City Detail

Background Information

City of Willmar
County: Kandiyohi
Population: 23153
GreenStep City category: A
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 161
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Sara Jacobson
City Staff
320-235-4760
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: 29
1 star actions: 14
2 star actions: 6
3 star actions: 8

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Private Buildings {BP no.2}

1 star - Action 4:

Describe energy/water efficiency outcomes and other green building practices at businesses and not-for-profit organizations located within/nearby the city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2016
Implementation details:
The Barn Theatre, which is the Willmar Community Theatre, replaced old incandescent and florescent lighting fixtures with LEDs. The LED lights were placed in the main entrance, the lobby, and offices.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals {BP no.4}

2 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:
According to David Opsahl, Energy Services, Willmar Municipal Utilities. It is the practice of the WMUC that all new street lighting is to be dark sky compliant and all traffic signals are to be Energy Star rated.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
Willmar Municipal Utilities
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
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:
Implementation details:
The city of Willmar and the Willmar School District are starting to add LED lighting to their street and parking lot projects.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
A LED flashing sign is installed at Business 71 and County RD 24 leading to the Willmar Community Golf Course. Several LED street Lights are installed for testing purposes. The 2011 Kennedy Elementary school parking lot used LED parking lights and LED building lights.
Descriptive File: view file
Willmar Municipal Utilities, Willmar Public Schools
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
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:
According to David Opsahl, Energy Services, Willmar Municipal Utilities - All the traffic signals in Willmar have been Converted to LED.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
Willmar Municipal Utilities
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Building Redevelopment {BP no.5}

1 star - Action 1:

Adopt an historic preservation ordinance/regulations and encourage adaptive reuse.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Chapter 5 Section G and H address Historic Preservation
The city of Willmar has adopted a Downtown Plan with a Chapter on Historic Preservation.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
2 Buildings in the Central Business District have recently been selected as historic structures. Lakeland Hotel and Tribune building (Engan Associates Building)
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
3 star - Action 2:

Implement the Minnesota Main Street model for commercial revitalization.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The Willmar Design Center is addressing projects such as the expansion of Becker Market, opening Litchfield Avenue to through traffic, extending the Glacial Lakes State Trail to downtown Willmars Selvig Park and the feasibility of building a downtown parking ramp for patients and visitors to Rice Memorial Hospital.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Becker Market is a downtown farmers market. Downdown walking routes are marked.
Descriptive File:
Willmar Design Center
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

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 Willmar has adopted and maintains a Comprehensive Plan, including accompanying Land Use Plan and Map, and regulatory ordinances comply with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan. to ensure their continued applicability and vitality for the City.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The planning documents are updated as-needed to ensure continued applicability.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
2 star - Action 2:

Demonstrate that regulatory ordinances comply with the comprehensive plan including but not limited to having the zoning ordinance explicitly reference the comprehensive plan as the foundational document for decision making.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The Comprehensive Plan includes the plan and zoning ordinance.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The comprehensive plan as the foundational document for decision making
The conditional use and plan review process in the zoning ordinance directly note the comprehensive plan.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Mixed Uses {BP no.8}

3 star - Action 1:

Organize or participate in a community planning/placemaking/design process for the city/a mixed use district.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
In 2005 the MN Design Team Made 2 Visits to Willmar. One was to review the city as a whole and the other was to discuss opportunities to revitalize downtown.
From those meeting the Willmar Design Center was formed.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
A Comprehensive Downtown Plan. Becker farmers market was formed. Willmar walks plans were developed.
Descriptive File:
Willmar Design Center.
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
3 star - Action 5:

Have a downtown zoning district that allows residential and compatible commercial development.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Mixed use is allowed in the Central Business District in Downtown Willmar MN.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
A downtown district that allows a mixed use of office, retail, education, civic, and residential living.
Descriptive File: view file
The City of Willmar
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Transportation Transportation

Living Streets {BP no.11}

3 star - Action 5:

