City Detail

Background Information

City of Rush City
County: Chisago
Population: 3094
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 8
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Amy Mell
City Staff
320-358-4743
City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
GreenStep City resolution: Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date: STEP 2 ( )

City Assessment Files and City Performance Metrics

City councils pass a resolution to join the GreenStep program and are recognized at Step 1. Step 2 and Step 3 recognition levels reflect completed city actions, reported and rated below with stars (1 star = good, 2 stars = better, 3 stars = best). The Assessment File below summarizes completed city actions in a short Word file. Step 4 recognition is awarded to cities who report a minimum number of core metrics for the previous calendar year. These metrics aim to show the aggregate, quantitative results of taking multiple GreenStep actions. Step 5 cities show improvement in the Step 4 metrics. See yearly data for Steps 4&5. Additional city data can be found by reviewing information on B3 Benchmarking and Regional Indicators Initiative.

Assessment File

Best Practice Actions Underway and Completed

Completed actions are denoted by stars.

Total completed actions: 14
1 star actions: 5
2 star actions: 7
3 star actions: 2

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals {BP no.4}

2 star - Action 5:

Use LED/solar-powered lighting for a flashing sign or in a street, parking lot or park project.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2012
Implementation details:
Rush City is working to increase the amount of LED powered lights throughout the city. In 2012, the City worked with the State of Minnesota to replace street lighting with improved energy efficient lighting on 4th St and County Road 30. In 2016, the City installed LED lighting on 5th St and is continuing to increase the amount of LED lighting throughout the city. East Central Energy (ECE) continually replaces failed fixtures with LED. Also, in 2012, the City worked with Chisago County to install a solar powered flashing speed limit sign at a high traffic location at County Road 30 and North Bremer Ave. There is also a plan and approved grant funding from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) to install a solar-powered cross-walk sign at 4th St. and Fairfield Ave in 2020.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Rebates received from East Central Energy
Descriptive File:
State of Minnesota, Chisago County and East Central Energy
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743

Building Redevelopment {BP no.5}

2 star - Action 3:

Plan for reuse of large-format retail buildings, or work with a local school, church or commercial building to either add-on space or repurpose space into new uses.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 1998
Implementation details:
Rush City repurposed an old school building into City Hall offices, Chisago County Sheriff Dept Contract Office, gymnastics facility and locker rooms and mechanical rooms for the pool. A portion of the old school was torn down and a pool built in that location.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
City Hall old facility was a split entry which would have required an elevator. With the repurposing, the City did not have to build brand new or install an elevator.
Descriptive File:
Rush City School District
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743

Transportation Transportation

Mobility Options {BP no.12}

1 star - Action 2:

Conduct an Active Living campaign such as a Safe Routes to School program.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
In 2019, Rush City received a planning grant to create a Safe-Routes-To-School program. Through SRTS, our consultants and our committee, the City aims to identify and address gaps in infrastructure that exist. Our committee includes teachers, principals, city staff, county engineer, school resource officer, police officers, concerned parents, a Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) representative, and students. So far, the committee has held a workshop to assess how school pick up and drop off is conducted, walk the city streets and see what challenges exist, and collaborate together on possible solutions. We also led several surveying initiatives where parents, teachers, and students were asked to provide information on what some of the barriers of walking or biking to school are. Over the winter of 2019-2020 the plan will be developed by Alta Planning. In the spring of 2020, the plan will be shared with committee members and the committee will be expected to continue working together to use the plan to address the problems that are laid out.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Once the plan is developed in June of 2020. We hope that the committee can continue to address non-motor transportation issues and continue to collaborate with SRTS on different grants and initiatives that they lead in order to make walking and biking a safe possibility for students to use to get to school.
Descriptive File:
Rush City School District, SHIP, Chisago County and Chisago County Sheriff Office
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Stormwater Management {BP no.17}

1 star - Action 5:

Adopt and implement guidelines or design standards/incentives for at least one of the following stormwater infiltration/reuse practices:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2010
Implementation details:
Rush City does not require new developments to have rain gardens, but storm sewer holding ponds have been created to help treat rain water and minimize runoff into Rush Creek. In 2010, the City worked with the Soil & Water Conservation District to install six rain gardens during a street construction project on 7th St Circle and 7th St. Court. In the future, street construction projects will continue to install rain gardens where feasible.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
Soil & Water Conservation District
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743

Parks and Trails {BP no.18}

1 star - Action 1:

