Edina, MN 54th Street

Client: City of Edina, Minnesota; with SEH

Community engagement design and implementation: This engineering design for a street reconstruction presented a variety of challenges. The community grappled with ways for cars, buses, bikes, and pedestrians to all travel safely on this narrow street; control stormwater flow into scenic Minnehaha Creek in Arden Park; and minimize impacts on mature trees. Using a collaborative, inclusive, multi-step process that incorporated both traditional and innovative techniques to ensure all voices were heard and contributed to the City Council’s decisions.

…Different, better and more sophisticated sampling and information collection methods were utilized to ensure inclusiveness of all ages – from our youngest to our oldest residents. We all matter, a lot.

Utilizing students and canvassing the neighborhood knocking on doors, asking people walking by, talking to kids, and asking those using the area was brilliant, and effective.  In the past, many residents felt that a few connected individuals were making decisions for the entire community, and didn’t feel it was worth the time or effort to get involved because it wouldn’t matter. Time is a scarcity nobody wants to waste.  

This project’s transparency fuels trust, options to provide feedback have been easy (the name your neighborhood was impossible, most gave up), and neighbors feel like they have a voice.  Not everyone is going to get everything they want, but reading our neighbor’s comments and concerns helps us all to better understand issues and the overall needs of our community.

Without knowing it, this project has made progress in regaining the trust of Edina residents, it was slipping.  Now, residents I talk to while walking my dog, in my neighborhood, or chat with around the Creek and Arden Park,  say they feel they have a voice – and it mattered.

I hope the Edina uses this 54th bridge model as a model for future community based project endeavors! Well done. Thank you.

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