June 16, 2007

CPDC Corrects Signs

Jack Broughton and Dave Hempel of CPDC have been working to correct or remove outdated marketing signs referencing the former Land Office. 

CPDC Works to Beautify Victor Gardens

Thank you to Shelly Tompkins and CPDC who have bypassed construction obstacles and worked to beautify Victor Gardens.  While retail construction continues near the main entrance, irrigation and fountain water source reconnection is impractical.  CPDC has cleaned up the mess at our neighborhood’s main entrance, begun to plant flowers, and is working to temporarily fill the fountain with wood mulch chips until a more permanent solution is practical.  After retail construction projects are completed the Community Association will be able to a make permanent changes to the area.

CPDC Shares Plans for New Parks

Shelly Tompkins of CPDC has asked me to share with homeowners concept drawings of two new small parks, or “greens” in Victor Gardens.  These new parks will be built in the Victor Gardens 6th Addition on the East side of Clearwater Creek.  Click on the “Maps” link to view the location of these new parks.  To view the full-size PDF documents click on the links below.

Provence Way Green concept drawing -  click here for full-size pdf drawing

Flora Way Green concept drawing -  click here for full-size pdf drawing

June 14, 2007

Fountain Working Again - Please Keep Children Out

Thanks to Michael Hage who cleaned out, disinfected and restarted the Jardin Fountain again.

Neighbors are asked to keep children from playing in and near the fountain as it contains chemicals and unfiltered water.  Also, in the past, some inadvertent damage has been done to the fountain, surrounding stonework and plantings by playing children.  

Thanks again Mike for pitching in to maintain the fountain!

June 12, 2007

Follow-Up : CPDC’s list of Questions

Residents of Victor Gardens asked the following list of questions.  In the past there has been some confusion and/or miscommunication regarding some of the items. 
Shelly Tompkins, Vice President/Broker of CPDC, has the authority to answer the questions and has taken responsibility to follow through on CPDC’s responses.  In consultation with employees of CPDC, Mrs. Tompkins clarified the developer’s position and answered questions at a June 1 meeting with neighborhood representatives.
CPDC follow-up list as of May 23, 2007: Based upon meeting notes and some follow-up clarification with Mrs. Tompkins, Mark's impressions of CPDC's responses are in blue.
1.)  Unsold lot appearance – tall grass & weeds The unsold lots were never intended to be mowed on a frequent schedule like public parks or common areas.  Until the lots are sold and developed, CPDC commits to limit the growth to an approximate knee high level, and will first mow the week of June 11th and as needed the remainder of the season.
2.)  Signs: Remove or change remaining incorrect signs with references to the “Land Office”  The incorrect signs will be corrected and/or repainted within the week of June 11th.
3.)  Signs: Replace missing lot identification signs At this time, the developer’s marketing budget does not allow for replacing missing signs.
4.)  Existing fenced garden: Finish off the fencing in the garden to a logical stopping point.   CPDC has donated the land that contains the “garden” to Victor Gardens Community Association (the master association).  The garden is now a “common area”.  CPDC will also donate some of the remaining metal fencing to the VG Community Association.  Since CPDC no longer owns the “garden”, it will be the responsibility of the VG Community Association to use the donated fencing as it wishes in the garden, and make changes to the fence at its expense.  Irrigation, or other improvements to the new common area will also be the responsibility of the VG Community Association. CPDC will assist by recommending ways to connect electrical power and a permanent water supply to the garden. The HOA received a quote from Early Bird to extend irrigation to the garden and it was about $1500. The HOA will have to determine if this price is acceptable or if there are alternative options.  Please see attached site plan to view the boundaries of the garden. Click here for site plan download
5.)  Garden expansion: Receive permission to temporarily expand garden to the East of existing garden.
The garden will not be expanded.  The area to the west and outside of the garden will remain clear until it is redeveloped in the future. It was reseeded June 1st.
6.)  Save fencing & monuments: Preserve & store wrought-iron style fencing and decorative monuments (land office & main entrance). The metal fencing and small wooden monuments from main entrance will be left in the garden location and donated to the VG Community Association.  If the Community Association sees no useful purpose of the additional fencing, CPDC will remove them from the site.  Everyone must be aware that future development will impact improvements to the garden by bringing utilities to the townhome lots.  This can not be prevented and CPDC will be responsible for final grade on all impacted locations but not replacement.
7.)  Remove silt fence & barbed wire fencing: Remove fencing, mostly near walking trails and roadways need to be removed.    Barbed wire fencing will be removed in selected locations, especially along nearby trails.  Not all fencing will be removed.  Dave Hempel &/or the City will determine which areas can have silt fence removal.
8.)  Remove debris: Remove barrels from the Northern side of the lake, East of the Community Center.   Due to the nature of the debris, it must be removed and disposed of on a specific schedule.  It will be completed the week of June 11th.
9.) Displaced trees near main entrance: Ask new property owners to save & move shrubs and trees near main entrance to new locations if possible. CPDC does not own the retail areas.  CPDC has contacted the owners of the retail properties, and has requested that remaining trees be saved and replanted elsewhere.
10.)  “Welcome to Hugo” monument sign: Complete electrical and landscaping work around the monument sign.  CPDC has an agreement with the City of Hugo regarding all improvements to the monument sign.  Until the lights are delivered and Xcel provides electrical service, the light wires will be taped to the top surface so they are not obviously complete.
11.)  Trusses left by Nottinghome Builders: Please speak to Nottinghome Builders and/or the truss company to remove these items. Nottinghome Builders has called the truss company and asked to remove the trusses.  Nottinghome Builders must be contacted if the remaining materials are not removed by mid July to make a second removal request from the truss company.
12.)  Victorgardens.com website: Is there any timeline for updating the victorgardens.com website?   The marketing budget allows for the updating of the victorgardens.com website.  Changes will be made, and the updated site will be posted by mid July.
13. Intranet: Is there any timeline for updating the Victor Gardens Community Intranet?   
CPDC voluntarily turned over control of the Community Intranet site to VG Community Association.  Neighborhood input is sought to determine the future of this site. Based upon that input, it may be determined that the site should be updated, changed, or discontinued.
ALSO:  The fountain at VG’s main entrance has been disconnected because of nearby retail construction.  The fountain may be reconnected at a future time after retail construction is complete.  As a temporary measure, the fountain will be capped with plastic and topped with mulch to clean up its appearance, and provide an easy clean-out process in the future. The area in front of the main entrance fountain will be renovated.  The existing pile of paving stones will be re-used as edging stones around a new planting bed in the median. Any remaining pavers will be given to the VG Community Association for re-use in the garden. Since there is no water supply currently connected to the median area (because of nearby construction) the new bed will be planted with hardy – and drought resistant flowering plants.  Renovations will be completed by the week of June 11th.
ALSO:  CPDC has committed to freshen the wood mulch by raking under the Arbre Park's bleachers and tot lot area.  The mulch improvements will be by the City in 2008.

