Community Spotlights 2012
Arden Hills, MN
Meagan Beekman, AICP
City Planner, Recycling Coordinator
City of Arden Hills
How long have you been working for the community?
I have been working for Arden Hills for four and a half years.
What is the greatest part of your job?
As the only planner of a small community, I love the wide range of projects that I get to work on. I amthe City Planner, Recycling Coordinator, and Webmaster for the City. I work on day-to-day planning,code enforcement, long-range small area plans, Comprehensive Plan updates, land use requests andeverything else you could imagine. I really like the politics of working with developers, the Council, anddifferent departments on a particular project to find solutions to concerns.
What is a unique fact or characteristic about your community?
Arden Hills was incorporated in 1951 largely to create a municipality that would address the 2,300acre Twin City's Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) when it would eventually be decommissioned.With the TCAAP site, approximately 70 percent of Arden Hills land area is tax exempt. Arden Hillshas approximately 9,500 residents, but has over 13,000 jobs, and is home to two universities, theheadquarters of the cardiac division of Boston Scientific, Land-o-Lakes, and Smiths Medical.
Any new projects on the horizon?
In the last year Arden Hills has been working with Ramsey County and the Minnesota Vikings on apossible stadium project on 260 acres of the 2,300 acre former TCAAP site. As part of that proposalan additional 170 acres would be sold to the Vikings for private development. As Minnesota's largestsuperfund site, the former TCAAP area offers a great opportunity for development that benefits theregion, while putting fallow land back into productive reuse.
Jenn Reed Moses, AICP
City of Duluth
Duluth (pop. 86,000) is located at the southwestern tip of Lake Superior with wooded trout streams, steep slopes, and magnificent vistas. Duluth has maintained a stable population over the last couple decades and, due to the presence of three colleges, has seen a rise in the college-age population. Duluth also has a booming medical industry. Most recent projects have been redevelopment near Lake Superior or the hospitals, and the construction of several new school buildings. To implement its 2006 Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the city recently adopted a unified development code.
1. How long have you been working for the community?
I've been here for two and a half years. Before that, I was a planner in the Twin Cities. Since I grew up in the Duluth area, it was always a dream to move back.
2. What is the greatest part of your job?
Working for a city of this size, with so much going on, allows me a great deal of variety in my work projects, which I love. At the same time, the city is small enough to be able to build relationships with citizens and customers. Seeing Lake Superior every day is a huge perk.
3. What is a unique fact or characteristic about your community?
Outside Magazine has rated Duluth in its top ten list of "America's Greatest Outside Towns."
4. Any new projects on the horizon?
There are plans to redevelop an existing middle school across the street from the University of Minnesota Duluth. The mixed-use redevelopment would include student housing, restaurants, and retail. Two new data centers have recently been built, and the sale of several school properties could result in additional redevelopment. Personally, I'm excited about a new brewpub being developed on a former industrial site in Canal Park, simply for the outdoor dining overlooking the lake.
Albert Lea, MN
City Planner/Community Development Director
City of Albert Lea
Albert Lea, Minnesota is the place that all signs point to, just check out the major freeway interchanges.We are a city of about 18,000 located at the interchange of I-35 and I-90 about 9 miles north of the Iowaborder. I-35 crosses Albert Lea Lake reminding people that they have arrived at Minnesota, the Land OfLakes. We are a diversified regional center with major industry, retail, and medical as the core of oureconomy, and your Twin’s Hot Dog comes from Albert Lea from Sweigert, a subsidiary of Cargill andyour ribs from Select Foods. Our medical center is a member of the Mayo Clinic Health System and weare blessed with a full oncology center, dialysis center and are one of three locations in the state with ahyperbaric center. Mayo employs over 1,200.
I, Bob Graham, have had the privilege to be the City Planner/Community Development Director inAlbert Lea for 32 years, coming here from St. Louis Park. Over the years my role as planner has includedoperation of the Housing Authority, grants ($15,000,000 in successful grants), Zoning, ComprehensivePlanning, daily planning and whatever else a planner does, since I am the only staff in the CommunityDevelopment Division. A major part of my job at this time is continuing the sustainability of the AARPBlue Zones Vitality Project including the development of space for the National Vitality Center and doing26 presentations on the project since Jan. 2010, including various cities in Minnesota, Iowa, St. Louis,Westcliffe, CO., the National Recreation and Parks Association Congress, and planning conferences. Theproject locally has resulted in modifications to Capital Improvement priorities and over five miles ofnew sidewalk and trail construction, adoption of a complete streets ordinance and amendment to theComprehensive Plan, worksite wellness programs, healthy dining options in over 30 restaurants, and anon street bikeway.
Until 2001 the City was characterized as a packing town with a major meat slaughtering and packingfacility in the center of the community. Although we had many other industries resulting in projectsfrom Greater Jobs, Inc. (starting as a national pilot program in 1943 and the home of the first communityindustrial park), the destruction of the packing plant by fire in 2001 changed the character of thecommunity.
The fire was followed by Albert Lea Area Listens, a visioning program carried out by communityvolunteers and facilitators, that set the community goals for years to come. The community now strivesto have the character of a clean healthy community with good industrial and medical jobs and beautifulresidential opportunities.
Albert Lea is an exciting place to work and live. It has an expression of prosperity, the largest NationalCommercial Historic District in Minnesota, beautiful buildings, and has always been the center of firsts;the first high school band in Minnesota, the official State Fair Band for 43 years, the first communityindustrial park, first community day care center, a significant medical facility, and the first Blue ZonesCertified City in the world.
We have a successful Family Services Collaborative, which I have chaired for 16 years. We recentlyreceived a planning grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield to modify our healthy families program by usinggraduate families of the program to be future home visitors.
New projects can best be classified as opportunity. We have recently completed two industrial parks
totaling 190 acres with opportunity for wet industry and major distribution centers. We recently becamethe national distribution center for Larson Doors. Current projects include a 66 unit Holiday Inn Express,a Kwik Trip, and major shoe outlet.