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!

Spirit of Eden Prairie Awards

The City presented the 2016 Spirit of Eden Prairie Awards at its regular City Council meeting Tuesday night. This is a newer program that is now in its second year.

2016 Spirit of Eden Prairie Awards

(l-r) Greg Leeper, volunteer resident judge; Tom and Marilyn Torkelson; and Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens

A few years back, the City Council brought up the desire to create a program that publicly recognizes the significant investments and enhancements residents and businesses make to their own property. These enhancements contribute to the overall vitality and sustainability of the community. The program also aligns with a major overarching goal that the City has emphasized in the past few years — enhancing Eden Prairie’s sense of community.

This year, we presented the Spirit of Eden Prairie Award to one residential property and one commercial property.

Marilynn and Tom Torkelson received the award for their single-family residential property. With a shallow pond located behind their property, the Torkelsons have improved the shoreline with native plantings and the installation of a rain garden. Their property also features several pollinator-friendly native plants and educational signage about their “bee-safe yard.”

2016 Spirit of Eden Prairie Awards

(l-r) Greg Leeper, volunteer resident judge; Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies Facilities Manager Shawn Kinniry and CEO Christy Morse; and Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens

Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies was recognized for its recently renovated and expanded office building, which includes thoughtful design around sustainable materials and a healthy workplace.

Sustainable renovation strategies included reusing or recycling more than 95 percent of the materials from the original site; using regionally sourced products for construction; installing solar panels to help provide electricity to the building; using geothermal systems for heating and cooling; using water retention tanks and an innovative grey water drip irrigation system; and protecting the adjacent wetland by using native plantings, installing permeable pavers and building an extensive rain garden.

The renovation of its existing building has received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification, an independent verification of the building’s green features, and the organization is also pursuing LEED Platinum Certification for the new expansion.

Congratulations to the 2016 winners!

New Ways to Maintain Pavement

Maintaining pavement and increasing the life expectancy of a street may not seem like the most exciting topic, but it is a very important and essential city government function. As a city, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to deliver services — and maintaining Eden Prairie’s streets is a big part of that. There are two new areas of pavement management that are proving to be quite promising. One is a Texas underseal and the other is a fog seal.


Typical Chip Seal

First, I will start with the Texas underseal. On most of our city streets we perform the typical mill and overlay. This is when you mill up the current pavement on the road and then complete a new overlay.  Within a few years a high percentage of cracks can reappear through the new overlay. When we perform a Texas underseal as part of a mill and overlay, only a small percentage of cracks reappear. Basically, a Texas underseal is when you mill a road, add a chip seal and then overlay. This new second step of adding the chip seal is rather minimal in cost, and does involve more coordination between contractors — but the final product is better.

Next is the fog seal. This is when you place a final layer of oil over a regular chip seal. Fog seals lock the chips in place which can get pulled out by plow operations and turning vehicles. This prolongs the benefit of a chip seal. Fog seals also reduce citizen complaints about loose chips in driveways and garages. It keeps chips out of the storm sewer system (and ultimately lakes, wetlands and creeks).  The fog seal also protects the crack fill material from being pulled out and exposing cracks. Finally it looks nice and its black color absorbs heat in the winter helping reduce ice build-up. The fog seal also adds a little cost and causes some traffic disruptions, but the final product is also better.


Chip Seal and Fog Seal

Overall, the Texas underseal is doing a very good job of improving ride quality, reducing/eliminating reflective cracking and preventing water intrusion into the base. The fog seal locks in the chips, protects and camouflages crack fill material, further waterproofs the road and makes the road look brand new when done.

We believe that the minor added cost for both of these treatments will be greatly offset by the prolonged life we get from our overlays and chip seals. Early indications are that these new treatments will alter the reoccurring need to overlay and chip seal by several years (less disruption) and save the City more money in the long run.

Almost Time to Fill

Eden Prairie Town Center Water TowerThe Town Center water tower repainting project is nearing its completion as the final inspections of the coating system are occurring very soon.


There are a few items to be completed before the project is finalized and the tower can be filled with water. We need to refurbish the clocks on the four sides of the column, complete some concrete repair to the surrounding sidewalk, reinstall the decorative fence and complete cleanup of the work area.


The early feedback we have received on the water tower’s new look is very positive. Here is a comment I received from a resident regarding this project last week:


“I really like the new paint job and graphics on the Eden Prairie water tower. It has a very clean look and the lettering font is easy to read. I also like the marsh theme below the lettering.”


As I mentioned earlier, an item left to be completed are the clocks. The blue clocks that we came to know so well are being repainted black in color, and will feature nighttime illuminated hands and dials which can be displayed in various colors. This is a feature you may have seen on other new structures in the area such as the I-35W bridge. The illumination will be provided by a digital, computer-controlled LED lighting system requiring very little electricity to operate.


The clock is expected to be installed and operational by mid-November.