Identify and remedy street-trail gaps between city streets and off-road trails/bike trails to better facilitate walking and biking.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The trail connecting downtown Willmar to Robbins Island a major recreational park had a gap just north of the first street bridge. The previous trail crossed ella ave at a dangerous location about 200ft away from the intersection of Ella and First Street. This project changed the crossing location to the intersection and repaved 1 mile of trail to Robbins Island in 2013.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Crossing Ella Ave now takes place at the intersection where cars are stopped do to controlled lights. The route has been make with accessible slopes and is more direct than the previous crossing 200 ft away from the intersection where cars are traveling at higher speeds. This project improves safety and is a enhancement to the Willmar Footlake Four 4 mile Fun run course. This trail also make the access to the downtown more accessible to riders of the State Trail system.
Descriptive File:
Willmar Design Center
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Mobility Options {BP no.12}

3 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: 2016
Implementation details:
The city has developed a Comprehen Trail and Pedestrian Plan with maps that shows key civic/commercial sites, best bike and pedestrian routes,transit and future routes.

In the Spring of 2016, the City of Willmar was recognized as a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
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:
Implementation details:
They city of Willmar in Cooperation with the School District is engaged with a Safe Routes to School Program. Mid Minnesota Development is developing the program.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
A plan to improve the safe travel of walking routes to our schools is being developed.
Descriptive File: view file
MMD, Willmar Public Schools
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
1 star - Action 3:

Prominently identify mobility options: transit; paratransit/Dial-A-Ride; ridesharing/cab services; rental cars; bikes; airports.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Kandiyohi Area Transit is linked to the City of Willmar Webpage.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
2 star - Action 6:

Add/expand transit service, or promote car/bike sharing.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city's Yellow Bike sharing program — in its second year — expanded to put about 80 bikes in circulation at one point over the summer of 2016, up from last year's 50. Some businesses bought bike racks to set up nearby for their workers. Yellow Bikes takes donations of used bikes, and converts unclaimed bikes from their police impound lots into shareable bikes. volunteers gathered at Rick’s Cycling & Sports Center in town to learn basic maintenance and to convert bikes. The Jennie-O Turkey Store donated $5,000 to get the program started.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
80 free-use sharable bikes.
Descriptive File:
Jennie-O Turkey Store; Willmar Community Education and Recreation
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Sustainable Purchasing {BP no.15}

1 star - Action 7:

Lower the environmental footprint of meetings and events in the city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Willmar has adopted the practice of using I-pads and Tablets for the distribution of meeting notes. These meetings include but are not limited to: City Council Meetings, Community Development Committee Meetings, Finance Committee Meetings, Labor Relations Committee Meetings, and Public Work/ Public Safety Committee Meetings.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The city has reduced the amount of paper it uses each month by hundreds and annually by thousands of sheets of paper, associated ink and volume of waste.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

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:
Implementation details:
Tree City USA, sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, provides direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities that more than 93 million Americans call home.
Willmar has been a Tree City USA for more than 13 years.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
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:
Willmar's landscape ordinance includes public and private requirements to develop a tree preservation plan in order to retain tree as part of urban development. Parking areas are required to be landscaped in order to breakup the barren effect of hard surface parking areas.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
New developments are better shaded and more visually appealing. Natural vegetation improve storm water quality. More existing trees are preserved during new development.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Stormwater Management {BP no.17}

Not rated - Action 6:

Reduce de-icing and dust suppressant salt use to prevent permanent surfacewater and groundwater pollution.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The purpose of this ordinance is to promote, preserve and enhance the natural resources
within the City of Willmar; to protect them from adverse effects occasioned by poorly sited
development or incompatible activities; to regulate land-disturbing or development activities
that would have an adverse and potentially irreversible impact on water quality, stormwater
runoff rates/volumes, and unique and fragile environmentally-sensitive land; to alleviate
current flooding problems and prevent future flooding problems; to minimize conflicts and
encourage compatibility between land-disturbing and development activities and water
quality and environmentally sensitive lands; and to require detailed review standards and
procedures for land-disturbing or development activities proposed for such areas, thereby
achieving a balance between urban growth and development and protection of water quality,
water quantity and natural areas.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
All new construction must comply with the ordinance. Stormwater discharge rate is controlled and quality is improved.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

