Students hosting a focus group with seniors in North St. Paul
Students hosting a focus group with senior residents about aging in place in North St. Paul

For the 2013-2014 academic year, RCP partnered with the City of North St. Paul on 16 projects that engaged 35 courses across 11 colleges at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Duluth campuses, and provided hands-on, applied research opportunities to more than 300 graduate and undergraduate students. Descriptions of the projects, as well as the resulting student work, are listed below.

Live/Work Housing

Project Description: A recent Redevelopment Master Plan for North Saint Paul identified live/work housing as a unique strategy for residential development on the edge of downtown. This type of housing would include both living units and workspace for artisans/craftspeople to pursue their small business or entrepreneurial endeavors, and would help fit the city’s traditional image as a working class community that supports small business enterprises. The goal of this project was to determine the potential of this housing option in North Saint Paul as a means of enhancing livability, creating jobs, promoting equitable economic development, and increasing housing density, and to identify implementation steps for making it happen. Teams of students from a housing studies course prepared development proposals for live/work housing projects, while a team of students in urban planning focused on recommended policy changes to promote live/work housing.

Class: HSG 4461: Housing Development and Management
InstructorsBecky Yust and Lyn Bruin (College of Design)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Projects: Group 1: Proposal and Poster  |  Group 2: Proposal and Poster  |  Group 3: Proposal and Poster  |  Group 4: Proposal and Poster

Class: PA 5261: Housing Policy
InstructorEdward Goetz (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectReport and Presentation

Living Streets and Capital Improvements

Project Description: The City of North St. Paul recently completed a 20-year capital improvement plan, a key component of which is to allocate funds for major infrastructure improvements. The City also adopted a Living Streets Plan in 2011, which presented an argument for making North St. Paul streets more livable as the city undertakes street reconstruction projects over the next 20 years. The plan includes design recommendations for pavement street width, storm water treatment, underground utilities, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and street plantings. It also identifies specific street routes that should be targeted for improvements, connecting major recreational assets in the community. Students in a participation processes course in urban planning designed a prototype public participation process for the city to engage residents prior to and during reconstruction projects. Students in three other courses in public policy, public health, and architecture documented the benefits of a living streets approach to help the city make the case to residents for street improvements, and identified other engagement methods such as visual preference surveys and a living streets model that the city can use to better engage residents around street reconstruction projects.

Class: PA 5253: Designing Participation Processes (fall 2013)
Instructor: Carissa Schively Slotterback (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectsTeam 1 Report | Team Two Report | Team 3 Report

Class: PA 8081—Making Sustainable Transportation Work (Spring 2014)
InstructorGreg Lindsey (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Project: Report and Poster

Class: PH 6100—Topics in Environmental Health: Urban Ecosystems (Spring 2014)
InstructorsBetsy Wattenberg, Petrona Lee, and Matt Simcik (School of Public Health)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectReport and Presentation

Class: ARCH 3250—Architecture: Community-Based Projects (Spring 2014)
InstructorJames Wheeler (College of Design)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Project: Report

Green Energy Initiative

Project Description: North Saint Paul is unique in that it operates its own electric utility, in cooperation with Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. The city sought assistance investigating and providing information to residents, businesses, and elected officials about alternative energy and energy conservation initiatives, as well as identifying strategies for dedicating electric utility revenue toward green energy initiatives such as wind, solar, and geothermal. A public policy course investigated options for green energy initiatives, community-based energy development, distributed generation systems, district energy approaches, and net-zero-carbon development. Students in a law clinic focused on green energy and broader sustainability initiatives the city could implement through regulatory changes and incentives.

