Beautification efforts, business development are priorities
The Mounds View City Council reviewed the 2002 County Road 10 Reconstruction and Revitalization Plan during its Jan. 7 work session.
Mayor Joe Flaherty said there are a lot of good ideas within the plan that he would like to maintain and there are others that are no longer pertinent.
“We have a tremendous opportunity and obligation to set the vision for County Highway 10,” he said.
City Administrator Jim Ericson said city staff is looking for the council to identify clear goals and objectives and provide direction on what they hope to accomplish.
Councilmember Gary Meehlhause said the 2002 study discusses reconfiguring Highway 10 and reconfiguring the intersections. He said those are great ideas but questioned if they are feasible because “tremendous costs” are associated with a couple of those projects.
“I feel that as a council we need to concentrate on business development of Highway 10 and how to try to make it happen,” he said.
Meehlhause added that the city currently has control of only one property along the corridor, the former Premium Stop parcel. The EDA purchased the property in 2006 and later demolished the blighted gas station and car wash on the site.
The rest of the properties along County Road 10 are privately owned, he said, and developers are more willing to work with cities that have control of properties.
“I am a firm believer in ‘build it and they will come’ type of a thing. … Things have to happen to make other things happen,” Flaherty said.
He gave the example that Mounds View Square underwent a complete redevelopment and is now almost 100 percent full. “We see just the opposite with Silver View Plaza,” he said. “There has not been any improvements to that and nothing happens.”
Flaherty said the city needs to begin physically making improvements along the corridor that will be cost-effective and that will fit within the budget.
“What about really promoting our community through an advertising campaign?” Councilmember Carol Mueller asked. “We have a lot of really wonderful things going on in our town that I don’t think a lot of other communities know about. They think of us as a pass-through community, and they forget that there’s a lot that our city has to offer.”
She said the Mermaid Event Center and AmericInn Hotel on Highway 10 is truly a destination. Mueller said that when she talks with people who don’t know where Mounds View is, she mentions the Mermaid and then everybody knows where it is.
“Maybe we need to embrace that landmark and do a promotion of how great our city is and look at what we have to offer,” she said, adding that Mounds View has a terrific community center and convention center. She also noted Zero Gravity Trampoline Park and Corvette Specialties store.
“Apple Tree Dental, when it gets up and running, will be like the Mayo Clinic of dental,” Mueller said.
The city is looking at expanding marketing efforts, Ericson said. During the holidays, the Clear Channel billboards displayed ads about the community center and ads that encouraged residents to shop at Mounds View businesses. He said a couple more spots have recently been approved that focus on the message of growing businesses in Mounds View.
Ericson told the council that the city could look at less conventional methods of spreading the word about Mounds View and expand ways of advertising the community.
Flaherty said promotional marketing of the city is something that needs to be done, but it’s a different discussion for another time.
The city has talked about putting plantings in the corridor’s medians, he said, asking if the council would want to pay for curbs or guardrails.
Councilmember Sherry Gunn said most cities have trees in boulevards, especially in shopping districts or downtown areas.
Economic Development Specialist Heidi Steinmetz told the council that Ramsey County has said trees cannot be planted in the County Road 10 medians because of visibility issues.
The county’s primary concern, Ericson said, was the possibility of cars exiting the roadway and hitting a tree. The 2002 plan shows an elevated median so that trees are not sitting in the valley between the two roadways. The design includes a culvert and guardrail. He said he thinks the design is possible along County Road 10.
Steinmetz said she would look into and clarify whether trees are prohibited along the corridor regardless of curb and/or guardrail.
She said EDC Commissioner Dan Larson’s idea is to begin aesthetic improvements at County Road H and 10, and Silver Lake Road and 10 because those intersections are scheduled to be reconstructed by the county in 2014-15. The city could partner with the county and maybe pay for colored pavers for crosswalks, for example.
Flaherty agreed, saying it would be cognizant of the city to partner with the county when the intersections are redone.
Ericson asked council members if they liked the look and feel of the 2002 plan for County Road 10 intersections, which feature pedestrian treatments, decorative fencing, benches and shrubs.
Gunn said the treatment wouldn’t have to be done on all four corners of intersections.
“When I think of landscaping, beautifying on 10, to me it’s showing the outside world that we care about our community,” she said. “It’s the first thing people see when they come into our town, and right now it’s not looking so hot.”
Concerning physical improvements along the corridor, Flaherty said his first priority is between Long Lake Road and Edgewood Drive, his second priority is between Long Lake Road and County Road I and his third priority is from Edgewood Drive to County Road H2. The consensus of the council was to move forward with those three segments of road.
Flaherty said improving the corridor isn’t just for bringing in new businesses, but it’s also about residents’ quality of life.
Meehlhause agreed that aesthetically the corridor needs to be invested in, but he would be more in favor of business development over beautification if he had to choose. Increasing the commercial tax base will reduce the percent of tax revenue that residents are currently paying, which is about 70 percent, he said.
Councilmember Al Hull said he’s also more in favor of business development than beautification and isn’t sure if the city can afford to do both.
“Our philosophy in the past has been let the market dictate,” he said. “We’ve let the market dictate and look where we’re at. It’s now time for us to be aggressive.
“We need to knock down some of the buildings and get the land back to green. Then a developer might be interested,” Hull said. “We could probably beautify the whole corridor, and a developer wouldn’t be interested because only 20,000 cars are going by and we have a bunch of vacant, old buildings.”
Flaherty said the council doesn’t want the beautification efforts to stop and business development is just as important.
“Everybody’s passionate,” he said. “Everybody’s ready to do something on the corridor, and I think that’s a good sign for all of us.”
Gunn suggested looking at potential redevelopment areas at next month’s work session and discussing the visions the council has for those areas.
The council asked that the 2006 redevelopment plan for County Road 10 be provided at the next work session, and city staff will also provide information on available funding and what the county will allow within the corridor.
Contact Kassie Petermann at email@example.com