Good news for Deephaven … the money’s here!
When people have asked me why I still want this job, I have always replied ‘there are still some things I want to get accomplished’, like getting funding to replace the now 100 year-old Northome Bridge. when asked by newly elected officials if there is anything they can do for us, I have always replied that we need money for the Northome Bridge replacement.
I have written about this effort in several Mayor’s Corners as many of you may remember. And for over six years, I have worked with Senator Osmek through various legislative sessions. This year, Representative Kelly Morrison from Deephaven joined our effort. This week, their work has paid off handsomely for the City. In the nearly $2 Billion Bonding Bill passed last week and signed by the Governor today, there is $750,000 dedicated to Deephaven’s Northome Bridge replacement. Thank you, Senator Osmek and Representative Morrison!
This money, along with some potential BROHS funding, will allow the Council to begin designing and planning for the bridge replacement. And before folks start thinking there are other projects we could spend this money on, the answer is ‘these funds are specifically awarded for the Public Safety purpose of reconstructing Northome Bridge’. With the completion of this project, Deephaven’s long range plans for replacing all three bridges in town will be accomplished.
I want to personally thank Senator Osmek for his work, Representative Morrison for her support, the residents of Cedarhurst and Northome for their patience during this process, and the Council and staff for their efforts on your behalf.
Campaign Progress Report ... October 15, 2020
As of close of business on August 11, 2020, the filing deadline for offices in Deephaven, there were three candidates running for the offices of Councilmember and Mayor for the City of Deephaven. Even an eleventh-hour plea for competition from a former candidate had produced no opposition candidates. Kent Carlson, Steve Erickson, and I had followed filing protocol, paid our $2 and were looking forward to continuing to serve our great City of Deephaven, because, for some reason, we were ‘unopposed’.
Now there appears to be a slate of candidates for those same offices. There platform seems to revolve around:
1) Raising taxes and using the funds for commercial investments in areas such as Chowen’s Corner
2) Create design oversight committees to approve new construction and remodeling designs, and oversee tree management
3) Do a LOT of listening.
Don’t get me wrong, it is imperative that we listen to our residents. But other than oversight committees, I don’t see a campaign ‘proposing’ what else they intend to do to improve the Community other than listening.
In the last four years, we have conducted over 100 Council meetings, sent surveys, held public presentations for larger projects and hired consultants so we could ‘listen’ to ideas that could improve our Community. Sometimes we have disagreed with suggestions that have been presented, or determined some ideas were too costly for their potential benefit, or we have found just as many residents purporting a different opinion. Not agreeing should not be perceived as not listening.
Before attempting to compare our views with the ‘opponents’, please let me iterate what I consider to be the core values that have guided our decisions and actions as members of the City Council:
1) Strong financial stability and low tax rates. We currently have the strongest (AAA) bond rating available and one of the lowest tax capacity rates in the entire State of Minnesota. The City also maintains financial reserves in excess of 90% of our budgeted expenses.
2) Private landowner rights with limited government oversight. We trust that our residents have Deephaven’s best interests in mind when they make investments and improvements in their property. Of course we are going to legislate building size, setbacks and ground cover so we do not infringe on our neighbors, but we also trust our neighbors to make the right design decisions that best meet the needs of their family. Accordingly, architectural designs, colors, lighting styles and landscaping plans should be left to the owners and their architects. In fact, this strategy has led Deephaven to become one of the most desirable communities in the area. Our average home value is about 10% higher than Wayzata and Excelsior, both of whom have stricter oversight regulations and significantly more commercial real estate.
3) Safety and tranquility. Over 53% of our annual budget goes toward Police and Fire Services. We have an EFD fire station in Deephaven and pay about 30% of the District’s annual operating budget to assure our citizens they will have the best coverage available. We have our own Deephaven Police Department, that also provides policing services to our neighbor Woodland, with 24/7 protection for all. Most of the ‘thank you’ notes we receive are for work done by our Police Department, followed very closely by letters of thanks to our Public Works Department, even if it is not snowing!
4) We are a bedroom community on the lake. The lake certainly makes our community special, and we are blessed that we have wonderful commercial properties not only within Deephaven, but also in the surrounding cities of Minnetonka, Excelsior and Wayzata. This allows the City to spend its recreational dollars maintaining our beaches and marinas.
If your coffee hasn’t gotten too cold, and you are interested in specific differences in Paul, Kent and Steve (our) plans for the City versus ‘their plans’ …. please read on ….
#1 Their Platform: Chowen’s Corner needs to improve with a tax subsidized investment.
Our Response (from Paul, Kent and Steve): The City Council, primarily through the efforts of Councilmember Kent Carlson, has been working with the building owners in Chowen’s Corner to bring quality services and businesses that meet the demands of Deephaven’s residents. Chowen’s corner is privately owned. We will support the needs of the owner and developer when they are ready to make additional investments. The City is not a land developer. However, we do believe the responsibility of our government is to support and oversee development to ensure it fits within the rules and regulations of the community.
#2 Their Platform: The planning commission is overridden by City Council and the resulting decisions are not reflected of the community’s desires.
Our Response: The Planning Commission serves the City Council in an advisory capacity, seeing only those building projects needing variances. A preponderance of building permits do not need variances and are merely approved by staff. Variance applications are basically requesting the City to ‘bend its own current rules’. Differences in Rule interpretation can occur. However, over the last many years, the city Council has supported 85% of the planning commission’s recommendations. Oftentimes, the Council has asked the Commission to help with the drafting of new Ordinances, or for their input on Ordinances that need to be revised. Creating a liquor Ordinance, revising building height maximums, and addressing the side yard setbacks would be good examples of the two bodies working together.
#3 Their Platform: We do not have a long-term vision for our community.
Our Response: Our community is 120 years old. The City staff and elected officials have historically created Ordinances and provided a framework for residents to continuously evolve and place their stamp on our community. We missed an opportunity to provide the City with water back in 1973, but In the past 18 years, we have participated in the creation of the Excelsior Fire District and built a Fire Station, brought the assisted living complex Deephaven Woods, into reality and have witnessed extraordinary property value growth as people have sought to make Deephaven their home. We have a strategic plan for our infrastructure and Park system. We will continue to host Open Houses to review our upcoming projects with residents. We have prioritized public safety, private land-owner rights, and good fiscal policy. These values have served us well and our intention is to maintain these foundational values going forward.
#4 Their Platform: We need to raise taxes and provide additional investments back into our community.
Our response: We are always looking for improvement projects that benefit Deephaven’s residents. We get ideas from our committees, neighbors, and strategic planning … then we look for funding. We only raise taxes when we can’t fund projects from grants, donations, and other funding sources. We think your money is usually better spent when it is in your own pocketbook, and not in our City budget.
Kent, Steve, and I, along with our fellow Councilmembers, have worked for years to provide a product that met your needs as fellow- residents of Deephaven. Throughout it all, we have tried to satisfy most of you and your divergent opinions regarding what is best for Deephaven. Sometimes we have missed the mark … and have heard about it. Sometimes we have hit a home run … bathrooms in Thorpe Park … and made many of you happy. We have planned, re-planned, acted, reacted and yes, LISTENED, because we love this town too. That is why long before the August filing deadline, we had already committed to continuing our work for you, hoping you would continue to vote for us.