Hats off to Chaska Parks and Recreation for its efforts to provide a successful Fire and Ice Festival, and to the River City Days Committee for all of its hard work to provide a wonderful community gathering and celebration.

It takes a lot of people working together to provide these experiences, so a hearty thank you to all who contributed to make them highlights of our summer.

AFFORDABILITY

Across the entire metro area, except for our core inner cities, we see little priority on providing more affordable housing.

We see little emphasis on building neighborhoods that have housing options that provide the opportunity to move up in housing within the neighborhood as one goes through various stages of life.

Neighborhoods that do that, such as Clover Ridge, build a sense of community among its residents and support the goal to be a community for a lifetime.

I think how important this is as I reflect on what it was like growing up in Chaska and seeing the housing that allowed the richest and the poorest to live on the same block. It provided opportunities to experience community at every level of income, and created a strong sense of community in so many different ways.

Today more expensive, homogeneous, suburban tract-type housing seems to be what is being built at a time when people are searching for homes they can afford, and businesses continue to search for their workforce.

It would seem that housing development should be tied to the vision of the city. If the vision is focused on community building, then having choice and options in neighborhoods would seem to be aligned to such a vision. But that’s not what’s being developed.

I would guess developers are saying that’s not where they see the demand, and density is not as important to them as it used to be, but cities can influence residential types, concepts and choice as they consider future housing development.

Again, vision and values usually drive results that are being delivered, so the more this is shared, the more the community will understand its future.

I also believe that people want to live in a community where they know and care for each other. At the end of the day, when we look at actions and results, we should consider how the housing development and results align with the city’s vision of its future.

HOMELESS

Homelessness is a growing issue that is occurring in our area — in families and among single young adults. Unfortunately, eventually we’ll be seeing it in our aging population.

This is going to occur in every city, yet some cities are silent and do little to address this growing need. This is frustrating and disappointing to see. The message these cities are delivering is that they simply don’t care, which is hard to understand because they become a place, not for everyone.

It was encouraging to see the city of Chaska support the concept for a 16-unit apartment building to support the work of Launch Ministry, and then support the provision of a letter of concept support for the Minnesota Housing Finance funding application.

If building community is important to any city then you consider such projects. It’s what has defined our community and makes it special. Those communities that think about the condition of the human component of their community are and will be advantaged.

CITY TAXES

This is a challenging topic to address, but I believe it needs to have a higher priority on the city’s communication list of priorities.

If you look at specific numbers, you’d find that city taxes are rising in our community and have increased 66% in the 2008-2018 time period.

Today, the same value home in Chaska has a higher city tax than in Chanhassen, which is something I thought I’d never see occur.

At one point there was a goal in Chaska to have the lowest city tax in District 112. That no longer is a goal.

Although the discussion of finances and taxes is not a simple one, it needs to be discussed, along with project plans and updates, because project dollars need to come from somewhere and citizens should be able to understand, from where.

I mention this because it’s such an individual taxpayer decision to make, as it relates to the benefit you are receiving for the city taxes you are paying.

People should be able to understand this detail and consider the positives, the quality of life and the quality of city services they are receiving, as they experience rising city taxes. This requires some education of our citizens so they can make the return on our investment decision and an openness in conducting the public’s business and respecting people’s right to understand overall property tax projections and impact.

SCOTT JENSEN

By now we all understand that state Sen. Scott Jensen will not be seeking another term in the Minnesota Legislature. From my viewpoint, it’s another case of a quality community servant who represented us with knowledge, skill, expertise, effective communication and courage. He said enough is enough, regarding the factionalized conduct of business in St Paul and the ongoing disrespect and abuse they experience.

It is so unfortunate and a major loss for those Scott represented across Carver County.

Scott was a refreshing servant of the people, not a radical, out-of-touch person who rails with bias and prejudice. He had a spirit of service and a set of values and beliefs that we could respect.

Thanks Scott for your efforts to stand up with courage for those you represented earning the respect of so many. We are sorry to see you leave, but we know and understand the priority you have for family and the needs and importance of their health, and the precious time you have together as a growing family.

We wish you all the best and know you will not be too out of touch, because of who you are and how much you care.

Bob Roepke is a former Chaska mayor. He serves on the Launch Ministry board and is part of Community Asset Foundation, developing the Launch Ministry apartment building.

Staff Reporter

Alex Chhith is a staff reporter at the Chaska Herald. In her spare time, she enjoys walking her dogs (Cody and Sam), catching up on the Game of Thrones and finding new restaurants. Follow her on Twitter @AlexChhith.

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