bike and pedestrian space

What Is Driving the Demand for Bike and Pedestrian Park Space?

May 20, 2024

By Jordan Gedrose, Landscape Architect, WSB

Published by League of Minnesota Cities in the May-June month’s issue of the Minnesota Cities Magazine. MN Cities Magazine May-June

In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for bike and pedestrian park spaces across the nation, which has also become prevalent in cities across Minnesota. The trend reflects a shift in societal values. There are several factors we are seeing connected to this trend, including public engagement influencing demand, recognition of bicycle and pedestrian park space benefits, and the effects these types of park spaces have on city infrastructure.

Public engagement

Public engagement is increasingly encouraging communities to prioritize investments in bicycle and pedestrian park space, reflecting a growing interest in recreational spaces and active transportation corridors. As community members and stakeholders become more vocal about their desire for healthier, safer, and more sustainable communities, decision makers are responding by allocating resources to expand and enhance infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.

Advancements in technology, such as social media, have provided new methods to collect citizens’ feedback and has led to an increase in community engagement participation. These methods allow cities to notify community members about opportunities through a variety of channels, which reach a high percentage of the people in each area. Online interactive maps, comment boards, and virtual meetings — methods spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic — allow for greater participation and input than only hosting in-person events.

The pandemic also underscored the importance of outdoor spaces for recreation and social distancing, while also emphasizing park spaces and trails that cater to diverse user groups. By engaging the community, cities and counties can clearly understand needs and are better prepared to provide meaningful bike and pedestrian experiences.

Health benefits

Bicycle and pedestrian park spaces offer a multitude of benefits that contribute to the health, activity, and environment of a city. Regarding health: bike and pedestrian park spaces promote physical activity and healthier lifestyles by providing safe and accessible trails for walking, jogging, and cycling, which can lead to a reduction in the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. These spaces are designed to be accessible to all age groups and abilities. Research provided by City Parks Alliance found that walking loops increase park use by 80%.


Infrastructure that allows bicycle and pedestrian park spaces fosters connectivity between neighborhoods, business districts, and recreational areas — enhancing overall mobility and accessibility for residents and visitors alike.

Communities, big and small, are experiencing improved connectivity, heightened accessibility to amenities, and a revitalization of public spaces spurred on by bike and pedestrian focused infrastructure. Properties located near parks and trail corridors typically attract investment, as parks and trails are often viewed as desirable amenities that enhance quality of life and contribute to a higher standard of living. According to City Parks Alliance, houses near parks or trails have 8-10% higher property values than those in the surrounding community.

Bike and pedestrian park spaces contribute to the creation of vibrant and inclusive communities by providing opportunities for social interaction and recreation — fostering a sense of belonging and connection among residents. These spaces provide opportunities for people to connect with nature, even in urban environments, which has shown positive effects on mental well-being and reducing stress.

Environmental factors

In regard to the environment, prioritizing bike and pedestrian infrastructure promotes active transportation and encourages residents to opt for emission-free modes of transportation, reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. By promoting active transportation and reducing reliance on cars, bicycle and pedestrian park spaces contribute to more sustainable and resilient cities, with improved mobility, accessibility, and environmental stewardship. Bicycle and pedestrian corridors also provide habitat corridors for wildlife, contributing to the biodiversity within a community.

Notable challenges

While these spaces offer many benefits, a few challenges of incorporating bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure may include funding, maintenance, site constraints, and community opposition. The expansion of bicycle and pedestrian park space significantly impacts city infrastructure, ushering in a wave of changes to communities.

Cities across Minnesota are seeing an increase in demand for bicycle and pedestrian park space attributed to an increase in community engagement participation and acknowledgement of the health, recreational, and environmental benefits. Cities have continued to adapt to this evolving infrastructure demand through comprehensive planning efforts and investment in park and trail infrastructure. By implementing these improvements, communities can enhance their quality of life for residents and position themselves as an attractive destination for tourists.

Jordan is a landscape architect with 8 years of experience. He has a passion to harmoniously integrate design into the natural environment. Throughout his career Jordan has worked with many communities to deliver transformational park and streetscape improvement projects. He is committed to collaborating with the client and providing thoughtful design input to create unique outdoor spaces that respect the surrounding physical and social context.

