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2022 State of the City
On Wednesday, February 23 at 7:30am, Roseville Mayor Dan Roe presented the 2022 State of the City address at the Roseville Business Council. Mayor Roe highlighted activities and successes of the City over the past year and discussed issues and priorities Roseville will address in 2022.
Watch the 2022 State of the City:
2022 City of Roseville
State of the City Address Text
Introduction Hello, and thank you for taking a moment to hear about the state of the City of Roseville at the end of 2021. I’m Roseville Mayor Dan Roe, and I will be joined by other members of the Roseville City Council as we highlight this past year and look forward as an organization. As I began last year’s State of the City, I noted the impact on our community from nearly 2700 cases and 70 tragic deaths from COVID-19 among Roseville residents. As we enter this third full year of the pandemic, we should take a moment to remember and reflect on the nearly 4000 additional cases and 30 additional deaths in Roseville over this past year. While we are – and should be – grateful for the effectiveness of measures like vaccines and boosters leading to the dramatic decrease in the rate of death associated with COVID-19 in our community, we can never forget that every person that has died is someone’s family member, neighbor, and friend, and that there is much we grieve as the pandemic continues to have great impacts on all our lives. And so, while we gauge the state of our city, as we traditionally do, in light of our community’s long-held aspirations, we also do so in the hope and expectation that this might be the year we can have some return to normalcy, and can begin the necessary personal and societal healing from the traumatic impacts of this pandemic.
Welcoming, Inclusive, and Respectful
2021 was a pivotal year in the City’s efforts to live up to this aspiration as an organization.
City Councilmember Julie Strahan: With the adoption and the start of implementation of the City’s Strategic Racial Equity Action Plan (or SREAP), priorities were set to measure and impact 1) diversity in hiring and recruitment for City jobs; 2) diversity on City boards and commissions; and 3) use of an Equity lens in all City decision-making across the organization. Means of measurement are largely in place, and steps continue to be taken to modify practices and policies toward improving diversity and using the Equity lens in decision-making. The process is documented and reported to the City Council and the public on a routine basis.
City Council Representative Wayne Groff: Guiding this whole process is the City’s new Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Thomas Brooks, as well as consultants from the firm Culture Brokers. Mr. Brooks will continue to be the lead on the SREAP implementation as well as other aspects of the City’s diversity and inclusion efforts going forward, and he has been having a positive impact since his first days on the job.
Mayor Roe: Another effort to improve the welcoming and inclusive nature of the community has been an effort, begun by a youth commissioner on the City’s Parks & Rec Commission, to review potentially offensive nature of the name of Pocahontas Park and recommend a change to the name. After many months of engagement of neighbors, other Roseville residents, and representatives of local indigenous groups, the Parks & Rec Commission has made recommendations to the City Council to undertake a change to the name. That process will take place over the coming weeks and months, with continued engagement of the various stakeholders, culminating with a final name recommendation to the City Council for adoption.
City Coucilmember Jason Etten: Roseville Parks & Recreation has continued its popular Creative Crossroads program of summer entertainment at the Frank Rog Amphitheater in Central Park, featuring performers from the wide variety of nations and cultures that represent our increasingly diverse population.
Councilmember Groff: The Roseville Police Department continued its efforts toward this aspiration with the successful hiring of 2 full-time police officers of color from the ranks of our Community Service Officers. Through budgeted funding, the department is able to temporarily increase its count of officers in order to hire CSOs rather than seeing them hired by other cities due to lack of current openings in Roseville. Officers Warsame and Peterson provide valuable perspectives to the department and the policing profession, while also connecting into the communities they serve in our city.
Councilmember Etten: Additionally, Roseville PD has continued to bring value to its work through consultative engagement of the Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC). The MAC advises on policies and practices, and provides insights that department leadership might not otherwise have as decisions are made that affect the department and its relationships with the people being served.
Safe and Law-Abiding
Mayor Roe: Once again, as last year, this State of the City must acknowledge both the incredible hard work and contributions of our police and firefighters to continue effective and high-level service during this pandemic, but also the toll that has taken and continues to take on the people in those roles. Police and Fire leadership has been conscientious throughout this time (and before) to not neglect the mental well-being of our officers and firefighters. The City Council wholeheartedly supports those efforts, and their continuation. Change continued to be the watch word in the Roseville Fire Department in 2021. That change was evidenced at the top with the retirement of long-time Chief Tim O’Neill and his replacement by Chief David Brosnahan.
