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Joel Stegner, Community volunteer


  • Joel Stegner, Community volunteer about 1 year ago

    Edina is a place which current residents are very satisfied with, but the long-term success of the suburb depends on how well it competes among those who are choosing a new place to live - both current Edina residents who can relocate within or outside of Edina and those who come here from other communities. We have a natural advantage among those who have family or a job here, or highly value one aspect of community - such as our fine schools - but may be totally unknown by those who would love living here or are working against the bad rap the community has among some for being exclusive - in a negative sense.

    In today's Star Tribune a small item from Fortune Magazine reported that Eden Prairie and Woodbury were among the top 50 suburbs in the country. I'll paste the article in below and make comments.

    Metro briefs: Two suburbs make list of 'best places to live' in U.S. SEPTEMBER 24, 2016 — 11:05PM

    Eden Prairie and Woodbury are the only Minnesota cities to make an annual list of top cities in the country.

    The two suburbs are among the top 50 “Best Places to Live” in Money magazine’s 2016 rankings. Eden Prairie came in No. 2 and Woodbury came in No. 11. The magazine ranks all U.S. cities that have populations of 50,000 to 300,000 residents, looking at factors such as taxes, education and health care. The list was limited to no more than four places per state and one city per county.

    The magazine pointed out Eden Prairie’s economy, large employers like Supervalu, parks and lakes, and the fact that 95 percent of respondents to a city survey gave the city “good” or “excellent” ratings for quality of life. It also featured a new development called Eden Gardens, a 36-home neighborhood of energy-efficient, high-density homes near Hwy. 212.

    It’s the fourth time Eden Prairie has made the list — and its top 10 — since 2006. In 2010, the west-metro suburb came in first.

    Woodbury, which has also made the list several times, was singled out for its growing community, amenities and sports facilities, as well as a thriving health and wellness industry, including Anytime Fitness’ new headquarters. To see the full list, go to time.com/money/collection/best-places-to-live/.

    Kelly Smith

    Given our bi-polar metro area, only Eden Prairie's presence on the list is significant, but their high ratings are a challenge to Edina, as they have been in this top group multiple times in recent years. While they are a younger population and the rating is for cities over 60,000 population (we have historically been slightly less than that), at least in this rating, they do better than Edina. Edina Public Schools are highly regarded - the top rated in the state - but they have never reached the top 50, much less the top ten.

    If you want to be the best, you need to perform. I'll use the examples of our schools. They can choose to be satisfied with their current rating, or accept as their peer group the top 10 or 25 schools in the country, determine why they score better, and do the homework necessary to significantly raise their scores. To me, hitting top 10 would be an impressive goal.

    This suburb rating only takes 1 school per county and 4 per state. As long as Eden Prairie scores higher, as we are both in Hennepin County, we can never make the list. We would need for them to slip or raise our performance. There is no other way. If we do better than a suburb rated 7th in the country, we might even be able to reach the top five. Simply beating them one year would be enough to use it as bragging rights with lasting value, but it reflects serious effort. We are shortly dong another quality life survey and long-range development, which makes it a perfect time to raise our performance and turn our desire to be the goal of being a destination suburb into reality.

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  • Last night, I attended a city-organized focus group in which local adult residents were asked to imagine a desired future in terms of Edina’s business development. The group identified an interest making Edina more of a place where people can live, work and go to school. The consultant indicated that the current percentage of residents who both live and work here is low. As commuting times increase, more people are seeking to cut their long commuting times in order to achieve better work-life balance, being more present in their families and more involved in the community. This was a good insight, but reflected the attitudes of what one person called a group of white folks older than 40 – probably most of us were older than 50. For issues building a network of sidewalks through the city, the planning horizon is 30 years, which as this point takes us nearly to mid century – 2050. I cannot speak for anyone else, but in 2060, if I’m still alive, I will be 100 years old. Everyone in attendance will be gone or well into retirement. The opinions of those most important – those under the age of 35 – were missing from the group. Likely, most people who will be living here in 2050 don’t even live here today. Personally, my priority is to rebuilt Edina to work for young adults like my children – ages 30 and 32. Many, many of us have children who live out of state, which means for those of us who enjoy being grandparents, we don’t fully enjoy that opportunity.. If they live beyond 30 minutes away, the level of contact isn’t great. If they live in or near Edina, they are going to be easier to see and if they live close to where they work, they will have more times to be good parents and for themselves. So who needs to tell us what kind of community life they want for their selves and their future families? Who is most likely to take the time to tell us what they think? The children of Edina.
    That includes high school students, college students and young adults. They may still live here or somewhere else. If we ask them tell us, if we asked them, what they liked and disliked about growing up here and what attributes of communities they seek and reject. Even if they will never return, wherever they live, they make decisions based on how they view the options they have available, and whatever state where they reside, they may be having positive experiences we could emulate here. Edina Schools are viewed as a strong community asset, and typically viewed in the top 100 in the country. However, Edina nor any other Minnesota school has ever been in the top 50, 25 or 10 schools in the country. Our metro area competes nationally for jobs and talent. Edina Schools are a great example that being excellent doesn’t mean that you cannot get better.
    I would recommend that as part of its long range planning process, the city survey EHS high school students and graduates under the age of 35 to determine what factors influence their decision not to return, particularly if it relates to our harsh climate or the job market in their field of interest. To fill out the picture, the city should at the same time talk with the small number of young adults under the age of 35 who didn’t grow up here. While not the primary purpose of doing this research, doing it with that age group would convey our strong interest coming here to live and work.