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:
Implementation details:
Many volunteer groups as well as the planning commission, the public works department, and Community Ed and Rec. The group got together to create the City of Willmar Comprehensive Plan: Trails and Pedestrian Plan Addendum.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The Gap at civic center drive was remedied. Allowing a trail from downtown to the high school. Other gaps are noted in the plan. A gap in ella ave is scheduled for a remedy project in 2013.
Descriptive File:
Willmar Community ED and Rec
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
2 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 of Willmar has 281.76 acres of parks and 19,610 residents and the total acres of the city is 824. This is about 14.27 acres per 1000 resident, and 34% of the total city land area is protected green infrastructure.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Willmar has great access to green space and parks for it's residents.
Descriptive File:
Willmar Community ED and Rec
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
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:
Every year the United Way of West Central Minnesota has a week of action volunteer program.
United Way 320-235-1050
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
City parks are cleaned up and trash is removed. The United way organizes the annual city-wide event for city clean up, businesses and residents are engaged to volunteer.
Descriptive File:
United Way of West Central Minnesota
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Benchmarks and Community Engagement {BP no.24}

1 star - Action 1:

Use a city commission, or committee to lead, coordinate, and report to and engage community members on implementation of sustainability best practices.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Reports are made to the Community Development Committee Meeting for the city of Willmar
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
A public record noting progress of the Mn Greenstep Cities program is being made.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
1 star - Action 2:

Organize goals/outcome measures from all city plans and report to community members data that show progress toward meeting these goals.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Willmar produces an annual financial report. Also each department submits their budget, needs, and goals to the planning commission each year. The comprehensive plan is discussed each year by the planning commission. As the city of willmar develops sustainable goals from the comprehensive plan are used to guide the growth. Contact:
Megan Sauer
Planner
333 6th St SW
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-8311
msauer@willmarmn.gov
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Each city departments goals are submitted to the planning commission annually and then onto the city council. The planning commission review the comprehensive plan: which includes policies and goals on parks, housing, stormwater, transportation, economic development, energy, and sustainability.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Green Business Development {BP no.25}

1 star - Action 3:

Promote sustainable tourism in your city, and green tourism resources to tourism and hospitality businesses in/around the city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The Willmar Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau actively promotes green tourism. At the what to do menu: there is summary of the regional trail systems. Kandiyohi County Trails Map, PWELC Trails Map, and Sibley State Park Trails Maps. Under the Tour Operators menu: The experience the Willmar Lakes Area 2 day self Tour. Provides links to local restaurants: 21 Fast Food, 13 Coffee shops, 10 pizza parlors, 32 Bar/Restaurants, 10 international Restaurants. Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, and Sibley State Park are listed as Destinations. Where to stay menu list and number of overnight options.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Tourist looking to adventure in hiking, biking, horseback riding, in-line skating, or cross country skiing have a variety of options by reviewing the local trails, and can support the Lakes Area Chamber listed restaurants and Hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, Resorts, and Campgrounds.
Descriptive File:
Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce; Willmar Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
3 star - Action 7:

Conduct or participate in a buy local campaign for community members and local businesses.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The Willmar Lake Area Chamber of Commerce has stared a Buy Local campaign.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Local Businesses and Government have been posting the Buy Local Logo at their facilities. The awareness of the benefits to buying local is starting to increase.
Coupon Books of Participating Businesses has been developed.
Descriptive File: view file
Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce; Main Street Willmar; Kandi Mall Association
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Renewable Energy {BP no.26}

1 star - Action 1:

Adopt wind energy and/or biomass ordinances that allow, enable, or encourage appropriate renewable energy installations.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city of willmar has a wind ordinance.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
This is a path of implementation for the private sector to use renewable energy with wind.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760
3 star - Action 5:

Install a public sector/municipally-owned renewable energy technology, such as solar electric (PV), wind, biomass, solar hot water/air, or micro-hydro.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city of Willmar has 2 wind turbines.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
2011 WMU Wind Production
5,295,821 Kwh from Jan to Sept
(2)Turbines at 1.9000 Megawatts each

Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760

Local Food {BP no.27}

1 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:
Implementation details:
The city of Willmar has 2 farmers markets and a community garden on city property.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Becker Market
Located in historic downtown Willmar offering locally grown produce and local products.
Willmar Farmers Market
Location:
Westside Liquor Store (parking lot)
1600 Hwy 12 East, Willmar, MN 56201

High Ave. Community Garden - Willmar Community Center







Descriptive File:
Willmar Design Center
For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff) | sjacobson@willmarmn.gov | 320-235-4760