Make improvements within your city's system of parks, offroad trails and open spaces.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
Two missing trail sections have been completed along Fairfield Avenue/County Road 39 in Rush City. The first one, completed in 2012, connects 4th Street, the City's main thoroughfare, to the trail to the Rush City Schools. The second one, completed in 2019, connects multiple new housing developments to 4th Street and the Rush City Schools.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Many residents are now able to safely walk along trails or sidewalk from their home to the downtown area, multiple churches, the library, parks and the schools.
Descriptive File:
Chisago County Highway Department
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743
2 star - Action 2:

Plan and budget for a network of parks, green spaces, water features and trails for areas where new development is planned.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2010
Implementation details:
Rush City's subdivision code (Chapter 11-Sec 1.1.04, Subdivision 21)requires dedication of land or cash in-lieu-of for parks. The amount of land dedication or funds varies depending on the Zoning classification. Rush City plans to include the installation of new sidewalks in any new subdivision. Rush City's Comprehensive Plan, Chapter 10-Parks, Trails & Recreation also details planned park improvements and trail upgrades. The City has a Park Board which meets regularly and recommends new park improvements for council consideration.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Approximately 6,000 feet of trail has been installed in the past 10 years. The most recent was 2,300 feet along County Road 39 in the summer of 2019 (installed by Chisago County). City requires dedicated parkland in new developments. In 2018, new neighborhood play structures were built in two new developments.
Descriptive File:
Chisago County, Lions, community members from Ardent Mills donated labor
For more information contact:
Sue Hochstatter (City Staff) | shochstatter@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743

Surface Water {BP no.19}

1 star - Action 8:

Reduce flooding damage and costs through the National Flood Insurance Programs and the NFIP’s Community Rating System.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2014
Implementation details:
In 2014, the City of Rush City joined over 21,000 communities nationwide that are allowed to purchase federally backed flood insurance. This availability follows the community’s adoption and enforcement of ordinances to reduce flood losses and acceptance by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Property owners in Rush City are now able to purchase flood insurance. This is promoted on the City's website.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Rush City property owners are now able to purchase flood insurance which will help them to repair or rebuild after a flood.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743

Efficient Water and Wastewater Systems {BP no.20}

3 star - Action 3:

Establish an on-going budget and program for decreasing inflow and infiltration into sewer lines and losses in drinking water systems.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2011
Implementation details:
In 2009, Rush City implemented an ordinance (attached) requiring the inspection of private sewer lines. Sewer inspections are mandatory at the time of property transfer and/or street constructions. The City provides private sewer line inspections for a reduced fee to homeowners to help residents meet the inspection requirement. Property owners that would rather use an alternative inspector have the option to do so, but must provide materials that prove inspection was completed by a certified plumber or inspector. If the inspection results in a sewer line in satisfactory condition, no further action is required from the homeowner. After 10 years, it has to be reinspected. If the inspection finds that the sewer line is in need of repair because of cracks and other sources of I & I, the homeowner must have the line repaired within six months. The City helps facilitate repairs by offering a loan program to help manage the costs of repairs. A penalty is added to the utility bill if repair is not completed within six months. The program also includes inspections of household/business roof drains , foundation drains, sump pump connections, drain tile, lateral service lines, and/or inspections of city-owned sewer lines.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
As of April 15, 2020 -
484 Applications for inspections have been submitted (that’s over half of the properties in the City)
463 Sewer laterals have been inspected
82 Sewer laterals have failed and been fixed (most had roots in the pipe, which means that there are cracks so ground water can get into the City’s sewer system)
27 sump pumps/foundation drains have been disconnected from the City sewer and re-routed
3 roof drains have been disconnected from the City sewer and re-routed to the storm sewer
4 laterals have failed and not been fixed yet
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743

Sustainable Consumption and Waste {BP no.22}

3 star - Action 2:

Address concerns over consumer products and packaging through encouragement/implementation of one or more of:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2021
Implementation details:
The Rush City GreenStep team and the Rush City Area Chamber of Commerce began working together in March of 2021 to collect plastic in the Rush City community for Trex Company, Incorporated. We are collecting plastic shopping bags, Ziploc bags, salt and wood pellet bags, bubble wrap, produce bags and other plastic items Trex uses to construct composite deck materials. We have partnered with a local beer distributer that bales the plastic we collect with the plastic they have from their daily operations and brings it to Merrick Community Services for sorting. We have approximately 10 collection bins in Rush City for the community to bring their plastic for recycling.

