2018 EPy Awards

(l-r) Rick Goodman, Scott Cole, Nicole Weedman, City Manager Rick Getschow, Steve Durham, Pauline Sager, Tammy Wilson, Braden Kohl, Brady Luebke

Every year I have the honor of hosting our spring and fall employee recognition events. Our spring event took place this week where we presented our annual employee awards — appropriately called the “EPys.”

Following a welcome introduction, we honored our fellow employees for reaching milestones in their years of service. We then recognized our EPy Award winners. The awards pay tribute to those employees who consistently go above and beyond to perform their duties and serve the people of Eden Prairie:

  • Tammy Wilson, Finance — Carl J. Jullie Award for Excellence in Customer Service
  • Steve Durham, Planning — Mayor Jean L. Harris Award for Community Service to the People of Eden Prairie
  • Travis Serafin, Police — Mayor Jean L. Harris Award for Community Service to the People of the Employee’s Home Community
  • Scott Cole, Parks Maintenance — James G. Clark Award for Excellence in Teamwork
  • Nicole Weedman, Parks and Recreation — Scott H. Neal Award for Excellence in Leadership

City Manager Quality Awards were presented to:

  • Rick Goodman, Facilities
  • Braden Kohl, Fire
  • Brady Luebke, Streets Maintenance
  • Pauline Sager, Police
  • Chad Streiff, Police

Congratulations to all EPy Award winners!


Presenting the Inaugural Sustainable Eden Prairie Awards

Sustainable Eden PrairieSustainability can be defined broadly as development that meets current needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. As a city, this requires considering the social, economic and environmental impacts of what we do, and implementing sustainable practices to protect the environment and natural resources our community enjoys. We want future Eden Prairie residents to enjoy them as well!

Earlier this year, the City launched Sustainable Eden Prairie, an ongoing initiative to lead by example and provide a foundation for residents and businesses to use sustainable practices in four areas – energy, landscape, waste and water. To recognize businesses and residents who make significant and innovative investments that contribute to our community’s vitality and sustainability in these areas, the City presented its first-ever Sustainable Eden Prairie Awards at this week’s City Council meeting.

Click here to watch the award presentation.

I’d like to thank and congratulate our 2017 Sustainable Eden Prairie Award winners: Eden Prairie Schools, Joanne Bartel, Flying Dutchman Spirits, EPS Early Childhood Education and the Pioneer Trails Homeowners Association.

Sustainable Eden Prairie Award - Eden Prairie Schools

EPS Executive Director of Business Services Jason Mutzenberger and Superintendent Josh Swanson; Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens; Conservation Commission Member Dan Katzenberger

Eden Prairie Schools (EPS) accepted the honor in the energy category. EPS has made significant investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy in every building. Its investments increase energy efficiency, support renewable energy and reduce its carbon footprint. EPS Superintendent Josh Swanson thinks EPS has a responsibility.

As a school district we are stewards of taxpayer resources and feel it is our responsibility to ensure we are always looking for ways to reduce energy consumption and contribute toward the sustainability of our community.”

“The Sustainable Eden Prairie initiative leads the way for our community to protect the environment and natural resources in areas of energy, landscape, waste and water. It is an honor to receive the award and be publicly recognized by those we serve.”

Sustainable Eden Prairie Award - Joanne Bartel

Eden Prairie resident Joanne Bartel, Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens, Conservation Commission Member Nate Pischke

Joanne Bartel accepted the honor in the landscape category. Joanne landscaped her yard with native plants, bioswales and rain gardens to reduce and retain water runoff. She has installed more than 25 native plant species that provide valuable habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. Bartel would like to see other residents and businesses choose a similar path.

“I’m hopeful that sustainable concepts will become more mainstream in our community and beyond. On a larger scale, sustainable practices should assist in the preservation of our natural resources for future generations. I’m grateful to live in a city that places sustainable practices as a priority.”

