River-to-River Greenway keeps moving forward

Progress continues on the River-to-River Greenway in West St. Paul. 

On Oct. 8, the city council voted to approve a joint powers agreement with Dakota County for the Robert Street grade-separated crossing and trail connections. 

City Manager Ryan Schroeder said that back in November 2017 the council adopted a resolution responding to the county’s desire to construct the greenway through the community. 

“In that resolution, the council set forth what your requirements were to further development of that greenway,” he said. 

The requirements were to ensure that property acquisition required for the greenway was funded by third parties in order to protect city taxpayers and that there not be any affects on development in the city. The third requirement was that construction and maintenance costs also be paid by third parties, like the county. 

Since that time, city and county staffers worked on the joint powers agreement, which lays out the rights and responsibilities of both West St. Paul and Dakota County.

In September, the Dakota County Physical Development Committee approved a draft agreement that provided for right-of-way acquisitions for funding of the project. 

Schroeder said the agreement lays out what rights-of-way or easements are needed to construct the greenway, between Livingston Avenue and the area of Oakdale and Thompson avenues, and who will pay for various parts of the work.

Starting with just east of Livingston, the city holds the title for the former Blockbuster site. Schroeder said the city would be selling roughly 70 feet of right-of-way there for the greenway. 

The site of AutoZone will require a total purchase of the property, Schroeder said. 

A portion the YMCA parcel, which will be home to a new Hy-Vee, is necessary as well. The former Thompson Oaks Golf Course will be a part of the greenway corridor and a wetland reclamation project will take place there as well.

Mayor Jenny Halverson said city staff and the city attorney have put a lot of time into the project, as well as those at the county. 

Council member Dick Vitelli said that with a new town center on the west side of Robert Street and eyes on future development, all of the developers they have met with are excited about the new trail.

“They all show it in their concept plan,” said Jim Hartshorn, community development director.

Council member Jim Bellows said while this is an exciting step, it doesn’t mean the greenway is a done deal — there are still a number of steps that have to be taken. 

Schroeder said some $2.2 million in state funding for the greenway is on the table, pending varoius approvals. To secure the funding, the city and county have to both approve the joint powers agreement, which then needs to be approved by the Metropolitan Council, as well as the state.

 

—Hannah Burlingame 

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