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Stillwater’s Summer Festival Will Once Again Be Called … Lumberjack Days

Lumberjack Days will return to downtown Stillwater next summer. The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday night will discuss amending the city’s contract with The Locals, possibly allowing them to use the name and logo for Stillwater’s traditional summer festival, Lumberjack Days. The Locals brought a summer festival back to Stillwater two summers ago. When The Locals were awarded the contract to put on Stillwater’s community festival, they entered into negotiations to use the name Lumberjack Days, but couldn’t come to an agreement. So The Locals named their festival Stillwater Log Jam. Continue Reading →

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Lake Elmo Park Reserve Closed Nov. 7-8, 14-15 for Deer Harvest

Lake Elmo Park Reserve will be closed Nov. 7-8 and again on Nov. 14-15 for a controlled deer management harvest. Only hunters who have obtained a special lottery permit from the Minnesota DNR will be allowed into the park for the deer harvest. All participants will be required to attend a safety and deer harvest orientation course. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater City Council Stands Behind Vote to Plant Trees in Lowell Park

The city of Stillwater will move forward with a plan to plant trees in Lowell Park. Volunteers will plant the trees on Saturday, Sept. 19. A few months ago, the city was approached by volunteer to design a tree plan for the north Lowell Park area and the Browns Creek bike trail from Mulberry Street to Laurel Street. A plan was presented to council in August that showed a four different types of trees including, 21 Red Buds along the trail, 10 Red Maples in Mulberry Circle, four Pin Oaks in Mulberry Point and 9 White Oaks in the park from Mulberry to Myrtle Street. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater City Council Approves Plan to Plant 31 Trees in and around Lowell Park

In the next couple of weeks, the city of Stillwater — with a group of volunteers — will plant 31 trees along the Browns Creek Trail and in Lowell Park. On Tuesday night, Ward 2 Council Member Dave Junker cast the lone vote in opposition to the tree-planting plan, saying the proposal needs more review. “This is moving pretty quick,” Junker said. “To plant 31 trees in Lowell Park is a pretty big change. I saw this in a staff report for five seconds. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater City Council Denies Variances for Indoor Shooting Range

The Stillwater City Council granted the Minnesota Shooting Academy a special use permit for the proposed indoor shooting range, but at half the size. The Minnesota Shooting Academy had requested two variances from city code when they proposed a 7,000 square foot indoor shooting range and outdoor sporting goods retailer in the Simonet’s Furniture Building. One variance was requested for the number of parking spaces the city required. The other variance was to the increase the limit of commercial recreation space allowed in the office park. The council on a 3-1 vote — Council Member Mike Polehna dissenting, and Tom Weidner recusing himself from the discussion — approved the special use permit, but denied the two variances to city ordinance. Continue Reading →

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Oak Park Heights City Council Approves 38-Lane Indoor Shooting Range

The Oak Park Heights City Council on Tuesday night approved an indoor gun range and retail store that will be located Memorial Avenue, across Highway 5 from Stillwater Area High School, and south of Stillwater Motors. The council passed Range 082 Indoor Shooting’s proposal on a 5-0 vote. The plan is to open the range in spring. This is the second indoor gun range and retail store that has been proposed in the Stillwater area. The 8,500 square foot space will feature a 38-lane shooting range with classrooms and retail shopping space would be housed within a new 49,000 square foot building planned to be located on Memorial Avenue. Continue Reading →

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Second Indoor Shooting Range Proposed in the Stillwater Area

A second indoor gun range and retail store has been proposed in the Stillwater area. The Oak Park Heights City Council on Tuesday will hear a proposal for Range 082 Indoor Shooting, an 8,500 square foot, 38-lane shooting range with classrooms and retail shopping space would be housed within a new 49,000 square foot building planned to be located on Memorial Avenue, across Highway 5 from Stillwater Area High School, and south of Stillwater Motors. The other proposed indoor gun range and retail store, Minnesota Shooting Academy, would be located in the Simonet Furniture Building on Curve Crest Boulevard in Stillwater. Minnesota Shooting Academy is proposing a 14-lane shooting range with classrooms and a retail space. Their proposal was tabled last week by the Stillwater City Council for further discussion about zoning and whether or not the city should adopt an indoor gun range ordinance. Continue Reading →