Maintenance Update - Pool Heater, Fireplace and Gate Repairs

This following message was received by Gina Higgins this morning, Tuesday, June 12.

“Good morning,

I wanted to inform you all that the pool heater was repaired last night - the problem was a fuse. The temperature has been set at 84 degrees and is working just fine now.

The pool gate/lock will be repaired today. I also have put in a work order to have the fireplace looked at - it was brought to our attention that it was not working; possibly the pilot needs to be re-lit.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Warm regards,

Gina Higgins, CMCA  Community Manager  Community Development Inc.  7100 Madison Avenue West  Golden Valley, MN  55427  Direct ~ 763-225-6438  Fax ~ 763-225-6439  E-mail ~ ghiggins@developcommunity.com  ”

Dogs & Leashes - Comments from Squeaky Connors

I received an email from Squeeky Connors following the recent post “Dogs Need Leashes”.  She has asked me to share her comments with neighbors.  She’s made some constructive proposals worth considering.  Thanks for your comments, Squeaky.  Your viewpoint is appreciated.  

Please read her message that follows:

“The laws in Hugo concerning dogs state that a dog should be under the control of it's owner . They do not say dogs must be leashed at all times.  Now that I've got your attention . . . 

Our German Shepherd Troy, looks like a wolf.  I know that can be intimidating, therefore I leash him when others are around.  I now go to the park earlier in the morning to play ball with him, trying to arrive before others.  We generally use the vacant lot for other ball times.  At almost one year old, Troy has completed classes in Basic Obedience and Puppy Agility and is now in Intermediate Obedience.  We are working hard to train him to be a good citizen in the environment where we live.  

If someone is afraid of our dog, I would encourage that person to meet him. Know that when people approach us I will always leash my dog (except in cases where I already know the people are comfortable around him off-leash).  I respect that some people will still have fears and not want to meet any dog.  I encourage parents to tell children who are unsure about this particular dog, that German Shepherds help the police keep our communities safe.  They work on farms, help people with disabilities and find people (especially children) when they are lost.  Just this year a dog named Gandolf ,who looks very much like Troy, found a lost boy in North Carolina.  I encourage parents to teach their children how to meet a dog by asking the owner if they can pet the dog.  Troy is a good one to practice with.    If a child is frightened, I encourage parent and child to approach us and ask questions.  This is an exceptional dog.  He was hand picked by an expert to be a companion for our daughter who has Cerebral Palsy.  He is meeting this hope with flying colors as he is a very sweet and intelligent dog.  His greatest joy is chasing a ball.

