Waconia Sun Patriot: Watertown selected for U of M project

By Ethan Groothuis, Waconia Sun Patriot, Mar 27, 2015

Watertown was selected as one of the communities in Carver County that will partner with the University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP) for the 2015-2016 academic year.

The program works by giving graduate and professional students in a wide range of disciplines — from architecture, planning and engineering to business, environmental sciences and the humanities — the opportunity to work with sustainability-related projects through yearlong partnerships between the University of Minnesota and Minnesota communities. RCP chooses a city or county partner through a competitive request-for-proposal process and matches those project needs with University of Minnesota courses.

According to a release by the RCP, the other communities included in the Carver County application were the Carver County Community Development Agency, SouthWest Transit, Independent School District 112, and the Cities of Victoria and Chaska. 

“Carver County and its partners are very pleased to be selected for this partnership with the University of Minnesota,” said Carver County Board Chairman Randy Maluchnik. “The County’s proposal leverages long-standing relationships between partner agencies and communities in Carver County to address diverse challenges that result from the growth we are experiencing. The results University of Minnesota students will produce through this partnership will benefit our community for years to come.”

City Administrator Shane Fineran had announced at a previous city council meeting that he was applying for the program, urging the council to consider [projects] they may want to be worked on. One of the proposals for Watertown was establishing a new marketing plan. 

“[The RCP] is a really neat project,” Fineran said. “It is a great opportunity for Watertown. 

Carver County’s winning proposal included 30-plus other potential projects, including enhancing bike and pedestrian facilities near park-and-rise locations, creating safe routes to schools, providing school-based mental health programs, developing alternative energy sources, evaluating stormwater reuse opportunities, developing employment opportunities for ex-offenders, assessing the needs of adult learners, expanding school readiness and early childhood programs for high-risk populations, engaging with new immigrant groups and communities of color, exploring opportunities for preservation of a historic farmstead and evaluating the County’s aquatic invasive species program.

“We’re very excited about our upcoming partnership with Carver County,” said RCP director and Humphrey School of Public Affairs associate professor Carissa Schively Slotterback. “The enthusiasm of staff from the County and its partner cities and organizations as well as their clear commitment to advancing sustainability and resilience will ensure a productive and enjoyable collaboration that will benefit Carver County and provide community-engaged learning opportunities for University of Minnesota students. “

Over the next few months, staff from RCP and from Carver County will begin to  define the scope of the individual projects and match them with University courses, starting in the fall of 2015.

Past [partnerships] include the ongoing work with the city of Rosemount, North St. Paul and Minnetonka for the 2013–14 and 2012–13 academic year respectively.

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