Sustainable Eden Prairie Award - Flying Dutchman Spirits

Flying Dutchman Spirits owners Brandon Thornton, Jim Kaldenberg and Scott Kaldenberg; Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens; Conservation Commission Member Michael Bennett

Flying Dutchman Spirits, an Eden Prairie business that creates craft spirits, tied with EPS Early Childhood Education for honors in the waste category. This small business made sustainability investments to ensure it considers environmental impacts throughout the distilling process.

When asked about why they made these investments, Flying Dutchman owners Scott Kaldenberg, Jim Kaldenberg and Brandon Thornton responded that they need to set an example for other members of the community and hope this award encourages others to implement similar improvements.

“Simply put, it’s the responsible thing to do. It’s good for us – convenient waste disposal, less water use, less energy use – good for our farmer who gets free feed and good for the environment.”

“Well-designed sustainable initiatives can save businesses money in the long term. Sustainable programs can be initially capital intensive but as a community business, we need to set an example for other members of our community to follow.”

Sustainable Eden Prairie Award - EPS Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood parent educator Kathy Matthews, Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens, Conservation Commission Member Michael Bennett

EPS Early Childhood Education shared the honor in the waste category for participating in the TerraCycle recycling program, which provides an alternative waste stream for the large quantity of disposable food pouches that would otherwise be thrown in the garbage. Through the program, EPS Community Education and Early Childhood programs began collecting snack pouches. They also encouraged parents to collect pouches at home and bring them to drop-off sites to be recycled. Early Childhood Parent Educator Kathy Matthews accepted the award, and the need to take action.

Sustainability is not just a priority, it is a necessity. Even the smallest action toward sustainability is valued and it encourages more and more action.”

Sustainable Eden Prairie Award - Pioneer Trails Homeowners Association

Pioneer Trails HOA President Bud DePietto and Treasurer Bill Brand; Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens; Conservation Commission Member Amanda Anderson

Pioneer Trails Homeowners Association (Pioneer Trails HOA) was honored in the water category for efforts made toward reaching a long-term goal of reducing irrigation water usage by 1-million gallons by 2018. Phase 1 in 2015 included replacing old controllers with new WaterSensecertified controllers, which resulted in a reduction of water usage by 679,000 gallons when compared to historic average usage. Phase 2 in 2017 included replacing 315 sprinkler heads with new WaterMark-certified heads and reconfiguring placement of sprinkler heads for maximum efficiency. Pioneer Trails HOA Treasurer Bill Brand highlighted these improvements as a great accomplishment because they’re not only saving a valuable resource but doing it cost-effectively.

We are honored to receive an award and hope this visibility will generate a renewed interest from all organizations with sprinkler systems to reduce the amount of water used and update systems to save dollars for their homeowners and businesses.”

It’s dedication like this to sustainability that will ensure generations of Eden Prairie residents, present and future, will have the resources they need and enjoy.

Eden Prairie Liquor is Giving Back to the Community

Eden Prairie Liquor Employees Pictured L to R: Shannon Atwill, Store Manager; Timothy Linder, Customer Service Representative; Denise Barthel, Assistant Manager.

You have probably heard about the ways in which profits generated at Eden Prairie Liquor benefit our community – providing funding for improvements to our parks and streets, and more. But have you heard about the ways in which Eden Prairie Liquor is partnering with our local PROP food shelf to help feed hungry families in our community this holiday season?

For the month of November, the liquor stores are hosting a Dollar Drive for PROPinviting customers to add just $1 to their total tab at the registers, with a goal of raising $5,000 for PROP Food Shelf. And I’m happy to report, just 14 days into November, Eden Prairie Liquor customers have generously donated more than $2,500, so we’re well on our way to reaching our goal.

That’s not all…

From 6 – 8 p.m. this Thursday, Nov. 16, which is “Give to the Max” day in Minnesota, Eden Prairie Liquor (8108 Den Road) will put the fun in fundraising with Happy Hour for Hunger!

This event will help feed hungry families in our community and help you select the ideal wine for your Thanksgiving celebration. You can sample from more than 90 wines selected to pair perfectly with turkey dinner, then stock up for your holiday celebrations, at exclusive discounted prices.

