Time To Declare

If you’re interested in serving your fellow citizens as a member of the Eden Prairie City Council, it’s time to declare that interest publicly. Three of the five seats on the City Council are up for election this year: the Mayor’s seat and two Council seats.

Of the three incumbents, Mayor Phil Young has announced that he will not seek reelection. Council Member Jon Duckstad has officially filed the necessary paperwork to run for Mayor. Council Member Kathy Nelson has officially filed the necessary paperwork to run for the reelection to the Council. Former Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens has filed her official paperwork to run for Mayor. Former Council Member Sherry Butcher-Wickstrom has filed to run for a spot on the City Council, as has resident Donna Azarian.

The position of Mayor is a specific elected position. The candidates for Mayor are running against the other candidates running for Mayor. For City Council, however, it’s not that simple. There are two positions open on the Council. The top two vote-getters win those positions. It doesn’t matter if there are 3 or 13 or 23 candidates. The top two win. So you’re not really running against any one particular candidate when you’re running for the Council. You’re running against the entire field, regardless of how large that field is.

Our City elected positions are non-partisan, at-large positions. Candidates can certainly run as a Republican or as a DFL candidate, but you will not see any political party nomenclature on the ballot for City Council positions. Also, candidates may run as the “candidate for south Eden Prairie”, but there are not geographic boundaries or districts or wards for City elected officials. City Council Members represent everyone in the community equally.

The period during which one can officially express interest to be listed on the ballot this fall for City Council positions opened on August 3 and runs through the end of business on August 17 – one week from today. After that, it’s certainly possible to run for City Council as a write-in candidate, but it’ll be too late to be included on the ballot itself.

If you’re interested, it’s time to declare.

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The Face of America Project

Tony-KitchSk200-copy.jpgToday I met Tony & Kitch Mussari. That’s them on the left. Tony & Kitch are the principals behind something called The Face of America Project. If you’ve never heard of The Face of America Project, don’t be embarrassed. I had never heard of it before today either. But after today, I’m a fan of The Face of America Project.

The purpose of the project is to honor and remember those who sacrificed on that tragic day: September 11, 2001. Tony & Kitch are creating a living memorial by traveling the country and asking people to reflect on that day and to tell them what it means to be an American. It’s a great question. It’s one we probably don’t spend enough time on in a normal day.

I met Tony & Kitch because they were in the Twin Cities today making a stop on their cross-country trip. They wanted to stop and see us in Eden Prairie because they wanted to see Money magazine’s Best Place to Live in America. After all, they were in the neighborhood.

They interviewed members of city staff as part of their project and presented us with their official remembrance flag, which we already have up in one of our City Hall display cases for public viewing. I will be sharing it with the City Council at tonight’s City Council meeting and here’s a picture from the flag presentation. With me are Police Chief Rob Reynolds, Fire Chief George Esbensen and Mr. Mussari.

Thanks for stopping by today Tony & Kitch. Please accept our best wishes on your project. I can’t wait to see it.

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Future of ADC in EP

adc logo.gifWell this has been quite a week for news in Eden Prairie. We got the wonderful news of being selected as Money magazine’s Best Place to Live in America on Monday. Then on Tuesday we learned that Tyco Electronics had purchased Eden Prairie’s ADC Telecommunications for $1.25-billion in cash. You can read more about the sale, and the potential negative impact of it on Eden Prairie, in the following story link to Startribune.com.

If you’d like to read how ADC & Tyco characterize the sale, you can click on this link to the story at PRNewswire.com.

Convincing ADC to build their headquarters here in the late 1990s/early 2000s was a big coup for Eden Prairie. It’s sad to think the company might abandon their beautiful building and depart from the community. City staff are studying this issue right now to figure out what the impact of this move might be on Eden Prairie and what might happen next.

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We’re #1 We’re #1 We’re #1

eden_prairie_mn.jpgThe results are in. CNN/Money Magazine has named Eden Prairie has its Best Place to Live in America for 2010!! The big news was announced on The Today Show this morning. Here’s the clip from the NBC website: Best Places to Live Announcement.

Money magazine says that people want good schools, safe streets, good jobs and affordable quality housing – all things that Eden Prairie does well.

