Archive for September, 2007

It’s been at least a year since the pedestrian bridge across Highway 169 has opened, and who is using it? Not many.

According to the City of Champlin 2007 Residential study, more than 70% of residents have rarely or never used the pedestrian bridge. Most likely, that percentage refers to adults who filled out and returned the survey (2007 Champlin Resident Survey: Pedestrian Bridge).

One could assume the percentage of youth who use the bridge, at least occasionally, would be much higher.

Haydn Hamilton, Jackson Middle School eighth grader, said the pedestrian bridge gives him the opportunity to ride his bike to his friends’ homes, to school or to Target. “Before my mom would never allow me to cross 169, and that means I couldn’t ride my bike to some of my friends’ homes. Now, I can do that, and I don’t have to worry about getting hit by cars,” said Hamilton. He says he crosses the bridge at least four or more times per week, and often rides his bike to school.

How many Champlin youth are using the bridge, and why are less than 30% of Champlin adults occasionally using the bridge?

The answer may simply be that Champlin hasn’t always been a pedestrian-friendly community. But, the City of Champlin is working to provide more opportunities. The pedestrian bridge and more sidewalks, such as along Hayden Lake Road, are the first steps.

Now, it’s time for the community to take advantage of the opportunities provided to pedestrians.

“The bridge ties us directly to the community center, and we’re taking advantage of it,” said Laurence Johnson, Champlin resident. He and his family take every opportunity to bicycle or walk to businesses along Champlin Drive, near his home. “It’s good for our health, our community and more importantly, the environment.”

Ronalee Haugen moved to Champlin from Brooklyn Center and said a pedestrian bridge was a factor in selecting their current home. “I value the ability to have a transit-friendly community and one that is also safe for kids,” said Haugen. “The pedestrian bridge is a step in the right direction for Champlin as are the sidewalks and trail systems.”

There are two access points to the pedestrian bridge. From the west, use the entrance off Business Park Boulevard North, near Ruby Tuesdays. And west of 169, use the entrance from Theatre Drive north, near Mann Theatre.  

Explore Champlin, as a pedestrian

Walk or ride bike to the Champlin Mann Theatre
Going to Champlin Mann Theatre for a movie this weekend? Walk or ride your bike. There is a rack in front of the theater for locking up your bike, and you can use the pedestrian bridge if you are coming from the east side of Champlin. You might burn enough calories for a guilt-free buttered popcorn! Or stop at Moonrock Bar & Grill  afterward for appetizers and a drink. If you bring your movie stub, you get a discount.

Encourage kids and families to walk to school
It is national Walk to School Day on October 3. And, there are only a few schools in Minnesota that are participating (no Champlin schools) Visit http://www.walktoschool-usa.org/ to learn more about how our community can get involved. Let our schools and city officials know we are interested in participating!


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Pay it Forward is a movie, based on a novel, with a concept I’ll never forget. A young boy named Trevor is assigned a social studies project to come up with a plan to change the world through direct action. Trevor’s plan is to “pay it forward” by doing a good deed for Cairbou Coffee in Champlin, MNthree people who must in turn each do good deeds for three other people. It’s a great concept, one you hope to continue from the big screen to the community. And, in small ways, it happens—even at Caribou Coffee in Champlin.

One day it might happen to you.

You place your order at the drive-through window, “I’ll have a medium, skim cappuccino with half a shot of Irish cream, please.” It’s $3.55. You drive up to the window with cash in hand, and the cashier says with a big smile, “Put your money away. The person in front of you paid for your drink, and told me to tell you to have a nice day.”  

Is it just a fluke. Is it someone you know? People don’t just buy a stranger a coffee at a drive-through? They do in Champlin. It has happened to me three times, paid for by three anonymous people.

The cashier tells me it’s a concept related to paying it forward. People buy a drink for the person behind them, and they do the same for someone else. It is a chain reaction.  She isn’t sure when it started at the drive through, but the idea has caught on. “It happens once, and then suddenly everyone is paying for each other’s drinks for about a week.”

Let’s get real. Buying someone’s coffee won’t change the world; in fact, one could say it’s contributing to a caffeine addiction. What is real:  Small, random acts of kindness that create a ripple effect, a motion of doing something positive for someone else that continues. And, it’s happening in our community.

And, the answer is yes, I’ve paid it backward too. Perhaps I bought your drink yesterday. 

Acts of kindness

Other than paying for someone’s coffee, there are many more ways to give back to our community. Below are a few ideas:

Donate 1% of your Target purchases
If you use your Target REDcard Visa to make purchases, Target will donate 1% of purchases to your school of choice. Donate yours to Champlin schools.