Reserve your ticket today with a donation of $5, or present your donation of three nonperishable food items with your ticket at the door. All proceeds from this event will benefit PROP Food Shelf.

Thank you for helping us support this great organization in our community!

Technology Superhero

A robust, reliable and secure information technology system is a key ingredient to the success of any organization. The City of Eden Prairie is no different. Our superb Information Technology Division is managed by our IT Manager Aditi Salunke.

Aditi is currently being featured by the League of Minnesota Cities in a Cities Matter program that features different professions in local government and is now on display at the Minnesota State Fair. If you cannot make it out to the State Fair, you can read about Aditi’s city “superpowers” right here:

 Develop and maintain computer systems and applications. Be responsible for network safety. Help cities make smart decisions about technology to help the city run even better.

Aditi Salunke, information technology manager, Eden Prairie

Why she shows up every day: This job really is so much fun, because it’s something new every single day. One day you’re working on a public safety application, and another day you’re working with parks and recreation. Then someone in public works needs your help, or the community development staff needs assistance … everybody is your user, and that variety is rare to find anywhere else. When I’m out and about in the community I’m proud to think, “Yep, this is something that my team helped with,” or “this is something my co-workers worked really hard to accomplish,” and I can see all the effort they have put in being appreciated by people in my neighborhood and my community.

How she got the job (and how you could too): I have a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, and I worked in healthcare information technology for about 12 years before I decided to switch to Eden Prairie. I think my motivation was to work in the city I live in. I have lived in Eden Prairie for the last 12 years and have always been fascinated by city government. So, as soon as the opportunity came up, I applied for a position at the city. I was fairly confident that I would be able to use my experiences from previous positions in the private and nonprofit sectors and apply them to make a difference here. I’m very happy I took this opportunity!

What’s the job like? We take care of IT infrastructure for the city—we have varying technology requirements across various city departments. For example we work to ensure applications, phones, workstations etc. for public safety (police and fire) are robust and 24-7, because they are 24-7. Departments such as public works, community development, parks and recreation also have several applications that allow city staff to interact with the community in various ways—such as phone, email, the city website, the SeeClickFix app for reporting issues, and many others. The challenges come from providing the best quality of services while staying within what your budget allows you to do. The information technology department is a small group, and everybody gets to learn and work in help desk support, security, network, applications support, and more. There are no silos—we work together, and I think that in itself is quite unique.

Top 10 List for Backyard Chickens in EP

Last Thursday, July 20 was the first official day Eden Prairie residents could apply to have backyard chickens on their property. The City Council passed a second reading of an ordinance allowing backyard chickens in Eden Prairie July 11 that became effective last Thursday. The eventual adoption of an ordinance allowing backyard chickens followed more than two years of discussion, analysis and community feedback.

I am now providing a top 10 list of Eden Prairie backyard chicken facts for those interested in having backyard chickens or for those who just want to be informed about this new program.

Here they are:

  1. You must submit an application and have the City inspect your property prior to obtaining chickens. There is a one-time fee of $75 for this application/registration [PDF]
  2. Roosters are not permitted
  3. Properties may have up to four (4) chickens
  4. Chicken-keeping structures are only permitted in the back yard (no structures in front or side yards)
  5. Structures must be setback a minimum of 10 feet from any property line and 50 feet from any neighboring home
  6. Coops must have a solid roof and their construction must be done in a workmanlike manner utilizing durable materials that offer adequate insulation, ventilation and protection from all natural weather elements, predators, rodents and other pests; a building permit from the City of Eden Prairie is required for any structure over 200 square feet
  7. Structures shall be maintained in a reasonably clean and sanitary condition
  8. Noise and odor associated with chickens are not permitted outside of the boundaries of the premises
  9. Chickens may not be slaughtered on the premises
  10. First-time chicken keepers are strongly encouraged to educate themselves before undertaking the hobby; websites that may be helpful in reaching a decision include backyardchickens.com and chickenrunrescue.org