With Hopkins undergoing so much change, it’s perhaps no surprise that the community’s political discussions tended to center on what type of vision residents have for the city. “Vision” also came into play as council members chose a new city head and as residents chose new city council members.
Here’s a look at the biggest stories in Hopkins politics for 2011:
- Hopkins searches for the right kind of development: The building slowdown associated with the economic downturn has made many cities welcome any kind of development they can get. That wasn’t the case for Hopkins, which saw several conversations over exactly what kind of growth the city needs. The first discussion arrived when a the Stewart Lawrence Group, which planned to expand its industrial , . Continued industrial development in these zones goes against the city’s long-term vision, but Stewart Lawrence argued it’s the only type of development the current economy can support. The council relented and abandoned its plans for the temporary moratorium. In the end, that decision didn’t impact the site. with plans to restore 1,000 feet of shoreline and then resell it to a developer who will embark on a project compatible with the city’s vision. But it was a prelude to a discussion about another Blake Road site—the abandoned BP service station. In that case, to put a maX It Pawn store on the property because members wanted something they thought would support a better quality of life for the area. The council harkened back to the Cargill project—when Hopkins passed on big-box retailers during the decade-long wait for the 3,000-employee corporate campus to come along. The pawn chain warned that the site would remain abandoned. But as the year neared its end, much more in line with the city’s vision.
- Hopkins scrutinizes sidewalks: Hopkins is proud to be a “livable, walkable community.” It can boast that it’s the third most walkable community in Minnesota, behind only Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to Walk Score. But the sidewalks that make this possible are a frequent source of controversy—. The city owns the easements where sidewalks go, but putting in sidewalks makes the yards look smaller. Some council members also think Hopkins must reconsider how many sidewalks it needs in the face of the tighter budget environment. Consequently, Hopkins . The process that continues into 2012. Staff will present comments from the Park Board and Zoning and Planning Commission at a work session likely to take place in February. They’ll then seek comments from the public at three public meetings or open houses before bringing those comments back to the council at another work session.
- Hopkins creates domestic partner registry: When a Hopkins High School grad , it wouldn’t have been that surprising to see the issue devolve into a contentious one. After all, Peter Boisclair’s proposal came the same year as the state Legislature agreed to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban same-sex marriage. (The registry is also open to opposite-sex couples.) The controversy didn’t happen, though. The registry , taking effect Oct. 7. Immediately afterward, Alida Winternheimer and Scott Stillman .
- Hopkins hires a new city manager: When City Manager Rick Getschow after six years with Hopkins, the city embarked on a wide-ranging search for someone to replace him. City leaders eventually . On July 18, —an extremely experienced administrator who had served as St. Anthony city manager since 1994, nearly three times the Getschow’s tenure in Hopkins. Mornson also spent seven years as Big Lake city administrator before that and worked two years as city administrator of Carver and Young America. Mornson started Aug. 22 and has already shaped discussion on topics ranging from the smoking ban to massage parlor licenses.
- Longtime councilmen step down: Councilmen Bruce Rowan and Rick Brausen had 20 years on the City Council between them—and even more on various boards and commission. But this year, the two officials . will step into their place—bringing with them similar backgrounds as Rowan and Brausen started with and similar ideas about where the city should go. Gadd, in fact, interpreted his win as a sign that residents are happy with the city's course.
Be sure to check out the entire series, to be published on the following dates:
- Dec. 26:
- Dec. 27: Hopkins Politics
- Dec. 28: Hopkins Sports
- Dec. 29: Hopkins Crime
- Dec. 30: Hopkins Schools
- Dec. 31: Editor’s Choice
- Jan. 1: Most-Read Stories