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City hopes to become 'resilient'

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news Rosemount, 55024
Rosemount Town Pages
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The University of Minnesota Resilient Communities Project will pick one community to partner with for the 2013-2014 academic year. The city of Rosemount hopes to be that community partner.

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Through the partnership, students and faculty from across the university collaborate with a Minnesota community to address its self-defined sustainability-related needs through course-based projects, according to the university's website. The program was piloted last year in the city of Minnetonka.

The Rosemount City Council approved a resolution to apply for the program during its Tuesday night meeting.

Mayor Bill Droste said it could be a wonderful opportunity to work with the university and take advantage of their resources.

City planner Eric Zweber said city staff is excited about the possibility of being selected for the program because for a small price Rosemount could receive quality research on a wide variety of issues regarding sustainability. Cost of the program is $15,000 plus city staff time.

The university started the program last year based on a similar program at the University of Oregon. It piloted the program in Minnetonka. City planner Jason Lindahl said staff from Minnetonka felt they received a high return on their investment and received a quality project.

"We're confident the city would receive high quality products as well," said Lindahl.

Lindahl said the program provides the city the opportunity to have access to the university's vast sustainability expertise and offers a unique chance to assess a wide variety of issues in a short time frame.

The selected community will have access to expertise in fields including architecture, planning, engineering, business, environmental sciences and humanities. In turn, university students will have an opportunity to get real-world experience within their chosen academic field.

In its application the city identified a number of areas of possible research including housing issues, communication and neighborhood engagement, recreation and open space, sustainability and green technology and land development.

During the council meeting Jeff Weisensel suggested an area on transportation be added.

Lindahl said the areas identified are issues the city has been working on and will continue to tackle as the UMore Park project moves forward in the coming years.

The university will chose its community partner in mid-March. The Resilient Communities Project is an initiative of the Sustainability Faculty Network at the University of Minnesota.

After making its selection, staff from the Resilient Communities Project will work with the chosen community this spring to refine locally identified projects. Then they will match projects with graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses at the university.

According to the staff memo, they will continue to work on the project through the summer to develop scope-of-work documents for each project and the participating course which will begin in the fall. There will be a kick-off event held sometime in the fall. The projects will continue through the spring when staff from the program will work on strategies to implement and evaluate each project.

For more information on the Resilient Communities Project visit rcp.umn.edu. There's also information available on what the program accomplished in the city of Minnetonka at eminnetonka. com.

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Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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