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Coming Soon to Lowell Park: Dozens of Trees

More than a dozen trees will soon be planted in Lowell Park. A volunteer landscape architect recently submitted a plan to city staff to add dozens of trees in north Lowell Park, Stillwater Public Works Director Shawn Sanders told the City Council on Tuesday. The plan calls for four different species of trees to be planted in different areas between Laurel Street and the Pedestrian Plaza. The first part of the plan is to plant a series of 21 redbud trees — that grow to be about 20 feet tall — along the bike trail between Laurel and Mulberry streets. “The plan is to plant the trees so when the corridor opens up you see the steeples for the courthouse and the church,” Sanders said. Continue Reading →

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City Council Moves Forward with Study to Explore Burying Power Lines in Lowell Park

The city of Stillwater will continue to explore the possibility of burying power lines in Lowell Park from Nelson Street to Laurel Street. The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday directed city staff to move forward with Xcel Energy to complete a more detailed engineering estimate — if TIF money can be used to pay for the $30,000 study. A preliminary, rough-cost estimate for Xcel to bury the electrical lines in Lowell Park is about $1.5 million, Stillwater Public Works Director Shawn Sanders told the council. Other financial factors Sanders said the city will want to take into account — that will not be a part of Xcel’s estimate — include:

The cost of relocating overhead cable and telephone lines

The cost of relocating any private overhead electrical services. Finding locations for new transformers

The cost of replacing the lighting for the parking lots after the power poles are removed. Continue Reading →

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City Council Continues Discussion About Adding Xcel Surcharge Fee to Bury Power Lines in Lowell Park

The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday will discuss the possibility of burying power lines in Lowell Park. The idea of burying the power lines — for a surcharge fee — in Lowell Park from Nelson Street to Laurel Street first emerged in February during an otherwise monotonous Stillwater City Council discussion about renewing gas and electric franchise fees for 2015. Burying the electrical would take the power poles out of the line of sight in Lowell Park, and in downtown, but it comes at a cost. A preliminary, rough-cost estimate for Xcel to bury the electrical lines downtown is about $1.5 million, Stillwater Public Works Director Shawn Sanders has told the council. To get a better understanding of the true costs, Xcel would need to do a more detailed engineering estimate, which would cost the city $30,000, and would take three or four months complete. Continue Reading →

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Washington County Board Begins 2016 County Budget Process

A Washington County news release:

The Washington County Board of Commissioners began the process of crafting the 2016 budget on Aug. 11. The recommended 2016 county budget would increase the county net tax levy by 3.49 percent, to $92.8 million, and is based on the county receiving non-levy revenue of $94.1 million. If the budget is approved with the recommended increase in the property tax levy, it would mean that the median valued home in the county of $247,400, assuming its value increased just more than 1 percent since 2015, would have an $18 increase in its county property tax levy. The county’s operating expenditures for the year would be $157.2 million, an increase of 3.46 percent, with capital expenditures of $26.6 million, excluding bond-funded projects. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater City Council Begins Working on 2016 Budget

A city of Stillwater news release about Tuesday’s Budget Workshop:

The City Council will conduct a budget work session at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug 18, in the Stillwater Council Chambers at City Hall. Council members will review and consider all department, partner agency and community agency budget requests and all capital requests. Budget meetings are open to the public and are streamed on the web and broadcast on local cable channels. The preliminary recommended budget would increase the City’s net tax levy by 8.38%, to $12.29 million and is based upon a review of all revenue sources and expenditure requests. Key proposals and initiatives included in the preliminary 2016 budget include:

Implementing provisions in the preliminary city strategic planning report:

developing City economic development strategy

updating the City events strategy

implementing state performance management program

creation of additional key staff positions

completing a classification compensation study for all city positions

Providing payment to the Town of Stillwater pursuant to the orderly annexation agreement;

Election services for the Presidential election year;

Funding capital outlay projects, City Hall renovation/Police Dept. remodeling and Street

Improvement program;

Development of the preliminary 2016 budget was based on the following factors:

Continued demand for increased services in a growing community;

Priority items/programs included in the preliminary strategic planning report;

