CIRCLE PINES — Circle Pines will soon join more than 120 cities who are becoming mindful about sustainability.

The idea to join the program came about after City Council members, Mayor Dave Bartholomay and City Administrator Patrick Antonen attended a session on the topic of sustainability at the League of Minnesota Cities Annual Conference June 26-28 in Duluth.

At the council’s July 9 meeting, Goldberg suggested the city consider joining the program. “Circle Pines really does a lot of things around sustainability, and we should get recognized for that work, our citizens should be aware of it and we should apply for and get recognition through the GreenStep Cities program,” he said.

Metropolitan Council Member (District 10) Peter Lindstrom explained, “(GreenStep Cities) is one of the best programs that I have been a part of both working with and also in my mayor role” (he is a former mayor of Falcon Heights). “It is a voluntary challenge, assistance and recognition program, and there are 29 best practices all centered around sustainability. With 850 some cities in Minnesota, it would be difficult for all of the cities to have their own sustainability plans. There are currently about 124 cities in the program.”

The Minnesota GreenStep Cities program helps cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals. The continuous improvement program is based upon a menu of 29 optional best practices. Each best practice can be implemented, as decided by city elected officials, staff and community members, by completing one or more actions from a list of four to eight actions to a 1-, 2- or 3-star level. The voluntary actions are tailored to all Minnesota cities, focus on cost savings and energy use reduction and encourage civic innovation.

In fall 2007, Minnesota's Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) held regional listening sessions around the state to discuss community-based energy opportunities and the state's Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. The idea of creating a free sustainable cities program that would challenge, assist and recognize cities that were "green stars" was born.

This idea was taken up by the 2008 Legislature, which directed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Division of Energy Resources at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and CERTs to recommend actions that cities could elect to take on a voluntary basis. Representatives from cities, nonprofit organizations, businesses and state government agencies provided the outline for the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program, which began in June 2010.

Mayor Dave Bartholomay said the city looked into the program when it was first established, but never joined. “We do a lot of these things already. It might be a good idea to join the group and see how far we already are and what we can do to get a little further,” he said.

Antonen explained city staff had already contacted the GreenStep Cities program and were waiting to hear back on what “step” they qualify for with all the city has done and continues to do to be sustainable. Antonen was hopeful the city could jump to step 3.

Some green steps the city has already taken include:

The ongoing iron enhanced sand filter project.

Converting streetlights to LEDs along with lights at the public works facility; next to convert will be City Hall. The city's monument sign is also LED.

The installation of three infiltration basins.

Water reuse system at Baldwin Park.

The city's extensive park/trail system.

Councilwoman Jennifer Rauner said, “It is great to join a group like that and let our surrounding communities take the information that we have learned with the stuff that we have done and start to implement that in their cities. It highlights why Circle Pines is a great city to live in, because we do all these things that people might not be aware of.”

Goldberg noted that by joining the program, “It makes our citizens aware of the good work we are doing and it puts sustainability on our radar and forces us to continue to look at it, analyze it and think about what we want to do moving forward.”

 

Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or quadnews@presspubs.com.  

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