Class: PA 5721: Energy and Environmental Policy (fall 2013)
InstructorElizabeth Wilson (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Brian Frandle, North St. Paul Electric Utility Director
Student Projects:

Overview by Elizabeth Wilson: PowerPoint
Energy EfficiencyPolicy Brief  |  PowerPoint  |  Video
Smart MetersPolicy Brief  |  PowerPoint  |  Video  |  Project Poster
Demand-Side ManagementPolicy Brief  |  PowerPoint  |  Video
Distributed GenerationPolicy Brief  |  Video
Net Zero: PowerPoint  |  Video

Class: LAW 7012: Land Use, Energy and Environment Clinic (fall 2013/spring 2014)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, North St. Paul
InstructorJean Coleman (Law School)
Student ProjectsGreenStep Cities Memo  |  Sustainability Memo  |  Presentation

Crime Watch and Neighborhood Identities

Project Description: Strong communities are built on strong neighborhoods. The City of North St. Paul sought to build on existing neighborhood crime watch organizations to engage and empower neighborhood residents to keep their neighborhoods safe, livable, and vibrant, while developing a clearer sense of resident issues and priorities. A graduate-level Urban Planning course in public participation processes developed a generalized engagement strategy for unengaged or underrepresented populations in the city, including a process for getting residents engaged in neighborhood and community issues.

Class: PA 5253: Planning Participation Processes
InstructorCarissa Schively Slotterback (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectsTeam 1 Report  |  Team 2 Report

Community Branding

Project Description: North Saint Paul has a proud history and identity as a working-class community with a small-town feel, a collective identity that helps foster strong social ties among residents. However, the City is in need of a fresh “brand” that acknowledges the richness of the community’s past but also embraces its future direction and opportunities. Students in an undergraduate graphic design course conducted background research on the city’s historical and current identity, and solicited input from residents, city staff, and appointed and elected officials to create several design alternatives for a new graphic identity that the City can use for signs, business forms and marketing materials, communications media (website, Facebook account, newsletter), and other materials. The designs were accompanied by standards to guide implementation.

Class: GDES 3352: Identity and Symbols (fall 2013)
Instructor: Deb Lawton (College of Design)
City Project Lead: Laurie Koehnle, Communications Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student Projects:

Elise BoraasPresentation  | Standards Manual
Emi NguyenPresentation
Emma RadkePresentation  | Standards Manual
Jacinda Schweitzer: Presentation  | Standards Manual
Kathryn BlongPresentation  | Standards Manual
Laura NygrenPresentation  | Standards Manual
Max LindorferPresentation  | Standards Manual

Downtown Revitalization Strategies

Project Description: A recently adopted Redevelopment Master Plan for North Saint Paul’s “diversified district” identified strategies for revitalization of the downtown, including compression of the downtown retail core, supporting streetscape and other improvements to enhance the pedestrian experience in the downtown, and identifying “niche” businesses that would thrive in the downtown to guide future redevelopment efforts. Teams of graduate students in a public policy course on community economic development analyzed parking needs, conducted a market analysis for the downtown area, and offered recommendations for related strategies to revitalize North St. Paul’s downtown business district. An urban planning graduate capstone course on economic development investigated options for business improvement districts as one strategy to revitalize downtown North St. Paul.

Class: PA 5511: Community Economic Development (fall 2013)
Instructor: Bob Streetar (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Projects:

Parking Analysis: Final Report  |  Project Poster
Market Analysis: Final Report  |  Project Poster

Class: PA 8081: Economic Development (spring 2014)
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
InstructorsLee Munnich and Lyssa Leitner (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
Student Project: Final Report and Presentation

Conservation and Economic Development Initiative

Project Description: North St. Paul has its own municipal utility, which is required by state law to spend 1.5% of its gross operating revenue on conservation improvement projects (CIP). The city has existing conservation improvement and energy efficiency programs, but believes these programs are not being fully utilized by local residents and businesses. A course in program evaluation designed an evaluation plan to assess the existing conservation and energy efficiency programs, including whether the programs are being effectively marketed/communicated, and whether the incentives being offered are consistent with homeowners’ or business owners’ needs and interests related to conservation and energy efficiency. A graduate-level public policy course on energy and environmental policy investigated options to promote new energy efficiency/conservation rebate programs and conservation improvement projects.