Increased employee compensation and health insurance costs;

Debt service funding;

Maintaining core physical, technology and facility infrastructure;

Maintaining partner agency and community agency funding. Continue Reading →

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20th Annual Rumble on the Deck is July 9 at the Freight House in Stillwater

The 20th annual Ma Rad’s Rumble on the Deck is set for Thursday, July 9 at the Freight House in downtown Stillwater. Despite a recommendation from Stillwater Police Chief John Gannaway to deny the event based on the impact a large number of loud motorcycles flocking to the event has on the community, the City Council with a 4-0 vote (Tom Weidner was absent) approved the permit for the 20th annual Rumble on the Deck. The Freight House will provide security for the event, as well as pay for 6 Stillwater police officers and a parking enforcement officer to work the event. Rumble on the Deck runs from 6-10 p.m., on Thursday, July 9. “I recommend a denial of this event,” Gannaway said. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater City Council Enacts Bloody Mary Bills, Allows Sale of Beer Growlers on Sundays

Craft beer drinkers may be able to purchase growlers of beer from Stillwater breweries in the very near future. The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday will consider an ordinance amending the city’s liquor law to enact the Minnesota legislature’s recently-passed Bloody Mary bills, and allow breweries to sell growlers of beer on Sundays. The amendment will allow Stillwater restaurant-goers to order a Bloody Mary – or any other alcoholic beverage – starting at 8 a.m. on Sundays, two hours earlier than current laws allow. It will also allow the sale of growlers — and 750 ml brews — at local breweries and brewpubs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. If approved, changes would go into effect July 1. Continue Reading →

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Election Day: Stillwater Area Public Schools Put Bond Proposal to a Vote

It’s Election Day. Stillwater Area Public Schools is putting a $97.5 million bond request before voters today in a special election. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 12. Voters may register at the polls. Find your polling location

The “tax-neutral “bond request to improve facilities, includes an addition and renovations at the high school, construction of a new elementary school in the south part of the district and a new transportation hub. Continue Reading →

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Omnibus Education Finance Bill with Nearly $157 Million in New Spending Passed by House

From the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services:

A plan that would dedicate nearly $157 million in additional spending to the state’s E-12 budget and implement numerous policy reforms that Republican leaders say aim to improve the quality of classroom instruction for students received a contentious “thumbs up” on the House Floor Saturday. As expected, the debate leading up the 69-61 vote to pass HF844 — the omnibus education finance bill — was largely drawn along party lines. The bill now goes to the Senate where Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) is the sponsor. Sponsored by Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie), the backbone of the bill includes a 0.6 percent increase to the per-pupil basic funding formula each year in the 2016-17 biennium and devotes many of its proposed reforms to closing the achievement gap. Those provisions range from a $30 million increase in early learning scholarship dollars for low-income families to reforms to teacher licensure and seniority-based layoff policies. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater City Council Approves Revised Downtown Parking Recommendation

The Stillwater City Council is expected to approve the Downtown Parking Commission’s revised recommendation to address the downtown parking lots budget deficit during Tuesday’s meeting at City Hall. The Parking Commission’s revised recommendation to close the downtown parking system’s budget deficit  includes:

Raising the monthly business parking permit fee from $10 to $20. Increasing the monthly downtown residential parking permit fee from $10 to $20. Raising parking violation fines from $15 to $25. According to city records, the downtown parking lot system has an average budget deficit of $25,000 per year. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater Set to Become Minnesota’s Fourth Pollinator-Friendly City

Stillwater will become the fourth pollinator-friendly city in Minnesota Tuesday night. Last fall, the Pollinator Friendly Alliance made a presentation to the council requesting that the city support their efforts to ban the use of pollinator-harming pesticides in city parks and planting areas. On Tuesday night, a pollinator-friendly resolution will be passed as part of the consent agenda. The proposed resolution says:

The city encourages healthy environments including food sources, clean water and shelter for pollinators through existing programs and new opportunities. The city, and its contractors will consider safe alternatives to pollinator-harming pesticides, and in particular cease the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, where possible on city property. Continue Reading →

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Lake Elmo Park Commission Protests City Administrator’s Dismissal with a Walkout