[email protected] | 612.263.0687

Four Ways to Build a Resilient City Through Zoning and Urban Development

March 11, 2024
By Nate Sparks, Sr Professional Community Planner, WSB

In the last several years, the federal government has passed many programs that provide funding for projects and communities who incorporate sustainability and resiliency. Cities across the country are looking for ways to integrate these concepts into their community planning, not only because they are important and meaningful ideas, but doing so can open their community up to additional funding. Here are some tips to get started for community leaders that are interested in becoming a more sustainable community.

Establish Community Goals in the Comprehensive Plan

What does being a sustainable community mean? Do your residents want to encourage alternative energy sources? Are they concerned about stormwater management? There are many different forms that this can take.  It is important that you have an established community vision. Adding a chapter into your city’s Comprehensive Plan is the ideal approach to take. Setting a big picture vision helps to establish what ordinance changes you pursue.

Prioritize Stormwater Management

The intrusion of improper elements into a city’s stormwater system can be very detrimental. To mitigate against such impacts, it is important to incorporate stormwater management techniques into your zoning ordinance. Setting an impervious surface maximum per building site in lieu of a lot coverage standard is a key first step. Establishing creative ways to allow exceptions for non-conforming lots or protecting sensitive areas with further limits in can be an ideal way to establish proper protections. Both options require careful consideration and proper ordinance writing.

Zoning For Alternative Energy Sources

Reduced energy demand may improve the reliability of the electricity grid. However, a city’s zoning ordinance may prohibit certain alternative energy systems. Solar panels and wind energy conversion systems that residents wish to use may not be allowed. Setting reasonable standards around such uses is a good way to encourage alternative energy solutions. Solar farms are not always appropriate for all areas and creating a thoughtful framework around this concept is of the utmost importance to a community. Finding solutions to resolve conflicts between competing community goals and proper management is ideal.

Subdivision Ordinance Innovation

Subdivision ordinances establish regulations necessary to allow the division of property for additional development rights. Establishing a framework for environmental protection in your subdivision ordinance will allow for a reasonable balance between development rights and environmental protection. For example, many communities explore concepts where population density can be increased if, in exchange, additional protections are offered to ensure long-term management of protected areas.

How we can help

The professionals at WSB can provide guidance and expertise in improving your regulatory systems to achieve your sustainable community goals in relation to sustainability. We have expertise in comprehensive planning, grant writing, and the preparation of ordinances that can help your organization achieve their goals related to sustainability.

Nate has been a community development professional for over 20 years. He has worked with a wide variety of communities providing guidance to municipalities of various sizes and types on a broad array of topics. He has significant experience working in townships and smaller cities which often face unique issues. His work includes writing comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances for several area communities, as well as serving the community point person for planning and zoning issues for 10 area cities and townships.

[email protected] | 952.221.0540

The Value of Partnership to Secure Community Grant Funding

March 11, 2024
By Kim Lindquist, Director of Community Planning, WSB

Governments have a wide range of responsibilities when it comes to serving their communities. State and federal grant funding can be a boon, allowing local governments to get more value from their budgets and meet a variety of community needs.

However, the process required to receive grant funding can be complex and time intensive. For many county and municipal employees, finding, writing, filing and tracking grants may require the time and resources that staff just don’t have.

That’s where partnership with outside experts to help manage the grant process can give your community a competitive edge.

Currently, WSB is contracting with Otter Tail County in Minnesota to provide grant writing and administration services. Through WSB’s Community Planning team, Otter Tail County is able to relay priorities, receive up-to-date information on available grant options, have grants written and filed and receive administrative support after funding is received – freeing up critical time and resources for competing community priorities.

Here are some tips and ideas our experts bring to communities to help them compete and secure grant funding. .

Knowing How and When to File

Understanding when to apply and what grants best fit certain projects can be a bit of an art. For example, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grants typically run on a July to July cycle where only a set amount of funding will be available each year. So what time during the cycle a community applies can have an effect on how much a project may receive. In addition, many state agency grant programs depend on funding from the Legislature where policy decisions directly impact what may be available in a fiscal year.

Through a regularly updated database of grant opportunities, counties and municipal staff are able to see what grants are available. Many communities use this database while also partnering with WSB’s subject matter experts to create a tailor-made grant strategy.

For instance, Otter Tail County is currently able to access a digital catalog of grant examples specifically crafted to fit their particular project focuses. This is on top of regular meetings with WSB’s team to dive into deeper specifics or adjust or expand their plans. If a client initially wants to focus on parks and trails, but then later wishes to include looking into housing projects they’ll have extensive information readily available with a trustworthy team ready to assist.

