New construction. Continued COVID maneuvering. Projects aplenty.
That’s what the cities of Chaska and Carver have planned for the coming year, a year filled with “lots of action,” according to Chaska Mayor Mark Windschitl.
Here is what’s on the dockets.
The city’s main focus for 2021 includes economic development, recreational commerce, and diversity initiatives, according to Chaska City Administrator Matt Podhradsky.
Over a year of planning and financing is in store for Chaska’s City Square West plan, and the city just chose a developer for the redevelopment. That project would create a new downtown hub across from City Square Park.
“That is probably the largest project that the city of Chaska might ever do when you consider taking a whole block of our downtown down and then redoing it,” Mayor Windschitl said.
Interest in industrial development is seeing an uptick, Podhradsky said, especially since the Highway 41 and 169 interchange was completed.
Chaska will also prepare for more major road construction along Highway 41, to begin in 2022; rework Walnut and Fifth streets; and continue welcoming construction of Pinnacle, a new active older adult community.
“It’s going to be not only his year but the next two to three years. There’ll be a lot of action happening downtown,” Windschitl said. “You start telling people, even myself, and it's like holy cow, that's a lot.”
Podhradsky said the Chaska Community Center’s 30-year birthday is cause for attention, with a master plan being created to invest into the building.
Windschitl said, given the center’s closed-door stint amid the pandemic, staff had an opportunity to repair utilities and upgrade the swimming area. He said the city plans to build on that progress this year.
“It’s a large building. It’s a huge investment for the community,” Windschitl said. “We’ve been kind of doing business the same way for a long time … We have to keep upgrading things or people will forget about it and won’t want to come.”
As far as diversity initiatives go, Podhradsky said “that will be a big focus.”
It includes a partnership with Chaska Cares, formed to create unity during COVID, and the city’s human rights commission. Podhradsky said the city may also expand diversity programming, among other steps.
Windschitl expressed pride over how the city came together, safely, when the pandemic asked it to stay apart. He expects 2021 to build off that.
Chaska Cares formed out of the pandemic, as did food distribution, birthday and holiday parades, and video messages from city staff.
“We did things to try to make people feel better. We’ve done a tremendous job in trying to promote things that make people try and forget about COVID,” Windschitl said.
COVID will continue to be a battle for Chaska and beyond, Podhradsky said. The city will likely deal with the pandemic in one way or another throughout the year, perhaps especially financially.
All in all, Windschitl said he looks forward to the year ahead and anticipates a busy 12 months.
“When everything is done, we're going to be in really good shape in a lot of different ways,” he said.
The city of Carver has plenty in store for 2021 as well.
Carver Mayor Courtney Johnson said the most obvious project is reconstructing Jonathan Carver Parkway from Levi Griffin Road to West Fourth Street.
“(It’s) the absolute big one, regardless of if you live in Carver or if you come to Carver to shop or to work or if you drive in Carver,” Johnson said.
Carver City Manager Brent Mareck called the project “easily the most significant project heading into 2021.”
It will include a roadway improvement and expansion to four lanes, roundabout installations, new trails and a pedestrian underpass, significant utility improvements and landscaping design.
Mareck said construction is set to begin in early spring and should wrap up by the fall.
“It’ll be a challenge to work through the construction inconveniences of the community. When we come through that it'll really be kind of a new face to Carver,” he said.
It’s been in the works since 2015, Johnson said.
“It is truly going to become a new thoroughfare and new identity and welcoming, not just crossing to (Highway) 212 or wherever you are,” she said.
'SMALL TOWN CHARM'
Another project, albeit the city’s “least-sexy investment” according to Johnson, is Carver’s water treatment plant expansion.
Mareck said the $11 million project will take a year and a half to complete, offering more water for residents and businesses — which are also growing.
He said 300-plus homes are on their way to Carver, the city’s largest housing project yet, with more likely to come.
Johnson said community gardens may become part of the city this year, which she said excites green-thumbed neighbors.
Other to-dos include a potential flood levy certification, which would remove a requirement of residents and businesses to have flood insurance; a bi-annual strategic planning city meeting; and bringing a farmers market to the city.
“I am as excited as anybody to close the book on 2020, but what I hope carries through is the spirit of togetherness,” Johnson said. “I look forward to that spirit and truly the small town charm a community feel of Carver continues through 2021 and beyond.”