We’re very proud here at Eden Prairie City Hall today. It’s a very nice honor for the people of our community.

Congratulations everyone!

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Work Comp Exp Mod

Wayne 1.jpgWork Comp Exp Mod is insider lingo for workers compensation insurance experience modification factor. The City purchases its workers compensation insurance coverage from the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT). Each year the LMCIT applies an experience modification rating to our insurance premium up or down, depending on the City’s actual claims experience.

An experience modification of 1.0 means that we are experiencing losses at the expected rate. A rating above means that our losses are higher than average. Our experience modification rating for 2010-2011 is 0.79. This experience modification rating reduces our workers compensation insurance premium from $643,486 to $508,354: an annual savings of in plan year 2010-2011 of $135,132.

Keeping a work comp exp mid below 1.0 doesn’t just happen by chance. It’s not luck. It’s the result of a strong safety awareness program by the organization and a strong commitment to working safely by employees. We’re fortunate here that we’ve got both of those factoring working in our favor.

Our employees know safety and work safely. On the management side, we’ve got Risk Manager Wayne Estenson. He has a strong safety orientation. He knows everything there is to know about workplace safety, and how to navigate the work comp insurance system. We’re fortunate to have Wayne on our team. His work saves our taxpayers money and our employees from unnecessary pain and suffering.

Thanks Wayne!

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Form vs. Function

medina reservior 001.jpgWe are being blitzed right now by applications for regulatory approval of new wireless communications towers. We used to call them cell phone towers, but they are about so much more than that today. It’s about the wireless phone you have in your house now, instead of a land line. It’s about the wireless network in your home that allows Mom to play online scrabble in one room while kids are doing their homework (and updating their Facebooks) online in their rooms.

So as the demand for wireless services is increasing, wireless communications companies are also engaged in a competitive race to provide faster and more reliable service to their customers. 2G, 3G 4G, etc. Fast. Faster. Fastest. Fastester.

Consumer demand for more and faster wireless service is pushing wireless companies to put up new towers as fast as they can. It brings a familiar challenge to the city: How do we balance the need of our residents to have more and faster wireless services with the desire of our residents to live in a beautiful natural setting.

Do we want a 140 foot tall metal lattice wireless tower on every 1/4 mile in the city? If we did, Eden Prairie residents could have the fastest wireless service available. But do we want to live in a city with that look to it? You can dress them up, but most wireless towers aren’t very attractive. The photo above is from a Twin Cities suburb. Is that what we want Eden Prairie to look like?

At the moment, it’s not easy to build a new wireless tower in Eden Prairie. Our regulations are tight. But we’re taking a look at them to make sure they’re not too tough. We want to figure out how to balance form and function so that our residents can have the best of both worlds.

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Friday Report for July 2, 2010

Here’s my Friday Report to the Mayor and City Council for today, July 2, 2010:


DATE: July 2, 2010

TO: Mayor and City Council

FROM: Scott H. Neal, City Manager

RE: Friday Report for July 2, 2010

1. CenterPoint Energy Rate Increase – In November 2008 CenterPoint Energy filed a request with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to increase its rates. The PUC approved a rate increase, effective July 1, for CenterPoint’s residential customers that will increase their base monthly fee from $6.50 to $8.00.

2. Workers Compensation Insurance Experience Modification – The City purchases its workers compensation insurance coverage from the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. Each year the LMCIT applies an experience modification rating to our insurance premium up or down, depending on the City’s actual claims experience. An experience modification of 1.0 means that we are experiencing losses at the expected rate. A rating above means that our losses are higher than average. Our experience modification rating for 2010-2011 is 0.79. This experience modification rating reduces our workers compensation insurance premium from $643,486 to $508,354 – a savings of $135,132. Credit goes to everyone in our organization who works carefully by placing an emphasis on workplace safety, and especially to our Risk Manager Wayne Estenson.

3. Loudi Visit – The delegation from Loudi, China, will be visiting Eden Prairie on Wednesday, July 7. I have included with his report the group’s itinerary for the day. Council Members are welcome to join the group for the day at any point in the day. If you would like to participate in the day, please coordinate with David Lindahl.

