Urban Township

White Bear Township has continued to be organized much as it was at John Lamb’s Hotel in 1858. Though the Township has gained most of the powers afforded a city, it has continued to maintain the basic tenants of township government.

Every year township government is renewed when an Annual Town Meeting is held of electors, or voters, of the Township. Voters at the Annual Town Meeting and Special Town Meetings approve the tax levy, recommend a budget and decide special questions prescribed by law. This process serves as the model for grass-roots democracy in Minnesota.

As the Township grew in the second half of the twentieth century, demand for urban services grew, too. In addition to maintaining roads, the Township undertook the responsibilities of a local park system, providing sanitary sewer and operating a municipal water system, among others.
With continued growth and the resulting expansion of services, new facilities were required. In 1989, the Township constructed a Public Works Facility to replace the old Town Garage. The Facility was further renovated and expanded in 2007.

As was the case with the Town Hall in 1885, each new project has been approved by a vote of residents at an annual or special Town Meeting. The Township built a new Administrative Office building and partnered with the City of Gem Lake for the construction of Heritage Hall at a site in the Township. Heritage Hall has served as the City Hall for Gem Lake, an additional meeting place for township residents, a polling station for both communities and a district office for the Ramsey County Sheriff.

Having been served by the Sheriff’s Department since the nineteenth century, the Township formally joined a cooperative agreement for law enforcement with the Ramsey County in 1990. This cooperative agreement included the cities of Vadnais Heights, North Oaks and Gem Lake, areas that had formerly been part of the Township, as well as Little Canada, Shoreview and Arden Hills.

The Township has also had a long association with the White Bear Lake Fire Department. In addition to the Township, the Fire Department has provided fire protection and paramedic services to the neighboring cities of Birchwood, Dellwood, Gem Lake and White Bear Lake. It has also has provided the Township with administrative fire inspection.

In 1997, the State of Minnesota honored White Bear Township for effectively cooperating with neighboring communities in providing cost efficient services to its residents. This spirit of partnership is a hallmark of White Bear Township, a central focus ushering the community into the twenty-first century.

Source: “White Bear: A History,” by Catherine Carey, 2008