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A property known as Block 89, between the Mississippi River, 11th Street, Main Street and Pullman Avenue has been gathering attention from developers. Two companies have approached the city with preliminary proposals on either end of the housing spectrum, and more companies have expressed interest in the site. One developer, High Pointe Development has proposed as many as 54 small homes around 820 square feet in size. They expect the homes would cost around $200,000 and could be marketed as first family homes or for senior citizens to downsize.
Three candidates are battling it out in a state Senate special election Feb. 12 that could narrow control of the Senate. The Senate seat was vacated when then-Democratic Sen. Dan Schoen resigned in December amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Former state representatives Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, and Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, are facing off in the Senate race, with Hastings Libertarian candidate Emily Mellingen also running.
Longtime Legislator Denny McNamara beat out newcomer James E. Brunsgaard III in a Republican primary challenge Jan. 29. After winning 85 percent of the vote in the primary, McNamara earned his spot on the Feb. 12 special election ballot for the vacant District 54 Senate seat. The seat was opened after former DFL Sen. Dan Schoen resigned in December amid allegations of sexual misconduct. "I really am humbled by the support throughout the district; it's cool to see," McNamara said. About 1,500 votes were cast in the Republican primary.
Cottage Grove's new Director of Public Safety Pete Koerner is ready to keep the department moving in the same direction, with a few new initiatives in mind. Koerner, currently a Cottage Grove police captain, was selected as the new Director of Public Safety after Craig Woolery announced his retirement last September. Koerner started with the department in 1992 as a community service officer, and eventually moved up to patrol officer, school resource officer, detective, sergeant, captain and now public safety director.
Denny McNamara and James E. Brunsgaard III will face off in a primary Jan. 29 to secure the Republican spot on a Senate District 54 special election ballot. The two Hastings Republicans filed to run in the special election triggered after former Sen. Dan Schoen resigned from office amidst sexual misconduct allegations. The two Republican filings prompted the primary election.
The region made it through the Monday, Jan. 22, blizzard without any fatalities, though not without any incidents. Cottage Grove public safety reported about six crashes and 13 stalled or spun-out vehicles, though none resulted in injuries. Woodbury public safety responded to about 15 crashes and over 20 vehicles off the road, stuck, spun out or stalled between Monday and Tuesday. There were only a handful of minor accidents and a few vehicles off the road in Newport and St. Paul Park.
Another domino to move the Gateway Corridor bus rapid transit Gold Line forward has fallen, after the Federal Transit Administration accepted the project into a program Jan. 19 that could lead to matched funding. The Gold Line is now part of the FTA's "New Starts" program, which assists transit projects that exceed $300 million. With the Gold Line estimates ringing in over $420 million, the designation into the program helps it gain eligibility for federal matching funds, allowing up to half of the tab to be picked up by the FTA.
The former swimming pool site will be converted into three Habitat for Humanity homes. City Council transferred ownership of the property at 85th and Granada to the Economic Development Authority at the Jan. 3 meeting, in order to be able to sell it for development. A new use for the municipal pool building, empty since its close in 2011 with the exception of some Parks Department storage, was a topic of conversation for City Council last year.
The Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce has hired an executive director to lead it forward as it continues to revamp its role in the community. Jennifer Wenshau started her role as executive director Jan. 2. Chamber president Jeff Carter said after the significant growth in the Chamber over the last 18 months to two years, the timing was right to start a full-time staffer. "This is the big change for us," Carter said. "(In the past), we tried to do as we have always done, and taking that leap is hard. That increase makes it more feasible."
A lawsuit filed against the Washington County Community Development Agency by Newport business owners over a TIF (tax increment financing) district was dismissed. Libby Real Estate Holdings, LLC; Gale Libby and Mark Court, LLC filed the complaint back in May 2017, arguing that the TIF district was set up illegally. A Washington County judge Jan. 10, 2018, dismissed the complaint, allowing the CDA to move ahead with TIF district activities as planned.