4. Meet & Greet – David Lindahl, Council Member Case and I did a Meet & Greet visit this week to Cigna. Cigna has over 1,000 employees in Eden Prairie and has plans to increase that number by as many as 200 more in the upcoming year, which makes them one of Eden Prairie’s top ten largest employers.

5. Music Man – The second weekend of the Eden Prairie Player’s performance of the Music Man was impacted by good and bad weather. Friday’s performance was canceled due to rain. Saturday’s performance started, but ended early at 8 pm due to rain. Sunday’s weather was spectacular and so was attendance – over 1,100. With two performances canceled due to rain, total attendance this year was 3,960 compared to 4,384 for Peter Pan in 2009. Donations, however, this year were up considerably over 2009: $6,963 this year compared to $3,208 last year.

6. Election Season 2010 Begins – Absentee voting for the 2010 primary election began on Friday, June 25. As of today, we have had three absentee voters cast ballots and we’ve provided absentee ballots via mail to 52 more.

7. Transmission Line Meeting – A group of City staff met with Xcel representatives this week to review Xcel’s plans to build a new transmission line from Eden Prairie to Chanhassen via Deephaven. The project replaces an existing 69kV transmission line with a new 115kV transmission line. The current wooden poles will be replaced with new galvanized metal poles. If the project proceeds on the best case timeline for Xcel, they will begin the project in 2013.

8. Money Magazine – City staff assisted a Money magazine film crew this past week gather video and still images of Eden Prairie for the upcoming Top Ten Places to Live in America edition of their magazine, which comes out later this month.

9. County PSAP Study – I received an invitation this week from Hennepin County Administrator Richard Johnson to participate in an analysis to examine the feasibility of the proposed expansion of the Hennepin County 911 Center to create enough capacity to serve all cities in Hennepin County. City staff will contribute Eden Prairie’s call volume data to the analysis. The County Board is expected to review the data and make a decision on the expansion question at its September 14 board meeting.

10. EPHA Meeting – Jay Lotthammer and I will meet with representatives of the Eden Prairie Hockey Association to review our ice rental agreement that serves as the revenue source to service the ice rental revenue bonds the City used to help fund the third rink project at the Community Center.

11. Nine Mile Creek Watershed District – You have probably received an invitation from Ms. Barbara Kaerwer and the Nice Mile Creek Watershed District to a meeting on Monday, July 19, to hear the District’s plans for the redevelopment of the Kaerwar home as a proposed Water Resource Center and District Office. The meeting begins at 6:30 pm in Heritage Rooms 1 & 2. The District has not yet submitted an application for the land use regulatory changes that will be required to enable the project. I will have a staff presence at the meeting to listen to the description of the proposal.

12. Metropolitan Council Affordable Housing Goals – I received notice this week from the Metropolitan Council that provides estimates of their goals for Eden Prairie’s development of new housing units in general and new affordable housing units in particular. The Met Council has established a goal that Eden Prairie should develop between 1,840-3,500 housing units during the time period 2011-2020. Of that total, the Met Council says that 1,198-1,843 should fit into the affordable housing category. I will be meeting with staff to learn more about these goals. I will organize a presentation or workshop for the Council to learn more about the goals and what our options are to react to them.


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The 4th is Near!


fireworks.jpg Eden Prairie puts on a great event every year for the 4th of July. Our Hometown Celebration attracts more than 20,000 people to Round Lake Park for a day of fun and entertainment, and of course for the spectacular fireworks show over Round Lake at the end of the day.

One of the ways we’ve promoted our 4th of July event to the community over the years is with a trivia contest we sponsor with the Eden Prairie NEWS in their two issues leading up to the event.

This year we changed it up a bit, instead of trivia, we’re offering the “4th of July Fun Find.”

In last week’s paper, there was a hidden pictures puzzle for kids 12 and under, and this week there will be a word search for all ages. There are some great prizes to be won! Everything from a Gina Maria’s pizza to a one-year individual membership at the Community Center.

We have entry forms for both of the Fun Finds on our website this year. So even if you don’t get the newspaper, you can print off both contests and turn them in for the prize drawing that takes place during the 4th of July event.

It looks like this Sunday will be a great day for Eden Prairie’s 4th of July Hometown Celebration, I hope to see a lot of people there enjoying our community’s most popular event.

If you can’t be there, I hope that everyone has a fun – and safe – 4th of July holiday.



