Officials share the state of their cities at annual I-94 event

by Paul Rignell
Contributing writer
Members of the I-94 West Chamber of Commerce gathered for a monthly luncheon Jan. 31 at St. Michael City Hall. There they welcomed an annual block of “State of the Cities” talks from officials wanting to share what cities along the corridor are planning for 2012 to improve their climates for businesses and residents.

Photo by Jim Boyle Jhonathan Hinojosa of 3:16 Drywall put up drywall this week at Boondox Bar and Grille.

Representing Otsego, City Administrator Lori Johnson said the city was looking forward to Otsego residents Dion and Dawn Grover opening a Boondox Bar and Grille in a former Godfather’s Pizza space at County Road 39 and Parrish Avenue. Their entertainment options will include outdoor volleyball this upcoming season.
Otsego officials are planning a meeting March 27 with I-94 West chamber officials and city business leaders. They will discuss ways to attract new business, and also to support all existing business, “making sure they know resources the city has for them, and also the benefits of the chamber,” Johnson later told the Star News.
She said the city expects signs to be posted this year along its segment of the Mississippi River Trail Bikeway which, just like the current, will stretch from Lake Itasca to New Orleans. Johnson said city officials will work with the Holiday Inn and also restaurants near the bikeway to determine what they could do to attract cyclists off from the trail either to stay a night or at least enjoy a meal.

Transportation planning in Rogers
Rogers City Administrator Steve Stahmer told chamber members that the John Deere Lane extension from Main Street to County Road 81 could be opening this month to allow easier traffic flow back to northbound Highway 101. Signal lights were being installed at John Deere Lane and 81 this week. “It’s improving connections to 81 and 101,” Stahmer later told the Star News.
The city began a process of downtown redevelopment planning last August. Stahmer suggested that city officials are confident their local economy is on the cusp of rebounding upward. “This is the time for us to do it (plan for changes), before development really comes back strong,” he said.
Stahmer added that a design should be approved this year for the future bridge project to ease Highway 101 traffic flow at County 144. He told the Star News that he wasn’t sure whether engineers would propose an east-west or north-south bridge, but noted that the intersection is the only corner now controlled by lights on 101 from I-94 to Elk River.
The Medline medical product distribution center is expected to open in April at Brockton Lane and South Diamond Lake Road. Stahmer said that he understood the new campus would be bringing 25 jobs into Rogers.
Neighboring news
Among other presentation highlights from the chamber luncheon, Albertville City Administrator Larry Kruse and City Council Member Larry Sorenson teamed to report that Albertville was celebrating the one-year anniversary of a single-sort recycling program in February. Household participation for recycling has grown 80 percent, they said, while total collections have jumped up 40 percent.
They noted Albertville was also speaking with St. Michael city officials and their school district officials in a look at ice arena expansion.
Hanover Mayor Martin Waters said his city was looking to finish the acquisition of right-of-way and complete the design for a County Road 19 trail project. They will start the engineering process for a County 34 trail project.
Before relinquishing the mic, Waters asked all at the luncheon to watch for Hanover landmarks in “Thin Ice,” a movie co-starring Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin that was filmed in several Minnesota locations and which will be released Feb. 17 in theaters.