Summer in the City events begin in Coon Rapids

The city of Coon Rapids kicked off its fourth annual Summer in the City program last week.

Members of the Coon Rapids City Council and city staff met with neighborhood residents in Cardinal Woods Park in the first of five Summer in the City gatherings this year.

They take place in a different park in each of the city’s five election wards.

Cardinal Woods Park, which is located at Jay Street and 123rd Avenue south of Main Street and west of Hanson Boulevard, is in Ward 1.

Some 75 people were in attendance, according to Kristin DeGrande, city neighborhood coordinator.

“This was a good group of people and a lot of young families, which was nice to see,” DeGrande said.

Summer in the City is billed as a neighborhood event where residents can meet city council members and staff to talk about their neighborhood.

The event opened with a half-hour open house/casual format where residents could chat with councilmembers and city staff as well as browse tables set up by various city departments – parks, public works, golf course and city clerk.

In addition, the Coon Rapids Fire Department brought a fire truck and the Coon Rapids Police Department a squad car for children to explore.

Ice cream bars were served to residents as they arrived and people were also invited to fill out a resident survey and be entered in a drawing in which two $25 gift cards to the Harvest Grill Restaurant were given away.

The final hour of the evening had presentations by Mayor Tim Howe and Ward 1 Councilmember Denise Klint.

Howe spoke about citywide projects and issues, while Klint focused on neighborhood issues.

There was also time at the end for residents to have their say – either by making comments or asking questions.

According to Howe, Summer in the City is an opportunity for members of the council to hear from residents about what’s on their minds.

And by filling out the survey residents will help the city plan for the future five, 10 and 20 years down the road, Howe said.

Howe talked about recent and current projects being undertaken by the city – the Bunker Hills Clubhouse/Harvest Grill Restaurant, the Coon Rapids Ice Center, city street construction and a parks/trails master plan.

The opening of the new clubhouse last summer has brought “renewed vigor to the golf course,” Howe said.

And the introduction of four golf simulators in the clubhouse last winter had been “overwhelmingly” popular, double what had been expected, he said.

“The new clubhouse is one of the best things we have done and something the city can be proud of,” Howe said.

The ice center has also been a successful project for the city and is seen as a first phase for a possible, future community center on the Coon Rapids Boulevard site, he said.

That’s a long-term plan and the city is looking for partners, for example, a county library, before considering moving forward with plans, Howe said.

Because of the importance of maintaining city streets, the council has directed staff to accelerate reconstruction projects on both residential and collector streets, which is why residents will see a lot of street construction this summer, according to Howe.

“It is an opportunity to take advantage of a favorable bidding climate,” Howe said.

According to Howe, an update of the city’s parks and trails master plan is currently under way by a consultant hired by the council and he encouraged residents to go to the city’s website and complete an online survey to provide their comments on the future of the city’s parks and trails system.

There will also be open houses this fall to get public input on the draft proposal from the consultant before the council acts on the final plan, Howe said.

Howe also spoke of a new service the city is offering, the first by a city in the state, he said.

That’s the ability to go online or use a smart phone to report problems, like pot holes, street signs down and street lights out, and also to be able to keep track of the city’s progress in fixing the problem, according to Howe.

“It’s one of a kind,” Howe said.

He also talked about development and redevelopment efforts on Coon Rapids Boulevard and a potential future transit system on the boulevard between Anoka and Northtown with stops at Mercy Hospital, Anoka-Ramsey Community College and the Riverdale Commuter Rail station.

“There would be more accessibility for those without transportation,” Howe said.

According to Klint, Cardinal Woods Park is a “role model” for neighborhood parks in the city’s parks system.

Klint also announced that Anoka County plans to reopen Main Street to traffic from Crane Street to University Avenue Aug. 2, good news for residents who use Main Street, she said.

She also talked about the city’s neighborhood reinvestment program and particularly the Home for Generations program, in which the city purchases old vacant/foreclosed properties in Coon Rapids, has them remodeled to bring them up to modern standards, then resells them.

“I think the last one we did was the best,” Klint said.

“It shows how residents living in older homes can update them at an affordable cost.”

And these remodeled houses through the Home for Generations program also provide a boost to the neighborhood where they are located, Klint said.

The neighborhood reinvestment program also deals with city code issues like weeds and yard maintenance, on a daily basis, she said.

In addition, the city has put in place a rental licensing ordinance to make sure rental property owners take responsibility for the maintenance of their properties, according to Klint.

If residents have any complaints about neighborhood maintenance issues, they should contact the city, Klint said.

“We have a citation process in place to get people to comply,” she said.

“We are working to improve our neighborhoods and let us know if there is anything we can do to help make them better.”

According to DeGrande, the question and answer session went smoothly.

“It was a fairly quiet group,” DeGrande said.

“Usually that means that residents are fairly happy with the way things are going and don’t have issues or problems.”

This neighborhood is a “really good, stable” part of the community, DeGrande said.

Residents attending the Summer in the City program were also given the opportunity to provide written comments if they did not wish to speak as well as to fill out the survey, she said.

The remaining schedule this year is:

• Tuesday, July 24, Burl Oaks Park.

• Tuesday, July 31, Parkside Park.

• Monday, Aug. 20, Vineyards Park.

• Tuesday, Aug. 28, Aspen Park.

The event runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at each park.

Postcards will be sent to residents living in the areas of the parks notifying them of the event in their neighborhood.

No RSVP is required. For more information, call 763-767-6517.