City Hall has become a drop off location for Chisago County's battery recycling program. The batteries that are accepted are single-use lithium, button, rechargeable, and sealed lead acid batteries weighing 10 pounds or less. Devices with embedded batteries may also be turned in. They are then taken to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility for recycling.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
In approximately 1 year, we have turned in over 20,000 pounds of plastic to be used in the making of composite decking. Many businesses and residents are able to recycle plastic items that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.
Descriptive File:
Rush City Area Chamber of Commerce, McDonald Distributing, Merrick Community Services; Chisago County Household Hazardous Waste
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Benchmarks and Community Engagement {BP no.24}

2 star - Action 1:

Inclusive and Coordinated Decision-Making: Use a city commission or committee to lead, coordinate, report to and engage community members on the identification and equitable implementation of sustainability best practices.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
Rush City has had a GreenStep Team in place since November 2019. It meets on a monthly to bi-monthly schedule to work on issues of sustainability. As we continue to grow we will work on ways to communicate and engage citizens. A goal is to expand to include more community members and school district employees and students. The GreenStep Team submits regular updates to the City's Dateline quarterly newsletter and posts updates on a Facebook page. The team is working toward achieving new MN GreenStep Cities' best practices and plan to update the Council on a regular basis.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743
2 star - Action 4:

Public Education for Action: Conduct or support a broad sustainability education and action campaign, building on existing city & community relationships, networks & events involving:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2020
Implementation details:
The City GreenStep team held several gatherings for the public in early 2020. The first one centered around the plastic problem with a video and discussion. The second was on water with a similar format and attendance by members of the public and Mayor. Other gatherings have been planned including special earth day programming and a future expo both of which have been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Specialists and experts were contacted to participate in these gatherings and we met with the school superintendent to get school involvement. The local Lions Club donated funds. These efforts will continue when circumstances permit.

On Earth Day April 22, 2022, the Rush City GreenStep team is hosting an Earth Day celebration and expo. There will be information from Chisago County Household Hazardous Waste, Wild River Audubon Society, East Central Energy, Chisago County Master Gardeners, Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District, a local monarch butterfly group, the Rush City Garden Club, recycling plastic for Trex, local beekeepers, and the Rush City Lions and Leos clubs, among others. A new Tesla electric car will be on display, with the owner/electric car enthusiast on hand to give information and answer questions. An electric Chevy Volt will also be displayed. The film "Keep the Hives Alive" will also be presented. This is planned to be an annual event.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Encourage community members to think about how they can assist with preserving our world.
Descriptive File:
Lions Club; multiple Chisago County and Rush City community groups.
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743

Local Food {BP no.27}

2 star - Action 3:

Create, assist with and promote local food production/distribution within the city:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2018
Implementation details:
Rush City has land in the industrial park which has been donated for community garden use. The City is the fiscal agent for the garden and there is a volunteer coordinator. The City received grant and donation dollars for this project. Community members can rent a small plot of land which they are responsible to plant and tend throughout the growing season. There are 30- 8x20 plots and eight raised beds which cost $15 and $10 respectively. There is access to water and tools and a picnic shelter was constructed as part of a local Eagle Scout project. Because of the success of the gardens, 6 additional 8x20 plots and 4 raised beds were added in 2021.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Extra produce has been donated to the local Food Shelf. Community members in apartments have the opportunity to grow their own produce.
Descriptive File:
Rush City Lions Club, Dennis Frandsen, Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), Boy Scouts, Master Gardeners
For more information contact:
Sue Hochstatter (City Staff) | shochstatter@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743

Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience {BP no.29}

2 star - Action 1:

Prepare to maintain public health and safety during extreme weather and climate-change-related events, while also taking a preventive approach to reduce risk for community members.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2015
Implementation details:
Rush City utilizes the Chisago County Hazard Mitigation Plan to ensure the safety of all community members during severe storms, fires, flooding, etc. The plan is headed by the County Emergency Management Director, and is implemented in Rush City by the appropriate agencies for each hazard, such as the Fire Dept. and DNR. The Plan focuses heavily on education and outreach to all citizens. Rush City uses the CodeRED service and social media such as Facebook to inform, alert and educate community on all safety concerns. CodeRED is a free community notification system that keeps citizens informed of emergency notifications, general community notifications, and severe weather warnings. Citizens can sign up to receive free texts alerts. The Plan provides guidelines for dealing with present and future hazards. More specific steps are outlined in the county Emergency Response Plan, Watershed Plan, County Water Management Plan and Zoning ordinances. The finished plan depicts a unified and continuous effort and commitment by many people in Chisago County, all participating jurisdictions, as well as Minnesota Homeland Security Emergency Management.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
Chisago County
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743
1 star - Action 7:

Protect water supply and wastewater treatment facilities to reduce physical damage and sustain their function during extreme weather events.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
Rush City Public Works uses software to create alarms for different areas and alerts. Alarms go off for pumps not working, high/low water levels, and other risk factors that could damage the equipment. The City upgraded and expanded the system in 2019 to include all lift stations.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Amy Mell (City Staff) | amell@ci.rush-city.mn.us | 320-358-4743