November 2017 Update

There’s no snow on the ground, but there’s a flurry of activities around Crystal! I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. Here is a quick roundup of items this month and into December:

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Thanks to Robbinsdale School District’s Adult Academic Program and Crystal city staff for organizing a tour at Radius Track on Nov. 16! President Bob Krebsbach spoke with students and gave us a tour of his unique company (designing and manufacturing curved structure framing – their work includes the Twins & Vikings stadiums).

City staff is working with the planning commission and city council to create a 2040 Comprehensive Plan in 2018. This plan is updated every 10 years with a long-range vision for our community’s future, including land use decisions. You can give input and find out more here.

Pizza Ranch

Crystal is getting a new restaurant: Pizza Ranch will be moving in to the Old Country Buffet spot at the Crystal Gallery Mall! We met owners Randall and Sheryl Hubin at the Nov. 21 council meeting and they plan to open by summer of 2018, including a drive-through pickup window on Sherburne Ave.

LoC lights

Thanks to Light of Crystal’s Shawn Smith and volunteers who put up another great light display at the Crystal Community Center on November 20. Shawn posted on Facebook, “As we installed the annual Light of Crystal holiday lighting display tonight, little kids continually walked up to the new snowman. A few asked their parents to take their picture with him. Some of the seniors started humming carols and complimenting the display as they left their card games.”

CCX media highlighted Ward 1’s Neill Elementary and interviewed former MN Viking Randall McDaniel, a paraprofessional. Neill has a very diverse student population, and principal Jodi Markworth says the school embraces and uses it as a teaching tool.

Upcoming Events:

Winterfest is Saturday, Dec. 2 at the Crystal Community Center from 10:00am-Noon. Free admission and fun for kids and adults: visit Santa, crafts, games, DJ with KidsDance, petting zoo and horse-drawn wagon rides!

Crystal’s Truth in Taxation hearing will be Tuesday, Dec. 5 at Crystal City Hall (same night as our council meeting). Read a summary of the 2018 budget and levy proposal in the latest Crystal Connection newsletter on page 3.

Is there a home or business in your neighborhood that’s really lit up? Nominate them for the Crystal Sparkles Holiday Lighting Contest! First and/or second place winners will get cash prizes. Get a nomination form here and be sure to submit it by Friday, Dec. 8.

Crystal Recreation’s new winter catalog is out – with fun activities for kids and adults. View it here.

Canadian Pacific’s Holiday Train is stopping by on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 3:35 pm at New Hope Arena, 4949 Louisiana Ave. N. Free music and refreshments – and you can donate a non-perishable heart-healthy food item for the local food shelf.

New to Crystal or want to meet more neighbors? Try out a Halfway Happy Hour with Light of Crystal, an active and diverse group that promotes city pride and community building. The next HHH is Fri., Dec. 15 at Broadway Pizza, beginning at 5:00pm. All are welcome – find out more about LoC here.

For council meeting updates, visit my recap page — and City of Crystal’s website to view meetings and council packets.

October Update: Street Cleanup, New Signs, Building Community

Leaves are falling and many neighbors are helping to compost or pick them up. Fall street sweeping is underway in Crystal, and Public Works staff asks to avoid parking on the street during the day when possible and keep trash, recycling and yard waste containers out of the street or gutter on collection day. More on street cleaning:

The old neighborhood signs are being replaced with new signage that is much easier to read. They also highlight our new city flag design — the star’s 14 points represent our 14 neighborhoods.  The signs are paid for from the Economic Development Authority (EDA) fund. City Council is currently discussing updating our city look to help people know where they’re at in Crystal. Blue street signs were recently placed above some street signs to help locate city parks.

