News in the Neighborhood



The Carver Creamery

A brand-new traditional ice cream shop opened Thursday, Aug. 27, at 300 Broadway in Carver’s historic downtown area. Kailan Johnson, along with her husband, Chris Dana, always wanted to own an ice cream shop where she could “deal and work with people who are in a good mood.” Plans call for the shop to be an “old-fashioned, hard scoop-type shop that hopefully people remember from their childhood.” There will be 24 flavors from vendor Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream of Madison, Wisconsin. The shop plans to be open most days from noon to 9 p.m. into October.


Coney Island Opens

The no trespassing signs came down last week and Coney Island of the West is set to welcome its first official visitors in decades – ever since the historic island in Lake Waconia was a lively vacation spot back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Almost five years after the 30-acre island was acquired through a donation from Waconia residents Norman and Ann Hoffman, Coney Island opens as a Carver County regional park. Years of vegetation overgrowth, building ruins and debris have been removed from the island; trails have been established; and two picnic and day use areas, with picnic tables, fire rings and grills, have been put in place on either end of the island. There’s even free firewood at those locations from the trees that had been removed. A boarding dock on the south shore of the island is in place to welcome boaters and signs have been put in place to direct and guide visitors.  Boaters are expected to anchor away from the dock to allow others to utilize the dock as needed. However, alcohol and tobacco are not permitted on the island, no overnight use is allowed, and there are no restroom facilities at this time. Law enforcement water patrols will be monitoring the island. The island will be open year-round, meaning the county will be coordinating with local snowmobile clubs and groups to establish proper winter use on the island. It’s all part of phase one park work that is now nearly complete. According to Sam Pertz, Carver County Parks & Recreation supervisor, “It’s a great start to be able to open the island to public recreation, but there is a lot more work to be done. We want this to be patron-led, where people encourage each other to be a good example to each other, so that it can be enjoyed by many people for many years.”


A Proposed Surcharge

The City of Prior Lake recently sent notice of a proposed private street utility surcharge to city residents who live on private streets. The proposed $40 surcharge would be included in residents’ bi-monthly utility bill and be used to create a funding source to cover the cost of replacing a private street. The city is responsible for the replacement of public utilities such as water and sewer that lie under private streets, but the maintenance of the streets is up to private property owners or homeowners’ associations. The surcharge fee was determined based on the cost to replace the city’s 10.5 miles of private streets, which is $20 million. The total divided by the 1,670 properties affected is roughly $12,000 per residence, leaving the annualized cost per property over 50 years at $240 to be paid annually. If adopted, residents will be charged the $40 fee six times a year. Residents will be able to state their opinions on the proposed surcharge and gather more information at the public hearing that will be part of the Prior Lake City Council meeting on Dec. 7.



Unofficially Rolling In

Even though Henderson’s Classic Car Roll-in on Tuesday night has been on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, more and more people keep showing up week after week. As a result, members of the Henderson City Council are concerned about vehicles parking within the yellow lines and people not wearing masks. City Attorney Alison Jones said parking tickets should be issued because of the physical threat to anyone trying to cross the street. Police Chief Dmitri Ikonitski, on the other hand, informed the council that the decision was made not to enforce the mask order but rather educate people. Roll-in Committee member Jeff Steinborn suggested that local businesses could remind customers to wear masks and practice social distancing as well as pick up the garbage left by visitors. Council member Jim Wartman thought it would help if a police officer were present for the entire time on future Tuesday nights.


To Bee or Not to Bee

The St. Peter City Council continued its discussion on potentially allowing beekeeping in city limits during a goal session on August 31, but there was still no clear consensus. Beekeeping is currently not allowed in St. Peter city limits, and an attempt to allow the practice was voted down by the city council in 2017. However, the buzz returned this year, as a new city councilor was the impetus behind restarting the conversation. Only two council members who voted against the ordinance change three years ago are still on the council, so the council advised the city administrator to put the topic on the agenda for the next goal session, which gives the councilors time to continue mulling over the topic and potentially hear from constituents before considering it again.


Changes in Learning Model

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, school superintendents in both the Tri-City United and LeSueur-Henderson school districts announced a change in the schools’ learning model for the start of the school year. All students in grades one to 12 at TCU will start the year using a hybrid model, and kindergarteners will attend school five days a week. LSH abandoned plans to hold in-person learning at Park and Hilltop elementary schools and will be on a full hybrid model, along with the LSH Middle and High Schools.  Both changes were based on updated data received from Le Sueur County Public Health.

The change comes amid a sharp rise in county COVID cases. As of Sept. 1, Le Sueur County had reported 383 confirmed cases, with eight residents currently hospitalized. More than 50 confirmed cases were reported by the county in the past week, ending the month of August with more than 180 new cases. This outpaced the 113 cases reported in the month of July, which had the highest number of new cases on county record until the past few weeks.

Positive testing rates are also surpassing state averages. In the MN Dept. of Health’s latest weekly report, 5.9% of cases tested in Le Sueur County were positive compared to the state average of 5.5%.

The Le Sueur County Public Health Director reported that the recent spike resulted from  community spread, which had been confirmed by an epi-curve conducted by a county epidemiologist, because “people are just letting their guard down…(and) what we’re seeing statewide is people are gathering at backyard barbecues, weddings, funerals and not wearing masks, not social distancing.”


Controlling Pollinators

Attempting to have better guidance with pollinator gardens, the Gaylord City Council recently held a first reading for amending its tall grass ordinance, which states, in part, that “all noxious weeds and other rank growths…in excess of six inches in length is a public nuisance.”  A pollinator garden, on the other hand, is planted predominately with flowers that provide nectar or pollen for a wide range of pollinating insects. To accommodate pollinator gardens, an exception part of the ordinance now says that “an area not to exceed more than 25% of the total parcel may be used to plant native prairie grasses or wild flowers indigenous to the State of MN, when planted  and maintained as part of a garden or landscape treatment.”

Since most citizens that at least one of the council members had heard from have not been in favor of pollinator gardens, the amended ordinance gives the city some type of control. Residents who want to establish a pollinator garden will be required to complete an application and pay a one-time fee of $25, as well as locate their gardens no less than ten feet from the lot lines in their side or rear yards (not front lawns) along with a border and free of all noxious weeds.

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