A New and Improved City Newsletter

A couple months ago, Eden Prairie residents received the first issue of the new and improved Life in the Prairie city newsletter. The new features introduced in this issue include the design, format and delivery method.

Because we think it’s important for the newsletter to be visually appealing and easy-to-understand, we’ve updated the design to a magazine-style format, and we’re producing the content using plain language – providing what you need to know and where you can find more information.

And now, all residents receive this high-quality publication, delivered directly to mailboxes, four times each year.

Feedback so far has been very positive, one resident wrote:

Congratulations on a very easy to read, at a glance-overview publication. I loved it.

Another resident asked:

Wouldn’t it be better to offer an option of receiving the newsletter as an online publication? Save on printing, mailing and other costs.

All of the information in the printed newsletter is also communicated through our online news and email distribution systems. We reach more than 25,000 subscribers through our online channels, plus social media, which is why we recently transitioned from a monthly printed newsletter to a quarterly publication.

However, we still see value in a printed publication and our research indicates many residents prefer this format as well.

The next issue hits mailboxes in June, we hope you’ll take a look and let us know what you think!

LED Streetlight Conversion

We’ve been hearing several positive comments from residents lately, regarding the Xcel Energy conversion to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs in all of the cobra head style streetlights in Eden Prairie.

Here’s what a couple residents had to say:

  • I would just like to thank the city leaders, city utility and public works personnel for the street lamp upgrades in my area of the city. I was laid up for a while medically and hadn’t been out at night in some time.  I was really impressed with the new street lamps.  Much brighter and better coverage.
  • Hi Rick – just wanted to thank you (and all of your staff) for the recent updates to the street lighting. Brighter bulbs make for much more visibility when it comes to both walking (which I do twice daily, typically early morning and late evening, when it is dark) and for driving. A great improvement!

Xcel Energy received approval from the Public Utilities Commission in January, and began to replace high pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs on cobra head style streetlights in March. The project is now complete, and we’re happy with the results as well!

LED streetlights are more durable, longer-lasting and cost effective than traditional lights. They can also enhance public safety by delivering superior visible light while providing the environmental advantage of using less energy.

There is no up-front cost to the City for this conversion, and we expect a 4 to 5-percent savings in monthly utility billing at locations where LED lights are installed. 

We also had one resident ask this:

  • I see you are changing a lot of the street lights to LED light are there any plans to do residential neighborhoods and side streets in the near future so they do not look all orange anymore?

And while this LED conversion is for cobra head style street lights only, Eden Prairie has been diligently requesting that Xcel Energy pursue a similar LED retrofit program for these decorative street lights, which make up the remaining 80 percent of street lights in our community.

The Mailbag

The City Council and city staff regularly receive feedback on any number of issues. We welcome all comments- positive, negative or anything in between.

Here is a sampling of recent comments (without names and addresses) on a variety of topics:

  • I would just like to thank the city leaders, city utility and public works personnel for the street lamp upgrades in my area of the city. I was laid up for a while medically and hadn’t been out at night in some time.  I was really impressed with the new street lamps.  Much brighter and better coverage.
  • Hi Rick – just wanted to thank you (and all of your staff) for the recent updates to the street lighting. Brighter bulbs make for much more visibility when it comes to both walking (which I do twice daily, typically early morning and late evening, when it is dark) and for driving. A great improvement!
  • I have been a resident of Eden Prairie for over 30 years – having attended Eden Prairie schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade, and have been a homeowner with my own family in EP for the past several years. I am proud to live in Eden Prairie because of the great schools and the abundant access to parks and beautiful trails. I am writing today, however, to kindly request that the city consider offering city-wide organics recycling and/or compost disposal. Many large cities and suburban areas have started offering these services, and I would love to see Eden Prairie follow suit.  We are a city of well-informed, educated, and civic-minded residents, and I believe that many other families in Eden Prairie would also like to see this service offered.  Eden Prairie has always been a family-friendly city, and I strongly believe that we must take the necessary steps now to preserve our city’s environment and landscape for our young residents and future families.
  • Just look at all the cities that offer a farmers market. Why does Eden Prairie not offer one?
  • Century Link has promised to roll-out fiber allowing for 1-Gig speeds throughout the Twin Cities. My sister lives in Medicine Lake and has had that available for over a year now.  Is there anything the city can do to speed up installation within Eden Prairie?  We live in Western EP (west of Dell and north of Hwy 5) and our internet options stink.
  • Life On the Prairie- Congratulations on a very easy to read, at a glance-overview publication. I loved it. I am especially impressed with the EP see click fix mobile app. Amazing what technology can support!
  • I want to THANK YOU for keeping porta potties in some of the Eden Prairie parks throughout most of the winter. It is nice for runners, walkers and bikers who need to use them year round!!

Over the next few weeks, I plan to cover a few of these topics in my blog posts – so watch for more information, coming soon!

Vacuum Dredge Box

One of our primary citywide strategic goals is finding innovative and efficient methods to deliver City services.

I cannot think of a better example of meeting this goal than a City invention that recently resulted in a Local Government Innovation Award for the City of Eden Prairie from the  University Of Minnesota Humphrey School Of Public Affairs.

Eden Prairie Wins Local Government Innovation Award

(l-r) Robert Ellis, Isaac Raser, Tony Paron, John Carlon, Rick Wahlen after receiving the Local Government Innovation Award Dec. 8.

Eden Prairie’s Utilities Division was named an overall winner in the “cities” category for developing a system to efficiently remove sediment and other materials carried by the storm sewer system from streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands. The heart of the system — a Vacuum Dredge Box (VDB) — makes it possible to perform this work in areas that are inaccessible by large equipment due to adjacent buildings, steep terrain or limited working space.

Watch this video for more details:

I could not be any prouder of our City employees who are looking for better ways of delivering services to our residents each and every day!

Organics Recycling

organics-recyclingIt has always been my strong belief that residents should play a role in the important projects and decisions that affect them. That’s why we do our best to provide a variety of convenient ways for residents to learn more about what’s being considered and participate in the process.

One way we do this is with City Connect, an online platform where residents can share thoughts, ideas and insights with City leaders. When we’re considering how to shape Eden Prairie’s future, we often turn to City Connect to gather input from the community.

Recently we wanted to know what residents think about recycling organics – things like food scraps, food-soiled paper, tissues and houseplant trimmings – so we added that topic for discussion on City Connect.

We asked residents if they recycle organics in their homes, what the City could do to encourage organics recycling in our community, and if they would recycle organics if their trash haulers offered curbside pickup. Here’s a sampling of the comments we heard:

  • It pains me every week to toss “garbage” that could be composted. I COULD compost it myself but I don’t have the confidence in my abilities to do so. So happy we live in such a forward thinking city that considers this!
  • Home composting has reduced our weekly trash output by two-thirds, easily. Contributing to a community supply of organic compost would be a happy responsibility, and maybe help reduce some city park expenses.
  • In this neighborhood we have a problem with raccoons. If food waste was put out at the curb it would be all over the street with the raccoons visiting at night.
  • We’ve been composting for years and while there are some less than desirable effects at times, such as smell or fruit flies, the output is incredible-the richest soil money cannot buy and big picture creating a much healthier environment and ecosystem.

Our City staff reviews comments like these to help determine our path. In this case, we will take a look at how an organics recycling program could fit into the City’s sustainability goals in the future.

We appreciate your interest, suggestions, concerns and other feedback!