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Building Permit Rebound

menards 004.jpgThat’s a photo that I snapped today of the new Menard’s retail store going up in Eden Prairie. Before the new store could go up, the old one had to go down, because they chose to build the new store on the site of the old one. The old store was a single story model of around 100,000 square feet in size. The new store, which is slated to open in the spring of 2011, will be two stories and 236,000 square feet in size. Menard’s says the cost of the new store is around $6,000,000.

The Menard’s store is just one of several commercial projects that are under construction around town that are refreshing our memories of the pace of development a few years ago. There’s also the new Bobby & Steve’s gas station project ($3M) that we believe will start soon. Walmart is remodeling its retail store ($6M). Anchor Bank is remodeling an old Krispy Kreme into a new bank ($1.5M). And the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation is remodeling an existing building ($3-4M) into their new headquarters building to meet LEED certification standards.

On the residential side of the market, so far this year the City has issued 1,210 building permits, compared to 958 at this time last year. There were only 5 new single family home permits issued in all of 2009. So far this year we’ve issued 24. But it’s the commercial market that’s leading the way back. Year-to-date building permit revenue is $908,891. Last year at this time it was $480,224. We’re currently issuing permits and doing inspections at a rate comparable to what we saw in 2006 and 2007.

So we’re seeing a little recovery here. We’re grateful but also realistic. It’s fair to say that some of what we’re seeing this year is probably deferred projects from last year. We must factor that into our expectations for building permit revenue for 2011. We are expecting some large projects in 2011 that have been deferred from 2010. That’s good. I’ll call myself “cautiously optimistic.”

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Explore Eden Prairie


This is not a new logo. It’s a patch. It’s called the EXPLORE Eden Prairie patch. It was designed for the Silver Award through the Girl Scouts by Sarah Wilde, Katie Vergeront and Sydney Seelig from Prairie Sun Service Unit – Troop 10019. In order to get the patch, you’ve got to earn it. I have posted the process of how Girl Scouts earn the patch below.

What’s interesting about the Explore Eden Prairie patch is that you don’t have to be a Girl Scout to earn it. Anyone can earn it – but the key word there is “earn”. If you’d like to earn the EXPLORE Eden Prairie patch highlight the requirements that you completed from the information below and send your work and a check for $1.10 for each patch made payable to Troop 10019 to Mary WIlde, 10252 Meade Lane, Eden Prairie, MN 55347. If you have any questions you can email Mary at mewilde@mac.com

Here’s the outline followed by more detailed ideas about how to complete the requirements:

Instructions to earning the EXPLORE Eden Prairie Patch

There are 5 main categories in this patch program:

Complete requirements listed below from each of the main categories. You may add your own idea under the “other” in each main category. This will allow you to customize your interests in Exploring Eden Prairie.

City and Government

Complete (1) requirement under EACH sub-category

  1. Fire and Police
  2. City Hall
  3. Library

Business and Industry

Complete (1) requirement from this category

Parks and Recreation

Complete (4) requirements from this category


Complete (2) requirements from this category

Service to Community

Complete (1) requirement from this category

City and Government

Fire and Police

¨ Visit Fire Station # 1 and ask about how they respond to calls.

¨Attend the Special Safety program offered by the City of Eden Prairie for students going into the 3rd grade. (See City web site for details)

¨ Take a tour of any Eden Prairie Fire Department or fire truck. Ask the staff about how to respond properly to fires and how they respond to calls.

¨Chat with a State Trooper and ask them to tell you cool chase stories.

¨ Find out if your school has a Police Officer, what their name is, and what they look like. Just in case there is an emergency.

City Hall

¨ Attend a city council meeting.

¨ Find out who is on the City Council and what the City Council does.

¨ Find out who the City Manager is and what their responsibilities are.

¨ Visit the museum in the basement of the City Hall.

¨ Stroll through the lower level of City Hall and view the “Art of the City Walls” rotating gallery.


¨ Check out a book or CD or DVD, read/watch/listen to it and write a review. You can even submit the review to the Library in the summer; you might just win a prize!

¨ Take a picture with your favorite book.

¨ Get a Library card if you don’t already have one.

¨ Join a summer reading program through the Library.

