Menahga charts energy, environment strategy

Out of the top-ranked 15 projects, the Menahga energy & environment plan identifies nine for implementation in 2023.

Contributed / Region 5 Development Commission

Based on community input, Menahga’s energy and environment plan prioritizes 15 projects.

The Menahga City Council approved the five-year plan last week.

It’s been a collaborative effort with Region 5 Development Commission’s (R5DC).

According to the introduction, “This work plan was generated in order to provide and prioritize clear, actionable steps and support the city in its efforts to protect the area’s natural beauty, prepare for extreme weather events, reduce energy consumption for the city and its residents and meet other needs as identified by the team and the community-at-large.”

Starting in Sept. 2022, five public meetings were held. A community survey was also conducted.


The planning team included Mayor Liz Olson, council member Durwin Tomperi and Laura Ahlf, who was interim city administrator at the time, along with Menahga School Board member Andrea Haverinen, Menahga Superintendent Jason Kjos, Menahga Community Education Director Michael Weerts, city planning commissioner Jensine Kurtti and 11 community members.

The plan states that projects were prioritized based on this criteria:

  • It supports Menahga being a welcoming community;
  • It protects Menahga’s natural resources;
  • It is reasonable for a small city with limited resources to accomplish.

Out of the top-ranked 15 projects, the team identified nine for implementation in 2023.

Menahga Energy & Environment Plan by Shannon Geisen on Scribd

Tree planting

The plan calls for planting up to five appropriate species of trees each year in “strategic locations around Menahga,” starting with St. Urho’s Park. The cost is anticipated to be $1,000 annually.

Waste drop-off

The plan seeks to offer a drop-off location for appliances, mattresses and tires for larger households, starting in 2023. This would be part of a community-wide, annual clean-up day that includes hazardous waste, possibly in May. Estimated cost is $3,000 annually.

The plan also proposes coordinating with Wadena County Environmental Services to conduct outreach to the Menahga community regarding pick-up of household hazardous waste. The goal is to reduce illegal dumping and reduce pollution.

Energy audits

In collaboration with utilities and the Minnesota Rural Water Association, the plan suggests conducting electricity and natural gas energy audits in all city-owned buildings, including wastewater and drinking water pump stations. Cost: $2,000.


Following the audit, the city would begin with the “quickest return on investment items first.” Cost: $10,000 annually.

Redevelopment of Spirit Lake

With community participation, another proposed project is planning for redevelopment of the lakefront. The goal is “a shared community vision for the future of Spirit Lake and the park,” with stormwater management a top priority in order to preserve lake water quality.

Stormwater management

The plan seeks technical assistance from the Wadena County Soil & Water Conservation District to design curbs and sidewalks for stormwater management.

Installing rain gardens along parking lots by Spirit Lake is another suggested project to help filter stormwater and reduce pollution entering the lake.

CodeRED alert system

The plan encourages residents to enroll in Wadena County’s CodeRED extreme weather alert system. Advertising is anticipated to cost $400.

By 2024, it also suggests completing an emergency plan and designating a community storm/emergency shelter.

Energy efficiency improvements

Finally, the plan seeks to achieve energy-efficiency improvements for at least two businesses and three homeowners each year over the next five years.

This would be achieved through community outreach, in collaboration with utilities and others.


Other projects

The plan proposes the following:

  • Installing solar lights at the tennis courts by 2024, along with upgrading them for pickleball;
  • Improving or expanding walking and biking zones in town;
  • Installing a 40kW solar energy system at Greenwood Connections, the city-owned nursing facility;
  • Collaborating with Clean Energy Resource Teams to select the best city-owned properties where solar energy systems can be installed


The Menahga City Council unanimously approved the plan at their March 13 meeting.

Project implementation should be at no little or no cost to the city. The plan utilizes grants from the Morgan Family Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Sourcewell.

The USDA has $5,000 available to the city. This would provide matching funds for a $10,000 contribution from Sourcewell. City Administrator Lacey Erickson said an application was submitted to USDA.

“Everything, so far, looks good,” she said.

The USDA will release the funds once the R5DC projects are underway.

The entire plan can be found at .


Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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