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News Roundup, August 9

A few short items of note:


Chaska facing $400,000 deficit in 2012

The Chaska Herald reported on Monday’s City Council Work Session, at which City Administrator Matt Podhradsky unveiled the updated five-year financial forecast.

The forecast projects a deficit of over $400,ooo for 2012, and higher deficits in the remaining years of the forecast.   On the good news side of the ledger, the projected 2012 deficit is smaller than the 2011 deficit of $650,000 which was closed using a tax rate increase and deferrals of equipment purchases.  Also, TIF District No. 4 closes in 2014-15, which will free up funding for the Street Reconstruction Program.

While the 2012 deficit should be relatively easy to resolve, the City is going to have to get serious about addressing the long-term structural issues in the budget, as I pointed out when the 2011 budget was finalized.  You can’t put off equipment purchases forever, and there is substantial activity ahead — whether it’s the Downtown Master Plan, renovation of Athletic Park, and the maintenance required at the Chaska Community Center (such as the planned replacement of the ice making systems). 

While the City has been quite successful in obtaining grant money to supplement critical projects, we can’t assume such funding is going to remain available — especially given the fact that the federal and state budgets are going to be crimped for the forseeable future.  And while there are signs that development activity may be beginning to come back to life, we can’t expect a building boom comparable to what we saw in the last decade.

Residents of the City would be well served if the Mayor and Council would make moves to eliminate some of the structural issues in the budget starting in 2012 instead of waiting for more severe measures down the road.

La Quebrada closed

Commenter Kristine alerted me to the fact that La Quebrada appears to be closed.  Calls to their phone number come back as disconnected.

Looks like the restaurant wasn’t able to overcome its rough start.  Let’s hope we can get something new in its place soon.

What would you like to see take the place of La Quebrada?  Leave your comments and let’s have some discussion!

Chaska Herald: Kelley’s Bar owner opts not to renew liquor license

At a meeting with city officials earlier this week, bar owner Kelley Sharp indicated that he would not be renewing his liquor license. The city’s current liquor licenses expire at the end of June, meaning Kelley’s will be closed by July 1.

Read more at:  Kelley’s Bar owner opts not to renew liquor license | Chaska Herald.

Updates: Kelley’s Bar murder case, Le Bistro Tourville review, Brad Hand

Some updates from around the Chaska area:

  • The big story, obviously, has been the stabbing death outside of Kelley’s Bar last Friday.  Concerns about unruly patrons at Kelley’s have been bubbling below the surface for a while, but the recent robbery combined with this tragic event have brought those concerns to the fore.  Owner Kelley Sharp will be meeting with city officials today to discuss the path forward, especially as it relates to the renewal of the bar’s liquor license.
  • My family ate at Le Bistro Tourville for the first time over the weekend.  The food and service were both quite good.  I had the Chaska Cheesesteak and my wife had the Margherita flatbread.  Portion sizes were best suited to lunch, as opposed to dinner.
  • In case you haven’t heard yet, Kwik Trip is going in at the former Gas Depot location in Jonathan Square.
  • 2008 CHS grad Brad Hand makes his major league debut today for the Florida Marlins, starting against the Atlanta Braves.  Hand was 7-1 with a 3.53 ERA for Florida’s Double-A team in Jacksonville this season.

Chaska Updates: SWCHS and the Downtown Business Alliance

The next week is an important one for the proposed new location of Southwest Christian High School on the Francis Hammers farm property on Bavaria Road. 

Tonight, the site plan will be reviewed by the Park Board, which has to recommend to the city whether to accept a piece of land in the southeast corner of the property as fulfillment of the parkland dedication requirements or whether to instead ask for a cash payment. 

Wednesday, the Planning Commission will review the site plan and make a recommendation to the City Council as to whether or not the site plan should be approved.  The City Council could then take action on the development at next Monday’s meeting.

In other news, the Chaska Herald reports on the creation of the Downtown Business Alliance, which is a group of downtown Chaska businesses that have broken off from the Southwest Metro Chamber of Commerce in order to ensure a tight focus on downtown Chaska’s issues and opportunities.  The group of businesses in the alliance have been vital in the development of the Downtown Master Plan and will be just as vital in the nuts-and-bolts of implementing it.

La Quebrada Under New Management

It’s come to my attention that La Quebrada has new management, and I’ve heard good things about the food and service lately.  Let’s hope the trend continues!

Chaska News and Notes

Park Board – March 14, 2011

I participated in my first Chaska Park Board meeting last night.  I very much enjoyed meeting the other Board Members and am excited about the great projects we have in store.  Some of the topics discussed were:

  • Athletic Park Master Plan:  discussion of budget and project phasing.  I’ll have more to say on this before it goes before the City Council in April.  I was pleasantly surprised at the cost for the overall project, and I think the phases that have been identified reflect the right priorities.
  • Griep Park Expansion:  As part of the Southwest Christian High School project, a 3.24 acre parcel in the SE corner of the property will be added to Griep Park.   With the SWCHS project getting closer to starting, preliminary designs are being developed for the park, with neighborhood meetings being scheduled in the next two to three months.
  • Dome Discussion:  The Commitment to Community Task Force raised the possibility of a domed facility to provide field space during the winter months.  Since then, the City has begun to take some steps to investigate whether or not such a facility is feasible. 

Martin to appear at DFL SD 34 Meeting

New DFL Party Chair Ken Martin will be appearing at the March 16, 2011 monthly meeting of the Senate District 34 DFL Party.  The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the Wilder Room of the Chanhassen Library.

Other news:

  • A disturbing suicide attempt at the MN-41 bridge over US-212.
  • Le Bistro Tourville is apparently doing some hiring.  The restaurant is reported to be quick-service sandwiches.
  • Levee construction is underway in Carver.  Visit the city’s webpage for more information or to volunteer.
  • Cooper’s Foods is switching primary wholesale suppliers from SUPERVALU to Affliliated Grocers Midwest.  That’s why the store is no longer bannered as a County Market, and you may have noticed that the layout of their weekly circulars have noticably changed.

Different kinds of plans

There are plans, and then there are plans.

What was presented at the Downtown Master Plan Open House last week was a plan.  A good plan, as far as it goes, anyway.  There were a number of very good concepts and ideas there, on the 15 or so charts that filled the room.  From plans for a revitalized Firemans Park corner to notions of expanded housing on the riverfront, to the out-of-the-box ideas for plowing under the decidedly not historic strip mall in the heart of downtown, there was a lot to chew on.

So, why, then did the Chaska Herald report so much skepticism from the attendees?

It’s because there wasn’t any plan to take what was on the charts and turn them into reality.  For some attendees, the exercise appeared to be one of pure fantasy.

It’s a little overwhelming – a lot of long-view stuff that probably won’t happen — Tom Hayden, Chaska Farm & Garden

That’s an attitude that the City Council will need to work quickly to overcome.  The way it does so it to clearly establish a real implementation plan — setting priorities, goals, and measures for the short-, medium-, and long-term planning horizons.  It’s critical that the plan be specific, so that the Council and city staff can be held  accountable for progress towards the objectives.  If we don’t see a specific plan and objectives from the Council, that’s a signal we’re in for real trouble.

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