¨ Try something new, like randomly reaching out and picking a book off the shelf. You might end up loving it.

¨ Reserve a book, CD or DVD through the interlibrary loan system.

¨ OTHER: _______________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________

Business and Industry

Chamber of Commerce

¨ Visit a small business and a large business (there is a list on the Chamber web site). Find out about how the chamber supports them.

¨ Find out what types of meetings and events the Chamber of Commerce offers

the community. If there is an event/meeting that you are interested in, attend it.


¨ Visit an ethnic restaurant of your choice. Try a new/different food.

¨ Try a new restaurant that sounds good to you. Or one that is something you have never heard of.

¨ Lions Tap – Eat a World Famous Lions Tap burger. Ask your server about the history. (6108 Flying Cloud Drive- Eden Prairie)


¨ Go to the Vikings head quarters and take a picture in the Viking ship.

¨ Go and count how many footballs there are in the glass case inside the building.

¨ Look through the HUGE book and learn about football. Don’t forget the gloves!!

¨ OTHER: ________________________________________________________


Parks and Recreation

Community Center

¨ Go to the Eden Prairie Community Center and attend an open activity like open skate, open gym, open volleyball or open swim. You can purchase a day pass that lets you do anything in the Community Center all day long.

¨ Go to the Community Center and learn about all the different classes they have to offer.

Staring Lake Park

¨ What did the Staring family call Staring Lake before the city named it after them?

¨ Visit the Staring Lake Outdoor Learning Center. (www.edenprairie.org)

¨ Look at the book of classes that the Outdoor Learning Center offers. Maybe even sign up for one that interests you.


¨ Use your GPS skilz to find a cache in Eden Prairie, and trade one of the trinkets in the box for the one you brought. Don’t forget to sign your name on the sheet of paper saying that you were there.

Purgatory Creek

¨ How did Purgatory Creek get its name? (Look in the Library reference book titled: ‘Eden Prairie the First 100 Years’ by Helen Holden Anderson)

Veterans Memorial

¨ Visit the Veterans Memorial. Show your respect for the Veterans and your country by wearing red, white or blue. Don’t forget to take off your hat.

¨ Go to Purgatory Recreational Park and find the quotes by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.


¨ Walk around one of the lakes:

Round Lake: 1 mile

Mitchell Marsh: 1.3 miles

Staring Lake: 2.3 miles

Purgatory Creek (trail): 2.4 miles

Smetana Lake: 1.6 miles

¨Participate in a winter sport at one of the many hills/parks in Eden Prairie (Staring Lake Park, Homeward Hills – pick up a park and recreation booklet at City Hall or go on-line at www.edenprairie.org.)

¨ Pick up a Parks and Recreation booklet at City Hall (or in the mail) for events and celebrations going on. Attend or participate in one of the events.

¨ Take your dog, or other pet, out on an Eden Prairie off-leash park. (See www.edenprairie.orgfor locations)

The Arts

¨Take a class that inspires you at the art center (7650 Equitable Drive)

¨ Find the Art Center and pick up a class listing.

¨ Learn something new at the art center

¨ OTHER: _____________________________________________________


Spring water

¨ Bring an empty water bottle and fill it up at the Fredrick-Miller Spring and indulge in the coolness. (The Spring is located on the east side of Spring Road, one-quarter mile north of US Highway 212).

Historical Houses

Smith Douglas Moore House

(AKA: Dunn Brothers Coffee House 8107 Eden Prairie Road)

¨ Have a cup of your favorite drink or pastry.

¨ Read the Historical Sign outside the building.

Cummings-Phipps-Grill House

(AKA: J. R. Cummings House on Pioneer Trail)

¨ Take a tour of the J.R. Cummings historical house. See the wonderful peony garden during the Spring.


¨ Pleasant Hill Cemetery

(Located next to Pax Christi Catholic Church on Pioneer Trail)

¨ Find the Hakins family

¨ Find the Anderson family

¨ Take a guided tour through the cemetery around Halloween time

¨ Eden Prairie Cemetery

(County Road 4 – Eden Prairie Road)

¨ Find Jonas Staring and his family

¨ Take a guided tour through the cemetery around Halloween time


¨ Who was given credit for naming Eden Prairie and when? (See the Library reference book, ‘Eden Prairie, the First 100 Years’- Helen Holden Anderson)

¨ OTHER: _____________________________________________________


Service Projects

Senior Center

¨Work with a senior citizen in your neighborhood.