Councilmember Groff: Additionally, the department was able to use a federal grant to fund the hiring of the final 6 full-time firefighters that provide for fully-staffed response to up to 3 simultaneous calls at all times on all shifts. That level of response covers the vast majority of cases in a given year and provides a level of assurance to residents of the protection they expect for fire and medical emergencies. The use of the grant funding allowed for the immediate impact of those 6 firefighters, while allowing the City to transition over a period of years to taking on the funding of those positions via the tax levy.
Mayor Roe: 2021 was a year of growth and incremental but important transition in the Roseville Police Department as well. The officer complement was increased to 55 in 2021 with the addition of 3 new officers and investigators. Not only did these hires help address general work loads and improve the presence in the city, but they also allowed for the formation and implementation of the Community Action Team (or CAT). The CAT includes officers and investigators who target particular areas of concern or trending criminal activity. Importantly, the CAT has included additional team members with specialties and areas of expertise to address common issues in an effort to target personnel other than officers toward critical needs in the community.
Councilmember Groff: For example, an AmeriCorps Housing Navigator works specifically with homeless persons and connects them to shelters, services, and more permanent housing. This was initially a short-term funded position, but the City is seeking funding to make it more permanent in 2022 and into the future. Additionally, following a model piloted in Maplewood, the RPD has a Ramsey County social worker on-staff as part of the CAT, to help connect people with the variety of social services and important follow up that can keep them from repeated encounters with law enforcement. Roseville will fund a second social worker in 2022, 2023, and 2024, using a portion of our Federal COVID relief funds (known as ARPA). And finally the CAT includes a mental health coordinator in a partnership with suburban police departments and Northeast Youth and Family Services, to better connect residents with mental health resources that can also reduce interactions with law enforcement that result from mental health issues and episodes.
Mayor Roe: Because of the additional resources associated with the CAT, the rest of the officers on duty can increase focus in response to developing trends in criminal activity. That has recently included stepped up presence in retail areas related to the mass shoplifting incidents and car-jackings that have recently been in the news nationally and in our area.
Economically Prosperous, with a Stable and Broad Tax Base
Mayor Roe: In 2021, Roseville’s business community has continued to slowly and in many cases tentatively recover from the jolt of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Retail and food establishments have been trying to stay afloat since the Governor’s emergency declaration ended in July, but a significant challenge has been hiring and retaining enough staff to stay fully in operation. Commercial activity outside the retail and food sector has been able to adapt and thrive more substantially, as evidenced by general low unemployment figures and substantial job and wage recovery, if not growth, since the worst days of 2020.
Councilmember Groff: To address the uneven recovery, especially among small businesses and those owned by persons of color, the City’s Economic Development Authority (or EDA), which is made up of the Council Members, used some of the City’s ARPA funds to support the Choose Roseville campaign, which brought resources to local small businesses to help with advertising, social media, and hiring. So far, 19 businesses have received various elements of these services, with 10 being owned or operated by persons of color. The program continues through 2022, and it is important to note that the services are free of charge, with no strings attached.
Councilmember Strahan: Another program the EDA instituted in 2021 is a small business loan program in partnership with the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD) for a 50/50 split of loans up to $100,000 for many types of small business needs. The rate would be 7% on the MCCD portion and 2% on the EDA portion for a mixed rate of 4.5%. The funds can be used for building purchases, start-up costs, or equipment purchases, with a required stake on the part of the business in the costs as well.
Mayor Roe: As a part of the State of the City each year, we try to highlight development and building activity and trends. For 2021, the total permit activity approached 4600, a notable increase over the 4100 permits issued in 2020. The valuation of the permitted projects was $107 million, versus nearly $160 million in 2020. The number of permitted residential units remained high in 2021 at nearly 340, while that was a drop off from the 415 units permitted in 2020. Overall, permit revenue remained near $2 million in 2021. Evidence of this activity can be seen in the multi-family projects west of County Road C & Snelling and new restaurants and financial institutions on and around the Rosedale site.
Councilmember Etten: Roseville has continued to work to foster economic activity through flexibility in our zoning code. Most recently the comprehensive update to the code in 2021 was required by our earlier update to the City’s comprehensive plan. Both plans were envisioned as mostly tweaks and updates when the process began a few years ago, but included some significant steps toward greater flexibility. The first such step is the inclusion of more mixes of uses being allowed across the city. What have been traditionally commercial areas may now also include high density residential either as part of a commercial development or as infill or replacement of portions of existing commercial sites. That allows developers to be able to respond to market trends more quickly without seeking significant zoning changes in order to build a project.