From Identification Through Administration

Just as identifying and writing grants can be a tall order, many communities can struggle with tracking funding and ensuring that all grant requirements are completed. For example, the partnership with Otter Tail County was generated from their staff understanding their own limits in time and manpower to manage the grants on top of their busy schedules. To meet that need, WSB provides support in the form of administering the grant throughout the entire process. Care and attention is paid to ensure that after funding is received, all grant requirements are adhered to – a unique service WSB provides to clients that helps provide peace of mind.

The Support Needed For Success

Counties and municipalities face hurdles – from staff time and limited resources to not knowing where to start with finding the right grant for a project. Digging through a multitude of agencies and grants and understanding the sometimes-complex requirements of each individual grant can be a tall order. That is why partnership and tapping into outside experts can make a big difference.

From initial meetings to discuss goals through receiving funding and providing administrative support, WSB works with communities from start to finish. If your county or municipality requires support maneuvering through the complex grant filing process, WSB is here to help and be a partner with your community.

Kim is a planning professional with over 30 years of experience overseeing a variety of complex planning projects. She has worked in high growth communities with developers and the public on entitlements for residential development and attracting business to the city.

[email protected] | 763.287.8303

Kim Lindquist
Making Public Infrastructure a Catalyst for Economic Development and Community Prosperity

Making Public Infrastructure a Catalyst for Economic Development and Community Prosperity

February 6, 2024

By Jay Kennedy, Vice President, WSB

In the vast landscape of economic development, one key piece often remains hidden in plain sight: infrastructure. It’s not just about building roads and bridges; it’s about constructing the foundation for thriving communities and enticing businesses to bring jobs and investment.

Communities that invest in infrastructure with an eye to the future ensure they are the place that people and businesses want to be. Infrastructure is the lifeline that sustains economic progress. From utilities to public transportation to drinking water facilities, when these essential components are robust, designed with intention to the future and well-maintained, they create a fertile ground for businesses and communities to thrive.

Communicating with Businesses & Planning for the Future

The ‘build it and they will come’ approach, although powerful, isn’t the sole ingredient for sustainable growth. Communities need to actively engage with businesses and create an environment that welcomes investment.

Businesses looking for a community in which to invest can bring millions, sometimes even billions of dollars with them. Effective communication between communities and businesses is critical when it comes to infrastructure development. When local leaders say, “we are open for business,” they need the infrastructure and planning to back it up. 

When communities have plans that account for future development, population growth and supporting infrastructure, businesses can see a vision of why they should place their investment in that community.  

Relieving Infrastructure Stress & New Opportunities

There are also situations where upgrades and redesign can alleviate pressure on existing infrastructure and open new opportunities. Improving efficiency in public transportation and redirecting traffic from small community roads to major roadways, for example, can benefit both residents and local businesses. What starts off as one project opens the door for developers wanting to be a part of an up-and-coming area.

As infrastructure pressure is relieved and economic growth continues, it is critical to have a dedicated team that can manage an expanding community. It sends the message that the community is dedicated to growth, attracting even more investment.   

The Ideal Community: Balancing Residential and Commercial Zones

An ideal community strikes a balance between residential and commercial land uses, as well as public spaces. People prefer to live close to work and amenities. A blend of both residential and commercial spaces not only enhances convenience for residents but also attracts businesses looking for a customer base and workforce in proximity.

Collaborating Across the State and Region

Cities looking at their long-term community plans must ensure they also align with county-level planning and broader regional plans. Cooperation and coordination among various levels of government means that an infrastructure project is not operating in a silo, but instead part of a larger plan to drive people and businesses to the region.

How WSB Can Help

In Texas and beyond, the success of public infrastructure projects and planning is driving economic development. WSB is playing a pivotal role in communities throughout Texas, where expertise in smart infrastructure planning and execution has significantly reduced stress on resources while actively attracting businesses to the area.

WSB’s team can help with everything from community planning to public engagement to designing major infrastructure projects and more. We can help your community find ways to bolster economic growth and build infrastructure that fosters the long-term success of your community and region. 

Jay is a Vice President leading Texas operations. He has over 30 years of experience overseeing the management, planning, coordination, design and construction of municipal and civil engineering projects. He works with staff and clients seeking new business opportunities and developing local staff.

