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Viewpoint: 2017 was a year of 'watermark' accomplishments for Cottage Grove

Steve Dennis

Steve Dennis is a member of Cottage Grove City Council

As a community service, I enjoy providing an annual "Year in Review" detailing the City's achievements:

Public Safety

Our new 31,000-square-foot Central Fire Station is under construction and will house our 24/7 Fire and EMS operations. The usability and economy designed into the facility will aid us in continuing to provide some of the fastest emergency response times in Minnesota! Additionally, we now have a dedicated police forensics officer who will aid in solving computer crimes, dealing with problem properties and supporting the needs of our business community.

Parks and Recreation

Cottage Grove is now home to the largest Inclusive playground in Minnesota. This achievement, a five-year process, was aided by a fantastic group of volunteers and the tremendous generosity of our citizens and business community. Additional strides have been made at the River Oaks Golf Course including a promotional partnership opportunity. A new direction with our event center, including new specials at the Eagles Bar and Grill, will help us to continue improving our business.

Public Works

To provide increased value and maintain our streets, our team paved a record amount of 3,500 tons of asphalt in 2017. They also employed enhanced processes to maintain our equipment fleet and system infrastructure, saving costs wherever possible. Lastly, their September open house hosted more than 2,100 residents who learned about the wide range of services provided to the city.

Community Development

When the state changed its health-based values measurement that affected our water supply, our team quickly structured an emergency watering ban, enacted a water blending process (to meet the new guidelines) and designed two temporary water treatment facilities that allowed us to protect the health and safety of our residents while meeting the requirements. All of this was accomplished in 11 weeks which is a fraction of the time it would have taken without emergency conditions. We all thank our community for the support and patience shown during that time.

Economic Development

The year 2017 saw an all-time record of over $160 million in area growth and development. This included commercial, industrial, retail and housing sectors. More than 100 new homes were constructed, attracting new families to the community. Major road projects, including the roundabout at County 19 and East Point Douglas Road and the improvements to 70th Street, helped all of us get around easier and safer.

Finance Department

For the 27th consecutive year, we received the highest honor awarded for government accounting. The "Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting" was given for the city's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. In addition, a substantial effort to engage the community was conducted through our city-wide community visioning project called My Future Cottage Grove. After almost a year's time, seven clear recommendations came out of the 3,700 comments we received, with retail, recreation and housing at the top. As a result of hearing from many of you, we've formed volunteer citizen teams to begin working on the requests that came out of the project.

We continue to improve our processes to bring great return to our community through innovative leadership, and to offer excellent value in the services provided. It is an honor to serve as your representative. Please feel free to contact me with thoughts and ideas on ways we can improve our city.