While other cities might take a more traditional format when it comes to state of the city addresses, Hopkins entices its residents with free food and a game show theme to recap 2018 and preview 2019.

City council members took to the stage Jan. 31 at the Hopkins Center for the Arts to test their knowledge of the city with a friendly game of Jeopardy after the annual Taste of Hopkins.

The combined event allowed community members to samples foods from Hopkins restaurants. Additionally, dancers from House of Dance in Hopkins impressed the audience during the pre-show entertainment.

Mayor Molly Cummings opened the program with the most asked question of 2019 – why are the fire hydrants wrapped in plastic? – to which she explained is an effort to minimize deterioration and salt damage.

Cummings then introduced the game show’s host, Hopkins City Manager Mike Mornson, along with the evening’s contestants – Councilmembers Kristi Halverson, Aaron Kuznia, Brian Hunke and Jason Gadd.

With categories like “city hall,” “infrastructure,” and “Southwest Light Rail,” the contestants raced to be the first to answer the questions, chiming in by blowing their noise makers.

Examples of questions included “Hopkins will have this many light rail stations?” to which Gadd replied: “What is three?”

The end of 2018 brought the groundbreaking of the long-awaited Southwest Light Rail, with heavy construction starting this year and continuing through 2022, with passenger service beginning in 2023, and an estimated weekday ridership of 34,000.

“The addition of this transit option in Hopkins is going to make a tremendous impact to our area,” Gadd said and highlighted the three stations:

The Blake Road Station will be just west of Blake Road and north of Excelsior Boulevard on the Cedar Lake regional trail.

The Downtown Hopkins Station will be on the Cedar Lake Regional trail corridor just east of Eighth Avenue and south of Excelsior Boulevard.

The Shady Oak Road Station will be near Shady Oak Road and Excelsior Boulevard, on the border of Hopkins and Minnetonka.

In the category of city hall, Mornson asked, “this is the reason city hall is temporarily closed?”

“What is a renovation?” answered Kuznia.

“I heard the project includes a much-needed upgrade to our city hall, lobby, council chambers, conference room, and staff area; the replacement of the windows, landscaping, roof, and we’re even adding a small vestibule on the front of the building to make the entrance more noticeable,” he said.

During this time, city business is being done at the fire station, but is expected to resume at city hall in September.

“The Minnesota chapter of the Public Works Association awarded Hopkins with the 2018 Project of the Year for what project?” Mornson asked.

“What is the Artery?” Gadd answered. “This two-block connection from downtown light rail station to our amazing downtown Hopkins,” he said, noting he was there to celebrate with staff members as they received the statewide award.

Other top projects for 2019 include 325 Blake Road, which is now vacant land slated for development which will be shaped by input from the community, and the Blake Road improvements, that will make the corridor more pedestrian friendly.

The opening of the splash pad in Burnes Park was also highlighted, which completed the park improvement project that began in 2017.

The newly renovated park includes a new play area for 2-5-year-olds, new lighting, rehabilitated warming house, as well as new sports court, picnic shelter and landscaping.

Also noteworthy was Hopkins celebrating its 125 anniversary and the planting of 350 trees by public works staff.

Attendees also learned more about the elements of the Artery – a bike, pedestrian and vehicle connection, and community space on Eighth Avenue South stretching from Excelsior Boulevard to Downtown Hopkins – with a video that can be viewed online here.

“Thank you to all of our partners and staff [for the] countless hours of work that brought the Artery into fruition, and what a wonderful addition to the city. It’s just amazing,” Cummings said.

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Kristen Miller is the community editor for the Sun Sailor, covering the communities of Plymouth, Hopkins and Minnetonka. Email story ideas to kristen.miller@apgecm.com

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