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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Stillwater Road News

The city council received some great news about Stillwater Road on Friday. This is a proposed project for drainage and trail improvements, and is driven by residents concerned about safety in their neighborhood. We were disappointed to hear, not too long ago, that we did not get the Safe Routes to Schools grant that was hoped for (you can read more in Sen. Wiger's latest newsletter). But this was followed by the good news that we did make the cut in applying for stimulus funding for this project. It's not a certainty, but it is very, very likely now that the project will be funded.

I think Public Works Director Chuck Ahl's e-mail to the city council and other interested parties is worth sharing:

Council/Stillwater Road Residents/Area Legislators:

Our Stillwater Road Trail Improvement project was submitted for consideration of ARRA (Stimulus) Funding to the Metropolitan Council and was evaluated this week by the Technical Advisory Committee – Funding and Programming sub-Committee. Our project was one of 50 projects submitted in the metro area for a total amount of money available of $7.5 million. The TAC-Funding and Programming Committee decided to fund just 10 of the 50 projects.

I am very excited to inform you that we ranked number 6 out of the 50 proposals and Thursday late in the afternoon our project moved another step forward in the selection process! We are now reasonably confident that we will be receiving $800,000 of ARRA funding later this year for this important project. There are at least three more committee approvals necessary in the process at Met Council during the month of May before we are assured of the money, but at least we are not one of the 40 projects that did not receive funds. My experience with this process is that we are 90-95% likely to receive this funding.

While this might have been the toughest part of this project [getting the necessary ARRA funding], we now have to deliver as a “shovel-ready” project. We need to have all the plans, approvals and federal requirements completed and approved before November 13, 2009 or we lose the money. While that does not necessarily mean a construction start, it means that you have to be ready to start construction well in advance of that date. We cannot underestimate the amount of time and effort to meet all the federal requirements. I would suggest that we plan to get ready for a mid-September 2009 project start so that we do not jeopardize this amazing award of funds.

As I have mentioned before, John and Mark, as neighborhood coordinators, you have done an amazing job of moving this project along. We are going to have to rely upon your neighborhood and your efforts [again] to provide the necessary support in order to move through the federal and ARRA approval [and transparency] requirements so that we meet the project requirements.

Thanks to everyone’s efforts. If I might be so bold as to put a plug in for the City Council, too; they took a risk and funded $60,000 for the project planning that in the final analysis at Met Council, allowed this project to score the highest number of points in the “project readiness” category that allowed us to jump ahead of 5-10 other projects that were not as far along in the process.

Great News and great job by all involved!



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