As of September 2007, Target reports it has donated:

  • $92,652.66 to Champlin Park High School (1785 designated it)

  • $22,819.35 to Jackson Middle School (376 designated it)

  • $29,624.91 to Oxbow Elementary (419 designated it)

  • $25848.22 to Champlin Elementary (379 designated it)

Pick up garbage
When you are at Andrew’s Park watching your child at a sporting event, walking through Elm Creek or riding bike, pick up garbage you see on the ground and throw it away. And make sure you always throw your own garbage in a trash or recycle bin.

Stop for pedestrians
If you see someone waiting to cross the street, don’t just drive by. Stop and let them cross, and wave hello (you must always stop at crosswalks if someone is waiting).

Volunteer at Champlin Shores
Contact Janet Eide by calling (763) 712-0118. You’ll need to fill out an application. Some volunteer activities include calling out Bingo numbers, playing cards, helping at resident events, and the list goes on!

What are other ways we can pay it forward (or backward) in Champlin, and make our community an even better place to live? Post your ideas in the comments section.

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Commercial Property for sale in Champlin

Are new businesses moving in? When will the building near the movie theater be finished? At football games, in the aisles at Target and at neighborhood get-togethers Champlin residents are asking questions about the new multi-tenant commercial buildings near Target and the Mann Theatre. 

Scott Schulte, city planner, has the answers.

Market slow-down

Shulte says the owners built the multi-tenant commercial buildings expecting to have occupancy. “Given the market slow-down, the [owners] are having a hard time finding tenants.”

There are three commercial buildings in Champlin currently under construction or near completion:

  • The Champlin Town Center, a 29,000 square foot retail center just north of Target on the east side of Highway 169
  • Champlin Retail Plaza, next to Minnwest Bank
  • Champlin Station, a 17,000 square foot building located just north of Mann Theatre

Champlin Station at a standstill

The construction of Champlin Station is at a standstill. Shulte says the owner has no tenant commitments and therefore has delayed its completion. The City of Champlin is hopeful the owner will enclose the building and at least finish construction on the parking lot before winter. “We have limited ability to force completion, but we do require they make progress toward completion (meaning they must demonstrate progress every six months).”

More information

For more information about City of Champlin developments, visit their web site at http://ci.champlin.mn.us  or contact City Planner Scott Shulte at 763-923-7102 or schulte@ci.champlin.mn.us.

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I finally had a day to myself, the day after Labor Day: kids at school, husband at work. I thought I’d start the morning with a workout at Lifetime Fitness (a.k.a. LTF or the club), and then pop over to Caribou Coffee for a medium skim cappuccino with half a shot of Irish Cream (yum).

Lifetime Fitness in Champlin is always busy, with few spaces Click on the imageto park. In the morning, it is filled with those who workout before work, and then the stay-at-home parents show up, kids in tow. I knew something was wrong when the parking lot was empty and a huge trash bin was parked in the front.

I walked up to the door to find a poster board on an easel. It basically said: “Sorry for the inconvenience, but we are closed for the week to do remodeling. Try our other locations.”

I must admit, I don’t regularly workout at LTF during the summer. Instead, I prefer to ride my bicycle, go for walks, garden and do other physical activities; however, once school starts, I get back into the routine of trying to get to the club at least three times per week. Perhaps if I had been going all summer, I would have known they were closing the facility that week, but I do wonder: Why didn’t they send out letters or postcards to LTF members? And, what are they doing to compensate Champlin residents for losing a week’s worth of using the facility?

The lunch-hour callback strategy

A few days following my non-workout visit to LTF in Champlin, I called their corporate office. After being shuffled around to different staff, I finally reached someone’s voicemail and left a message.

“My name is Shannon,” I said in my message. “I’ve been a member of LTF for many years. I value the company, but I recently went to the club only to find it is closed for a week. I didn’t have any idea this was going to happen, and I’m calling because I wonder what you are offering to compensate your Champlin members who lose a week from the month’s membership.”

A perky, customer service representative called me back at 12:20 in the afternoon with her mouth full. She was eating her lunch. I know the strategy. Return voicemails during lunch hour. But, that strategy doesn’t work if you are one who works through lunch hour, like me.

It’s in the policies

She stumbled to clear her throat, surprised I answered. “I just called to return your message to tell you about the wonderful, and exciting remodeling project at our Champlin location,” she said smiling through the phone. She mentioned something about cleaning the facility, updating the play room and adding new equipment. And, she said, they do have the right to close the site. It’s in the policies.

I understand it is most likely in the policies. I never read those. Does anyone? And, I do realize there are times a company may need to remodel. I want it to be a clean, well-kept facility with equipment that works too. And, that’s why I pay $88 per month. It should always be clean and updated.

I’ve been a member of YMCA and Northwest Athletic (who LTF recently bought out) prior to joining Lifetime Fitness in 2002. I do think their facilities are clean, and they repair and replace the equipment on a regular basis. No complaints there. I value Lifetime Fitness and what it offers to our community, which is why I’ve remained a member for more than five years.

