The City of Coon Rapids is moving on up when it comes to going green. The city recently became a Step 3 city in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program. The program is voluntary and helps cities achieve their sustainability and quality of life goals.
Olivia Dorow Hovland, who oversees the program for the city, became the city's sustainability planner earlier this year. It's her job to make sure Coon Rapids continues down the green path in the years to come.
"A lot of the work involves items that we have been doing and adopted since 2014, so when we became a Step 1 city, that recognized that we had done a certain number of things and then we've added to our repertoire over the last seven years," Dorow Hovland said.
Things like purchasing all LED lights for street lights and traffic signals, adding electric vehicle charging stations at City Hall and at the Coon Rapids Ice Center, identifying and completing trail gaps to better facilitate walking and biking, improving recycling services, and the list goes on and on.
"Now at Step 3 we have completed over 95 actions from the 29 best practices. We have been doing a lot of really good work and we've met all the requirements, and so we are sort of at the top of the action game for the green step program," said Dorow Hovland.
The Minnesota GreenStep Cities best practices cover five categories: Buildings and Lighting, Land Use, Transportation, Environmental Management, and Sustainable Development. About 16% of Minnesota cities currently participate in the program.
"We're doing a lot of things and we are really trying to take sustainability and put it into every piece of the work that is done in city hall and around the city," said Dorow Hovland.
Next up for Coon Rapids: Steps 4 and 5 which are based on performance measures. But ultimately it's about much more than steps and recognition.
"I think for residents this shows that we are prioritizing the resilience and the economic sustainability of the city, we are trying to be really responsible with the resources that we are stewards of from city parks to the city water system, all of these different areas that do touch residents' lives," Dorow Hovland concluded.