New website for City of Edina; Speak Up Edina launches

The City of Edina recently launched the first part of its new website. If you haven’t already seen it, please check it out at www.EdinaMN.gov.

Speak Up, Edina!

In the header and footer on most pages, you will find “Speak Up” links. These links go to our new civic engagement site, www.SpeakUpEdina.org. We are using a platform for civic engagement originally developed by I Can Make It Better and first used in the City of Austin, Texas. On our new civic engagement site, users can post an idea, weigh in on ideas they like or join a discussion about a topic City staff or others post. We’ve set up a few discussions to start the conversation. You’ve been a great participant here on the Edina Citizen Engagement site and I hope you’ll consider visiting www.SpeakUpEdina.org and posting an idea or responding to a discussion board that we’ve set up.

Our Edina Citizen Engagement site will remain in place for a few more weeks. Then, those who use the www.edinacitizenengagement.org URL will be redirected to www.SpeakUpEdina.org. The City is very thankful to Griff Wigley for moderating the original Edina Citizen Engagement site and I’m sure he won’t be a stranger in our future online engagement efforts!

Please contact me or any member of the Communications & Technology Services Department if you have any questions. We can be reached at 952-826-0359.

Thanks again!

Jennifer Bennerotte, Communications & Technology Services Director

Three project blogs done, one active

The Edina Citizen Engagement project blogs for the 2012 Budget, the Grandview District, and Southdale Center are essentially finished, though it’s always possible that new items might get posted.

The indoor athletic facility (AKA sports dome) blog will likely become quite active in the coming weeks and months as Phase Two (site location study) ramps up.

How to keep track of what’s new? Consider following Edina Citizen Engagement on Twitter or subscribing to the Edina Citizen Engagement e-newsletter.

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Project updates on Grandview, Southdale, Indoor athletic facility

All three active Edina Citizen Engagement projects have updates to their blogs this week:

Living Streets are coming to Edina. Find out what it’s all about at this Feb. 14 workshop

I was alerted to this presentation by Sara Maaske, Grassroots Solutions, who’s working with the do.town project (see my Sept. 28 blog post for more). I’ve added links and images below to the text of the City of Edina’s press release on the presentation. See the PDF poster, too.

Living Streets Poster Edina Feb. 2012

Residents encouraged to attend ‘Living Streets’ presentation

Learn about Living Streets at a special presentation 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, in Room 350 of the Edina Community Center, 5701 Normandale Road. [Google map here]

In May 2011, the Edina City Council authorized the Edina Transportation Commission to draft a Living Streets Policy and implementation plan. Over the next few months, the Commission will work with the community to develop such a policy and plan.

Living Streets balance the needs of motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders in a way that promotes safety and convenience and enhances community identity, economic vitality and opportunities for active living, better health and environmental sustainability.

National urban planning expert Ryan Snyder, who coordinated the recently published “Los Angeles County Living Streets Model Street Design Manual,” will be the featured presenter at the Feb. 14 session. Snyder is an instructor with the Federal Highways Administration Pedestrian Safety Design, a certified National Safe Routes to School instructor and teaches a class on Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning to graduate students in the UCLA Urban Planning Department. He is also the former Vice President of the Los Angeles Board of Transportation Commissioners.

This event is sponsored by City of Edina and supported by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) as part of a new initiative called do.town. do.town is a collaborative initiative of the cities of Bloomington, Edina and Richfield and Blue Cross to improve the health of each community by making sustainable changes that support healthy eating and active living choices. Living Streets is an example of how cities can be designed and built to help support the environment, provide economic value and improve people’s health by making the healthy choice the easy choice.

The presentation is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, contact Commissioner Katherine Bass, 651-662-9326.

Update 2/15: Photos from the start of last night’s workshop:

DSC07474 DSC07472 DSC07481 DSC07483

DSC07491 DSC07490 DSC07488

Active discussions: final draft of Grandview plan; Ralph’s Shoe Service in Southdale

Two recent Edina Citizen Engagement blog posts have active discussion threads going right now:

  • online discussionMembers of the Grandview District Steering Committee have started discussing the final draft of the Grandview Plan. See the comments attached to Kevin Staunton’s blog post and feel free to participate with your comments and questions.
  • Citizens are discussing the possible closing of Ralph’s Shoe Service in the Southdale Center.  See the comments (over 50 of them thus far) attached to my blog that summarizes the media coverage of the issue.

The 2012 budget is a wrap; planning for 2013 begins soon

BudgetThe 2012 budget was approved by  the Edina City Council earlier this week (Scott Neal blog post here, video clip here). We’ve got a few more things to add to the 2012 budget blog site in the next week or so, most notably, the final budget document.

But we won’t be putting the blog site to sleep permanently, as planning for the 2013 budget will commence in a few months.  There will be a minor name change to the site, however. I’m sure you can guess what that’ll be.