The Lake Elmo Park Commission on Monday night tabled their agenda and staged a walkout in protest of the City Council’s decision to part ways with City Administrator Dean Zuleger. In a 3-2 vote on March 10, the Lake Elmo City Council dismissed Zuleger despite the pleas of dozens of residents, business owners and staff members. No reason was given. Lake Elmo City Council members Julie Fliflet, Jill Lundgren and Anne Smith voted to dismiss Zuleger from his position. “We were all upset by the way the city council voted, and the commission decided to do this as a protest to the council vote,” Lake Elmo Park Commissioner Pam Hartley told Lillie News. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater’s New Bridgeview Park Will Offer Bike Trails, Boat Landing, Public Docks & More

The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday night approved the Bridgeview Park master plan. The Bridgeview Master Plan will include the Loop Bike Trail as a mitigation item for the St. Croix River Crossing Project, walking trails, a picnic area, a DNR dock, green space, the Shoddy Mill and Warehouse buildings and a municipal dock. One of the most anticipated parts of the $10.7 million plan for the 17-acre Bridgeview Park on the south end of downtown, is the prospect of a municipal dock. The council  on Tuesday approved a “target location” for public docking in the area between Nelson Street and the Bergstein buildings in Bridgeview Park. Continue Reading →

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Public Meetings Set to Discuss Plans for Oak Park Crossing Park

The Oak Park Heights Parks Commission will present draft design concept plans for the city’s newest park, Oak Park Crossing, this month during two open houses for public comment and review. The open houses will be held at Oak Park Heights City Hall from 10 – 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 14 and from 7 – 8 p.m. on Monday, March 16. Oak Park Crossing Park is located on the Moelter Fly Ash pit site south of Highway 36, west of Cover Park, and east of Osgood Avenue near Phil’s Terra Hideaway. The park has an established prairie landscape with walking trails, a picnic pavilion, playground and parking lot. However, the city is considering adding a splash pad, expanded walking trails, ice rink improvements, a four-season pavilion, added parking and possibly sports fields. Continue Reading →

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Municipal Docks Will Be Part of Bridgeview Park Plan Discussion

The Stillwater City Council is set to discuss the final draft of the Bridgeview Park plan Tuesday night — in what is sure to start an interesting discussion moving forward. One of the most anticipated plans for the $10.7 million, 17-acre Bridgeview Park plan south of downtown, is the prospect of a municipal dock. The proposed plan includes four possible options for locating a municipal dock. The majority of opinions expressed at the various planning meetings, is the stretch of city-owned shoreline between Nelson Street and the two Bergstein buildings in Bridgeview Park, Community Development Director Bill Turnblad said. A public dock in the alcove at Kolliner Park, Stillwater’s land on the Wisconsin side of the St. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater City Council to Discuss Parking Commission’s New Recommendations to Solve Budget Gap This Week

The Stillwater City Council will discuss the Parking Commissions new recommendation to address the downtown parking lots budget deficit during Tuesday’s council meeting at City Hall. According to city records, the downtown parking lot system has an average budget deficit of $25,000 per year. The downtown parking lot budget is separate from the parking ramp budget, which is also currently operating with a deficit. The parking ramp discussion will happen at a future date. In order to cover that shortfall, the Parking Commission on Feb. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater Parking Commission Reverses Recommendation on Expansion of Paid Parking Downtown

The Parking Commission has reversed its recommendation to the City Council to expand paid parking in lots east of Main Street this year, the Stillwater Gazette reports. Since the City Council earlier this month approved the Parking Commission’s recommendation to expand paid parking downtown, the city has received a large amount of opposition to the plan. On Feb. 19, the Parking Commission changed course — and recommended the city not expand paid parking downtown this year. The City Council will likely take up discussion on the issue during its March 3 meeting. Continue Reading →

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Parking Commission’s Recommendation for Downtown Parking Changes Still Months Away

It will likely be a couple of months before the Stillwater Parking Commission will have a  recommendation for parking rates in downtown parking lots east of Main Street. The next Parking Commission meeting is Thursday morning, but Community Development Director Bill Turnblad told the council on Tuesday night that the commission will discuss the RFP process for paid parking equipment, not parking rates. Discussions about parking rates downtown will happen in March and April, Turnblad said. Last week the Independent Business Association hosted a discussion at City Hall about the transition of turning the downtown parking lots from free to pay — something the Parking Commission has been working on for about three years, Turnblad said. “They are at the point now where they are looking at various solutions to an annual budget shortfall,” Turnblad said. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater Considers Surcharge Fee to Fund Burying Electrical Lines Downtown

