Values and Priorities for a Vibrant & Connected Marine on Saint Croix Community
I believe in a clean and attractive, safe and green place to build community and live the lives we wish to lead.
I believe that the key to our success is our shared sense of civic engagement.
I believe in a vibrant place that will allow us to grow professionally and personally, to raise a family, to be creative and passionate, and to enjoy leisure time with the ones we love.
I believe we are a community that values the education of our little ones, and respects the wisdom of our forebears.
I believe in an interesting and diverse place that integrates into the natural world, offers a respite from the divisions of national politics and ideology, and brings neighbors together in the shared vision of an economically viable small town that treasures its river and its place in the world.
I believe we are a village that honors its past, lives in the present, and plans for the future.
The Stakes are High
I am not a one-issue candidate, but if I was forced to take a stand on something that was central to my candidacy it would be the need for the acquisition of the school property, and its eventual incorporation by River Grove Elementary.
The needless and tragic decision to rip this essential institution from our community has been devastating, and must be rectified. I honor the hard work and dedication of people like Kristina Smitten, Jon Dettmann, Lisa White, Lisa Dochniak, Ele Anderson, Mayor Glen Mills, and so many others that made River Grove Elementary a reality. However, if our viability as a town is to be sustained, then so must our commitment to an elementary school in Marine on Saint Croix proper.
I love our River Grove Wilder campus, but I also believe the existing school property in Marine would make a wonderful addition to our growing school in years to come. I pledge to work at a local government level with public and private stakeholders (to include the RG board) to strengthen our school and support young families in their decision to entrust their children's education to our community school.
I envision the school building and property grounds being utilized cohesively in several ways:
1) As a place of classroom instruction for River Grove Elementary students (split campus concept with existing Wilder space);
2) As a possible additional space for the Marine Folk School or home for other collaborative ventures for all-age learning;
3) As an opportunity for public and private partnerships to rehabilitate the ice rink, ball fields, courts, green space, and the possible addition of a community summer splash pad; and
4) As a place to continue restoration of the school forest and grounds with native grasses, trees, and wildflowers.
As your City Council member, I pledge to work with all stakeholders and community members to acquire the property responsibly, and to realize a shared vision for this vitally essential institution to return and thrive once more.
A Place Called Home
Betsy and I moved here in 2013 for three reasons:
The neighborhood. The school. The landscape.
In a way, that mirrors my desire to serve on council.
Betsy and I were lucky. The right house went up for sale at the right time.
I'm convinced we can't sustain our community on luck. We must sustain a population of young families that will proudly send their kids to River Grove Elementary for their primary education. In the same vein, Red Bridge Preschool at Christ Lutheran Church must also have a dependable population to draw on for its continued successful operation.
Statistics note that in 2000, the median age in Marine was 44, as compared to 35 for Washington County and the state. In 2015, the median age for Marine had risen to 51!
Our Comprehensive Plan notes that our current population is "aging in place with little immigration of young families", and that "innovative approaches are required" to address the need for housing that can attract young families, spur civic engagement, and sustain valuable amenities and services like the school, library, church, and public safety emergency response force.
I have heard some in our community say that we must undertake this endeavor one existing housing unit at a time, but I respectfully disagree. This "wait and see and cross our fingers" approach isn't a proactive strategy.
As your City Council member, I will call for a task force of interested and qualified citizens to study the issue of multi-generational housing, and to make recommendations to the Council on ways that:
1) We can attract young, civic-minded families to our village;
2) We can explore responsible, limited, reasonably priced, and environmentally integrated housing development that is accessible and desirable to young families for the long-term; and
3) We can market existing housing stock, welcome new residents into shared community life, limit short term rentals, and provide multi-family and multi-generational housing that is reflective of our values.
Every aspect of our community is woven in a seamless garment. Our families, homes, businesses, school, church, library, parks, civic groups, cemetery, public safety department, and many other important facets depend on one another in a symbiotic relationship. Our neighborhoods are strong when we work together to strengthen each cord.
A Vital Marketplace
Without a stable, multi-generational and year-round residential population, our businesses will continue to face lean margins and limited opportunity. Our entrepreneurs are a hardy and passionate folk, but they deserve some certainty.
Our downtown and our businesses can only remain viable if they can depend on a growing multi-generational local population to support them and make them profitable. They should not have to depend on tourism and summer weekends to make ends meet.
As your City Council member, I will respect the findings of the Village Center Taskforce and
support local entrepreneurs whose businesses enhance the character and quality-of-life of Marine, cater to residents and tourists alike, and have storefronts that are attractively designed. I believe new businesses are better suited within the existing village center.
I am open to future vacated MNDoT land being utilized for smart and strategic development, as well as improvements to village center infrastructure, publicly maintained restrooms to ease stress on private businesses. redevelopment of existing commercial space, opportunities to encourage home-based occupations, and placing pressure on communication utilities to provide consistent and quality services.
