Mounds View council discusses its priorities with County Commissioner Huffman

County Road 10 improvements, sound wall for Laporte neighborhood are emphasized

The Mounds View City Council on Feb. 11 spoke with Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman about the city’s priorities and goals.

Blake Huffman

Blake Huffman

Huffman, a former Shoreview City Councilmember, was elected this past November and represents District 1, which includes most of Mounds View, as well as Shoreview, Arden Hills, North Oaks, White Bear Township, Vadnais Heights and Gem Lake.

Huffman said the county’s number one legislative priority is to secure funding for the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) in Arden Hills.

Last November, the Ramsey County Board voted 5-2 to purchase 427 acres of TCAAP from the federal government and hire a contractor to remove the buildings and remediate the contaminated soil. The county’s total final cost is $30 million for purchase and cleanup, plus additional improvements to the Highway 96 and Highway 10 interchange. The county will sell bonds to cover most of the cost and plans to repay those loans after the land is sold.

The city of Arden Hills and Ramsey County each approved an agreement that forms a joint development authority (JDA) and outlines each entity’s development responsibilities. Huffman, along with County Commissioner Rafael Ortega, two Arden Hills City Council members, and a citizen appointed by the city, will serve on the JDA.

Huffman said that once the JDA is up and running, the city of Arden Hills will review and redo its master plan as needed. There will also be opportunities for the public to weigh in on the redevelopment project, including residents who live in nearby cities.

Regarding redevelopment in Mounds View, Mayor Joe Flaherty said the City Council is very passionate about the County Road 10 corridor, drawing more businesses into the community and keeping the businesses that are already in the city.

He said the cities of Mounds View, Blaine and Spring Lake Park agreed on renaming County Road 10 to Northtown Boulevard, a recommendation made by a task force that represented the three cities. Originally, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) estimated the cost would total approximately $50,000, but the projected cost increased to about $400,000 after it was determined that the length of “Northtown Boulevard” would require reinstalling sign structures to mount the new signage.

Flaherty said a breakdown of why it would cost so much has not been provided by MnDOT, and the businesses along the corridor would like to see the name changed.

Huffman said that Jim Tolaas, director of public works and engineer for Ramsey County, thought the estimate seemed high as well, and Huffman suggested that a meeting be scheduled with the city of Mounds View, the county and MnDOT to better understand the matter.

Flaherty also said the city continues to request the construction of a sound wall in the Laporte neighborhood, across the street from Medtronic. There were sound issues when Highway 610 went in, Flaherty said, and the sound has increased – especially during rush hour – because of the highway’s expansion project, in addition to the bounce back off the Medtronic buildings.

“We’ve been asking for an extension of the wall for many years, and we keep getting told it’s way down on the list of priorities,” he said.

Huffman told the council he would contact MnDOT about the potential for a sound wall.

Councilmember Gary Meehlhause said the city has been looking into planting trees in the County Road 10 median, but the county has said planting trees would not be permitted. He said Arden Hills and Shoreview made aesthetic enhancements to County Road 96 and asked Huffman if those improvements were done at the expense of the city. He also asked how Shoreview was able to work with Ramsey County.

Huffman said he believes that the city did pay “a good chunk,” and the improvements occurred while the road was being reconstructed. He said he would follow-up with city staff for additional information.

Ramsey County Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire, who represents District 2, is expected to attend the Feb. 25 Mounds View City Council meeting. District 2 includes New Brighton, the southeast corner of Mounds View, St. Anthony, Roseville, Little Canada and Lauderdale.

 

Contact Kassie Petermann at kassie.petermann@ecm-inc.com

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