Class: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation (fall 2013)
InstructorRandi Nelson (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Brian Frandle, Utilities Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Project: Final CIP Program Evaluation Plan  |  PowerPoint Presentation  |  Handout

Class: PA 5721: Energy and Environmental Policy (fall 2013)
InstructorElizabeth Wilson (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Brian Frandle, Utilities Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Projects:

Overview by Elizabeth Wilson: PowerPoint
Energy EfficiencyPolicy Brief | PowerPoint | Video
Smart MetersPolicy Brief | PowerPoint | Video  |  Poster
Demand-Side ManagementPolicy Brief | PowerPoint | Video
Distributed GenerationPolicy Brief | Video
Net Zero: PowerPoint | Video

Civic Engagement and Communication

Project Description: One of the key goals for the North St. Paul outlined by the city council in 2013 was better communication with residents. The city’s aging and increasingly diverse population creates challenges to communicating effectively. Students in two program evaluation courses worked on this issue: one designed an evaluation plan to assess the city’s existing internal and external communications efforts, while the other conducted an assessment of the city’s current communications efforts and future needs and provided recommendations for how to better engage residents in their local government and community.

Class: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation (fall 2013)
InstructorRandi Nelson (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Laurie Koehnle, Communications Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Evaluation Plan Report  |  PowerPoint Presentation  |  Handout 

Class: OLPD 8595: Evaluation Problems (spring 2014)
InstructorJean King (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Laurie Koehnle, Communications Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student Project: Final Report  |  Poster

Environmental Education Initiative

Project Description: Increasingly, urban residents are detached from, and lack opportunities to meaningfully interact with, their natural environment. North St. Paul has many unique natural features that offer opportunities to educate residents about the local ecosystem and natural resources that are available, and to encourage residents to reengage with their natural environment. RCP engaged students in environmental education at the University of Minnesota Duluth campus to develop recommendations to inform a long-range operations and management plan for Southwood Park, a 29-acre nature reserve located in the southern portion of North Saint Paul that features a large wetland, a restored oak savannah, and a limited walking trail system. Students in a another course in the School of Design used a “design thinking” approach to identify how best to engage residents in learning about the local ecosystem and environmental issues in Southwood Park, which currently has minimal programming or interpretive signage to engage visitors. A graduate student in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management focused on North Saint Paul’s environmental education needs as the subject of her thesis project for her master of science degree, examining how residents of North Saint Paul understand parks, trails, and natural areas in the community. A second course in environmental education at the University of Minnesota Duluth campus developed recommendations for creating environmental education programs at Southwood. Finally, a course in adult education considering educational programming for residents and users of Southwood Park. All of these projects involved collaboration with community education staff, local master naturalists, and neighbors of Southwood Park.

Class: EnEd 4315: Operations & Management (fall 2013)
InstructorKen Gilbertson (Environmental Education, University of Minnesota at Duluth)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectAerial Image  |  PowerPoint  |  Final Report

Class: DES 3131: User Experience in Design (fall 2013)
InstructorAnge Wang (College of Design)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectsStudent Poster  |   Team 1  |  Team 2  |  Team 3  |  Team 4  |  Team 5  |  Team 6  |  Team 7  |  Team 8

Master of Science Thesis: Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management (year-long)
StudentMary Hammes
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectHammes Plan B Paper

Class: EnEd 5325: Environmental Issues Investigation (spring 2014)
InstructorKen Gilbertson (Environmental Education, University of Minnesota at Duluth)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report  |  Presentation  |  Project Poster

Class: OLPD 5204: Designing Adult Education Programs (spring 2014)
InstructorCatherine Twohig (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report  |  Project Poster  |  Presentation

Redevelopment-Ready Community

Project Description: In addition to making specific redevelopment sites “shovel-ready,” North Saint Paul seeks to create an action plan to become an Urban Land Institute–certified “redevelopment-ready” community—a city that is an attractive and inviting location for developers to work and for businesses to (re)locate. To help inform this effort, students in a principles and methods of evaluation course designed an evaluation program to assess the city’s current development review process and regulations based on input from stakeholders (developers, investors, business owners, commercial real estate brokers, lending institutions) who have worked with the city in the past.

