Progress at the Closed Flying Cloud Landfill

Back in 2011, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) approached the City regarding the need to consolidate waste and make repairs at the closed landfill that the State of Minnesota owns on Flying Cloud Drive in Eden Prairie. The landfill was owned and operated by BFI from 1970 to 1988. Soon after its closure the management and responsibility of the landfill went to the State. In fact, since 1994 the State has taken over 112 landfills throughout Minnesota as part of its closed landfill remediation program. 

The Eden Prairie landfill project began in June 2013. Below is the detailed history of the project since its commencement as told to me through two emails by project manager Pat Hanson of the MPCA.

Landfill 1

March 5, 2014

Rick- here is a short summary about progress at the site. Progress has been excellent at the site since construction started June 1, (2013).  No major problems have been encountered and no delays other than a short shutdown this winter.  Contractor has moved approximately 750,000 cubic yards of waste onto the new footprint of the site- this is 31% of the total waste expected to be moved. The old landfill was approximately 96 acres and we are reducing the size to approximately 56 acres.  The waste that has been relocated has been covered by buffer soil. The goal is to have all of waste on the east half of the site relocated and covered with soil by this Spring to reduce the odor issue that the residents were experiencing last summer.  There still will be odors as we work on the west half but the distance will help disperse the odor before reaching the homes.  The contractor will start drilling the new gas wells on the east side this month and is expected to install the new cover system on the east side starting May 1st and having this work completed by late summer including seeding of grass.  This summer the contractor will relocate the remaining waste on the west side and hopes to have that work completed by fall and start the final cover system on that portion immediately.  We are expecting the final completion to be summer of 2015. 

 The quantity of waste is running a little greater than what our waste borings were showing and we are not getting as much compaction as expected so we need to find room for some additional waste.  We will probably expand the footprint on the west side by five acres and increase the final height by 5-10 feet on the west side also to take care of the extra waste.  There will be no noticeable change (very slightly taller) to the final look of the site to the residents on the east side with either of these changes.

Landfill 2

 All parties have been pleased with the progress and are hoping the project continues at the same pace.  The biggest complaint has been the odors from last summer- the odor can be bad on certain weather conditions but with the waste relocation work being completed on the east half by May the residents should not be impacted like last summer.

September 10, 2014

Rick- Progress has been excellent since my last update.  Our goal was to have the east half of the landfill completed and seeded by July 1 and we accomplished that.  The east half was seeded and the contractor watered the seedling so by August 1st that side was totally green with grass. The contractor has been relocating waste in the southwest and north side this summer and has relocated approximately 1,000,000 yards of waste in those areas this summer.  He estimates he will have the remaining waste relocated and covered by buffer soil by the end of the year.  This winter he will install the remaining gas wells on the west end and expects to install the plastic liner in May and have all the components of the liner system installed on the west half by mid summer 2015 and we are expecting final completion of the project in late summer 2015.

I have received very few calls this summer from residents as once the east side was seeded the disruptions to their lives have been reduced greatly.  There is still some site work to be done-storm water, final grading of buffer areas but the major work is complete for them.   There are still odors from the work on the west side but the impact to Allied Waste is offset from the smells from their transfer station operation and I have not heard from them.

 We have made some minor adjustment to the final design grade and shape on the west side as I indicated in my last message- the design changes are so slight most people would not notice the change from the original design. 

Overall comment is the project is going great, the residents on the east side are generally happy, and we expect to have the total project completed by this time next year.  Thanks, Pat.

As you can see, the project will be completed next summer. I have had the opportunity to talk with a few of the affected residents over the past two years and can attest to the accuracy of Pat’s update — from the occasional odors to the high quality of the work. We all agree that the end result will be an improvement.

Public Stewardship

Many times there are items on a City Council meeting agenda to approve bids for city projects.  In almost every case, these projects have been programmed in a capital improvements plan and the money has been identified and earmarked.   

But there are times when the bids are not approved and the project does not move forward. 

This has been the case on the following three occasions this summer:

no spending

1. At our City Council meeting in June we rejected bids for the total reconstruction of the tennis and basketball courts at Franlo Park.  Only one bid was received for this project.  This $249,485 bid was nearly $100,000 over the estimated cost.  We recommended that the bid be rejected and that we re-advertise the project in 2015.

2. This past Tuesday night we rejected a $194,395 bid for a landscaping project on Pioneer Trail between Flying Cloud Drive and Shetland Road.  The sealed bids that were received were 32% over our estimate. We decided to reject this bid as well and re-advertise in 2015.

3.  Also, on Tuesday we rejected a $420,300 bid for the steel erection that is a part of our aquatics expansion project at the Community Center. This amount was significantly more than was budgeted and our city staff and consultants felt this amount is too high and should not be paid.  We then initiated other methods for securing contractors for this scope of work and received separate quotes for different types of work that were significantly lower. 