What kind of businesses would you like to see in Marine? Here are some I have considered as feasible:
-Community-supported Yoga Studio
-Bicycle/XX Ski Shop
-Community-supported Office Space
-Bed & Breakfast
What are your ideas?
Parks, Trails, & Greenways
Connected to Our Landscape
Parks, trails, and green space are a highlight of our village. I am proud of my work with John Goodfellow and other members of the Urban Forest Task Force to strategically add forest canopy to our neighborhood streets, increase diversification, plan for deforestation by Emerald Ash Borer and Dutch Elm, achieve Tree City USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation, and draft a proposed ordinance.
As your City Council member, I would support maintenance and improvement of existing trail systems, expansion of regional trails, and aggressive promotion of the Gateway Trail through Marine on Saint Croix.
Our parks are in good shape, but I believe that they can further be optimized.
Possibilities that I have entertained include:
- Small, attractive, and locally designed park pavilion shelter in Burris park to promote neighborhood gatherings and picnics
- Removal of European Buckthorn, and re-establishment of native trees, grasses and wildflowers where feasible, especially within the Mill Site, Burris Park, The Hollow, Mill Stream gorge, Wilke/Rose/Cedar Trail, and green space along Hwy 95 and Cty Rd 4
- Improvements to the school property, to include skate park/ice rink, tennis court, school forest, ball fields, playground, and possible future community summer splash pad
- Explore ideas for recreational enjoyment in the 40 acre city-owned plot near the maintenance building
- Strong partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and National Park Service regarding the Gateway Trail, William O'Brien State Park, and the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway
- Identify and protect Greenway corridors as riverway, floodplain, wetland, and open space dedication
Protecting Our River Valley
The Saint Croix River has been threatened far too often by challenges to development regulation and sprawl that has eroded some of the protections of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. Like many of you, I grew up enjoying the river, its beauty, and its natural inhabitants. The river is the jewel of our community, and its up to us to protect, educate, and share its wonder so that future generations treasure it as we do.
I am inspired by the work of the Saint Croix River Association, Greg Seitz with St. Croix 360, Carnelian Marine Watershed District, Saint Croix Watershed Research Station, and so many other river stewards. As your City Council member, I pledge to be a strong voice for the river and its ecosystem.
I also pledge to remain committed to municipal stewardship in other ways:
- Promote rain gardens and road improvements as a means to address storm water runoff, to include subsequent phases of rain garden grant installations
- Protect our springs, streams, ponds, and wetlands, and to work with the DNR and others on projects that improve water quality, and the health of flora and fauna
- Protect against light pollution by requiring low impact lighting that minimizes spillage in order to keep our star-studded night sky visible
- Work in public/private partnership with organizations, agencies, and municipalities to protect our natural resources
- Identify Greenway corridors; promote tree protection programs; and promote the use of native plants, shrubs, trees, and grasses.
Thoughtful Delivery of Services
As your City Council member, I pledge to:
Listen first, ask questions, and be deliberate, informed, and independent in my decisions.
Earn trust, especially with those with whom I may disagree.
Be available. By phone, at home, in the neighborhood, by email, on social media. You'll always have my ear.
Work collaboratively, knowing that we do far better when a consensus is built before a decision is made.
Commit to government transparency. This would include a city-managed social media presence to facilitate better communication with citizens.
Not allow national politics to put at risk the cohesiveness of our town.
In addition to the priorities already noted in other sections, I would also like to emphasize the following government issues:
- Strong, citizen-led advisory committees
- Thoughtful reflection on decisions based on the guiding principles of the Comprehensive Plan. Explore an addenda to the Comprehensive Plan that concentrates on local priorities and concerns as reflected in the small group discussion sessions and community survey.
- Transportation connectivity, traffic calming, and noise reduction measures along HWY 95 and Cty Rd 4
- Retention of the post office, and improved telecommunication infrastructure
- Continued thoughtful investment into the Capital Improvement Plan, grant and aid maximization, and partnership with community-based foundations
- Gradual burial of overhead utilities
Preserving Our History
Honoring Our Past
I am appreciative of the work by volunteers with the Marine Restoration Society, Mill Site, Mill Stream Association, Washington County Historical Society, and the Stonehouse Museum.
As your City Council member, I will work to support restoration and preservation efforts in order to foster our connection to our history, understanding that there have been many before us that has made this community what it is today. I am supportive of efforts to:
Restore, beautify, and establish a long-term stewardship plan for Oakland Cemetery
Re-engage on National Historic District designation
Research and recognize the role of native peoples in the area.
Save the Charlie Brown building
Restore the Town Hall.
Preserving our history, and educating and inspiring the next generation of civic volunteers, is one of the best ways of insuring that Marine never forgets where we came from, and helps to guide us forward with surety.