Drive to Maple Grove or Coon Rapids

Next, she told me as an added bonus we can try the other fitness centers in the area, such as Maple Grove and Coon Rapids. Maple Grove’s facility is 19 miles from my house, round trip, and although I haven’t googled directions, I believe Coon Rapids will be at least that far if not more.

“I called the membership manager at the Champlin location, and he said residents have told him they are happy they get to try the other facilities,” she said.

I don’t care what others want to do. I joined LTF instead of any other facility because of its location. I also pointed out that Maple Grove is considered an Advantage Level membership and Champlin is Fitness Level membership; there’s a cost difference.

It’s a matter of principle

I was debating with this woman over a measly *$20.00, and getting nowhere. But sometimes it’s not about the money, like this occasion; it’s a matter of principle. I wanted her to know how I felt, and perhaps in the future Lifetime Fitness will consider the impact. Our conversation ended with her saying she respected my opinion, but she would not consider the suggestions I made (see below).

Simple sorry-for-the-inconvenience-suggestions for Lifetime Fitness

It is good business to say thank you to your customers for their loyalty and understanding—for the inconvenience of shutting down the facility for a week. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Send a letter or postcard notifying members the fitness center will be closed for a week of maintenance, explain what will occur and how the facility will be updated. What new machines are going in, for example?
  2. Provide a one-time credit for each day of the month the facility is closed, for those who live in the community and are most affected by it (I understand this might be difficult to determine, since some come from far-outreaching suburbs to use this center).
  3. Instead of the credit-per-day option listed in item two above, perhaps include free passes to LTF for members to pass out (costing little money, and providing LTF with free direct-referral marketing). Another option is a coupon for a free item at LifeCafe, the on-site cafeteria.

If anyone has other suggestions for Lifetime Fitness in Champlin, post them in the comments section. Perhaps we can catch their attention, and together make our Lifetime Fitness center an even better place to work out and spend time with our families.

*$88 per month/30 days= $2.93 x 7 days. (This is for a couple’s membership. If you have a family membership, it would be more—a single’s less.)

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I’d be embellishing a bit to say I’ve put a thousand miles on my bicycle riding through Elm Creek Park Reserve, but I must admit I have worn some tires on those paved paths, feel as though I could easily findPedestrian Bridge in Elm Creek Park Reserve my way through it in the dark; however, until yesterday, I’ve never veered off the trail, and I only wish I had done it sooner.

“Let’s go exploring through Elm Creek instead,” suggested my husband Laurence, after I explained I was leaving to go for a walk. He wanted to find a tree he can photograph over a one-year time period, and then develop a slideshow or animation illustrating the changes in seasons.

“We’ll follow the animal trails, instead of the paved bike trail,” he said. Huh? I must admit I was ambivalent. What if we get lost? What if we come upon animals?

The adventure begins
Laurence and I stepped out our front door on an Elm Creek adventure just after noon.

I let Laurence decide where we were going, since he needed to find the “tree” to photograph, and I became a mere spectator enjoying the weather while getting some much-needed exercise.

We followed the trails, made by deer I assume, which twisted and turned through the woods, cleared its way through the marshes by Lemans Lake, and generally allowed us to feel like explorers, even though we were in the middle of suburbia and could always hear the traffic of Highway 169.

Elm Creek Park Reserve in Champlin, MN

Deer droppings, Marlin Perkins and yellow wild flowers
I soon relaxed, simply enjoyed being away from the bike path, trying something new. I was taking photos, climbing on trees, and emulating Survivorman, Lewis & Clark or Marlin Perkins.

I was an explorer.

“This path was created by deer. I can tell,” I told Laurence as I sniffed about a trail we found in the Irridescent Yellow Wildflower in Elm Creekwoods. I found deer droppings, and tasted one to decipher whether it was a doe or a buck (just kidding). Our detective work was answered when we found the smell was merely a rotting carcass of some animal who met its demise.

We followed the fire road, and connected to the horse path. From there, we stood on a bridge viewing the bike trail bridge. How many times have I passed over that bridge, never once noticing this one?

I photographed the iridescent yellow wildflowers as brave Laurence stood among them—bees buzzing around his legs. We followed the two-foot diameter, black tubing carrying water to the homes affected by the road construction along Fernbrook Lane. A cat had walked on it before us, leaving bits and pieces of a mouse along the way; water dripped from the tap on the tubing.

I was an explorer eager to see, smell and notice everything around me.

We walked through the construction on Fernbrook Lane, through Josephine Nunn Park and two-and-a-half hours later we walked into the house with blisters, a camera full of photos, and a story to tell.

A lone tree in Elm Creek Park Reserve in Champlin, MN


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