Rybak gives final state of city address, looks to future of Minneapolis

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Mayor R.T. Rybak began his final state of the city address Wednesday morning by envisioning Minneapolis in 2025, the Star Tribune reports.

In 12 years, "Nicollet Green" will have replaced Nicollet Mall, families will be moving en masse to North Minneapolis, streetcars and light rails are criss-crossing neighborhoods, a "Target Tower" is now part of the downtown skyline and the population has reached 450,000.

The area surrounding the new Vikings stadium, "Armory Yard," would include ropes courses and a skateboard park with a half-pipe shaped like a Viking ship.

About halfway through his speech, Rybak reverted back the reality of 2013 and offered advice on how to make his vision happen.

Managing money is a must, Rybak said. MinnPost reports during Rybak's 12-year tenure, Minneapolis has paid down $241 million in debt and cut spending by 16 percent. Target Center was also moved off the tab paid by property taxpayers, saving them $5 million a year.

The outgoing mayor emphasized keeping the city safe and renewed his call for gun violence.

Rybak touched on hopes for more public transportation. “We’re going to make it possible to live in this city without a car,” said Rybak.

MPR reports the mayor has already urged the City Council to come up with a funding plan for streetcars this year. Transportation planners are still exploring whether streetcars make sense along Nicollet and other major arterial streets, a prerequisite for pursuing federal funding.

As for education, Rybak addressed the academic achievement gap in Minneapolis schools and supports putting high-quality teachers in every classroom.

"The single most important school-related factor in student success is the quality of the classroom teacher," Rybak said.

Rybak is not seeking reelection. Five DFL candidates are vying for the job.

Rybak has denied rumors that he may be heading to Washington to be part of President Barack Obama’s second administration or running for governor in 2014. He formed his own political action committee (PAC) less than two weeks before his announcement about his mayoral future last December.

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