New staff blogs for Edina Liquor, Parks & Rec

Two staff blogs have been added to the City of Edina blogs section:

Edina Liquor blog Edina Park & Recreation blog

The Edina Liquor blog includes information from the City’s Liquor Operations Director and staff of the three municipal liquor stores, providing readers with information on Edina Liquor’s extensive selection, as well as interesting stories and tidbits.

The Edina Park & Recreation Department blog includes information on the City’s 40 parks and open spaces and its 10 recreational facilities, which include the Edina Aquatic Center, Art Center, Braemar Arena, Braemar Golf Courses, Braemar Golf Dome, Centennial Lakes Park, Edinborough Park, Fred Richards Golf Course, Arneson Acres Park and the Edina Senior Center.

Also, Edina City Manager Scott Neal’s blog has a different URL and RSS feed.

Scott Neal blog

Indoor fireplaces at Centennial Lakes Park to switch to natural gas

A Grandiew District meeting in front of one of the two indoor fireplaces at Centennial Lakes Park, Edina

In the Saturday Nov. 19 StarTribune: Edina to convert wood-burning park fireplaces to gas

Not all council members were convinced the change is necessary. While Joni Bennett said the change is aimed not at homeowners but to make a healthful change at one of the top three spots visited in the city, Ann Swenson bridled at converting the outside fireplace. "When you’re stuck indoors [with smoke] it’s an entirely different situation than when you’re outside," she said. Mary Brindle said park managers told her no one complained about smoke. She worried that the park ambience could change. "The atmosphere and mood [the fireplaces] create is part of the reason people go there," she said. "I would not be in favor of switching it."

Mayor Jim Hovland said he enjoyed the smell of a wood-burning fireplace but said it was disingenuous for the council to deny a restaurant’s recent application for a wood-burning fireplace while it continues to burn wood in the park. "I make no judgment whatsoever about fire pits on private property and fireplaces indoors," he said. "But I think we have had our level of awareness raised about the danger … and I think we should contemplate doing something that’s in the interest of public health at these three locations."

With a council member absent and a split vote looming, the council agreed 3-1 to convert the indoor fireplaces to natural gas.

City Manager Scott Neal’s report to the Council:

At the Council’s September 20 joint session with the Energy & Environment Commission, the Council discussed the proposed conversion of the wood burning fireplaces to natural gas at Centennial Lakes Park.

I have discussed this proposed with staff. Staff have discussed it with members of the public who frequent the facility and with customers who have rented the facility and used the fireplaces. Staff encountered what they would describe as a moderate amount of disappointment at the proposal among customers who use the fireplaces. However, the proposed conversion would not prevent or discourage their future use of the facility. The cost of converting the three fireplaces is minimal. The plumbing to accommodate a gas fireplace is currently in place. The EEC recommends the conversion. If the Council wishes this conversion to happen, I will cause it to happen.

Video clip of Scott Neal’s report and Council discussion of the issue:

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How to keep track of all the engagement projects?

All four projects currently being tracked here on Edina Citizen Engagement have active blogs:

How to keep track of what’s new?

Consider following Edina Citizen Engagement on Twitter, subscribing to the weekly e-newsletter, or subscribing to each blog’s RSS feed.

Follow Edina Citizen Engagement on Twitter RSS icon: visit each blog and then subscribe with an RSS reader

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October Q&A now live for all four projects

October Q&A on the navigation bar

Starting today, there is a new feature available here on Edina Citizen Engagement. I don’t have a catchy name for it yet so for this month it’s just October Q&A.

(It’s now a page navigation option on the right of all the project navigation bars.)

We’re using a tool called Google Moderator to solicit questions from Edina, MN citizens about the four projects that we’re paying the most attention to here on Edina Citizen Engagement during the month of October, 2011: 1) the 2012 budget; 2) Southdale Economic Development; 3) the Grandview District; and 4) the indoor athletic facility.

The tool helps to address some common citizen engagement problems:

  • Many people don’t feel comfortable or have the time to ask questions of local government leaders about important issues, whether it’s using email, the phone, or open mic at City Council meetings.
  • Many people are reluctant to engage in online discussions
  • City leaders can’t easily gauge which questions are most often on the minds of citizens
  • City leaders are often faced with having to answer the same questions over and over

We think that this tool, Google Moderator, provides a simple and inexpensive way to gather and prioritize the questions.

When we’ve collected the prioritized questions, we’ll select a time and method for city leaders to provide answers online, either via:

  • a live online event (chat, webinar, teleconference)
  • a recorded audio or video session
  • a written/text response

We’re learning our way into this and expect to make mistakes and improve.  We’re also assuming that it’ll take a while for Edina citizens to find out about this and get comfortable using it.

If you have suggestions on how to improve what we’re doing, I’m eager to hear it. Attach a comment here or Contact me.

In the meantime, head over to October Q&A and chime in with your questions and votes.

Google Moderator - Q&A for Edina, October 2011

Update, Nov. 2: I’ve shut down Google Moderator for now. See my comment attached.

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