Another year of progress for Panoway

The city’s work to revitalize the downtown lakefront under the Panoway on Wayzata Bay initiative continued to move forward in 2021.

In September, a 9/11 memorial was added to the new lakeside Panoway park. The memorial, unveiled on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, is meant to serve as a quiet place of peace and reflection in honor of the lives lost and all who were impacted.

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In September, a 9/11 memorial was added to the new lakeside Panoway park. (Sun file photo by Jason Jenkins)

The initial inspiration for the memorial dates back to 2011, around the time of the 10th anniversary. The city of Wayzata was given several small pieces of the fallen World Trade Center buildings by the Aamoth family of Wayzata, whose 32-year-old son Gordy Aamoth Jr. died in the attacks.

The memorial features two 27-foot-long horizontal plinths meant to resemble the iconic silhouette cast by the twin towers on the New York City skyline. The memorial also features enclosures that display several artifacts salvaged from the World Trade Center that were gifted to the city by the Aamoth family.

Progress was also made toward the second phase of the overall Panoway initiative. In November, the city council moved ahead with planning by approving a contract for design validation and drafting of construction documents for a public boardwalk and community docks. 

The professional services contract is with Civitas, a Denver-based urban design and landscape architecture firm that has been working with the city for years.

The new boardwalk would stretch from the Wayzata Depot to the Broadway docks, with a path on land leading to the Section Foreman House and a new eco park. The planned work also includes the restoration of 2,000 feet of the shoreline to help reverse contamination of Wayzata’s holding ponds by reintroducing native plants, trees and pollinator habitat.

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A design rendering of the public boardwalk planned to be built as part of the second phase of the city’s Panoway on Wayzata Bay initiative. (Submitted image)

If all goes smoothly, the boardwalk project could be ready to go out for bid this coming summer. Construction would then be on track to potentially begin in late 2022 or early 2023.

The progress follows a 2020 legislative session that proved beneficial for the Panoway work, with $4 million being granted to help fund the construction of the boardwalk and ecological restoration of shoreline. The funds were included in the state’s $1.9 billion bonding bill for public works projects throughout Minnesota.

Wayzata also received some additional tax increment financing (TIF) flexibility in the state’s tax bill that allows the city to utilize up to $4 million in redevelopment dollars from a TIF district toward helping fund the boardwalk, docks and shoreline work.

The planning work follows the fall 2020 completion of the project’s first phase, which included the reconstruction of Lake Street from Broadway Avenue to Barry Avenue and the conversion of a public parking lot into a plaza park. The work also involved expanding the 600 block sidewalk, upgrading utilities, constructing new water main and storm sewer systems, adding green space, constructing a new off-street biking and walking path and adding an interactive water fountain.

Plymouth and Wayzata say farewell to retiring police chiefs 

After 31 years serving his hometown, Plymouth Public Safety Director and Police Chief Mike Goldstein retired from the department Jan. 29, 2021.

“I’ve had a very blessed career, and for that, I’m very grateful,” he said.

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Retired Plymouth Police Chief Mike Goldstein

Having grown up in Plymouth, Goldstein started in law enforcement in 1984 as a senior at Armstrong High School by joining Plymouth’s first class of Police Explorers, and later in the Plymouth Police Reserves as he studied  criminal justice and public administration in college.

Goldstein became a sworn officer to the department in 1990, being promoted through the ranks before becoming police chief in 2004 and public safety director in 2015.

His greatest highlight was “being given the opportunity to lead the organization ... and work to fulfill the mission that we’re asked to do,” he said.

It’s also been an honor, he said, to have served in this role for as many years as he has, having exceeded the average tenure for a police chief, which is three to five years.

Goldstein said he was leaving the city and the organization in “good and capable hands” with Deputy Chief Erik Fadden, who officially took over as public safety director Feb. 1.

Fadden, a 16-year officer in the department, said he considers himself lucky to have been able to work with Goldstein and feels confident and prepared to lead the public safety department into the future.

Wayzata’s police department also saw a change in leadership with the retirement of Mike Risvold, who served as police chief for 17 years before retiring in March.

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Retired Wayzata Police Chief Mike Risvold

Risvold retired in the 32nd year of his law enforcement career, which he began with the Minnetrista Police Department. His roles there included patrol, corporal, investigator and sergeant. After 10 years, he left Minnetrista for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked in court security and training before being promoted to detective. Four years later, in 2004, Risvold was hired as Wayzata’s fifth police chief.

During a retirement celebration, Risvold thanked friends and family for their support over the years. He also listed and thanked the officers serving with the Wayzata Police Department.