Neighborhood signs

This year’s West Metro Fire Open House was another success on Oct. 14 at Station No. 3 in New Hope. Visitors enjoyed demonstrations, fire-related activities, safety and equipment displays from North Memorial, the K-9 Unit and more. Find out more about our fire department here:

(photo by Council Member Jeff Kolb)

On October 14, I joined representatives and staff from area cities for a Blue Line light rail development tour. We visited St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Eden Prairie and Bloomington. Each station is adding customized projects that fit the area for usage, for example Bloomington’s stop near Health Partners had a park area and green space. Others had parking, retail, and housing projects planned. Thanks to Hennepin County and Metro Transit for a very informative tour, along with ideas for Crystal’s proposed station at Bass Lake Road and Cty. Rd 81.

Light rail tour

Crystal is home to many different houses of faith, and I was honored to be invited to Refuge International Ministries’ service October 15 by visiting Bishop Wesley Smith (pictured with me below), who I met in 2013. Refuge International’s Senior Pastor Zephaniah Kaffey serves on the Multicultural Advisory Committee with Crystal PD. MAC meets monthly with police personnel to discuss topics important to their communities, build mutual trust, and open up communication. For more information of Refuge International Ministries (6412 45th Ave. N), call 763-232-3063.

Bishop Smith at Refuge Int'l Ministries

Upcoming Events:

It’s getting colder and daylight is getting shorter, so head over to Crystal Recreation and sign up for fun activities throughout fall and winter! Visit their Facebook page for the latest updates. See all fall recreation offerings in the brochure — view it online.

There are openings on city commissions, including Planning, Community Outreach Task Force, and Environmental Quality. These volunteer positions require just a few hours a month, and it’s a chance for you to have a voice in advising the city. Application deadlines are due Oct. 30 and interviews begin in November. See all open positions here.

New to Crystal or want to get to know your neighbors? Try out a Halfway Happy Hour with Light of Crystal, an active and diverse group that promotes city pride and community building. The next HHH is Wed., Nov. 15 at the Crystal VFW on Bass Lake Rd, beginning at 5:00pm. All are welcome – find out more about LoC here.

For council meeting updates, visit my recap page — and City of Crystal’s website to view meetings and council packets.

Enjoy a happy and safe Halloween!

September – Ideal for Outdoor & Indoor Activities!

For many like me, fall is the favorite season in Minnesota – enjoying the colors, cooler temps and activities in and around Crystal.

This month, we saw park design ideas for future improvements. Exciting news for MAC Nature Center (60th & Regent Ave): Three Rivers Park District is partnering with Crystal to improve the trails and make the area more usable. An open house was held on September 13 in Brooklyn Center, and here’s a link to see the plans. Work is expected to be done over the winter.


A shout out to Forest neighborhood resident Jan Jorgens, helping keep Memory Lane Pond beautiful. She and other neighbors gathered September 16 to clean up trash. Jan wrote on, “The group called Friends Fond of the Pond officially meets twice a year to look for litter. You are welcome to join them next spring. Watch for announcements!”

(Photo from Jan Jorgens via

Residents gathered at Welcome Park for the Park/Rec Commission neighborhood meeting to discuss future plans for that area, including ballpark improvements, a new shelter/restroom building and other features. Welcome Park will be the site for the Crystal Frolics in 2019 when Becker Park is closed for a big storm water project. See current plan concepts here.

Speaking of commissions, there are several openings on city commissions, including Planning, Community Outreach Task Force, and Environmental Quality. These volunteer positions require just a few hours a month, and it’s a chance for you to have a voice in advising the city. Application deadlines are due Oct. 30 and interviews begin in November. See all open positions here.


Fall is also a colorful time as Council meets to plan the 2018 budget! On September 14, we discussed and voted on utility fees. City staff reviewed the fee schedule over the last few years, getting rid of some while restructuring other fees to simplify it. Water, sewer and storm drainage will see increases to help cover the costs of maintaining and repairs. For example, the residential sewer fee per quarter will go from $55.15 to $61.22 beginning in January. There will be no increases to your recycling and street light fees next year.