[email protected] | 512.518.1819

Tips to Help Small Cities Secure Funding

January 15, 2024
By Nate Sparks, Sr Community Planner, WSB

From new housing to industrial park expansions, building projects of various shapes and sizes provide meaningful investments in communities but need adequate funding to move forward. Especially for smaller and rural cities where budgets and resources are often not as big as their more urban counterparts, having a proper plan in place to receive needed funding is critical. Without a vision, local leaders may find themselves chasing results and finding few.

It can become too easy to view funding applications and grants as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but without a plan in place, applicants may not only miss out on funding in competitive grant processes, but also miss funding opportunities that will best serve a particular project or goal.

With all this in mind, here are some ways small cities can give themselves an advantage when attempting to find funding for important projects.

Starting with What’s In Your Control

Before seeking external grants, it’s important to start by exploring the tools currently at your disposal. Tax abatement and tax increment financing (TIF) are two methods that cities can use to help push past hurdles and ensure priority projects have adequate funding. Many cities also explore fee waivers and reductions to help make projects more affordable and attainable.  These methods are within your control and may provide enough of a spark to get a project started. Redevelopment and Housing TIF Districts have 25-year durations which can capture a significant amount of revenue.

When outside funding is being pursued, it’s important to accurately consider the requirements of a grant to ensure that your community can meet the minimum requirements and provide a compelling narrative for qualification.

For example, the Innovative Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) grants require the applicant to pay 50% of the cost, so it’s important if a community is pursuing a grant that they are sure that any matching dollars can be met. Other grants may require the applicant to have a specific demographic makeup or to pay all workers involved in the project a certain wage. Smaller cities need to show caution and ensure they are pursuing the best funding sources for them, otherwise certain grants may become more of a financial burden than a smart investment.

Communicating a Clear Need

When seeking external funding, communities need a strategy to set themselves apart from other cities. Be able to articulate why a grant is being sought and why there is a need. Are you cleaning up and repurposing a brownfield? Are you expanding housing to meet a demand for workforce housing? Are you expanding an industrial park to meet a growth in population and to bring in more jobs? Are you in need of a new playground for the influx of younger residents in your community? Applicants need to understand and be able to communicate not only what the project is, but the value it brings to the community. 

Being able to demonstrate in your adopted community plans that what you are seeking is clearly meeting a goal of the city is an ideal and successful strategy. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your planning documents are up to date and reflect the current reality of the community. Having a handle on the community’s context and demographic factors are excellent ways to help demonstrate need and qualifications. These documents also help people from outside your community understand the importance of projects to your community.

Harnessing Regional Collaboration

No community, regardless of size, operates in a silo. Collaborating with surrounding communities, counties or other regional entities can be a great way to not only better your chances of receiving funding but increase the types of grants you can apply for. Grant applications at the county level, for example, can create a mass of multiple groups and voices and needs that can go a long way to help as it expresses a regional demand.

Being in communication with regional partners about your demonstrated needs will alert them to opportunities for collaboration.  Recently, a new playground in a low- to moderate-income city received the necessary funding to be built in part because the county was aware of the city’s goals. Grant funds were available to the county, which then contacted the city about the opportunity. WSB provided the knowledge and technical skill to help produce the plan, identify grants provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) where applicable and worked through the application process to make sure the city received the needed funding.

How WSB Can Help

WSB helps cities of all sizes through a comprehensive planning and visioning process which includes identifying priorities, providing demographic data, navigating TIF requirements, bringing in potential developer partners and even writing grant applications.

Whether for revitalizing downtown, constructing housing, expanding industrial parks, building a playground or any other project, WSB can work with cities from start to finish.

Nate has been a community development professional for over 20 years. He has worked with a wide variety of communities providing guidance to municipalities of various sizes and types on a broad array of topics. He has significant experience working in townships and smaller cities which often face unique issues. His work includes writing comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances for several area communities, as well as serving the community point person for planning and zoning issues for 10 area cities and townships.

[email protected] | 952.221.0540

How Leaders are Getting Smart About Community Development

August 14, 2023
By Kim Lindquist, Director of Community Planning and Economic Development, WSB

Thoughtful, comprehensive and smart community development takes planning. Communities need to be socially and economically resilient, as well as attract and advance projects that benefit residents, local businesses, and the community as a whole.

Data and technology are key to twenty-first century community development, and adapting to and adopting smart strategies and tools can help give communities the edge in building the city of tomorrow.

