Candidate Sustainability Q&A: Nancy Robinett

Note: The general election is November 5, 2019 and St. Anthony polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In person Absentee voting begins Friday, September 20th and ends on Monday, November 4th at 5pm. You can stop by City Hall during regular business hours and vote absentee. Early voting begins Tuesday, October 29th and ends on Monday, November 4th.

St. Anthony Village

Citizens for Sustainability asked the 2020 mayoral and city council candidates six questions about their ideas for advancing sustainability within St. Anthony. Their responses will be posted as they are received.

1. What does Sustainability mean to you (as it pertains to St. Anthony)?

Sustainability in St. Anthony means reducing our carbon footprint as a city – reducing consumption of resources such as water and electricity, supporting efficient waste management (which includes reducing, recycling and reusing), and promoting green buildings which are increasingly energy efficient. I would like to work on promoting alternative transportation to single-car – including biking and walking which includes better and safer bike paths and integrating more sidewalks where we can.

2. What initiatives in the city’s Comprehensive Plan would you prioritize to create greater resilience and sustainability?

Immediate actions:  1) Implement strategic planning around electric vehicle readiness;  2) Implement strategic planning for alternative energy production (such as solar and potentially wind) for city facilities;  3) Promote safety and connectivity of bike and pedestrian infrastructure by negotiating with the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board (MPRB) to join the Grand Rounds;  4) Promote ongoing and increased sustainable landscaping in city parks and other municipal landscaped areas.

3. How would you build on recent additions in the Parks & Environmental Commission duties to advance environmental goals in the Comprehensive Plan?

I would encourage and facilitate greater community involvement and grassroots activism through the St. Anthony Parks & Environmental Commission (PEC). I would encourage the PEC to meet more than once a quarter and I would advocate for more community membership in subcommittees within the PEC.

I would seek to build in more transparent pathways for the mayor and council to understand and participate in the community engagement and community ideas that come from the PEC and community members working with the PEC on their related projects. This should streamline and make decision-making easier for the city around PEC projects.

4. What “win-win” opportunities do you see in supporting existing and future sustainability initiatives?

Sustainability initiatives create a new baseline for additional sustainability initiatives. As sustainable initiatives get cheaper, more residents see the benefit of investing in a culture that promotes sustainability.

An example: A few weeks ago, I met a row of several houses in SOSA (“South St. Anthony” – the area east of St. Charles church) who were doing long-term planning over several houses to convert their front yardscapes to sustainable, non-turf landscaping as a planned unit. The win-win there: community cohesion, less community aversion to giving up traditional turf grass yard, a much bigger demonstration project for sustainable landscaping, cheaper costs, and shared labor and creativity – all to the benefit of the neighborhood.

5. What would you do to address residents’ concerns about pedestrian and bicycle safety and increase access to metro bikeways?

I would suggest traffic studies to examine how to increase pedestrian safety at Silver Lake Road and what it might cost to implement kid-safe paths to Silverwood Park. We should negotiate with the MPRB for the Grand Rounds missing bike link connection. Pushing for more bike racks at shopping areas is a relatively easy inquiry – we should ask where needed and try to coordinate responses with commercial resources. I support more bike lanes and sidewalks in general – we should implement where and when we can.

6. What are steps you would support to expand on the success of St. Anthony’s organics drop-off collection?

We should coordinate with Ramsey County to make sure we have enough compost buckets to support and encourage community use so we aren’t running out.  That is a simple fix. 

I’d also like to ensure we aren’t overflowing our current site and if we are, discuss ways to mitigate.  There was early discussion, before settling on the city hall organics drop-off location, about organics drop-off at other locations. If we have increasing community participation in organics waste, we should again consider more than one drop-off location within St. Anthony, prior to curb-side collection.

I understand that implementing curb-side organic waste collection requires start-up infrastructure and I’d like to explore how this can be accelerated.  We should also be mindful of the need to push community participation, so that curb-side collection is successful if and when it launches.

By Dan Kunitz

Dan Kunitz is a Minnesota native interested in decarbonization. He is a business analyst at the University of Minnesota and volunteers his website and design skills to Citizens for Sustainability.

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