“You all have made me look good and have led to my success,” he said. “I share this day with all of you. ... It’s just been a great run. Thank you Wayzata for the opportunity of a lifetime.”

After serving as the city’s interim police chief for six months, Marc Schultz took over the role and was sworn in Oct. 5 to become the sixth police chief in the city’s history.

Schultz has a bachelor’s degree in fishery and wildlife biology from the University of Minnesota and earned a master’s degree in public safety and law enforcement from the University of St. Thomas. He joined the Wayzata Police Department in November 2019 as deputy police chief. Before that, he was with the Roseville Police Department, where he worked for more than 21 years in roles that included patrol sergeant and detective sergeant.

Hollydale redevelopment passes, ending a lawsuit against Plymouth

What has been a long and contentious process over the redevelopment of the former Hollydale Golf Course came to a close June 22 with the Plymouth City Council approving the reguiding, rezoning and preliminary plat for a single-family residential development.

The council voted 5-2 approving the proposal, which is the number of affirmative votes required for a comprehensive plan amendment. Voting in favor were Mayor Jeff Wosje and Councilmembers Jim Willis, Jim Davis, Ned Carroll and Nick Roehl. Councilmembers Jim Prom and Alise McGregor were opposed.

The reguiding or comprehensive plan amendment changes the 160-acre land from P-1 (public/semi-public/institutional) to LA-1 (low-density residential) and allows for the development of the 230-single family lots proposed on the former 18-hole golf course located east of Holly Lane, north of Old Rockford Road and south of Schmidt Lake Road.

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In June, the Plymouth City Council approved the reguiding, rezoning and preliminary plat for a single-family residential development at the former Hollydale Golf Course. (Submitted photo)

 

 

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This decision was contrary to the Plymouth Planning Commission’s unanimous vote, recommending the council deny the applicant’s request.

The decision, however, ended a lawsuit brought forth by the developers and property owners after the council voted to deny the rezoning request last November.

Since the process began in 2019, many residents who live near the former golf course have been vocal opponents  of the project, even forming a Preserve Hollydale advocacy group, petitioning the city to preserve the green space and save it from becoming a residential development.

The council also considered purchasing the property, but failed for lack of council support.

While sympathizing with the neighbors in regards to the increased traffic that will be generated by the development, Councilmember Jim Willis said he had to consider all of the residents of Plymouth in making his decision.

The risk of the city losing a lawsuit and being required to purchase the property for $30 million wasn’t one he was willing to take.

“I don’t think it’s a prudent risk to all taxpayers,” he said.

Wayzata’s Section Foreman House earns spot on National Register

Wayzata’s Section Foreman House received a high honor this past year when it landed a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The national designation, which follows years of work by the Wayzata Historical Society and the city’s Heritage Preservation Board, highlights a structure believed to be one of the last of its kind still standing in Minnesota.

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Wayzata’s Section Foreman House earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places this past year. (Sun file photo by Jason Jenkins)

The lakeside home was built by Great Northern Railroad in 1902 as the railway continued to expand in the early 20th century. The home was the residence for railroad foremen and their families, and the foreman who lived in the house was responsible for inspections and repairs to a 20-mile section of track.

“This designation ensures the long-term preservation of an important building in Wayzata’s history for generations to come,” Mayor Johanna Mouton said following the announcement in June.

The register is the nation’s official list of properties deemed worthy of preservation, meaning the historic properties given the designation must have historic significance and integrity. The Wayzata Depot, which was constructed by James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railroad in 1906, was placed on the national registry in 1981.

Placement of the Section Foreman House on the list further marks the site’s historical importance and also opens up opportunities for federal grant funding for the property.

The house is included as part of the second phase of the city’s Panoway on Wayzata Bay initiative to create and connect public park space along the lakefront. In October, the Wayzata City Council approved the hiring of a design firm for rehabilitation work on the historic house. The intended future use of the Section Foreman House is a learning center for environmental and historical education.

Restoration of the Section Foreman House will include a full interior and exterior renovation while historically preserving the structure. With the programming and pre-design phase underway, the next step will be for the city to choose a contractor and move into the construction phase, which city leaders anticipate will begin this coming summer if all permitting and funding are secured.

Plymouth Council approves purchase of Four Seasons site after failed development attempts

After 10 years and three failed attempts by developers, the City of Plymouth decided to purchase the Four Seasons Mall site off Highway 169 and Rockford Road.

The Plymouth City Council reconvened after a closed session May 11 and unanimously passed a resolution to purchase the 17-acre site for $6.7 million.