During an otherwise monotonous Stillwater City Council discussion about renewing gas and electric franchise fees for the year, emerged interesting talks about burying the power lines downtown — for a surcharge fee. Burying the electrical would take the power poles out of the line of sight in Lowell Park, and in downtown, but it comes at a cost. A preliminary, rough-cost estimate of burying the electrical lines downtown is about $1.5 million, Stillwater Public Works Director Shawn Sanders told the council. City staff has been working with Xcel Energy for the last several months to review franchise fees,Stillwater City Attorney Dave Magnuson said. During those conversations, city staff “tried to convince Xcel that they should fund the undergrounding of electrical lines downtown, at their expense.”

But Xcel wouldn’t bite. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater City Council to Consider Downtown Parking Lot Fee Increase

The Stillwater City Council will consider an increase of parking fees in downtown lots. The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday will discuss a recommendation from the Parking Commission to charge $5 for all day parking in Municipal Lots 1-11 in downtown Stillwater. Currently, the city charges $5 in Lot 1, $3 in Lot 2, and Lots 3-11 are free for 3 or 4 hours, depending on the lot. Downtown Stillwater Parking Lot Rates Map

“The revenue raised with these rates falls short of paying for all operational and capital costs associated with the downtown parking system,” Community Development Director Bill Turnblad wrote in a memo to the council. The Parking Commission believes that a $5 all-day rate in Lots 1-11 would be sufficient to cover all costs, Turnblad said. The Parking Commission also hopes the rate increase will also provide some funds to offset the downtown parking ramp’s negative fund balances. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater Likely to Look Into the Appointment Process to the City Council

The Charter Commission will likely take up discussions about the appointment process to the Stillwater City Council. The Stillwater City Council appointed a Ward 2 representative this week without a formal process in place. “There is no process for appointment in the city charter,” Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski said on Thursday. “The council has to basically reinvent the wheel every time, which in my opinion, is flawed.”

In the past, the appointment process was criticized for being too private and not open to the public, Kozlowski said. This time the council wanted to open the process up, so interviews with each of the candidates were done in public, applications were submitted and a ranking system was used to bring some order to the vote. Continue Reading →

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Dave Junker Appointed to Stillwater City Council

Dave Junker has been appointed to represent Ward 2 on the Stillwater City Council. Junker will be sworn in during the first city council meeting in February. The process to appoint a representative for Ward 2 began after Mayor Ted Kozlowski was elected in November, leaving his seat on the council vacant. In December, the city put out a request for applicants with a questionnaire and request for a resume and cover letter. The council then conducted group interviews, presenting each applicant with a another series of five questions. Continue Reading →

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Former Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki Due in Court on Federal Fraud Charges this Week

Former Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki will make his first appearance in federal court this week on felony fraud charges. Harycki’s first appearance, arraignment and plea hearing is set for 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 15 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Harycki faces charges of fraudulent accounting that allegedly helped conceal more than $10 million in tax liabilities for a Twin Cities area health care business. Harycki, 51, the owner of Customized Payroll Solutions in Stillwater, was charged last month by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with conspiracy to defraud the federal government of millions of dollars by preparing and filing tax forms he knew to be fraudulent. Continue Reading →

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Stillwater Boutique Hotel Proposal Crumbles After Developers Default on TIF Contract

The Stillwater City Council has terminated a contract with Stillwater Caves LLC that would have subsidized $1.5 in funding for the redevelopment of the Joseph Wolf building on the south end of downtown. The council on Jan. 6 unanimously agreed that the developers of the $9.4 million proposed boutique hotel project were in default of their contract after they missed a second, extended deadline to provide evidence of mortgage financing or owner’s equity at the amount to fund the minimum improvements to the building. The developers also defaulted by failing to submit binding construction contracts for the construction of the minimum improvements by Dec. 31, 2014. Continue Reading →

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