In all three of these examples, we want to move forward with these important projects.  We understand that economic activity is picking up throughout the metro area, and contractors of all types are getting busier and projects could be getting more expensive. However, we felt that the best course of action is to wait and plan for a more advantageous bidding environment in the future.    

I feel that these actions exemplify a value we hold dearly in Eden Prairie city government- public stewardship. It is a city shared expectation and a value that we take very seriously.  On a daily basis we have city employees that are making decisions to not purchase something at a certain time because it is simply not the best use of public dollars.

Night to Unite 2014

I have been involved in many Night to Unite events over the past several years. I really enjoy going out into the community each year- and that includes last year when the event was cut short by the infamous hail storm of August 5, 2013.   

Building community has always been the main purpose of Night to Unite from my vantage point. It is a great opportunity for Eden Prairie residents to get together; whether it is to spend time with your long-time neighbor or to meet the new person on your block. I like to state that a safer, smarter, and more involved community is a better community. Another community benefit to this annual event is the food drive we have been conducting for the past few years on behalf of PROP. City volunteers stop by each block party to pick up the food items that neighborhoods have donated to our local food shelf. 

For 2014, we had over 150 parties in Eden Prairie. I do not have the final numbers yet, but I believe this will set another record for registered parties as we continue to grow them each year.  As is now customary, Police Chief Rob Reynolds, Fire Chief George Esbensen, and I drop by as many parties as we can before darkness sets in.  We always enjoy the conversation that we have with our residents.  

Meteorologist Ian Leonard's Night to Unite block party

Meteorologist Ian Leonard’s Night to Unite block party

Below is an email the city received this morning from a resident that appreciated the city’s presence at her block party:

Not sure who I should send this to, so I picked the city council. I want to thank the city for participating in the neighbors night out program. Tonight our block received visits from the police department, a council member, a support member from the police department as well as 4 firefighters with the fantastic fire truck (31). The city was well represented by all of these folks, their professionalism as well as personalities. Made me proud to live in Eden Prairie (26 years) knowing we have the best people supporting and representing us!
Thanks!

I plan to be out there again in 2015- regardless of the weather conditions.

What is Municipal Consent for SWLRT?

There has been a lot of discussion regarding light rail transit in Eden Prairie and the southwest metro area for the past twenty years.  Now that the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) line has moved into the preliminary design and approval phase, Hennepin County and all of the cities along the line (Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie) are being asked by the Metropolitan Council to provide what is known as “municipal consent”. 

This particular milestone offers the public an opportunity to weigh in on the physical design components of the project plans. An example of this input would be about where the tracks should go and where the stations should be placed.  Not surprisingly (and understandably so), the public wants to weigh in on all things transit and transportation-related. People have raised concerns related to the cost of constructing transit, the costs of operating transit, including the federal and state government’s role in all of this. There are others that feel light-rail transit is an absolutely necessary alternative mode of transportation that defines a modern metropolitan area.  

I can understand why someone with strong feelings on both sides of the light rail transit issue would desire that their respective Mayor and City Council vote in a way that aligns with their views and opinions of light rail transit.  Fortunately or unfortunately- that is not what a municipal consent request is.  It is only an opportunity to weigh in on the location and design of the stations. 

Our City Attorney, Ric Rosow, provided an excellent overview of what our City Council will be asked to consider at their July 14 Council meeting as it relates to municipal consent.    

Watch it here-

 

 

 

StarTribune Best Workplaces

This past Sunday, the City of Eden Prairie was named a 2014 Top 100 Workplace by the StarTribune. There were several Minnesota companies of various sizes listed among the Top 100. We fell into the midsize company category with between 150-499 employees. In Minnesota, more than 2,000 organizations participated in the survey, with more than 58,600 employees sharing their views.

TWP_Top100_Minneapolis_2014_V

This is a designation that we are proud of for a number of reasons. However, there are two that really stand out to me.

First, this designation is based on what our employees think and say. It is not something that an expert panel or a group of judges decided on. The StarTribune retains a national company called Workplace Dynamics to administer the employee survey. The questions they ask of employees address the most pertinent areas of employee engagement and satisfaction.

Employees are asked about the organizational health of our workplace. Do they feel valued? Are they confident in the future direction of the company? Does the company operate by strong values and ethics? They are also asked about their job and their supervisor. Is negativity low in the workplace? Does their manager care about their concerns? Are new ideas encouraged and considered?

The survey was made available to all of our full-time City employees and 190 participated. That represents a participation rate of more than 70 percent of our workforce.

Secondly, we are the only city on the list. I fully understand that many cities did not choose to participate. The fact that we chose to participate in the first place does speak to our confidence in being a top workplace. However, you are never quite sure how things will pan out when compared to other companies that made the same decision to participate in this program.

I have been told that the Top Workplaces program actually takes place in large media markets across the country. Nationally, there were seven total local governments that participated, and only one other city besides Eden Prairie received the recognition.

As an organization we do commit time, energy and resources to being a great place to work. It is very rewarding to be recognized for those efforts. More importantly, I do believe that this translates to higher-quality services being delivered to our residents and businesses.