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.

Human Rights Awards

Each year our Eden Prairie Human Rights and Diversity Commission recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant accomlishments in the field of human rights during the previous year.

Last night at our City Council meeting, the following 2013 Human Rights Awards were presented:

Lynnea West GroupCommission Member Sandra Filardo presented Lynnea West with the individual award. Lynnea was recognized for her commitment to equality and closing the achievement gap in her professional and personal life.  She is a teacher in Eden Prairie that works to make sure all students have equal opportunity to succeed and receive a great education.

DSO Architecture GroupStudent Commission Member Chase Carlson presented the business award to Dan O’Brien and DSO Architecture. They were recognized for their donation of time and talent to help the PROP Shop build an addition to their building in Eden Prairie. The service of Dan and DSO exemplifies the Eden Prairie Manifesto by helping to promote an atmosphere of acceptance and caring for others by supporting the role the PROP Shop has in our community to assist families who are in need.

Baro Tutoring GroupCommission Member Connie Iacovelli presented the non-profit organization award to Baro Tutoring. Baro Tutoring is a collaboration of adult and teenage volunteers who meet at the Eden Prairie Library during the school year to offer homework help and citizenship classes for students and adults. Baro tutoring upholds the Eden Prairie Manifesto and works against intolerance by encouraging communication between neighbors of different cultural groups.

Finally, Student Commission Member Karena Lin presented the youth award to Camila Merino. She is very involved in activities that promote the acceptance of people from diverse backgrounds and helps to create an accepting atmosphere at the Eden Prairie High School. She volunteers with children who have physical and educational disabilities — and is very vocal about the importance of acceptance for every person.

Camila Merino GroupCongratulations to all of the award winners this year!

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on Early Eden Prairie

A few weeks ago I attended a special Tuesday morning event at City Center called “Reflections on Early Eden Prairie.” The initial genesis of the event came out of the recent retirement of one of our community icons — Roy Terwilliger.

Roy has been an active participant in the Eden Prairie community as a business leader and mentor, state senator and overall volunteer extraordinaire. Roy was not going to allow the community and his Rotary Club to host an event in his honor. However, he did allow an event to be held where he could bring together some of the early Eden Prairie community leaders for a panel discussion on the “early days” of our fine City.  

In addition to Roy (and a packed house), the following panelists provided their reflections on the early days of this community:

  • Rod Anderson, former pastor St. Andrew Lutheran Church
  • Dean Edstrom, former Eden Prairie City Council member
  • Jerry McCoy, former Eden Prairie School Superintendent
  • Dave Anderson, former Eden Prairie School Board member

You can watch the entire event right here-

It is a bit lengthy with just under an hour of running time — but it is full of interesting information on the history of this city from a few of our influential community members.