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Meeting is tonight to discusss UMore project

A key element of the University of Minnesota's UMore Park project is creating a sustainable community. Project planners hope information gathered in an April 7 public forum will help them better define what that means.

The vision for UMore Park is for a sustainable, modern, University-founded community of 20,000 to 30,000 people developed over 25 to 30 years.

The public forum will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 7 at the Rosemount Community Center. The forum will include a short presentation to highlight sustainability linkages to health, sense of community, culture, job creation, energy, water and the landscape. Then attendees will be asked to contribute ideas.

Carla Carlson, executive director of the office for UMore academic initiatives, hopes to tap residents for ideas concerning sustainability and what that could mean for the area.

"There is a wealth of experience in the local community," said Carlson.

The university is working with a company called BioRegional to come up with a sustainability plan for the 5,000-acre development in Rosemount and Empire Township. The company has a concept called One Planet Community, in which communities only use as much as the planet can provide for. According to the UMore website, globally, communities and individuals consume resources and pollute the planet at a level 50 percent higher than the earth can renew or absorb.

BioRegional has a list of 10 principles they incorporate into each project. Those principles include zero carbon emissions, zero waste, sustainable transport, sustainable materials, local and sustainable foods, sustainable water, land use and wildlife, culture and heritage and equity and local economy and health and happiness.

The result will be an efficient, well-planned built environment with lifestyle alternatives to achieve sustainable use of the resources on our planet, according to the website.

BioRegional is an international non-profit based in London. The university is working with the North American branch. The company has worked throughout the world on sustainability projects.

While the BioRegional offers its consulting services, the project still has to fit within the parameters of the community. Carlson said establishing that is why it is important to get the help from residents and organizations in the area.

"It's an enormous task. The university can't do it alone," said Carlson.

Because refreshments will be served, the university asks that residents RSVP to attend the public forum by calling 612-626-3976.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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