Here are some ways that cities are getting smart about community development.

Smart tools better promote cities and project opportunities to developers.

City leaders know that their community is the best place to live, work, and grow a business. But how is that easily communicated to the right audiences to attract development and investment? That is where smart tools come into play.

More than ever before, people expect to have information at their fingertips. For local leaders, that means ensuring that the community’s online presence is accessible and does a good job telling the story about why your community matters.

This also means having a place where developers can easily find what parcels of land are ready and available for development. Critical data for developer decision-making includes not only spaces that appear “shovel-ready,” but also what transportation systems are near a property, what utilities serve the area, and more.

Some utilities like Xcel Energy and the State of Minnesota allow developers to search their databases online to find development property that meets their individual needs. Being aware of, and partnering with these services, can also ensure cities are promoting what is available and ready for investment.

Use data to make communities more resilient.

Resiliency is key to community development, and a vital part of resiliency is having a diversified tax base with a good mix of residential, commercial, and industrial properties. This is also important to help communities withstand economic downturns.

When crafting comprehensive plans, building strategies to attract new development, and planning for growth, data is more important than ever. Most cities have a trove of data available and using that information in smart ways to guide decision-making helps ensure community durability and resiliency.   

Smart cities empower residents to engage and make communities more accessible.

Whether it’s a resident easily pulling up data on zoning and permitting to build a deck extension on their home or participating in public meetings on a community’s comprehensive plan, technology is making it easier for residents to engage with and be invested in the future of their city.

As cities plan new neighborhoods or projects for example, they can foster community buy-in by using virtual tools to illustrate what a completed project will look like. Advances in surveying and mapping also allow for more instantaneous engagement and better demonstrate to residents and developers where there are meaningful opportunities for growth.

Smart cities meet people where they are, and technology makes information easily available and accessible.

How WSB Can Help

WSB’s team of experts help local leaders with community planning, zoning applications, permitting, developing and executing comprehensive plans, and ensuring community resiliency. We work with cities every day to build smart tools and tactics into their community development strategies. 

Kim is a planning professional with over 30 years of experience overseeing a variety of complex planning projects. She has worked in high growth communities with developers and the public on entitlements for residential development and attracting business to the city.

[email protected] | 763.287.8303

Kim Lindquist

How Communities Can Prepare for Minnesota’s New Native Landscaping Law

August 14, 2023
By Alison Harwood, Director of Natural Resources, Kim Lindquist, Director of Community Planning & Economic Development and Jason Amberg, Director of Landscape Architecture, WSB

Native landscaping is growing in popularity, from pollinator-friendly plants and prairie grasses to rain gardens. Now the state of Minnesota passed a new law, effective July 1 of this year, that requires municipalities to allow property owners and occupants to install and maintain managed natural landscapes.

What are the pros and cons of this new law, and what does it mean for cities? Here are some things to consider.

What are the benefits of native landscaping?

Native landscaping covers a spectrum of options that includes a variety of landscaping. This could mean including only plant materials that grow naturally within the region to combinations that blend some areas of native plantings with some areas of manicured lawns or ornamental landscapes. Introducing native plant communities can provide critical resources for pollinators and provide a place for certain species to hibernate in winter. Rain gardens can help manage stormwater run off and reduce chemical runoff.

In addition to the natural benefits, there are economic benefits as well. Native landscaping reduces the need for irrigation and watering as plants are often more drought resistant. There are also cost savings from reduced fertilizer and chemical usage, as well as reduced maintenance costs.

How are native landscapes maintained?

The new Minnesota statute clearly states that native landscapes must be well-maintained, but what does that mean? In the statute, managed natural landscape is defined as a planned, intentional, and maintained planting of native or nonnative grasses, wildflowers, forbs, ferns, shrubs or trees, including but not limited to rain gardens, meadow vegetation and ornamental plants.

When thinking about a traditional manicured lawn, maintenance includes regular mowing throughout the spring and summer, regular watering when it gets dry and the application of fertilizers and herbicides. Then in fall, landscapes are often cleaned to remove dead plants and leaf litter.

For native landscapes, however, there is far less maintenance and plants often grow quite tall. In fact, the new law allows native grasses to grow taller than 8 inches high. Plus, as the weather turns cold, it’s better to leave the lawn and dead vegetation in place, providing quality habitat for wintering animals and insects.

