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:

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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.

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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.

I Love Flashing Yellow Arrows

In my opinion one of the great inventions of the 21st century is the flashing yellow arrow left turn signal.   

We have all had to sit at an intersection waiting to take a left turn with a red arrow.  The oncoming traffic has a green light but very little traffic is passing by.  I understand that this red arrow is necessary at other times of the day- but what about those times when the traffic is lighter?  This is where the flashing yellow arrow comes in.  You can now take a left hand turn when traffic is clear and not have to wait for a green arrow.  Studies have shown that these flashing yellow arrow signals help drivers make fewer mistakes, keep motorists safer during heavy traffic, and helps reduce delays when traffic is light.

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We first installed these in Eden Prairie as part of a road improvement at Valley View Road and Prairie Center Drive in 2011.  Later that year we added them on Eden Prairie Road (County Road 4) at four locations between Highway 5 and Highway 212.

The feedback on these new flashing yellow arrows has been great.  In fact, people have been clamoring for more since they were first installed.  However, these lights are not cheap to put in.  The average cost per intersection can run $50,000 depending on equipment and electrical needs.  Also, since many of these lights are not solely on city streets they often require the approval and coordination of the County or the State (MnDOT).  

There is recent good news. As more of these improvements are made across the country the costs are going down ($10-15,000 per intersection) and the coordination is getting easier. As a result, more flashing yellow signals are on the way.  We are once again partnering with Hennepin County and MnDOT to install flashing yellow arrows signals at nine intersections this summer in Eden Prairie.  

The areas planned for conversion are:

  • CR 39 (Valley View Rd) / Market Place Drive
  • CR 1 (Pioneer Trail) / Franlo Road
  • CR 1 (Pioneer Trail) / Bennett Place
  • CR 1 (Pioneer Trail) / Homeward Hills Road
  • CR 1 (Pioneer Trail) / Staring Lake Parkway
  • CR 1 (Pioneer Trail) / Mitchell Road
  • CR 1 (Pioneer Trail) / CR 4 (Eden Prairie Road)
  • I-494 East Ramp / Valley View Road
  • Washington Ave / Valley View Road

 Look for them later this year at an intersection near you.