Events & Updates:

  • The Diaper Drive ends Sept. 30 — drop off diapers, wipes or donations to the Community Center, benefiting Helping Us Grow.
  • The Fall Coat Drive is on now until Sept. 29. Donate new or gently used coats at the Community Center. Hosted by American Mortgage & Equity Consultants, ReMax Results & State Farm Insurance.
  •  The 3rd Annual Run for Rocco fundraiser is on Saturday, Sept. 30 at Bassett Creek Park; 8:30a.m. Kids Race; 9 a.m. Run/ Walk. Register now
  • Kids Garage Sale is also on September 30: 8:20 am until noon at the Crystal Community Center
  • The next Council Meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 3, 7:00pm at City Hall. A work session will be held at 6:30 and after the council meeting in Conference Room A.
  • See all recreation offerings in the Fall Recreation brochureview it online.

For council meeting updates, visit my recap page — and City of Crystal’s website to view meetings and council packets.

August Update with Community, Cars and Corn!

We started off the month with Night to Unite parties and events. About 75 parties were hosted around Crystal, along with the Police station open house on August 1. I rode along with Sgt. Tourville to visit 7 parties in Ward 1. We spoke with residents who’ve lived here ranging from a few months to 50+ years, and all commented on how much they love living here!

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West Metro Fire organized our annual Wet & Wild Water Day at Valley Place Park on August 4, adding Three Rivers Park table to promote the new trail connecting New Hope to Crystal. The new Kona Ice treat truck was very popular!

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On August 8, Parks & Recreation hosted an open house to update residents to review their 20 year Master Parks Plan. Several updated concept ideas were presented, based on feedback from residents and other park users. You can see the updates, timeline, concepts and weigh in here.

The Crystal Lions Corn Feed was another big success, paired again this year the Antique Car Run. Added this year was Art in The Park, featuring local artists and musicians and a Hot Rod/Classic Car meet. Read highlights at the Sun Post.

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Along with these events, the Council and city staff began meeting to discuss our 2018 budget. You can find information here.

At our August 15 council meeting, three law enforcement staff members were recognized: Nathan Betters was promoted to Captain, Hennepin County 911 Operator Ashley Jacobson given the Chief Award for talking a homicide suspect into surrendering peacefully; and Officer Robles named  MADD’s 2016 Rookie of the Year.

Events & Updates:

  • Thursday, Aug. 24: Three Rivers Bassett Creek Regional Trail Grand Opening event is at 3 p.m. at Valley Place Park.
  • Monday, Aug. 28: Beacon Academy will hold a ribbon cutting for their new facility at 3415 Louisiana Ave. N.
  • Sat., August 26: Full Proof Ministry is hosting a Community Civic Day from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 4835 West Broadway.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 5: Next city council meeting is 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
  • Register now for the 3rd Annual Run for Rocco Fundraiser is on Saturday, Sept. 30 at Bassett Creek Park; 8:30a.m. Kids Race; 9 a.m. Run/ Walk.
  • A few city commissions have openings, including Environmental Quality and Parks/Rec. If you’re interested, get details here.
  • The Fall Recreation brochure is out! Look for your copy in the mail or view it online.

July Ending with Fireworks!


It’s been a busy month for most of us and many cities around us. July kicked off with Robbinsdale’s Whiz Bang Days, then New Hope with Duk Duk Daze. The end of the month finale is Crystal Frolics, held annually during the last weekend in July. I serve on the Frolics committee and want to share some highlights:

  • The Search for the Crystal Ball begins Thursday with the first clue. The winner receives $500 in gift cards from area businesses. You need a button to play, and don’t forget to register it! You can purchase one for $2 at Crystal Community Center, Crystal City Hall, Associated Bank, Almsted’s Fresh Market and at the Frolics.
  • Your favorite carnival and service organizations will be there selling food and beverages. New this year is Palm/Tarot Card readings and two new food vendors:  Joshua Sells Kettle Corn and Mountain Mudd Coffee will offer hot/cold/blended coffee, smoothies, and chai tea. The Family Festival on Sunday added more goodies with free tattoos by Crystal Outreach Task Force and a free book giveaway from Friends of Ridgedale Library.
  • Help the NEAR Food Shelf by dunking your favorite city officials in the Mayor’s Dunk Tank – Friday night from 6-9pm! I’ll be one of many sitting inside getting soaked for a great cause. Look for the turquoise barrel and people throwing softballs at it. 🙂


