Edina, Minn., has an especially good reason to be patting itself on the back this year.
The Hennepin County city — population of 49,376 in 2013 — placed 22nd in the 2016 third annual Top 100 Best Places to Live, which is put together by Livability.com. The site has showcased hundreds of communities over its 28 years. The objective is a simple one, according to Livability, which strives, “to help small-to-medium-sized cities attract and retain residents and businesses through proprietary research studies, engaging articles and original photography and video.” The site examines topics related to community amenities, education, sustainability, transportation, housing and the economy. It then leverages that expertise to develop city rankings for a range of topics, including small towns, college towns and its annual Top 100 Best Places to Live.
So what does Edina offer the outside world, in addition to more than 1,550 acres of well-manicured parkland and wide-open spaces?
The parks themselves are noteworthy. Edinborough Park is a popular indoor park year-round with a four-story play structure that parents are invited to climb up on and make merry with their kids. It also has a Kids Zone, kid-friendly vendors, a bounce house and basketball court. The fun park particularly shines in winter when the blizzards howl — everyone comes out to play, especially when school is cancelled.
A summer tradition, the Edina Art Fair features more than 100 artisans each year, and the 2015 art fair was the first to include a craft beer garden hosted by the local Edina Grill. The 2016 marked the fair’s 50th anniversary.
Also during the summer, visitors at the 24-acre Centennial Lakes Park can rent paddleboats; fish for sunfish, largemouth bass and catfish; watch remote-control sailboat races by the Edina Model Yacht Club; navigate the maze; play golf on the bent grass putting course; or challenge friends on croquet and lawn bowling courts. Take a scenic walk on 1.5 miles of paved pathway around the 10-acre lake or enjoy the separate bike paths. Each Thursday from June through September, the Centennial Lakes Farmers Market invites passersby to stop and shop the always-fresh produce and other items from local growers and vendors.
Then ice skate in winter — the park rents figure and hockey skates for kids and adults — or hop on one of the park’s Norwegian ice sleds for a thrill. Then, for a break from the biting wind, pop inside the pavilion and enjoy one of its three fireplaces while sipping a cuppa hot chocolate from the concession stand. Enjoy the theatre, entertainment and events year-round.
There is also the Edina Promenade, an 80-foot-wide greenway extension of Centennial Lakes Park that leads to retail, residential and recreational amenities.
“Edina residents enjoy a high quality of life,” said Jennifer Bennerotte, Communications and Technology Services director of Edina, adding that the close proximity to downtown Minneapolis, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and major highways is a major plus, too.
“Some of the things we are known for include the Minnesota Streetcar Museum, and the Braemar Golf Course, Braemar Arena, Edinborough Park, Centennial Lakes Park and the Edina Aquatic Center, the latter five of which are all premier recreation facilities. Also, we are known for our hockey legacy, with Braemar Arena being the hub of hockey activity in the community.”
Bennerotte added, “Our school district is renowned — Quality of Life surveys, typically completed in odd-numbered years, show that Edina Public Schools is the No. 1 reason people choose to live in Edina.”
The city’s planned development is another plus.
“Edina has one of the country’s first planned neighborhoods: the historic Country Club District around the Edina Country Club,” Bennerotte said. “Edina was also the first city in Minnesota to have a comprehensive plan and has been a leader in mixed-use development. Some mixed-use developments include Centennial Lakes and Edinborough.
“Sophisticated retail — Edina is home to the first fully enclosed, climate-controlled shopping mall in the United States, in Southdale Center. It is also home to a thriving downtown at 50th and France, and an upscale mall, Galleria. There are also several neighborhood retail areas. Medical and professional service industries are also strong in Edina. The medical community is anchored by Fairview Southdale Hospital.” Major employers in the metropolis include the headquarters for Jerry’s Food, Lund Food Holdings, Regis Corporation and Dairy Queen.
Recently, the town was proclaimed a self-designated Human Rights City by the Edina City Council — it was the first city in the state of Minnesota to dedicate itself to being such. Its website explains why:
“Cities around the world are making this declaration after the United Nations began a project aimed to develop Human Rights Cities to build infrastructure for racial justice, conflict prevention, human security, enduring development, and create a place for active civic engagement at the local, national and global level.”
By having human rights protection within the city, the residents are creating a more equitable community for all. The Edina Human Rights & Relations Commission is responsible for advising and counseling the Edina City Council on discrimination and human relations. Last year the commission celebrated the goal of equity and human rights with several events, including a program titled “Combating Human Trafficking in Minnesota,” co-sponsored by the Edina High School’s Against Modern-Day Slavery student club. The purpose of this program was to educate the community and raise awareness of the human and sex trafficking issues in Minnesota and to encourage the community to take action.
Annually, Edina and the Human Rights & Relations Commission presents “Days of Remembrance,” with the goal of remembering those who perished and honoring the survivors, rescuers and liberators of the Holocaust and other genocides around the world today that continue to impact our residents daily.
Finally, Bennerotte recommended when visiting the town website that readers view two special pages — Living Streets Champions and Meet Edina’s Hometown Heroes — for a more intimate glimpse of what makes Edina so special.
To learn more about Edina, visit the city’s website: www.ci.edina.mn.us.