Class: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation (fall 2013)
InstructorRandi Nelson (College of Education and Human Development
City Project Lead: Paul Ammerman, Community Development Director, City of North St. Paul
Student Project: : Final Redevelopment Process Evaluation Plan  |  PowerPoint Presentation  |  Handout

Community Gardening Planning

Project Description: In recent years, there has been some interest among residents in North St. Paul to develop community gardens. The City recognized urban agriculture as a growing trend that could improve sense of community, encourage healthy eating, and improve food security through access to locally produced food. However, the city had no formal policy or process in place for community gardens. An urban planning course in public participation designed a community engagement process the City can use to develop a community gardening policy and identify key garden site opportunities in the community. Students in another course in environmental policy and planning researched best practices related to fostering and supporting community gardening.

Class: PA 5253: Planning Participation Processes (fall 2013)
InstructorCarissa Schively Slotterback (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student Projects: Team 1: Final Report  and Poster  |  Team 2: Final Report

Class: PA 5242: Environmental Planning, Policy, and Decision Making
InstructorCarissa Schively Slotterback (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report  |  Project Poster  |  Presentation

Housing Conservation and Aging in Place

Project Description: Most of the housing stock (both single-family and multifamily) in North St. Paul is post–World War II vintage, and many of these homes are in need of repair or upgrading. However, many aging residents do not have the financial resources, skills, or assistance to make improvements or repairs. The purpose of this project was to develop programs or policies that would stabilize the housing stock in the community and provide housing options that make it possible for residents to age in place in North St. Paul. Students in a housing studies course focused on promoting independence in housing and community evaluated existing housing and community design characteristics in North Saint Paul and made recommendations for regulations, standards, and public policies the City can consider to support aging in place and upgrading existing housing stock. A  course in the School of Social Work conducted aging-specific in-home assessments with 15 volunteer North St. Paul residents and their caregivers that included their housing situation, resource management, formal and informal support systems, mental health, and cognitive abilities. Students then identified gaps in services and made recommendations for what the city can do to address these gaps, either directly or in partnership with other organizations or agencies. Another course in the School of Public Health conducted focus groups with volunteer senior North St. Paul residents to identify their specific needs, challenges, and concerns related to aging in place (either in their current homes or in another home in the community) and made recommendations for how the city can support aging in place. Finally, a graduate student in an urban planning course on housing policy researched and made recommendations for programs, policies, and strategies the city can use to support aging in place and make North St Paul truly a “community for a lifetime.”

Class: HSG 5481: Promoting Independence in Housing and Community (fall 2013)
InstructorLyn Bruin (College of Design)  |  Accessible House, Adaptable House, Smart House Presentation
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report  |  Final Presentation  |  Project Poster

Class: SW 8251: Social Work Practice in Health, Disabilities, and Aging (fall 2013)
Instructor: Stacy Remke (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student Project: Final Report  |  North St. Paul Resources for Seniors  |  Project Poster

Class: GERO 5105: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Aging (fall 2013)
InstructorLisa Edstrom (School of Public Health)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Presentation  |  Executive Summary  |  Final Report  |  Project Poster

Class: PA 5261: Housing Policy (spring 2014)
InstructorEdward Goetz (Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report  |  Presentation

Staff Satisfaction and Staff Development

Project Description: The City of North St. Paul recognizes that staff satisfaction and enrichment can encourage staff retention, ultimately helping the community to move in a consistent and forward direction. The city employs approximately 60 staff within four areas: Public Works, Public Safety, Community and Economic Development, and Finance. To help inform the creation of a staff development plan, the city wanted to understand how satisfied current staff are with their job at the city and understand how to better ensure staff satisfaction and development. Students enrolled in a principles and methods of evaluation course designed an evaluation program to assess staff satisfaction, including what staff want or need in their day-to-day work environment, as well as what incentives or educational opportunities would encourage them to continue working at the city. Another course in human resources and industrial relations developed recommendations for improving staff morale and fostering staff development.

