Carver County Board sets 2014 legislative priorities

October has been a busy month for the Carver County Board of Commissioners, who recently proclaimed October as two different awareness months, discussed their legislative priorities, and updated the ADA Transition Plan.
At the Oct. 22 regular session of the board, October was proclaimed Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Domestic Abuse Awareness Month.
The national campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to increase awareness of not only the disease, but the importance of early and regular screenings and detection. One in eight women will born today in America will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life, but thanks to recent strides, many women can, and will, survive the disease. In Carver County, roughly 1,600 new cancer cases are diagnosed each year, with 250 of those being breast cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Carver County.
As for Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, Carver County is active in the battle against domestic violence with strong prosecutions of abusers, heavy involvement with the Carver County Attorney’s Victim Witness Coordinating team, and collaboration with the Southern Valley Alliance for Battered Women. The board recognizes the work done by law enforcement, domestic violence programs, prosecutors, and victim service organizations to bring awareness of the impacts of domestic violence. Roughly one in four women will experience some form of domestic violence in her lifetime.
County Attorney Mark Metz said domestic violence is quickly becoming a public health issue.
“We’re trying to bring this once hidden issue into public consciousness,” he said.
Also on Oct. 22, the board discussed and adopted its 2014 legislative priorities. The 10 priorities put forth  are not the only goals of the county, but simply a “top 10” list of sorts. Three involve government and finance, including clarifying the law to allow townships to receive fine revenue, exempting joint powers and special taxing districts from the sales tax, and asking for special legislation to allow Carver County to sell tax forfeited parcels including two in Chanhassen, one in Norwood Young America, and a fourth in Watertown.
When it comes to transportation and county roads and bridges, the board has made it a priority to support SouthWest Transit as the primary operator of extended transit services in the county, and has asked that the legislature increase funding for the county turnback account.
If that is not possible, then the county is asking that the legislature fully fund the Southwest Reconnection Project as an alternative.
In addition, the county asks that the legislature instruct the Minnesota Department of Transportation, as well as the Metropolitan Council, to adjust the transportation policy and investment for the county to fit the projected growth and future land use estimates.
Four issues were made priorities relating to the environment in Carver County. The county asks that the legislature fund a comprehensive Aquatic Invasive Species Management and Implementation Plan through the Department of Natural Resources. Carver County also hopes the DNR will provide funding for a second public water access point on Lake Waconia, along with funding for the Regional Park CIP. Lastly, the county hopes to have the wording changed in regards to Legacy Funding, which will then allow the 2015 appropriations to be used for paving at Lake Minnewashta Regional Park and financing a Park Programmer position.
In continuance of the work done on the Southwest Reconnection Project (the Highway 101 bridge and “Y” intersection between Shakopee and Chanhassen), the County Board authorized a settlement of nearly $750,000 for a right of way on property owned by Rain, Snow, or Shine Golf, LLC. Golf Zone is located on Flying Cloud Drive at the “Y” intersection and will be impacted by the construction of the new bridge. The current mini golf course will have to be completely reconstructed and the Par 3 course will also be affected, resulting in approximately three years of business loss.
In other construction-related news, the final draft of the ADA Transition Plan, which focuses on how Carver County will aim to make more crosswalks ADA compliant in the coming years, is now available for public comment until Oct. 30, both in print form and online.
Traffic Engineer Kate Miner presented aspects of the plan to the county board on Oct. 15. After self-evaluating facilities, Miner said there are 822 crosswalks in Carver County, 307 of which are already ADA compliant (roughly 37 percent), higher than many other metropolitan counties.
ADA compliant facilities include flat landings for wheelchairs, the location of the push button, and the darker patches of concrete for the visually impaired. There are 441 Carver County crosswalks with one of Miner’s “fail factors,” 72 with two fail factors, and just two crosswalks with all three fail factors.
The five-year goal of the county is to have 50 percent compliance, with a 10-year goal of 70 percent and a 20-year goal of 90 percent. Miner said that 100 percent compliance is never truly possible, with ever-changing ADA requirements, but that the county aims to get as close as possible in the coming years. Priority projects include schools, government offices, and medical facilities.
The next meeting of the Carver County Board will be Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 9 a.m.

Contact Melissa Marohl at melissa.marohl@ecm-inc.com

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