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Looking ahead: What 2014 will bring in Woodbury

This spring the Bielenberg Sports Center, which will include a restaurant, debuts its new look to the public. (Bulletin file image)

The completion of major projects around Woodbury will grab the spotlight this year, while the seeds for other community-led efforts will begin to be sown this year.

Woodbury’s retail sector will see major additions in 2014, while the remodeled Bielenberg Sports Center will also debut a new look. Meanwhile, local schools will begin seeing levy-approved dollars begin flowing into districts 833 and 834 buildings.

Woodbury lawmakers will tackle new issues and revisit unfinished business at the Capitol, while elections at multiple levels will draw community attention.

Woodbury Bulletin staff writers checked in with those in the know for a look ahead at what 2014 will bring in the realms of city, business, education, the Legislature, Washington County and Afton. Here’s what was gleaned.

BSC set to open

Just like 2013, Woodbury is poised to see growth in 2014.

City officials are anticipating major redevelopment to happen at the Woodbury Corporate Center, formerly the State Farm Insurance Co. headquarters, with a Florida-based real estate company poised to finalize plans to purchase the site this year.

While the Woodbury Corporate Center is not yet a done deal, the Bielenberg Sports Center will be all done by spring.

“First thing that of course comes to mind is the Bielenberg Sports Center that’s finishing up. It will be a wonderful opportunity,” Council Member Christopher Burns said as he discussed what the council is looking forward to in 2014.

After years of planning and nearly a full year of construction, the Bielenberg Sports Center is expected to open this spring.

The Woodbury Community Expo, slated for May 3, will be the first large public event at the center that will show off a 90,000 square-foot field house with renovated indoor ice rinks.

The all-accessible playground “Madison’s Place” is expected to open in July with a nearby splash pad to give kids an opportunity to cool off during hot summer months.

The landscaping will also be completed throughout the summer and an outdoor refrigerated ice rink will open for use in November.

The city’s Fourth of July festivities will be moved from Ojibway Park to BSC this year to coincide with a grand opening celebration at the city’s newly expanded landmark.

Water main break

Woodbury City Council is expected to review a report detailing the results of the investigation into a water main break that occurred in November 2013.

Public Works Director Klayton Eckles said the report will likely be released by mid-February.

The report will detail all aspects of what happened and why it happened. It will also list steps already taken or will be taken to prevent the possibility of future water main breaks.

“It’s a little complicated because it wasn’t just one system failure,” Eckles said. “It took four systems to fail in order for this to happen.”

The city received 154 damage claims as a result of the incident that affected many households in Woodbury.

Retail growth

When it comes to big retailers joining the community come 2014, one name rises above the rest.

“From the business perspective, Cabela’s opening in April will be a big deal,” said Jason Egerstrom, Woodbury’s communications director. “That’s a big draw.”

Also set to open in early 2014 is the arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby, which took over the former Sportsman’s Warehouse location that closed in 2009.

Hobby Lobby plans to fill 40,000 square feet with a variety of merchandise, from furniture and home accents to birdhouses and art supplies.

Woodbury’s Planning and Economic Development Manager Janelle Schmitz said 2014 is looking to be a strong year with new commercial construction breaking ground.

“We are expecting additional retail development along County Road 19 and along Radio Drive,” she said, referring to new businesses at the SuperTarget-anchored development, and the new Bielenberg Gardens southwest of Bailey Road. “Additional office development, primarily health care-clinic space, is also a strong possibility in 2014.”

One giant retailer that has expressed interest in opening a Woodbury location, Costco, continued to reach out to the city in 2013.

But Costco made the premature announcement before any land purchase deals were finalized. The company has not yet secured a location.

“I’m hopeful that we hear something from Costco as well,” Burns said. “That’s the second or third most frequently asked question I receive.”

County elections

Two Washington County commissioner seats will be up for re-election in 2014.

District 2 Commissioner Ted Bearth, who was elected in 2012 for a two-year term said he has not decided if he’ll run for re-election this year.

His priorities for 2014 will stay similar to what he started with: to keep taxes low, bond rating high and getting to know county employees.

“2013 really went by so quick it seems like I was only there a couple weeks instead of a year,” he said. “Hopefully 2014 will be another good year with the economy getting better.”

Commissioner Autumn Lehrke, District 4, was elected in 2010 to represent the southern part of the county. Lehrke’s term is up in December 2014.

“I ran for office because the people asked me to,” she said. “I would love to serve another four years. There is a lot of things I’m in the middle of working on and I want to be able to represent the community.”

Lehrke continues to work on the Red Rock Corridor project that has recommended a bus-rapid transit option as the most cost effective.

“The data-driven decisions that I have been making have been showing to save over $500 million to taxpayers,” she said.

Lehrke will also work with District 833 on a recycling initiative as a result of a state mandated landfill diversion program that encourages additional recycling in the schools. It’s something she’s worked on for more than a year that will finally come to fruition in 2014.

She also emphasized one other priority for 2014.

“Roads, roads, roads, roads,” Lehrke said. “Road are the top priority.”

Road projects

After a year filled with major disruptions, motorists will not likely see as many orange cones in 2014.

There are, however, a couple of road projects planned for the southern portion of Woodbury.

The city plans to extend Hargis Parkway south of the Bailey Road and Radio Drive roundabout to serve the new retail development Bielenberg Gardens, Eckles said.

“There are new development plans in that general area,” he said. “Most of what we’ll see is in the southern part of town.”

Washington County is also proposing to add a roundabout at Military Road and Radio Drive this summer.