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State of the City covers health business, roads, water

Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens talks to the crowd during her State of the City speech on Feb. 24 at Woodbury Central Park. Joe Brown / RiverTown Multimedia

WOODBURY — Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens highlighted the city's expanding healthcare business, upcoming road projects and changes to water and sewer rates during her State of the City address at Central Park on Feb. 24.

Speaking to a crowd at Woodbury Central Park, Stephens noted the city's aging population, where the median age has risen to 38 years old. In 2020 projections, residents aged 65 or older are projected to pass 5-to-17 year old residents for the first time.

Along with that changing demographic, education and health services make up 27 percent of the job sector in Woodbury.

Stephens highlighted the building of Children's hospital and clinic, Minnesota Gastroenterology, MHealth, Fraser Clinic, Health East Cancer Care, Twin Cities Orthopedics, Minnesota Eye Consultants and TRIA Orthopedic as well as expansions for Central Pediatrics, PrairieCare and Summit Orthopedics.

"At one of our business outreach meetings we had last year, one of the executives said 'Woodbury is a medically sophisticated community,'" Stephens said. "We liked it so much we kind of grabbed it and stole it."

Roads in Woodbury will see work done from the city, with road rehabilitation projects slated for Eagle Valley Drive and Wedgewood Drive residents, as well as the City Centre Drive commercial area.

"Our staff looks ahead five years, and based on the conditions of the roads, that's how we decided where to do road rehabilitation," Stephens said.

Stephens added that Washington County plans on putting a traffic signal at the City Centre Drive intersection by City Hall as well as work on Woodbury Drive and Bailey Road. The state will have work along Manning Avenue, as well as the 94/494/694 intersection in 2019, with improvements focused on bridge preservation and mobility and safety improvements.

"It's something we've been advocating for and been passionate about since 2010," Stephens said. "That continues to get increased traffic, it's got some safety issues and sometimes that will back up past Tamarack and sometimes past Valley Creek."

With the city itself aging, Stephens discussed the raise in water and sewer rates that were approved in late 2017, citing the need for major repairs.

"Because we're only 50 years old, we have typically had minor repairs in the water and sewer lines. We discovered last year that we're at a stage in our history where we're going to be having to maybe have some full replacements of water mains and sewer mains," Stephens said. "Those costs for assessments to the homeowners would be significant. They would be huge."

Stephens added that the city will share half the cost of the water service lines that go from the main water line to the curb stop.

"That used to be the homeowner's responsibility. But because when we go in and we do these large projects, if we determine that that's the appropriate time to replace that line, we do it," Stephens said. "We decided because of that, we were going to take some of that cost back to the city."

Stephens continued, "We continue to be responsible to manage our utility rates. These are still some of the lowest rates in the metro and in the state area for water."