  • Joel Stegner, Community volunteer almost 2 years ago

    Boston and other cities and towns in Massachusetts, New York City and the state of Hawaii (reported in today's Star Tribune - http://www.startribune.com/boston-hikes-age-for-buying-cigarettes-to-21/362864891/) have approved a new approach to discourage youth smoking, by moving the age from 18-21. While only the state can enact a ban on consumption, we can get the ball rolling by passing an ordinance that bans sales of tobacco products to those under the age of 21. Tobacco use has no beneficial effects and and tobacco is a gateway to use of illegal drugs and binge drinking, with their additional health and legal consequences. By making this change, it suggests that alcohol and tobacco are adult products which young people should not be experimenting wth and getting addicted to. Someday, if and when recreational marijuana is legalized, then there will be no question that the age limit should also be age 21. Obviously, those businesses what make significant income by selling tobacco products to those between 18-20 may not like this idea, but the city could respond by creating a lower license fee for stores that voluntarily don't sell to those under the age of 21, until the time when it is passed into city ordinance. As we are part of a health alliance with Richfield and Bloomington, perhaps their city council could be encouraged to take a similar action. If three cities neighboring cities were to do so, it would encourage others to do the same. This kind of proactive policy is exactly what forward thinking cities do.

    0 Comments 3 Supports Created
  • May Bike Safety Month - the safety of bikes.

    Please switch the title and the description, as what I wrote ended up in the title due to a glitch in your system. I don't want to retype a long idea and see no way to copy paste the switch myself.

    0 Comments 1 Support Created
  • Idea: Rent a goat

    Joel Stegner, Community volunteer almost 3 years ago
    Small2_dnrgoats

    Edina has a major buckthorn problem in its parks and private property. Removing buckthorn is an arduous task that requires a lot of community volunteer effort and is seemingly never ending.

    Herds of goats are used as a natural solution to the problem of invasive plants. Apparently, if fenced into a piece of land, they are natural weed removers and reputedly like the taste of buckthorn. Here is a story about Minnesota DNR using goats in this way.

    http://blogs.mprnews.org/statewide/2013/08/goats-have-an-appetite-for-buckthorn-in-se-minnesota/

    And here is a story about goats helping themselves to another issue - what to do with Christmas trees after the holidays:

    http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/287508941.html

    While the city should choose to buy its own goat herd, it might be more palatable to see if we can find someone who would be willing to sell this service to the city.

    0 Comments 2 Supports Created
  • Joel Stegner, Community volunteer about 3 years ago
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    I have heard that as the space needs of the Edina School District have grown, that it is likely that they will reclaim all the space in the old Edina East HS site. Should that happen, what will Edina do for a community center? The City should be in discussion with the schools to find out if this rumor is true. If not, then perhaps the city can make a long-term deal with the schools for that space and then making improvements on the facilities, which appears to be quite dated. If not, the city should consider whether to build a new community center and where to put it. It is a good time to consider this, because the city is now working on planning for major projects at Grandview, Fred Richards/Pentagon Park and Braemar that will tie up a lot of available building space. These sights are built up and a community center replacement is needed, where else might it go? The city is working on a long-term vision starting next week - so this is a very timely topic.

    7 Supports Created
  • Joel Stegner, Community volunteer about 3 years ago

    The police have a new program to stop bicyclists who break traffic laws, announced in a just-issued press release. While I agree with the idea, I think Edina needs to think more broadly about this issue. First there is the issue of traffic design. It is currently very difficult to safely travel through certain parts of the city on bike. While Edina does enforce the speed laws, speeding, particularly on heavily travelled roads in common, and the places where bike travel are too close to traffic at the speed cars and trucks are driving, particularly as many have become larger and less maneuverable. Second, there is driver behavior. I'd bring up the failure of a very large percentage of drivers to signal their turns, Where this is a special problem for bike riders is when cars pull in front of a bike, fails to signal and turn right. Another is when a vehicle is going from the opposite direction and turns left. This failure to signal intention is dangerous driving, gives the bicyclist no time to react, and is likely to result in a severe injury or direct. Combine that with not fully stopping a stop sign and pulling out in front of a bicyclist who has right of way, opening a car door without looking . . . I could go on. The biggest toll of these driver practices - none of which is justified - is fear on the part of people who would want to use our streets to ride their bikes, which means they stay home or drive, which is both unhealthy and increases traffic congestion. So in other worlds, if the police are going to have a campaign targeted unsafe bicycling, please at the same time remind us that most often when cyclists are injured or killed, a motor vehicle has done the damage. And motorists should realize that stopping a bike at a stop sign involves a lot more effort than using your turn signal.

    4 Supports Created