What does this ordinance mean for local governments across Minnesota?

While many cities have adopted ordinances in the past decade allowing native landscaping, many others have ordinances prohibiting native landscaping or yards to have grass taller than 8 inches. This new state law supersedes local law, and it is important that communities update ordinances to comply with state statute.

Moreover, ordinance changes often take at least 60-90 days, so it’s important to act before next spring when many residents will begin lawn maintenance and planting. This ensures residents have a clear direction from the city.

Managing Public Engagement and Education

With this new law, there are a few issues local communities must navigate to ensure residents feel heard and legal requirements are made clear.

For residents concerned about unkempt lawns or who prefer neighborhoods to have a more manicured look, it’s important to communicate the benefits of native landscaping for the community and residents. Moreover, residents should be educated that while native grass and plants can grow taller than 8 inches, traditional manicured lawns cannot. And whether having natural landscaping or manicured lawns, noxious weeds are not allowed by this law change. Cities can and will still be enforcing unkempt lawns that do not meet state and local law requirements.

Educational community meetings, handouts, guidance on websites, and social media campaigns are all ways that cities can effectively communicate with residents about the new native landscaping laws.

How WSB Can Help

If you’re a city leader who needs help navigating ordinance changes around this new statute, WSB’s team can help.

Our landscaping team can also help clients design and build native landscaping into their public or private spaces, offering solutions that are aesthetically striking, environmentally friendly and economically beneficial.

Native landscaping is growing in popularity, helping bring people and nature closer together.

Alison leads the Natural Resources group. Her experience includes work in the natural resources field, including wetland and avian surveys, permitting, alternatives analysis, and environmental documentation for projects in both the public and private sector.

[email protected] | 612.360.1320

Kim is a planning professional with over 30 years of experience overseeing a variety of complex planning projects. She has worked in high growth communities with developers and the public on entitlements for residential development and attracting business to the city.

[email protected] | 763.287.8303

Kim Lindquist

Jason is the Director of Landscape Architecture at WSB with more than 25 years of experience in public space planning and design. From small-scale neighborhood park improvements to comprehensive park and trail system plans, Jason has worked with park boards, municipalities, governing agencies and community residents.

[email protected] | 612.518.3696

Jason Amberg

Supporting the Infrastructure of an Entire Community

July 18, 2023
By Brian Bourassa, VP of Corporate Development

Investing in the vitality of the city of Lino Lakes, Minnesota.

At WSB, we use the term infrastructure broadly to define the places, spaces and systems that support our lives.  As important as infrastructure is to our way of life, we don’t often think about it until something goes wrong.  We’ve been privileged to support communities across the U.S. with their infrastructure needs. The scale of the projects may vary, but the impact is always significant.  

For the last several decades, the city of Lino Lakes, just north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro, has been investing in their infrastructure across the community.  In the end, it’s not one single project that has helped to build a vibrant community, but rather the collective investment in varying infrastructure. These investments have played a vital role in spurring development and progress within the city.

1. Biological Water Treatment Plant

The city is currently planning to construct a water treatment plant due to some of the city wells having manganese levels above the recommended guidelines. A biological treatment approach is unique because it relies on natural microbial activity to remove contaminants rather than chemicals, an environmentally sustainable strategy.

2. West Shadow Lake Drive

West Shadow Lake Drive is a residential street that was plagued by potholes, had no sewer or water, and faced challenges from high groundwater levels due to its proximity to Reshanau Lake. As part of the city’s pavement management program, the road was removed and replaced to support the city’s roadway infrastructure and sanitary sewer, watermain and storm sewer infrastructure was also installed. In addition, environmental work and wetland enhancements occurred throughout the area.

3. 12th Avenue Trail Project

The 12th Avenue Trail connection was identified as a priority in the city’s Comprehensive Parks and Trails System Capital Improvement Plan due to the lack of trail connection along 12th Avenue.  Prior to project completion, the busy rural road was narrow with unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. The project resulted in increased safety and a more bikeable, accessible community.

4. Master Plan and Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan

Located in the northeast corner of Lino Lakes is a 1300-acre greenfield area that is prime for development opportunities. WSB was contracted to develop a master plan, comprehensive stormwater management plan and update the Alternative Urban Areawide Review (AUAR) for the area. Development opportunities will include residential, industrial and commercial that will spur economic activity in the area. 

