Summer in the City kicks off in Coon Rapids

The city of Coon Rapids kicked off the fifth year of its Summer in the City program at Crooked Lake Park June 25.

Siblings Sam Borene, 3, and Lily Borene, 5, get an up-close and personal experience of a city of Coon Rapids Public Works Department front-end loader at Crooked Lake Park June 25.

Siblings Sam Borene, 3, and Lily Borene, 5, get an up-close and personal experience of a city of Coon Rapids Public Works Department front-end loader at Crooked Lake Park June 25.

The program takes place in five parks, one in each ward, on five Tuesday evenings over the summer months.

A half-hour open house with ice cream and cold bottled water preceded presentations by Mayor Tim Howe and Ward 1 Councilmember Denise Klint on citywide and neighborhood projects and issues.

During the open house, residents could speak with city staff and check out various display tables, dealing with trees, parks, election polling places, cable television, sustainability, Bunker Hills Golf Course and streets and utilities.

Children were not forgotten. A fire truck, police squad car and public works front-end loader were at the park for kids to explore.

All seven Coon Rapids City Council members were present.

“This annual series is a great opportunity to meet your councilmember and talk with city staff about projects going on in your neighborhood and throughout the city,” said Kristin DeGrande, city neighborhood coordinator.

DeGrande was delighted by the turnout, she said.

“The weather was gorgeous,” DeGrande said. And people were very interested in the table displays and talking with city staff, she said.

“That was a lot of fun,” DeGrande said.

According to DeGrande, there were some 100 people at the event at one time or another and between 75 and 80 stayed for the presentations and question-and-answer session.

Indeed, the program went longer than the normal 8 p.m. close, DeGrande said.

“We did not finish until 8:45 p.m.,” she said.

There were a lot of questions and the mayor gave very thorough answers, DeGrande said.

According to Howe, the Summer in the City program is very important because it gives the council and staff a chance to get out and see what’s happening in the neighborhoods.

“We are able to provide information to residents and listen to their comments and concerns,” Howe said.

In his presentation, Howe spoke about development projects in the city, including the new teaching center and driving range at the Bunker Hills Golf Course, the just-completed North Suburban Eye Clinic at Coon Rapids and Round Lake boulevards, the Allina Medical Building project across from Mercy Hospital and the demolition of the former Frank’s Nursery to make room for the Autumn Glen senior housing project, also on Coon Rapids Boulevard.

He also provided information on city technology upgrades, including regular updates on the city’s Facebook page, SeeClickFix to report issues on public property and Anoka County’s fiber optic system project to connect all public buildings in the county.

Road and sewer projects, both city and county, underway in the city were part of Howe’s presentation, as was the Highway 10 repaving project to Hanson Boulevard to Fairoak Avenue in Anoka, which is scheduled to start July 15.

Howe also spoke about the $17.2 million park referendum that will be on the ballot at the Nov. 5 general election. Crooked Lake is one of the parks that will be upgraded if the referendum is approved by voters, Howe said.

In addition, a police department update was given by Howe, including the availability of Internet-based crime mapping; a 30 percent reduction in Part 1 crimes, which are the most serious; the upcoming Nite to Unite event Aug. 6; and the Heart Safe Coon Rapids project.

Klint’s presentation focused on the city’s neighborhood reinvestment program.

According to Klint, the city’s goal is to be proactive in dealing with neighborhood issues, nuisances, quality of life and supporting stability in the neighborhoods. She talked about the Home for Generations II program and other housing programs, for which the city has funding available for home improvements as well as a down payment assistance program for people interested in buying a house in Coon Rapids.

Klint also spoke about city code issues, including rental licensing, long grass ordinance, truck/semitrailer parking ordinance and code violations.

Most of the questions were about on the November park bond referendum and residents asking for details of what projects are proposed. Brochures providing information about the referendum will be mailed to all property owners in the city in July, Howe said. It will include a listing of the parks and trails to be improved if the bond issue is approved as well as some preliminary drawings of what is proposed in those parks, he said.

But detailed plans won’t be prepared unless the referendum passes, according to Howe.

A representative from the Crooked Lake Area Association spoke on the water quality issues in the lake, especially the Eurasian milfoil problem in the lake, and urged boat users to make sure the exteriors of their boats are cleaned off before they enter the lake and then again when they get off the lake.

People were able to register for raffle prizes during the event. They were gift cards for the Harvest Grill restaurant, which is located in the Bunker Hills Clubhouse.

The rest of 2013 Summer in the City’s schedule is:

• Ward 2, Tuesday, July 23, Sand Creek Park, 1008 Northdale Blvd.

• Ward 3, Tuesday, July 30, Woodcrest Park, 901 103rd Ave. NW.

• Ward 4, Tuesday, Aug. 13, Riverview Park, 2420 105th Ave. NW.

• Ward 5, Tuesday, Aug. 27, Mason Park, 9600 Holly Circle.

Each Summer in the City event starts at 6:30 p.m. with an open house, followed by a program from 7-8 p.m.

Postcards inviting residents to the Summer in the City program are mailed to neighborhoods in the vicinity of each park, according to DeGrande.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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