Minnetonka Patch: U of M, Minnetonka partner to enhance city

As part of the Resilient Communities Project, University of Minnesota students and staff will conduct studies in Minnetonka on things such as stormwater management, housing options and enhancing neighborhood identities.

by Becky Glander

The city of Minnetonka and the University of Minnesota have become partners.

Minnetonka elected officials, city staff and residents joined University of Minnesota academic leaders on Sept. 14 to launch the Resilient Communities Project (RCP), an initiative that will bring the expertise of hundreds of graduate students and the University to sustainability-related projects identified by Minnetonka.

This is the pilot year for the project, and the city of Minnetonka applied and was selected. The partnership lasts for one year, but an on-going relationship will remain.

“The Resilient Communities Project is an excellent opportunity to partner with the University of Minnesota in completing some of the many projects that city council and staff have identified as important to maintaining Minnetonka’s quality of life now and into the future,” said Geralyn Barone, Minnetonka city manager. “We look forward to seeing the results of the project, and hope it will provide students with a valuable learning experience.”

The project is a win-win for the university and the city, according to Carissa Schively Slotterback, RCP faculty director and Humphrey School of Public Affairs associate professor. Minnetonka will gain the expertise of students and professors, and the students will gain real world experience.

"We are excited to advance an innovative and collaborative model of sustainability education that can build long-term capacity in the partner community, create new opportunities for engaged teaching for faculty, and train the next generation of students to address the challenges of building sustainable and resilient communities," Schively Slotterback said.

This fall, students and faculty from 11 University courses, including architecture, law, urban planning, public policy, natural resources science and management and bioproducts and biosystems engineering, will work in Minnetonka. Faculty come from seven colleges across the University.

Projects will include stormwater management and illicit discharge regulation and training, a study of density and housing options, water and energy conservation, surface water projection, an evaluation of post-development project impacts, a prioritization plan for water resources, an evaluation of conservation development standards, life cycle analysis of street designs, and a study of approaches to enhancing neighborhood identities.

The partnership is the first of many anticipated in the years to come. Each academic year, RCP will choose a city partner through a competitive request-for-proposal process, help identify potential projects based on community-identified sustainability issues and needs, and match the city's project needs with University courses. At the conclusion of the partnership, RCP will help the city create a strategy to evaluate and monitor ongoing sustainability efforts.

About the Institute on the Environment

The University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment discovers solutions to Earth's most pressing environmental problems by conducting transformative research, developing the next generation of global leaders and building world-changing partnerships. Learn more online at www.environment.umn.edu.

About the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs

The University of Minnesota's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) connects the resources of the University of Minnesota with the interests and needs of urban communities and the region. CURA pursues its urban and regional mission by facilitating and supporting connections between state and local governments, neighborhoods, and nonprofit organizations, and relevant resources at the University, including faculty and students from appropriate campuses, colleges, centers or departments. Learn more online at www.cura.umn.edu.

Originally published in the Minnetonka Patch, September 17, 2012

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