Class: OLPD 5501: Principles and Methods of Evaluation (fall 2013)
InstructorRandi Nelson (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Jason Ziemer, City Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectStaff Satisfaction Evaluation Plan  |  PowerPoint Presentation  |  Handout

Class: OLPD 8595: Evaluation Problems (spring 2014)
Instructor:
Jean King (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead:
Jason Ziemer, City Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student Project:
Memo

Class: HRIR 8034: Employee Development–Creating a Competitive Advantage
InstructorStacy Doepner-Hove (Carlson School of Management)
City Project Lead: Jason Ziemer, City Manager, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectsPoster
Student Projects:

Change Management and Employee Engagement report
Onboarding report
Individual Development report
Performance Management report
Wellness and Work-Life Balance report

Public Art Plan

Project Description: North St. Paul wanted to engage residents of all ages and demographics by better incorporating public art into the community, instilling a greater sense of community pride. The community once had an Arts Council that had gone dormant, and hoped to re-engage the community and revitalize the downtown and neighborhood districts through public art. Students in an urban planning course focused on public engagement designed a participation process for developing a public art plan, proposed a strategy for facilitating long-term community engagement around public art, and identified strategies to reengage the previous city arts council. Students in a design thinking course identified strategies for engaging local residents around public art.

Class: PA 5253: Planning Participation Processes (fall 2013)
InstructorCarissa Schively Slotterback(Humphrey School of Public Affairs)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectsTeam 1 Report  |  Team 2 Report  |  Team 2 Poster

Class: LS 5100: Design Thinking
InstructorVirajita Singh (College of Design)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectFinal Report

Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan

Project Description: With the recent discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, the damage from the borer is an issue every community in the region will soon need to address. Roughly one-third of the trees in North St. Paul are ash, including 80% of the trees in parks and 80% of the trees on the north side of town. The City had no plan in place to respond to the invasion of the EAB, to remove dead or dying trees before they become a public hazard, or to replace trees so the community maintains its tree canopy. Teams of students in urban forestry completed an inventory of trees in North St. Paul, used a cost-benefit analysis to develop recommendations for managing EAB in the city, and developed a protocol for how to gain community support for the management plan. In addition, a course in adult education developed a plan for how to communicate the risks of EAB to homeowners.

Class: FR 4501/5501: Research Problems: Urban Forestry—Biology and Management (spring 2014)
InstructorGary Johnson (College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student Project:  EAB Management Plan Report  |  Presentation

Class: OLPD 5204: Designing Adult Education Programs (spring 2014)
InstructorCatherine Twohig (College of Education and Human Development)
City Project Lead: Jon Fure, Community Development Intern, City of North St. Paul
Student ProjectCommunity Education Training Manual  |  EAB: Do I Have It? Factsheet  |  Project Poster

Stormwater Management

Project Description: Significant rain events in the last few years have overwhelmed the storm water systems in North St. Paul, creating localized flooding issues in several neighborhoods. In addition, most portions of the city drain to Kohlman Lake, one of the four lakes that make up the Phalen Chain of Lakes. Kohlman Lake is impaired for phosphorus, which causes potentially dangerous algae blooms, and storm water from North St. Paul contributes to the problem. Students in a civil engineering course investigated cost-effective solutions to remediate local flooding issues and reduce total suspended solids and phosphorus load to local and downstream lakes.

Class: CE 5511: Urban Hydrology (spring 2014)
Instructor: John Gulliver (College of Science and Engineering)
CIty Project Lead: Morgan Dawley, contract city engineer for North St. Paul/WSB Associates
Student Projects:

Casey Lake Subwatershed:  Final Report  |  Presentation  |  Project Poster
Urban Ecology Center Subwatershed:  Final Report  |  Presentation  |  Project Poster
Silver Lake Subwatershed:  Final Report  |  Presentation  |  Project Poster