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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Finding a Path

Monday night's special meeting about the proposed CoPar settlement went late into the night, and the end result was tabling action until next week. While that may seem like a lot of sound and fury that signified nothing in the end, I think we may actually be on the verge of a breakthrough. For one thing, this may have been the first time the developer could directly witness the council discussing the settlement-related issues and identifying our individual concerns, without having it mediated by city staff and attorneys on both sides.

As I wrote in this blog two months ago, my chief concern in a settlement outcome has been to open the door for public ownership of land south of Fish Creek. When I wrote at that time, I posed it specifically in terms of a referendum, but I have become increasingly optimistic that there are other potential funding sources to explore as well. A letter delivered to us Monday evening from the Friends of the Mississippi River amplifies my optimism, as they offer their "assistance as a partner with the City and area stakeholders in helping to protect the land around Fish Creek as a natural and open space."

Some on the council may be cool to the idea of a bonding referendum. As a result, they may be reluctant to state unequivocal support for the conservation goal, out of a fear that it could imply their endorsement of city borrowing and spending. I can see how a politician might not want to face a choice between support of the environment and opposition to taxes. On the bright side, at least there seems to be acceptance of the conservation idea if money comes from somewhere else.

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