BY SARAH HORNER, St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 19, 2013
North St. Paul is positioned to amp up its sustainability efforts.
The city beat out six others to become the University of Minnesota's Resilient Communities Project partner for the 2013-14 academic year.
The partnership means university students from a variety of disciplines will help North St. Paul make headway on several sustainability-related projects in the small city.
“It’s really exciting,” said Nate Ehalt, North St. Paul’s community development director. “A lot of these are projects we’ve been thinking about for a couple years now … hopefully this will start to move them forward.”
This is the second year of the program, which matches a Minnesota community with university students in the hopes of providing cities with additional resources to reach their sustainability goals while giving students hands-on experience, according to Mike Greco, program manager for the university’s Resilient Communities Project.
North St. Paul was selected by a review committee from among seven cities that submitted proposals. Minnetonka was selected last year.
“They provided us with a really good range of projects that we are very excited about,” Greco said of North St. Paul. “We also saw a strong commitment to sustainability principals.”
In its application, North St. Paul identified 18 projects for which it’s looking for help, including developing live/work housing in its downtown area, planning community gardens, creating an environmental education program and developing a public art plan for the city.
Many of the projects grew out of the city’s recently created redevelopment master plan, Ehalt said.
In many cases, it’s likely students will be helping the city research the various initiatives. Their findings will be compiled in a final report presented to the city at the end of their course, Greco said.
North St. Paul is kicking in $25,000 to help cover administrative and other costs related to the program.
“This is going to come with a lot of work, but it will be great for our community,” Ehalt said.
Sarah Horner joined the Pioneer Press in 2011. She covers legal affairs in St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs.. Sarah Horner can be reached at 651-228-5539. Follow her at twitter.com/hornsarah.