5. The Rookery Activity Center

When the local YMCA closed in 2020 it left a hole in the community. The city of Lino Lakes took action to reinvigorate the space. To establish itself as a new asset within the community, the building needed an overhaul, not just in amenities and programming, but also the brand.  WSB worked with the city to develop a story, identity and brand assets.

6. Tower Park  

Tower Park is located on a 60-acre piece of land that was purchased by the city over 20 years ago.  The city council felt strongly about developing the space into a destination recreation area for the community.  WSB provided the park master plan and phase 1 design support. Tower Park is now home to some of the city’s most popular pickleball and tennis courts.  The project was completed last year. 

7. Birch Street Roundabouts

Birch Street is a heavily traveled roadway through the city with frequent accidents occurring due to the number of entrances to the high-speed roadway.  There were safety concerns from residents and a nearby school. To help alleviate the number of accidents and increase safety, several roundabouts, medians, crosswalks and safety signage were added.

8. Gateways to the City – Placemaking

Lino Lakes is a proud community and wants to enhance their welcoming presence by creating placemaking monuments at city entrances. The project is still under development, but once complete, the entrances will offer a ‘front door’ to the city and will invite visitors and residents to step inside and explore the community.

9. Feasibility Study – Lake Amelia Subwatershed

A 255-acre subwatershed of Lake Amelia is currently undergoing a feasibility study to address existing stormwater management concerns and anticipated future land use changes to the area.  The short-term phase includes solutions to address flooding concerns.  The long-term phase proposes more holistic improvements to the corridor that that would occur alongside its eventual development. The study will help guide future planning in the area and will ensure that the area is prime for development.

10. Shenandoah Park Improvements

In partnership with the Rice Creek Watershed District, the city is exploring multiple improvements to the Shenandoah Park area to improve water quality, ensure its habitat is supported, and create a destination for park users. WSB is currently exploring water quality improvement options, wetland restoration, flood retention and greenway spaces to support the goals of the watershed district and the city.

Brian has more than 25 years of experience in the civil engineering field and has worked extensively in both the public and private market sectors. This experience has provided Brian with a broad engineering background, and has allowed him to develop a strong understanding of both public financing and private business perspectives. Brian’s lasting client relationships are a testament to the focus he places on developing creative solutions and providing over-the-top customer service.

3 Ways Communities Can Support Small Business

July 17, 2023
By Kim Lindquist, Director of Community Planning, WSB

Every community is different, but all are competing to be a destination for business growth and investment. Communities rely on businesses to help support and diversify their property tax base, provide goods and services for existing and future residents, and contribute to a strong, local economy.

What can communities do to attract small businesses to their city, and help them thrive, expand, and grow? Here are three things city leaders can do to help set them apart.

Be a Liaison for Businesses & Help Connect Them to Vital Resources

From small start-ups to large manufacturers, there are numerous resources out there to support business investment and expansion, but many businesses may not know where to go to take advantage of these funding opportunities. That’s where city leaders can come in.

Having city personnel designated to act as a liaison and help businesses navigate the state, federal, and local programs available is mutually beneficial for businesses and communities. Many of these programs can be confusing and for many businesses, having an expert who can help them understand and take advantage of the numerous opportunities available can be the difference maker in deciding where they start their small business.

Convene Businesses to Demonstrate a Continued Investment in Their Success

Once a business chooses your community, that’s not the end of the story. It’s important to continue to strategically engage them for input, foster relationships, and ensure continued open lines of communication.

One way to encourage engagement is to hold regular meetings so city leaders can hear directly from the business community about key issues and ideas. Communities can also foster regular communication with digital and email updates from the city on everything from grants to road closures, to key news from local government. It’s a great way to build positive relationships with local businesses!

Communities can also help new businesses by hosting ribbon cutting ceremonies, which offer free publicity, along with informational welcome packets to start a connection with business owners and share key resources.

Explore How You Can Make Your Community a Destination for Business Investment and Growth

Every local leader wants to ensure their community is a great place to live and work, and that means tackling challenges and investing in ideas that make your community an ideal destination for businesses and people.

While there is no one magic solution to solve every problem businesses and communities face, understanding obstacles and exploring creative solutions can help set you apart. Whether that’s ensuring daycare accessibility and affordability for families, investing in livable, walkable cities and public transportation, or ensuring there is plenty of workforce housing – understanding what businesses and workers need, and how the community can support those needs is important.