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The Plymouth City Council will review developer proposals for the Four Seasons Mall site during a special meeting Tuesday, Jan. 11. The council made a decision to purchase the 17-acre site after 10 years and three failed attempts with past developers. (Sun file photo by Kristen Miller)

In November 2019, the council approved a mixed-use development for Dominium to construct more than 400 units of affordable and senior housing, along with four commercial buildings and a park-and-ride facility.

While Dominium had been first on the priority list to receive housing revenue bonds from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, it was later bumped by other projects that met higher funding priorities existing multi-family affordable housing preservation projects within the inner ring suburbs took precedent, which serve a lower area median income, explained Plymouth City Manager Dave Callister.

The decision to purchase the property comes 11 years after the Four Seasons Mall site was sold to Walmart for $10.6 million in 2010.

Finding resistance from both residents and city officials, the big-box retailer chose not to build on the property, and in January 2012, company officials decided to sell the property.

Fives years later, the council approved the Agora project, a mixed-use development that included two hotels and a senior housing building, which failed in 2018 due to a lack of funding.

With a goal to have the building demolished by the end of the year, Callister said he’s excited to see something happen on the site, but also added that projects take time. He anticipates the transit-oriented development being a mix of housing – whether affordable or market-rate – as well as commercial development.

In September, Plymouth began requesting proposals for the redevelopment of the Four Seasons Mall site, which the council will review during a special council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 11.

Economic Director Danette Parr shared the city’s vision for the site and the objectives of the RFP, one of which will create a vibrant mixed-use development that connects with adjacent neighborhoods, is oriented towards maximizing the advantages of a future park and ride, and creates a unique public space that draws people into the development.

The plan is to negotiate a purchase and development agreement in February or March.

Family and friends remember the life and light of Jay Boughton, suspect arrested

Family and friends of Jay Boughton gathered at Messiah United Methodist Church in Plymouth Aug. 6 for a funeral service and celebration of a life that ended tragically in a shooting on Highway 169 in Plymouth July 6.

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Jay Boughton, 56, of Crystal was shot July 6 on Highway 169.

Boughton, 56, of Crystal, was an assistant coach for Armstrong/Cooper Youth Baseball Association and former coach for the Crystal Little League. He died from a gunshot wound to the head after being shot from a vehicle in the other lane while driving south on Highway 169. 

He was said to be “a wonderful coach, parent, and husband.”

“Jay was the one of those guys who would do anything for anyone at any time and always with a smile,” said Dale Bjerke, president of the Armstrong/Cooper Youth Baseball Association. “The ACYBA Board extends our deepest sympathies to the Boughton family and those who knew him.”

Jamal Lindsey Smith, 33 of Chicago, was arrested in Illinois in August and charged with second-degree murder in Boughton’s death.

“This was truly a needle in a haystack,” said Plymouth Police Chief Erik Fadden, who made the announcement during a press conference Sept. 2. 

Fadden spoke of the 1500 hours “of painstaking investigation work” by the Plymouth Police Department over several weeks and using grainy photos from traffic cameras taken of the suspect vehicle on a rainy night without a distinguishable license plate.

On July 23, Plymouth Police received a tip from a towing company that matched the description of the suspect’s vehicle, which had been impounded after reportedly being stolen from a rental company in April. The vehicle had been parked on the 200 block of Shelard Parkway. It was near the residence of a witness who later admitted to being in a romantic relationship with the suspect and became suspicious of his connection to the crime.

The suspect vehicle was seized and searched, at which time officers located a work ID as well as prescription paperwork with Smith’s name.

A Facebook Live video taken on the day of the shooting showed the suspect with the weapon matching the bullet found in Boughton’s vehicle.

Wayzata post office renamed in honor of Jim Ramstad

The U.S. Post Office in Wayzata was renamed this past year in honor of the late Minnesota Congressman Jim Ramstad – making the building a permanent reminder of his impact as a lawmaker and his love for Wayzata.

President Joe Biden signed off on a bill this past summer for the renaming in honor of Ramstad, who died in November 2020 of Parkinson’s disease at the age of 74.

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A facsimile of a plaque that will be attached to the front of the U.S. Post Office in Wayzata is unveiled during a Sept. 2 dedication ceremony to honor former Minnesota Rep. Jim Ramstad, who died in November 2020. Helping with the unveiling is, from left, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Postmaster Tony Williams, Kathryn Ramstad and Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips. (Sun file photo by Jason Jenkins)

The dedication was marked in September with a ceremony at the post office. Friends, family and colleagues spoke about Ramstad’s legacy, which includes 10 years in the Minnesota Senate and nearly two decades in U.S. Congress, where he served Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District for nine terms beginning in 1991. The Republican lawmaker retired from Congress in 2009.

