One month into the job, newly appointed Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff says building relationships has been one of her biggest priorities. Chair Tchourumoff is half-way through her Seven-County Tour, having visited Washington, Dakota and Anoka Counties.
During the tour, Chair Tchourumoff met with county, city, and local officials. Discussions have centered on a number of issues impacting the region, including: transportation and transit funding; water use and conservation; regional parks and trails; affordable housing, and long-term planning for the region.
“There is no replacement for meeting with people in their communities and discussing the issues that matter to them,” said Tchourumoff. “Whether we’re discussing water conservation in Hugo, transit in White Bear Lake or working with Dakota and Anoka counties on financing for critical infrastructure projects, you have to meet people where they live and work.”
Chair Tchourumoff kicked off the tour in Washington County in early August, where she met with the Washington County Board for a planning workshop. The conversation ranged from transportation planning to the importance of Washington County’s parks. Following the workshop, the Board took her on a tour of Lake Elmo Regional Park Reserve. She also toured the City of Hugo with Mayor Tom Weidt and joined Mayor Jo Emerson for lunch in White Bear Lake.
In Dakota County, Chair Tchourumoff toured Rosemount with Mayor Bill Droste and the City Administrator, and she joined Commissioner Joe Atkins for lunch. She also attended a planning workshop with the Dakota County Board, where they discussed the future of transit funding for Dakota County projects like Orange Line BRT.
“Everyone has agreed that we need to continue investing in better roads, bridges and public transit. But determining how to fund those priorities involves many frank and meaningful discussions. I’m pleased we were able to begin those conversations in Dakota County,” said Chair Tchourumoff.
Next, Chair Tchourumoff visited Anoka County, where she met with Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah, before meeting with the Anoka County Board for a planning workshop. The planning workshop focused on areas the Council is working well with the County, as well as opportunities for improvement.
“I appreciate hearing about the good work the Council is doing in our region,” said Chair Tchourumoff. “But I also appreciate hearing where we could be doing a better job. Both are important conversations to ensure we’re best serving the region.”
Chair Tchourumoff rounded out her Anoka County visits with coffee with Columbia Heights Mayor Donna Schmitt. She also attended the groundbreaking of the 105th Avenue Reconstruction Project in Blaine, which will improve safety for pedestrians and motorists.
Chair Tchourumoff is taking a break from the seven-county tour this week to attend the Minnesota State Fair, where she will continue to talk to people from across the region. Next week she resumes her tour, with visits to Scott County. From there she will visit Carver, Hennepin and Ramsey Counties.