Furthermore, as businesses explore communities that meet their needs, cities can work with land and property owners to provide information about vacant lots and available retail space. To attract industrial businesses, shovel ready programs run through cities, states, or electric companies can also show what property is available to meet their needs.

How WSB Can Help

Is your community looking to attract new businesses? WSB can help.

We provide city planning with focuses on community and economic development, strategic planning, public engagement, and can even help apply for funding and grants.

Kim is a planning professional with over 30 years of experience overseeing a variety of complex planning projects. She has worked in high growth communities with developers and the public on entitlements for residential development and attracting business to the city.

[email protected] | 763.287.8303

Kim Lindquist

Prepare Your Community for an Aging Population

July 17, 2023
By Lori Johnson, Sr Professional Community Planner, WSB

When thinking about an aging population, it is becoming increasingly important for local governments to prioritize senior residents. By implementing creative and forward-thinking measures, communities can enhance the quality of life for older adults.

With the demand for senior housing only growing, embracing innovative housing solutions means local governments can create vibrant and age-friendly communities that prioritize the welfare and dignity of senior citizens. Inclusive infrastructure and understanding the diverse demands and needs of seniors can also help set up communities for success.

Here are three ways communities can plan for and invest in solutions that accommodate older adults.

Understand the Value of Multi-Unit, Multi-Generational and Affordable Housing Options

Many communities are adopting and updating zoning ordinances to provide more flexible and affordable housing for seniors.

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), for example, can foster intergenerational connectivity. ADUs are separate, detached, living units located on the same property as an existing single-family home. Many aging individuals prefer to live in proximity to their families for companionship and support. Local governments can revise zoning regulations to accommodate ADUs, allowing seniors to maintain independent living while staying close to their loved ones. Moreover, these additional living spaces are often more cost-effective and provide flexibility in housing options that allow seniors to age in place while preserving their privacy and autonomy.

Repurposing larger, older homes in existing neighborhoods allows you to provide a certain level of care and companionship to older adults in a residential setting. Revisions to existing ordinances will allow single family homes to be converted into multi-family units for senior group care.

Rethink Parking Lots and Open Spaces

When building senior accommodations, another effective approach is to encourage the inclusion of open spaces in the design of structures and sites through specific ordinances requirements. Traditionally, apartment buildings require vast parking spaces, resulting in a sea of concrete that limits green spaces.

By rethinking parking requirements, local governments can convert excessive parking areas into open spaces for the enjoyment of residents. These green spaces provide opportunities for exercise, social interaction and relaxation, contributing to a healthier and happier community for seniors.

Another option for incentivizing the construction of senior housing is to look at ways to reduce the required park dedication fees for senior housing, nursing homes and memory care facilities. Specifically for nursing homes and memory care facilities, it is not common for residents of these facilities to use a community’s parks and open spaces, thus an argument can be made for not requiring park dedication fees for the development of senior facilities.

Build Inclusive Communities & Infrastructure

Local governments can prioritize the needs of senior citizens by ensuring they are listening to and understanding the needs of various populations. Creating walkable neighborhoods with well-maintained sidewalks, installing accessible public transportation systems and fostering age-inclusive community centers can help support a high quality of life for seniors. Such initiatives empower seniors to actively engage in social and recreational activities, reducing isolation and promoting a sense of belonging.

Furthermore, as communities adopt diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, they must also think about how this relates to their seniors. For seniors, their needs are not universally the same, and communities must consider cultural practices, income, religion, and medical care needs when planning on how to accommodate a growing senior population. Mental health must also be considered and providing increasing levels of services for residents as they age is critical, especially for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

How WSB Can Help

Local governments play a pivotal role in enhancing the lives of senior citizens. At WSB, we can help communities craft ordinances that meet the needs of any city as it relates to senior housing, whether it be ADUs, group care homes, or multi-family housing. We have experience with financing tools housing developers use to ensure the end product is affordable for seniors. We can also help identify and secure grant funding for key affordable housing and accessible infrastructure projects.

At the end of the day, all of us will be impacted by our aging population, whether for ourselves, for a parent or for a loved one. Communities must work collaboratively and think creatively to ensure a high quality of life for our nation’s aging population.

Lori has more than 25 years of experience working in a municipal planning department, having worked her way up through the planning department at the City of Blaine to become their city planner. She has worked in all aspects of city planning activities including project management, site plan and application review, public participation and long range planning.

[email protected] | 612.364.3029