Councilmember Strahan: The second step is an effort to somewhat increase the possible density of housing in single family areas of the city. That has been facilitated by a small decrease in required lot sizes, and the addition of certain limited types of denser housing to the single family district as allowed uses. This can allow for not only flexibility to meet the market, but also the ability to potentially create more affordable single family housing in Roseville, and attempt to address equity in home ownership as well.
Secure in our Diverse and Quality Housing and Neighborhoods
Councilmember Etten: Another effort by the City to increase affordable home ownership and affordable single family homes in Roseville has been the creation by the EDA of a local land trust. In partnership with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, the land trust can purchase and renovate or replace low-price single family housing, selling the homes as affordable, with an underlying lease on the land itself to maintain those affordability requirements through subsequent owners.
Councilmember Strahan: The EDA also made changes to the City’s existing home improvement loan programs to address the lack of competitiveness with commercial loans and to focus funds into areas of need. The new programs include: • Up to $10,000 Last-Resort Emergency Deferred Loan for imminently dangerous building system issues • Up to $10,000 Manufactured Home Improvement Loan • Up to $25,000 Deferred Seniors’ Home Improvement Loan • Up to $25,000 Down Payment Assistance for First-Generation Home Buyers Since the programs were approved in July, 4 Senior Deferred loans have closed, and 1 First-Generation down payment application has been received. As a follow up to last year’s State of the City, we can report that the rental licenses for all properties in the Marion Street/The Brittany apartment complex near Rice & Larpenteur were restored in early to mid 2021, with all needed improvements completed and a new management company in place to keep the buildings and unit safe for residents. Late in 2021, the complex was sold to a new owner that pledges to continue to work with the City to provide safe and affordable housing to those residents. Late in 2021 a second multi-family license was revoked near County Road B & Snelling. The City is again working with the owners to address the code issues at that site. Unfortunately, the residents were not able to be accommodated in the existing units while the work is done, but all residents were provided assistance with relocation, following the City’s objective to not displace people from housing due to enforcing our housing standards.
Environmentally Responsible, with Well-Maintained Natural Assets
Councilmember Etten: The resident and partner informed Xcel Energy Partners in Energy program that the City began in 2020 was completed in 2021 with the adoption of the City’s Energy Action Plan in June. The Action Plan strives for residents and businesses to decrease energy usage and use cleaner sources of energy, while reducing the energy cost burden on the most burdened residents. The goals by 2031 are to: • Increase annual energy cost savings by over 5 times, up to $8.4 million saved per year, • Increase annual energy savings by over 5 times, up to 475,000 MMBtu saved per year, • Increase the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 5 times, up to nearly 48,000 MTCO2e reduced per year, and • Nearly double renewable energy subscribers in Roseville, from 1100 to 2100. These results are expected to be achieved through targeted engagement and education of hundreds of residents and businesses per year. Xcel Energy continues to be an important partner in the implementation efforts because existing Xcel residential and commercial energy programs will provide the means to achieve the targeted savings. The City also in 2021 launched a voluntary benchmarking program for commercial buildings larger than 25,000 square feet, in conjunction with the EnergyStar program, that allows the building managers to track energy usage and target reductions.
Councilmember Groff: Additionally, the City achieved GreenStep Cities Step 5 status, the highest level that can be attained in this voluntary municipal sustainability tracking and rating program. The City has employed a Sustainability Intern to help with planning implementation of the Energy Action Plan, voluntary benchmarking, and other City sustainability efforts. The city’s Sustainability web page, accessed from the Resident Resources page, has a trove of information about these programs and others all in one place.
Councilmember Strahan: Emerald Ash Borer remains a significant ongoing threat to our natural resources, with mitigation costs on City property alone being identified in the range of $1 million or more. An accelerated mitigation plan has been proposed by the Parks & Rec Commission, and the City Council approved seeking bids on implementation of that accelerated program. Bids are sought through the “best value” consultative contracting process in order to assure an effective program when implemented. The mitigation plan will include aggressive removal and replacement, with some targeted treatment as appropriate. Residents are reminded to keep an eye on their own ash trees, and consult qualified arborists if symptoms of EAB are observed.
Councilmember Etten: With the attention on EAB over the past few years, and the implementation of Roseville’s Tree Preservation and Replacement code for developments, that has brought a focus on trees to the Parks & Recreation department’s Natural Resources efforts. In addition to continuing buckthorn management and projects like native planting restorations, tree planting in parks was a key focus in 2021, with volunteers planting about 140 trees.