¨ Work with seniors at the Local Senior Center.

(Ideas: bingo, other games and arts & crafts)

Veterans Memorial

¨ Tidy up the Veterans memorial: pick up trash, put flags or flowers out, dust off the name plates, and dust off snow to reveal quotes and name plates.


¨ Organize a clothing and household drive with neighbors, friends or troop members and donate the items to PROP Shop. Donations are received on Wednesdays and Saturdays. (www.propshop.org.)

¨Make and donate birthday bags to PROP Shop.

¨ Organize a food drive with friends, neighbors or troop members. Donate the items to PROP. Find the most needed items on their web site. (www.propfood.org) (Located at 14700 Martin Drive – Eden Prairie)


¨Contact the Adopt-A-Road website and simply adopt a road and clean and take care of the road.

¨ Contact the City of Eden Prairie Park Department and do the park clean up.

¨ Organize a Book Drive and donate the books to Library or School.

¨ Find out the Art Center’s needs and make a donation.

¨ OTHER: ______________________________________________________

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And the winner is…..Eden Prairie!!!

Way2Go Results-1.jpgEden Prairie city employees are engaged in a weight/health management program called Way2Go! We are competing with the City of St. Louis Park and Three Rivers Park District. There are a number of different elements of this competition, but the first one rewards points for the competitor with the highest percentage of employees who agree to participate in the program.


Who is the winner of Round 1? With more than 140 City employees signed up for the Way2Go! program, putting us far ahead of both Three Rivers Park District and the City of St. Louis Park, it’s the City of Eden Prairie!!

There are a total of 21 points possible throughout the yearlong competition. We scored all 3 points possible for the first round. Rounds 2 and 3 will give each competitor an opportunity to score a total of 9 points and will be measured in December 2010 and May 2011, respectively.

  • Round 1 measured the percentage of participants versus the number of eligible employees. First place was awarded 3 points, second place 2 and third place 1.
  • Rounds 2 and 3 will measure continued participation percentage, the percentage of participants who maintained their weight within 2 pounds and the percentage of pounds lost.

You can see our progress by clicking on the graphic. Yes, that’s my head on the leader. That’s Three Rivers Park District chieftain Chris Gears’ head on the guy in second place. And, that’s St. Louis Park city manager Tom Harmening’s head on the guy running in last place.

The next big test is one of endurance. Will we be able to keep our lead?

Stay tuned!

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Singletree Lane

singletree 004.jpgThe Singletree Lane Project started today. The road was closed this morning from Flying Cloud Drive to Glen Lane. The project will add width to the road so that we can add a turning lane. The design also features sidewalks, trees, decorative poles & banners and a new decorative sign identifying the area as our Town Center.

Access to the area will be compromised during construction. You’ll still be able to get to Bobby & Steve’s but the eastern most driveway access from Singletree into their station will be permanently closed as part of this project. We’ve been talking to Bobby & Steve’s about a major renovation of their store this summer. I don’t think they’ve made their final decision to go ahead yet, but they’ve got all the approvals they need from the City to proceed with the construction of a flashy new gas station right where their current store is. If they’re going to do it, this would be the summer to do it, with the road project going on anyway.The Singletree Lane Project will be under construction most of the summer. We are hoping to see the project mostly complete by the first week of August.

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Best Compliment of the Year

I got what I consider to be the best compliment of the year yesterday. It came from a local business owner after David Lindahl, our Economic Development Manager, followed up with him after one of our Meet & Greet visits to his business. The fellow emailed David back yesterday with the following message:

Good Morning David-

Thank you for contacting me to learn how improvements can be made.

I am pleased to say that I cannot think of any improvements needed. This is because E.P. is run like a nuclear submarine – many components from inspection to traffic control to aesthetics that operate smoothly and continually.

Please extend my most sincere “Well done!” to members of the City staff.

“…E.P. is run like a nuclear submarine…” I love it! Actually, that’s exactly what we’re going for here.