So much fun packed into 4 days – hope to see you there! Get information at the Frolics website or on Facebook. Look for the Sun Post flyer with ride coupons and more online and at at the event. Frolics President Lynn Haney showcases more offerings in this video:




June Storm Updates

Several residents were without power after a severe storm on Sunday, June 11 and Xcel Energy worked to restore power.  A few trees were uprooted causing damage to homes.

(Photo: @mattpassolt via Twitter)

As of Monday afternoon, all traffic signals are operational and there was one branch in the road at 36th and Lee with wires in it.  Thanks to Xcel and Crystal public works crew who are out cleaning up (catch basins, parks, streets, etc), along with neighbors. 

Need to dispose of yard material from the storm? The Maple Grove Yardwaste Site is open seven days a week to accept leaves, branches and other tree debris. Get details here.

Adopt a Storm Drain

You can help prevent local flooding and protect our streams, ponds and lakes by cleaning up a storm drain near your home. West Metro Water Alliance & Hennepin County have a list of tips by “adopting” a storm drain.  Please help by cleaning a drain near you if you see it covered with debris. Thanks!

Storm drain cleaning
(Photo: Bee Rent via Light of Crystal Facebook page)

Golden Valley Lightning Fire

On Monday, June 12, a home to our south on Douglas Drive in Golden Valley was struck by lightning, causing a fire. All are safe, and it was gratifying to see so many reach out through NextDoor and Facebook to help the owners. One of the residents, Karla wrote on NextDoor, “Thank you all for your kindness and all the information! It was our house that was hit by that massive lightning strike. We are very grateful no one was hurt. Hug your loved ones and please check your fire detectors!”

Golden Valley Fire
(Photo: Chad Nelson, KARE11)

Crystal is full of compassionate neighbors who quickly jump into action to help each other in person and online. If you’re not on, please sign up to connect in your neighborhood. Thank you for all you do to keep our city a great place to live! Together, we weather through any storm.

Keeping Crystal Beautiful, One Plant at a Time!

Spring is here, and it’s fun to see the foliage return with warm temps. Crystal Park and Rec hosted our annual Arbor Day Celebration on May 3, planting a tree at Yunkers Park. Several neighbors showed up to help clean the park, plant a new tree, enjoy hot dogs and take home a tree. Thanks to Crystal Fund for donating the trees, city staff, council and Park & Rec Commission members for helping!

Arbor Day  Arbor Day 2

Crystal’s Outreach Task Force held a Bee Friendly planting event on May 6. Hundreds of pollinator-friendly and drought-resistant plants were donated from Crystal Fund for Community Progress. You’ll find them in planters along Bass Lake Road, Broadway Ave, City Hall and Crystal Community Center. Thanks to volunteers, city staff and Council Member Elizabeth Dahl for organizing!

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Resident Bridget Gavin organized a Crystal Community Plant Swap on May 7 with many more participating this year. Neighbors brought plants to share and some to take home. Bridget is organizing another plant swap on September 24. This event is open to the public — so invite your friends and family to join in – the more participants, the better the plant exchange!

Plant Swap  Plant Swap 2

Finally, don’t miss Crystal Fund’s Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Crystal Community Center, 4800 Douglas Dr. N. Proceeds from the sale go towards improving Crystal’s parks and open spaces. See presentations on pollinator-friendly gardens, proper pruning techniques, sustainable lawns and landscape design. Expert presenters also will be on hand to answer questions.

