When we come to the end of something, it’s only natural as human beings to look back, reflect, and hopefully identify things that have happened that we’re grateful for in our lives.
As county commissioners representing Chaska and Chanhassen, we’re grateful for many things in our county and communities. One is our amazing parks.
This year our parks department, along with the Board of Commissioners and our public health department, eliminated park entrance fees for county parks, starting Dec. 1. We’ve long held that our parks are gems for the entire region. Now, we’ve eliminated a financial barrier that precluded people from using them.
Research shows a connection between physical and mental wellbeing. Hopefully, encouraging more people to use our wonderful parks helps our communities’ overall health.
The other major parks news item is the beginning of work on Lake Waconia Regional Park and Coney Island of the West.
At Lake Waconia Regional Park this includes site grading, construction of water and sewer utilities, roads, parking lots, and a watercraft access in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
On Coney Island, crews have worked to clear areas, grade trails and construct picnic areas. The work resumes in the spring to continue with site cleanup and trail construction.
Timing for opening the island to public use is planned this summer, dependent on mitigating additional hazardous conditions.
Our library was recognized for its STEM story time program from the National Association of Counties. The program served around 800 children during the summer of 2018, merging science, technology, engineering and math themes through literacy-based activities. Libraries across the nation are asking our staff how they can replicate this program.
Our “Memory Maker Kits” at the Chanhassen Library also received television coverage this year. It’s another great example of collaboration across the county between the board, public health and the library to support those residents helping family members with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These kits help spur memories and spark conversations.
As a testament to the popularity of libraries, it surpassed the one million mark in materials checked out this year.
The county continues to work with various partners on the Highway 212 expansion to four lanes throughout the county. The Highway 212/44 Interchange Project was led by the city of Chaska and included the reconstruction and expansion of Highway 44 between the intersection of Highway 61 and Highway 11. The project added on- and off-ramps to connect Highway 212 and Highway 44. The project also added a pedestrian bridge.
The Flying Cloud Drive Reconstruction Project from the Highway 101 roundabout to Charlson Road reopened in November. The project added a new pedestrian trail to connect trail facilities between Highway 101 and Charlson Road.
Finally, while the above are certainly positive highlights, we know that some in our communities are living on little, battling mental health issues, or other challenges. Know that county staff are continually evaluating the best ways to help everyone in our communities. We ask that you continue to help in whatever ways you can for those that are less fortunate.
We hope your holidays were blessed and that 2020 brings you peace and prosperity.