Ramstad was known for his work as a legislative advocate for mental health issues and people in recovery after his battle with alcoholism. He was a lead sponsor of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was passed in 2008 after 12 years of advocacy and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. The legislation requires insurance companies to pay equally for mental and physical health benefits, including addiction treatment.

Early in his retirement, Ramstad served as an adviser to the Hazelden Foundation, which later became the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Throughout his 39 years of sobriety, Ramstad supported friends, colleagues and strangers on their roads to recovery, according to leaders of the foundation.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who led the Senate version of the bill to rename the post office, said at the ceremony that the dedication will serve as a longstanding reminder of a lawmaker she considered a “true mentor” on how to work with both Democrats and Republicans to get things done. The senator also spoke to Ramstad’s love for the Wayzata community and the people in his district.

Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, the Democrat who currently holds the 3rd District seat Ramstad once held, authored the House bill for the renaming. Phillips too noted Ramstad’s ability to reach across the aisle and form friendships.

Kathryn Ramstad, widow of the late congressman, remarked during the ceremony that having her husband’s name on the post office in Wayzata is a fitting tribute.

“As a member of Congress, Jim traveled the world. But his favorite place on earth, by far, was Wayzata, Minnesota,” she said.

Wayzata begins 2021 with a new mayor

The beginning of 2021 saw the swearing in of Wayzata Mayor Johanna Mouton, which made her the first woman to hold the office in the city’s history.

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Mayor Johanna Mouton provides the State of the City address during an Aug. 3 luncheon at the Wayzata Country Club. (Sun file photo by Jason Jenkins)

McCarthy was administered the oath of office in January following an uncontested candidacy in the November 2020 election. The longtime Wayzata resident decided to run for mayor after serving six years as a city council member. She took over for Ken Willcox, who wrapped up a 12-year tenure as mayor after deciding not to run for re-election.

“I’ve always had a deep appreciation for Wayzata and its way of life and I wanted to contribute in a meaningful way to our amazing community,” Mouton said of her initial decision to run for city council years ago.

Mouton said her proudest accomplishments serving on the council include her involvement with the design and installation of the police memorial for Wayzata’s fallen officers. She said she’s also proud of her contributions to the final design of the municipal parking ramp and having been a part of the redevelopment of Lake Street.

The new mayor was given a chance to address community members in-person at the State of the City event, which returned to the Wayzata Country Club in August after taking 2020 off due to the pandemic.

“It was a challenging and turbulent year. But if we learned anything, it is that together as a community we are in fact better,” the mayor said.

In trying to continue that community connection year-round, Mouton and the city’s communications team launched a new monthly podcast series called “Mayor Minutes.” Each episode features a new guest and a goal to highlight people, stories and initiatives important to the city.

To listen to the series, visit Wayzata.org/MayorMinutes.

Festivals make a return to Plymouth and Wayzata

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Together Again was this year’s theme for the return of Music in Plymouth July 7 at the Hilde Performance Center. Although the quintessential event was missing its typical headliner – the Minnesota Orchestra – the event will be back in its entirety next year for the 50th anniversary celebration, assures the Plymouth Civic League, which organizes the event each year. However, attendees were able to enjoy being together again as a community as they listened to the sounds of several musical guests, enjoyed food from the food trucks and watched as the evening capped off with a fireworks display. (Sun file photo by Kristen Miller)

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The 23rd annual Plymouth on Parade drew a crowd to Plymouth City Center upon the event’s return in 2021. Along with the parade, the event featured other activities including face painting, caricatures, balloon animals, food trucks and more. (Photo courtesy of city of Plymouth)

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People filled Lake Street in downtown Wayzata June 26-27 for the return of the Wayzata Art Experience. After taking 2020 off due to ongoing construction work for the Panoway project, the festival returned this past weekend with more than 100 artists displaying and selling their work. The event, established in 2004 by the Greater Wayzata Area Chamber of Commerce, also marked a return to the summer festival season after most gatherings in 2020 were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sun file photo by Jason Jenkins)

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Dog owners race their dachshunds Sept. 11 in downtown Wayzata’s new Panoway park. The popular event was part of the 46th James J. Hill Days festival, which made a welcome return Sept. 10-12 after taking 2020 off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sun file photo by Jason Jenkins)

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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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