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City notes: Rosemount has made progress

This week during the State of the City address, I discussed the progress Rosemount has made during the economic recovery and the prospects for even greater strength in the years ahead. I also talked about what the city and community must do to support a strong future.

A common theme is our effort to ensure Rosemount’s sustainability. It basically means we work on policies and actions that protect our resources and our economic strength, today and in the long term.

I announced during the address that Rosemount has achieved a milestone in those efforts. For the past year, we have worked to obtain certification through the STAR Communities program, the only city in Minnesota to do so.

STAR Communities is a nonprofit that helps cities measure their status in a series of benchmarks dedicated to sustainability. It’s a measure of economic, environmental and social performance.

We have now learned that Rosemount has earned the 3-star, “leadership” level in sustainability. That puts us by these measures on par with larger cities like Indianapolis and Des Moines. It also provides guideposts to areas in which Rosemount may want to focus. My colleagues on the city council and I will be studying that in the weeks ahead. You can learn more at www.ci.rose mount.mn.us/STAR

 Sustainability is also a common theme in the extensive work we’re doing with the University of Minnesota as a result of being picked as this year’s host for the Resilient Communities Project. More than 400 students from the U have been working on projects related to Rosemount. They focus on how to maintain and supplement the community’s assets.

One group is taking a close look at development in Rosemount. You can help by answering an anonymous online survey the students created at www.ci.rosemount.mn.us/survey. And the students are inviting the community to a meeting next week to discuss these topics. It will take place on Tuesday, March 31, beginning at 6 p.m. in the community center.

Many of the students will wrap up their work and report to the city later this spring. I expect we will find many benefits in the years ahead from the expertise of the university’s faculty and the inquisitiveness and energy of the students.

To succeed at enhancing Rosemount’s sustainability we have to look for opportunities big and small. One project was brought to us by a private firm, offering to install solar panels on some of our buildings, including city hall. If the project qualifies for state credits, there will be no cost to the city and a 20 percent break on our electric bills for each outfitted building.

And there is a wide range of other initiatives involving Rosemount, including the experimental wind turbine on UMore property and a solar farm just approved east of Highway 52. We are seeking grants to study the reuse of millions of gallons of clean output from a treatment plant. And we have long pursued new transit opportunities, from increased bus service, to rail concepts with routes to Rochester and Iowa. Not all these projects will come to fruition, but any of them could make an important contribution to our sustainability.

As I indicated in this week’s address, the state of Rosemount is very strong. Our efforts toward sustainability will help make that the case for the next year, and for the next generations.

Mayor Bill Droste authored this column.

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