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Looking ahead to 2013: Afton

Afton garden

Last summer, Afton City Council approved the development of a community garden and this spring it will see the first seeds planted.

The Afton community garden will be located at Rinta Park, located on the Hudson Road frontage road off of Interstate 94, and have about four acres available for use.

The community garden is planned to allow Afton residents, and residents of neighboring communities, to plant vegetables or flowers on their own private plot.

The community garden is being paid for through a grant from the Lower St. Croix Valley Foundation.

The only stipulation of the grant is that the community garden cannot be used for commercial production and excess produce is encouraged to be donated to the local food shelf.

"It sounded to me that they still have plenty of room," City Administrator Ron Moorse said.

The exact date of when residents will be able to start planting is still uncertain, but it will be sometime in the early spring.

The community garden will be open to all Afton residents and residents of St. Mary's Point, Lake St. Croix Beach, Lakeland and Lakeland Shores. Planning Commission Chairwoman Barbara Ronningen will be managing the community garden.

Design focus in Afton

A good portion of 2013 will have Afton paying close attention to design within the Old Village.

The city will be working with a consultant to develop a new set of design standards for its Old Village.

Currently Afton has a set of design standards that address a number of different areas; however the city is hoping to update them and create a more cohesive set of standards.

The consultant will be tasked with conducting an initial resource analysis of the Old Village and drafting a design manual addressing new design standards, which will have a focus on historic preservation on project there and continuity in design.

The design manual will also include guidelines related to new construction, such as façade portions, detailing, materials, building setback and the use of new building materials.

New signage guidelines will also be part of the process.

"We're going to work with the businesses to talk about developing a more consistent and attractive business signage," City Administrator Ron Moorse said. "There's not a lot of consistency right now."

The timeline for the development of the design manual is expected to be about three months followed by a three-month review and public comment period. The entire process is expected to take seven months and be finished by the summer. The signage standards are expected to be developed within the next couple months.

Afton's Design Review/Heritage Preservation Commission will be the key player in the design-standards effort. The commission will be working with a consultant.

County Road 21 construction project planning to get underway

The beginning stages of the County Road 21, or St. Croix Trail South, project will take its first steps in 2013.

The construction project, which is being overseen by Washington County, will include a complete reconstruction of the main road that runs through Afton's Old Village.

At some point in 2013, the design plan process will kick off and the county will be seeking public input and input from the city. Goals identified for the project include establishing better connections with the St. Croix River and enhancing pedestrian friendliness.

A task force has recommended introducing traffic calming features and reducing the existing roadway width to reduce traffic speed and encourage more people to enjoy the attractions of the old village

The design process is expected to begin in 2013 even though the actual construction project will not take place until 2014.

Washington County will be heading the project, however Afton officials and residents are expected to be heavily involved in the process.

Bridge reconstruction in Afton

Afton residents will have to cope with a significant bridge project in 2013 since Washington County is scheduled to reconstruct the bridge at Valley Creek and Stagecoach trails.

Because of the extent of the reconstruction project, Afton residents will have to take detours for the duration of the project.

The bridge is scheduled to be replaced in the summer of 2013. The replacement should take between 10 and 12 weeks and should be completed by September 2013.

Washington County will handle the reconstruction project.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

(651) 702-0976