Physically & Mentally Active and Healthy
Councilmember Etten: In some of the most anticipated news under this aspiration in a long time, we can report exciting news for the legions of pickleball enthusiasts in Roseville for 2022: Plans are approved to replace the tennis courts at Evergreen Park with permanent outdoor pickleball courts. To maintain tennis facilities in the area, the City is partnering with Roseville Area Schools to upgrade the tennis courts at the Anpetu Teca Education Center.
Councilmember Roe: Special recognition and thanks are again due to the staff and volunteers of the Parks & Recreation department for again offering a full range of recreational programs throughout this past year, adapting along the way to the latest COVID-19 guidelines. Our incredible variety of active and passive recreation programs are indispensable in normal times for our mental and physical well-being, but are arguably ever more so during the ongoing community and individual trauma of this pandemic.
Councilmember Strahan: Further recognition goes to a very special anonymous donor to the Friends of Roseville Parks who made possible a substantial upgrade to the inclusive playground at Central Park Victoria West. The enhanced play area now includes numerous inclusive elements for those of all abilities, whether they be related to physical mobility or dexterity or vision or hearing, and others. Once again, the generous spirit of our community has shone through to create this gem in the heart of our city.
Well-Connected Through Transportation and Technology Infrastructure
Mayor Roe: It may be hard to believe that in largely urban Roseville in 2021 we had a ditch in the city, but we did. Emphasis on “did.” As part of the Oasis apartment development west of County Road C & Snelling, the City converted the original open stormwater ditch to an underground pipe with a trail on top. This not only will address future costs to maintain the ditch but also adds a trail connection through this redeveloping Twin Lakes area that has hundreds of new housing units and also new businesses coming on line. Phase 2 of this pathway connection, north of Terrace Drive to Oasis Park is planned for this year. Further connections were made in the pathway system in 2021, including along Rice Street and Lexington Avenue, that help link multi-family residential areas with transit connections and the rest of the pathway system
Councilmember Groff: One area of focus over the last year and more has been analysis, engagement, and planning of an update to the City’s civic center campus. That was initiated to address concerns for capacity, efficiency, and use of space in both the infrastructure maintenance facility and the license center, among other City campus facilities. The review included the space largely owned by the City north of Woodhill Drive, where the VFW and License Center and Veterans Park are located. A preliminary site plan has been selected, and early stage design work is underway, with more engagement of neighbors and the larger community as a part of that. Improving the functionality of our maintenance activities will at least indirectly improve connections in our community by providing more capable and timely responses to infrastructure maintenance needs.
Engaged in our Community’s Success as Citizens, Neighbors, Volunteers, Leaders, & Businesspeople
Councilmember Strahan: A reliable measure of how engaged our residents and businesses are in our community is our volunteer statistics. In 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, the City still had over 625 unique individual volunteers lend their time and talents to our work. 280 of those folks – over 40% - were first-time volunteers. Those volunteers donated nearly 6500 hours of their time last year, representing nearly $185,000 of in-kind work, or the equivalent of about 3 full-time employees. Those volunteers included our advisory commission and committee members, as well as tree planters, buckthorn haulers, phone answerers, and a host of other tasks that keep the City running and serving our community so well.
Mayor Roe: As we look forward in 2022, the City Council has determined that it is time to update our community vision that was last brought before the community in 2005/06 during the Imagine Roseville 2025 visioning exercise. Updating our vision will require input from everyone in the community, and as a result will be a significant undertaking of engagement over many weeks and months. We will no doubt need to draw upon all that we have been learning about outreach, engagement, and inclusion as a part of this vision update, and that will serve as a good test of what we have learned and where we can continue to improve.
Councilmember Strahan: One thing we have learned is that the City’s work better serves our residents and businesses when we are truly engaging people rather than just communicating. To put that into practice in the structure of the organization, the former “communication” function of the City’s Administration Department was overhauled in 2021 into an engagement function, with new job titles and roles, and new personnel. The engagement department is now managed by Corey Yunke, who moved over from his similar role in the Police Department, and Corey’s team is actively working to incorporate engagement into the organization’s DNA, so to speak.
Mayor Roe: In Roseville, we continue to face many of the same challenges as other communities in our region, whether they be the uneven economic and health recovery from the COVID-91 pandemic; the continuing racial disparities in terms of justice, education, housing, and economic attainment; the rise in crime; or the polarization and mean-spiritedness of our political discourse. We are fortunate to continue to benefit from our convenient and well-connected location, our strong commercial sector, and our increasingly diverse people, who continue to care for one another and for our future together. With those assets going for us, I believe the State of our City remains strong at its core, and committed to our health and strength as a community into the future. Thank you very much.