We – the city government – are not trying to play a major role in the lives of our residents. Some city governments want to do that, but that’s never been the goal of city government in Eden Prairie. We want the City’s infrastructure to work right. We want people to feel safe. We want our parks to be beautiful. We want rules and regulations that are simple to follow; easily understood; not over-reaching; and fairly enforced.

We want to run our city like a nuclear submarine – quietly and competently.

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poles 004.jpgpoles 002.jpgThis is a photo that I snapped today of the Xcel transmission poles on the north side of Hwy 5 right in front of Kowalski’s. The pole line that this pole is part of starts at a substation in Eden Prairie and goes into Chanhassen.

The poles are disfigured with failing paint and rust blotches. It’s possible for people to have driven right by these poles for years and never noticed them. But once you notice how awful they look, it’s hard not to stare.

The poles were painted at the request of the City by a painting subcontractor working for Xcel Energy back when the line was installed in the late 1980s. Well, either the paint was bad or the painters were bad, but whatever happened, it didn’t work because this is what we’ve got today.

The City raised the condition of the poles with Xcel last year. To their credit, they took the issue seriously. They spent time with us to explain what had happened and what they were trying to do to fix the issue. At the time, Xcel was going to fix the problem by repainting the poles. A couple of weeks ago though I received new information from Xcel that they now plan to replace the poles, starting sometime this fall.

This is really good news, and not just because the ugly poles will be replaced with more aesthetically pleasing poles — if there is such a thing. No, the real issue with these poles is safety. Rusting poles eventually leads to weaker poles, which could fail easier if struck by a vehicle or by some other more natural calamity. Getting the poles replaced now ensures a more reliable supply of electricity to Eden Prairie homes and businesses in the future.

That’s good for us.

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2010 Minnesota State Legislative Report

The 2010 session of the Minnesota State Legislature is over. Actually, it’s been over for over a week now. But I just received my 2010 Session Report from the Municipal Legislative Commission yesterday. This is a great report because it summarizes everything the legislature did (or didn’t do, in some cases) that impacts cities like Eden Prairie. Here’s a random sampler:

- The 2010 Omnibus Tax Bill (House File 3729) allows property owners to pay delinquent taxes electronically; changes the “green acres” entitlement period from ten to eight years; modifies the tax treatment of manufactured home park cooperatives; adjusts the implicit price deflater (IPD) so that it now has a floor of zero; and, most importantly, it authorizes a study of the State’s fiscal disparities program. This last one is a big deal to us. Eden Prairie has been asking and lobbying for this study for many years. The study will take a look at the program and analyze its current impacts on the various parties involved. Specifically, the study will look at whether the program has accomplished the goals that were used to justify its creation in the early 1970s. State Representative Loon was very helpful in getting this study included in the bill this year.

- Rochester, Detroit Lakes, Marshall and Biwabik all got special local sales tax deals.

- Landfall, Ramsey and Wayzata all got special Tax Increment Financing deals.

- The Museum of Russian Art, University of St. Thomas – Minneapolis campus, and the Bemidji Regional Event Center all got liquor licenses.

- The process for seeking public data was changed. Actually, the process of requesting the data itself stayed the same, but the penalties for local governments who do not respond to requests for public data in a timely fashion got stiffer.

- Senate File 2267 changed the definition of what a “firefighter” is, although not by very much, if you ask me. The new definition says a firefighter is “directly engaged in the hazards of firefighting or is in charge of a designated fire company or companies that are directly engaged in the hazards of firefighting.” Insider baseball, for sure.

- House File 3350 now prevents an employee of a city from being elected as the Mayor or to the City Council of that same city. That seems reasonable to me.

- Senate File 2918 made significant changes to public pensions in Minnesota. The Governor ultimately signed the bill, but he was very clear that he didn’t think it went far enough to strengthen the fiscal position of the state’s public pension systems. The new law merges the Minneapolis Employees Retirement Fund (MERF) with the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA); decreases the annual increases to the pensions of retired PERA system members; increases the employee and employer contributions to the PERA system; created a new statewide firefighter retirement plan; and requires the directors of the state’s three largest public pension systems to study the feasibility of creating a defined contribution retirement system for new public employees in the future.

Well, that’s a short wrap-up for today. I’ll get back to some more interesting legislative changes in a future post.

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