Plant Sale

Spring Cleaning – Options for Donations


Thanks to neighbor Kirk W. who asked me if bulk curbside pickup was scheduled this year. It’s a popular way to get rid of stuff, and is offered every other year. Our next bulk pickup will be in 2018. In the meantime, here are a few ways to get rid of unwanted items:

  1. If you have light household items or clothing, Simple Recycling will pick those items up with your regular recycling. If you didn’t get the orange plastic bags from them,  call 866-835-5068 or pick up bags at City Hall (4141 Douglas) at their reception desk.
  2. If you’d rather donate to charity, Bibles For Missions (36th & Noble Ave.) and ARC are two area non-profits who accept many items for drop-off. Disabled American Vets (DAV) and a few other charity organizations will pick items up at your home. Or view options and schedule a free home pickup service at
  3. Drop off items at the Brooklyn Park transfer station off 169 and Brooklyn Blvd. Here’s a link to see what items they accept (most are no charge except appliances/tires — just bring your drivers license). Also, if you have motor oil, paint or similar items, this is the place to drop them off.
  4. Post your item (for sale or free) on or put a Free sign on the item and place on the curb. Many have great success with this option! If you’re not familiar, NextDoor is a free app for your phone or desktop where you sign up in your neighborhood.

I hope this helps, and please let me know if you have any other suggestions or questions by contacting me. Enjoy that reclaimed space!

March Fundraising Madness!

Besides basketball, March was a busy month for area events and fundraisers — all exceeding their goals. The annual Empty Bowls Robbinsdale fundraiser was held March 7 at Cooper High School, and broke a record for donations to PRISM and NEAR food shelves! It was an honor to be asked to serve as a greeter this year.


Light of Crystal held their 4th annual  bowling tournament at Doyles March 11, raising over $2,000 towards donating to community projects. Thanks to Shawn Smith and Rebekah Daly Smith with LoC volunteers!


The first inaugural Crystal Ball was held March 18, organized by the Community Outreach Task Force. This group of citizen volunteers worked with city staff and council to create an affordable evening of delicious food by Milton’s, music by The R Factor, and celebration of Crystal’s residents – four who received Neighbor awards for their giving spirits. Congratulations to John Jeffy, the McHenry family (pictured), Shaun and Heather O’Hara, and Bruce Gaertner! Money and pantry items were also raised for our local NEAR food shelf.


Also on March 19, Firefighters Fighting Hunger Food Drive was another big success, collecting 2,851 pounds of food and over $6,500. Pictured is a group volunteer photo from West Metro Fire District. There is still time to donate and get your monetary donations matched. You can bring your donations to West Metro HQ at 4251 Xylon Ave. N. in New Hope or go directly to The Food Group, NEAR, PRISM or any of the other local food-shelves.


Bowling for Rocco, our Crystal K9 raised over $4,100 on March 19 for his ongoing care and training. Hard to believe he’s 5 years old already, and last year assisted with over 50 arrests. Good boy! Thanks to all who organized and donated, and for VFW Post 494 for hosting the lunch.


On a special note: many bowling events and tournaments have been at Doyle’s Bowling & Lounge, and we will miss them greatly when they close this spring. Cornerstone Church has bought the property to renovate and open this fall, moving from their southern Crystal location. Thanks to owner Rita Gardner and all the staff for the great memories!

For council meeting updates, visit my recap page — and City of Crystal’s website to view meetings and council packets.


Simple Recycling pilot program begins Feb. 13

Simple Recycling

Did you receive orange bags and a card from Simple Recycling? The Hennepin County/Crystal pilot program begins the week of Feb. 13 – it’s optional and free. Put clothing, shoes and household items in an orange bag and place next to your recycling can. They’ll replace the bag when they pick up.

If you’d rather donate to an organization of your choice, please do so. This is an alternative, and a way to discard old towels, shoes, sheets, etc. that would otherwise end up in a landfill. > Get info on Simple Recycling here.