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Award-Winning Resource Guide Addresses Community Engineering Issues

June 18, 2014

By Jay Kennedy, WSB

How are speed limits set? What are complete streets? What is a design storm?

Developing responses to these types of questions is commonplace for city engineers. These responses are routinely shared with elected officials, residents, and staff; however, they had not been put together in one convenient location.

In 2012, after a suggestion from a longstanding client, WSB set to work creating a resource guide for city staff and elected officials that would provide them with a solid foundation regarding the engineering issues commonly faced in their community.

Our primary goal in creating the guide was to reach out to newly elected commissioners and council members, city staff, and others involved with decisions related to municipal infrastructure. The guide is also a teaching tool that we hoped would result in conversations between elected officials and city staff.

The guide’s content was prepared by several service area experts within WSB. We sought input from several clients at various points during the development of the guide. Their insights helped shape the content and presentation of the guide to maximize the benefit to its intended audience.

What are the outcomes?
The feedback received has been overwhelmingly positive.

Lee Gustafson, engineering director with the City of Minnetonka, said, “The City of Minnetonka has found WSB’s Municipal Engineering Resource Guide (pdf) to be extremely useful in educating council and planning commission members on infrastructure system components. In fact, the document has worked so well that our city regularly uses it as a training tool for incoming council and commission members. Our city manager also recently requested that the document be used to explain several large-scale infrastructure improvement projects that our city council will be considering at an upcoming capital improvement meeting.”

WSB shared the guide with the executive director of the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC), a membership organization dedicated to promoting excellence in local government. The League serves its more than 800 member cities through advocacy, education and training, policy development, risk management, and other services.

The League thought it was a valuable tool and invited WSB to present/teach a three-hour seminar on the subject at the 2013 LMC conference, including several presenters with varying areas of expertise. The feedback from those in attendance was overwhelmingly positive, and several requested copies of the guide to share with their own city council colleagues and commission members.

We plan to expand our three-hour course into a series of courses that can be taught to elected officials, as well as our internal staff.

Most recently, the guide was chosen as the recipient for the APWA Award for Exceptional Performance in Journalism.

For more information, contact Jay Kennedy, PE, Municipal Group Manager, WSB, at (763) 287-7192

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