City Detail

Background Information

City of Two Harbors
County: Lake
Population: 3745
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 45
Participating township, county, school: Lake Superior School District 381

GreenStep Coordinator

Dan Walker
City Staff
218-834-8803
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: 26
1 star actions: 16
2 star actions: 7
3 star actions: 1

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Public Buildings {BP no.1}

2 star - Action 2:

Make no/low cost indoor lighting and operational changes in city-owned/school buildings to reduce energy costs.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
All city-owned buildings have switched from standard fluorescent lights to a more efficient light with electronic ballasts. Some LED fixtures have been installed in city-owned buildings as well.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Stuart Anderson (City staff) | cthelec@frontiernet.net | 218-834-8811

New Green Buildings {BP no.3}

Not rated - Action 3:

Adopt a sustainable building policy for private buildings; include the SB 2030 energy standard; adopt language governing new development projects that:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2020
Implementation details:
The City of Two Harbors is currently working on a sustainable purchasing policy to implement.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804

Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals {BP no.4}

1 star - Action 1:

Require energy efficient, Dark-Sky compliant new or replacement outdoor lighting fixtures on city-owned/private buildings and facilities.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
All city-owned buildings have exterior lighting photo eyes or time clocks. This is to ensure the exterior lighting is in use only when necessary.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Stuart Anderson (City staff) | cthelec@frontiernet.net | 218-834-8811
1 star - Action 2:

Purchase LEDs for all future street lighting and traffic signals.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
All traffic signals in the city are LEDs. The city plans to purchase LEDs for all future exterior lighting.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Stuart Anderson (City staff) | cthelec@frontiernet.net | 218-834-8811
2 star - Action 3:

Replace the city's existing street lighting with Dark Sky-compliant LEDs, modifying any city franchise/utility agreement and adding smart grid attributes.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2020
Implementation details:
Purchased and replaced 30 LED Security Lights and 30 Green Cobra Jr Street Lights to improve energy efficiency.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804
3 star - Action 8:

Replace the city's existing traffic signals with LEDs.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
All of the existing traffic signals in the city have been converted to LED light fixtures.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Stuart Anderson (City staff) | cthelec@frontiernet.net | 218-834-8811

Building Redevelopment {BP no.5}

1 star - Action 5:

Adopt development/design standards and programs that facilitate infill, redevelopment, and adaptable buildings.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2015
Implementation details:
Redevelopment is addressed in the Land Use and in the Economic Development sections of the Comprehensive Plan. The Planned Unit Development (PUD) portion of the City Code is designed to provide developers with enough flexibility to effectively implement infill development.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804

Land Use Land Use

Comprehensive, Climate and Energy Plans {BP no.6}

1 star - Action 1:

Adopt a comprehensive plan or (for Category B & C cities) adopt a future land use plan that was adopted by the county or a regional entity.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Two Harbors completely updated their comprehensive plan in March 2011. The plan is used to decide how to best use resources and allocate services in the future to achieve a desired community vision. It focuses on what part of the city's land use goals and policies can be improved to ensure an optimistic future for the city.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Josh Bergstad (City staff) | jbergstad@ardc.org | 218-834-8803

Resilient City Growth {BP no.7}

Not rated - Action 1:

Limit barriers to higher density housing by including in the city zoning ordinance and zoning map:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2020
Implementation details:
Our zoning code update that is in process will address several factors to limit barriers to higher density housing including - Redevelopment of exception parcels, identifying areas in existing residential zones to increase density, and opening up areas where residential development has not previously been allowed.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804

Mixed Uses {BP no.8}

1 star - Action 3:

Modify a planned unit development ordinance to emphasize mixed use development, to limit residential PUDs to areas adjacent to commercial development, and/or to add sustainability features.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city has a Planned Unit Development (PUD) ordinance in place to emphasize mixed use development. A Planned Unit Development ordinance is a type of building development and a regulatory process. It allows uses such as housing, commercial centers, or industrial parks to be in one development or area.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Josh Bergstad (City staff) | jbergstad@ardc.org | 218-834-8803

Transportation Transportation

Mobility Options {BP no.12}

1 star - Action 1:

Increase walking, biking and transit use by one or more of the following means:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
In 2019 the City Council adopted a Transportation Plan. The vision was to improve traffic congestion/conditions, Improve Hwy 61 corridor beauty, Improve pedestrian conditions, Improve wayfinding/tourism, Improve parking. The City has also installed wayfinding signs throughout town. These sign indicate the distance and "steps" toward certain landmarks in town. The plan addresses bicycle paths and also complements our Trails Plan that was implemented in 2018 by connecting both local and state trails to city streets.

The City of Two Harbors recently received a donation of 4 portable bike racks from SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Program). We placed these bike racks at Bandshell Park downtown and at our Campground to encourage people to use their bicycles. We are also a bikable community.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804
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: 2020
Implementation details:
The City is the recipient of a Safe Routes to School Engineering Study Grant this spring and are actively working with MNDOT & the contractor on the study. A SRTS plan is included in both our Transportation Plan and our Trails Plan.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804

Efficient City Fleets {BP no.13}

1 star - Action 1:

Efficiently use your existing fleet of city vehicles by encouraging trip bundling, video conferencing, carpooling, vehicle sharing and incentives/technology.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2020
Implementation details:
The City of Two Harbors will be adopting a shared vehicle program. The main directive of the program is to ensure that city vehicles are being utilized to the fullest, to reduce the probability of expanding the fleet in the future, unless absolutely necessary.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Community Forests and Soils {BP no.16}

1 star - Action 1:

Certify as a Tree City USA.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2015
Implementation details:
Two Harbors has been certified annually as a Tree City USA Community since 2015. The city was certified as a Tree City USA in 2013, but did not renew the certification in 2014 but we've continually been enrolled since 2015.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804
1 star - Action 3:

Budget for and achieve resilient urban canopy/tree planting goals.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2015
Implementation details:
The city spends $2 per capita on tree planting and care every year. The majority of that is spent on planting. The city is also working with residents to start a volunteer planting and care program in 2015.

