Uptown update for Uptownites

Dear friends and neighbors;

Happy holidays, I hope you are having a great season.  Those of you with businesses, I hope it’s been a good week.  I thought that I would provide you an update as to what is going on with Uptown (West 2nd street).  In short we are getting some things done in the city.  Uptown has the potential to be one of the most desirable retail locations in Southeast Minnesota in less than 5 years, but we must all work to make that a reality.

In 2011, despite the tough times and record low capital spending we were able to add an additional connection between Cascade Lake Park and Uptown.  The new stretch of trail runs behind the Mayo surface lot.  We hope to add 2 more connections in the future as well as completing the loop around the lake.  The Arianna Macnamara Bridge is now complete and links the Douglas state trail to Uptown.  Even in November this appears to be a heavily used non-motorized connection.

Unfortunately I had to lead an effort to get property owner Dennis Weestrand to evict a business engaging in prostitution and human sex trafficking from the area.  Despite some legal threats I was successful.  Before my actions Dennis had refused to work with police for 6 months because as he said, “Times are tough.”  I will not allow businesses like China Massage to take away from your area.

The mural project at Shades of Green looked great in its first full summer.  Nice job.  The doubling of the size of Quarry Ridge will bring many more people to the area.  SEMCIL’s beautiful new facility has opened.  I look forward to checking it out.

I held an information session in the spring attend by 30-40 people.  We will hold many more to take input as this project progresses.  Right now 2nd street SW is owned and maintained by the county, if we are able to do a road project at the end of the project it would be likely owned by the city.  I will be holding a session at Shorewood as soon as I can pin down a time.

Recently city engineer Richard Freese secured $2.125 Million in federal road funds for 2015 for the reconstruction of 2nd Street SW from TH 52 to West Circle Drive.  The City can internally borrow funds to move the project up a couple of years.  We succeeded in having the project included in our sales tax proposal.  The local Tea Party (and their elected officials’) insistence on moving the sales tax referendum to 2012 instead of 2011 killed our ability to do this needed project in 2012 and probably increased the cost.

I have requested that planning and design for the project be completed in 2012.  Given the experience and thousands of dollars in pro bono work done by Yaggy Colby, I would like to see them continue to perform the planning and design contract work.  I have asked that we also hire a business consultant to help the 100 business prepare for and survive the construction.  I am hopeful for construction in 2013.

This project would include safety improvements at 23rd Avenue and allow for additional safe pedestrian crossings.  The project will likely see the biggest improvements between Highway 52 and 23rd avenue with additional safety and aesthetic improvements between 23rd Ave and West Circle Dr.

To do an attractive project will require passage of the sales tax, otherwise there will be only minimal improvements for the next 20 years.

What you need to do:

  • Contact the Olmsted County Commissioners and ask them to dedicate their 2012 planned roadway resurfacing dollars to the 2013 reconstruction project to be used by the City for preparing the project design plans and specifications.
  • Contact the city council, especially Dennis Hanson (who has been supportive) to ensure planning and design funding is included in the 2012 budget.
  • Make sure that sales tax referendum passes in 2012.
  • Let me know of any email updates.

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