park users, along with a detailed and interactive survey.  Parks Open House was held on Tuesday, March 14th, and residents were able to see development ideas for several of our major parks. 

Of particular interest to residents in Section 2 is Mac Park.  Several diligent neighbors have been advocating for this park for many years.  Mac Park has a wealth of potential as a nature preserve, but is in dire need of improvement.  We are pleased to have Three Rivers Park District partnering with Crystal on revitalizing this wonderful asset!

We continue to gather input for the Parks Master Plan.  Please participate in this important process- your voice will shape the future of our parks!  Click here for more information.

EDA Revitalization Plans

Along with parks planning, the Council is focusing on encouraging economic development and beautifying Crystal.  Some parts of Crystal appear tired, shabby, and depressed.  While the city has little influence on the private market, we can make amendments to our code, improve street conditions, beautify, and promote Crystal as a vibrant and healthy community.  To help with this process, we have recently unveiled our new flag.  Council Member Elizabeth Dahl has been a champion for the development of a symbol that strongly and positively represents Crystal.  The fourteen-pointed star represents our fourteen neighborhoods, and the line represents movement and energy upward.  Please read Elizabeth’s post for an in depth introduction of the flag.

 

 

 

 

 

During our EDA work session (listen here), we have also identified specific areas of improvement.  Some of them are:

  • Improve road conditions on 42nd and Douglas Drive, under-ground utilities, work with Almstead’s to improve traffic flow in and out of their parking lot, see if they would considered adding an outdoor patio.
  • Beautify Douglas Drive and 36th Ave- that’s an area with healthy development, it just needs a little TLC to make it more attractive and inviting.
  • We are currently working on plans to re-structure Bass Lake Road between the proposed LRT station and the Crystal Shopping Center (along Becker Park).  There is a possibility of providing incentives to businesses to improve their store-fronts as well.  This could be completed by fall of 2017.  We’ve received a substantial grant from Hennepin County to fund the project. 

These are just a few of the ideas we’re working on!  Final plans will not be considered until April or May. 

Phase 16 Skyway Street Reconstruction

This is our last phase! Keep an eye on this page for updates.  We will be voting on the final assessment amount sometime in April.  Here is the most recent letter that was sent out to residents. A Street Reconstruction Completion Celebration will be held on Wednesday, May 10, 6:00pm, at Skyway Park!

Police Body Cams

The process of implementing body cameras is slow and deliberate.  At this time we are in the pilot stage, with plans for the department to be fully equipped in 2018.  We recently approved the first purchase of cameras to be worn by select Officers.  Once this program is fully implemented, the police department will be biannually reviewed by an independent body.  The first review will be held in 2019.   Click here for more information.

Community

We have had a number of bowling events, the first annual Masquarade Ball, unveiling of the new Crystal Flag, presentation of the first ever Good Neighbor Award (Congratulations Shaun and Heather O'Hara!), Fire Fighters Fighting Hunger, and other wonderful events.  Here are a few things on the horizon:

Plant Sale through the Crystal Fund for Community Progress

Click here for more info

Arbor Day and Parks Clean Up

Wednesday, May 3, 6:00pm, Yunkers Park. 

Bee Friendly Flower Plant

Saturday, May 6th, 8:00am, Becker Park. 

First Music in the Park of the season

Minnesota State Band

Wednesday, May 10th, 7:30pm, Becker Park

Glow in the Dark Golf- Beyond the Yellow Ribbon 

May 19th- Details Coming Soon!

Airport Open House

Keep an eye out for details!  I hear there will be Fireworks this year. 

http://www.crystalairportopenhouse.com/

 Crystal Historical Society

The Community Outreach Task Force will be working on setting up a Historical Society.  Details coming soon!

Last but not least, take a look at the summer Parks and Rec brochure!  It’s my favorite so far, and it’s chock full of wonderful activities. 

We are always looking for volunteers to help with events and projects.  Sign up here.