The City has partnered with Lake County Soil and Water to conduct a tree inventory summer 2020. They received a grant for 2 interns for the summer and the City is cost-sharing to complete a tree inventory in City limits.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Josh Bergstad (City staff) | jbergstad@ardc.org | 218-834-8803
1 star - Action 4:

Maximize tree planting along your main downtown street or throughout the city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
6th Street and Waterfront Drive in the city are the main entryways to Downtown Two Harbors. Both roads have trees on both sides of at least 60% of the street.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Josh Bergstad (City staff) | jbergstad@ardc.org | 218-834-8803
2 star - Action 5:

Adopt a tree preservation or native landscaping ordinance.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city has a tree preservation ordinance. The two main aspects are that it establishes a tree commission and requires that trees removed during development are replaced by the developer on-site or by a fee-in-lieu payment to the City tree fund.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Josh Bergstad (City staff) | jbergstad@ardc.org | 218-834-8803
2 star - Action 6:

Build community capacity to protect existing trees by one or more of:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2015
Implementation details:
The City has a certified Tree Inspector on staff
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804

Parks and Trails {BP no.18}

1 star - Action 3:

Achieve minimum levels of city green space and maximize the percent within a ten-minute walk of community members.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city exceeds the 7 acres of park land per 1000 residents. Two Harbors has approximately 3650 residents, and at least 80 acres of park land, not including the golf course. This means the city has approximately 22 acres of park land per 1000 residents.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Josh Bergstad (City staff) | jbergstad@ardc.org | 218-834-8803
1 star - Action 8:

Develop a program to involve community members in hands-on land restoration, invasive species management and stewardship projects.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
There will be a community clean-up day for Two Harbors' Sonju Trail, the walking path between Burlington Bay and Agate Bay, as well as the forest area around the trail and at Lighthouse Point. Groups of community members will meet to pick up any trash and clear debris from the trails
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The cleaning of the trails in the spring will prepare them for the high traffic in the summer. A clean trail and surrounding area will create an inviting atmosphere for residents and tourists alike.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Rachel Nelson (Community volunteer) | revisioningth@gmail.com | N/A

Surface Water {BP no.19}

1 star - Action 4:

Adopt a shoreland ordinance for all river and lake shoreland areas; reduce flooding and costs through The National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2015
Implementation details:
Chapter 11, Section 11.50 of the City Code, Shoreland Overlay District, provides regulations regarding shoreland areas.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804

Efficient Water and Wastewater Systems {BP no.20}

1 star - Action 2:

Plan and budget for motor maintenance and upgrades to assure the most energy efficient, durable and appropriate equipment is available when upgrades or break downs occur.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city is currently undergoing a $3 million upgrade to its Sewage Treatment Plant for the reduction of mercury in its discharge. With this new upgrade, there is money put aside for equipment replacement when upgrades or break downs occur. The plant must be operating and in compliance with all regulations by January 1, 2016.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sven Bergerson (City staff) | berger55@frontiernet.net | 218-834-8814
2 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:
Implementation details:
The city has done an inflow and infiltration reduction program. A sump pump ordinance has been put in place as well. In 2005, the city built a 2.5 million gallon equalization basin to contain excess flows when wet weather events occur. This excess water is fed back into the water treatment plant when flows subside.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sven Bergerson (City staff) | berger55@frontiernet.net | 218-834-8814
2 star - Action 6:

Implement a wastewater plant efficiency project (co-generation, water reuse) or a program for local private business operations (water conservation, water reuse, business co-location).

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city has always used plant effluent water for wash downs in place of city water whenever possible in order to conserve water supplies.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sven Bergerson (City staff) | berger55@frontiernet.net | 218-834-8814

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Renewable Energy {BP no.26}

1 star - Action 7:

Become a solar-ready community,  including adopting ordinance/zoning language and an expedited permit process for residents and businesses to install solar energy systems.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2020
Implementation details:
In February 2020, the City of Two Harbors adopted two resolutions:

RESOLUTION NO. 2-65-20 APPROVING THE UPDATED COGENERATION AND SMALL POWER PRODUCTION TARIFF FOR THE TWO HARBORS ELECTRICAL DEPARTMENT.

24. RESOLUTION NO. 2-66-20 ADOPTING THE TWO HARBORS ELECTRICAL DEPARTMENT’S POLICY REGARDING DISTRIBUTED ENERGY RESOURCES AND NET METERING AND RULES GOVERNING THE INTERCONNECTION OF COGENERATION AND SMALL POWER PRODUCTION FACILITIES.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804

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: 2015
Implementation details:
The Marek Fuller Community Gardens are located next to the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency office. There are 35 raised beds being used by a variety of people and groups. Their experience ranges from beginner to master gardeners. The garden yields a variety of vegetables including potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and different types of beans.

Farmer's Markets are allowed in the City. An annual fee is required, however to encourage and support local farmers/growers, those who choose to sell their locally grown products are exempt from the fee.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Every person involved in the garden is encouraged to donate some or all of their harvest to the local Two Harbors Area Food Shelf. With the success of the garden in 2014, a new composter, tool shed, and fresh topsoil for the beds are planned to appear for 2015.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jennifer Sterbenz (City Staff) | jsterbenz@twoharborsmn.gov | 218-834-8804