There sure are a lot of dog owners in our neighborhood.  Certainly a majority.  Perhaps we should consider enclosing a small portion of each park for a doggie play area.  Our dogs love meeting up with the other dogs for romping and socializing.  Dogs that play well with others are much better neighbors than dogs who don't.  Here are a couple of other ideas I have.  Feature a dog (or other pet) each week on our website.  Include a picture and short bio about the pet.  Pet "meet and greets", "pet parades" or "read with a dog" times in the park.  Scheduled doggie playtimes instead of random spontaneous events.  Maybe dog owners would hold a fund-raising event to raise money for fencing (the non dog-owners can be our biggest contributors).  I would love to work with anyone who wants to enhance the lives of everyone in the neighborhood by finding ways that dog-lovers and others can live more happily together.  I would like to invite anyone who is interested in talking about this to my home on Friday June 22nd at 7:00 in the evening. Both "dog" people and "non dog- people" are invited but if you come, you must bring a positive and helpful attitude.  This meeting is not for anyone who wants to confront the situation with conflict.  This meeting is intended for those people who want to make things better - not worse.  This neighborhood is full of friendly, helpful, good people.  I'm sure we can turn this around to make our neighborhood a safer happier place for all the residents - including those with tails.  Squeaky Connors  14356 Cosettte Way N (Blue and White house on the corner with the wheelchair ramp in back).  651- 207-6138  If you can make it on the 22nd please call or email me so I can have enough treats for everyone.     skveeky@comcast.net  “

New Test Feature - An Opinions Page

I receive so many neighborhood emails on a variety of subjects.  It’s sometimes difficult to manage them all.   Rather than simply forwarding and responding to neighbors emails, I thought I would test an idea.  

I have introduced this Opinions page as public forum for a few select topics.  I have some reservations about introducing an opinions page on our neighborhood website.  My hope is that an opinions page can be used to find creative solutions to common neighborhood concerns.  Perhaps this page will provide greater communication among neighbors, rather than just the simple one-way website it has been until now.  It may not be a permanent feature, since it’s just an idea I’m testing.  It will not be a forum for venting angry comments.  It will remain positive and constructive or it will be removed.

I will introduce a few ideas, and invite public comments on those topics.  We’ll see how it goes from there.  It will be up to the user to decide whether to remain anonymous or not.

Look for the “Opinions” link at the top of this site.  Read the posts, then join the discussion with the “Add a comment” link at the end of the articles.

June 11, 2007

Dogs Need Leashes

By far, the most frequently emailed concern I have received in my short time as Liaison is about owners of dogs.   

Scotties, Collies, and Dobermans don’t seem to care if their waste is in a bag or on the playground.  People do.  Neighbors with dogs are getting the message.  A lot of progress has been made in the neighborhood regarding the clean up of dog waste.  Your neighbors thank you.

One issue that continues is the problem of unleashed dogs.   It would be nice, yet inaccurate to say the problem was limited to the Chihuahua who jumps on your clean clothes with muddy paws.  In a few unfortunate (and scary) incidents, this problem has escalated in the last few months. 

In the other places I have lived, I have seen countless times where a normally calm and controlled dog will revert to its hunting instinct- lunging after squirrels, skateboards, and children.  It’s the naturalthing for a dog to do.  I’ve spoken to other friends and neighbors in Victor Gardens in the medical profession.  They’ve seen firsthand the damage that a biting dog can inflict on the life of a child.

So... if you like to play frisbee with your mutt, or play catch with your German Shepherd, please do it in a place that isn’t in our neighborhood parks.  Take your dog to an Off-Leash Dog Park instead.

Ramsey County Off-Leash Dog Parks

Anoka County Off-Leash Dog Parks

Most owners believe their own dogs are harmless and cute.  Domestication has come a long way, but please remember that dogs have instincts.  Training is important. Control is more important.  A leash is the only way to ensure control.  

Parks in Victor Gardens are meant for all of us.  Everyone deserves to feel safe in their neighborhood.  

Please.  Leash your dogs.

Opinions Needed About Potential New Committees

In the past few weeks I’ve heard from many proud neighbors about the great job our Victor Gardens Social Committee is doing.  I speak for many of us who would like to thank the members of the Committee for their hard work, creative ideas, and fun events!  It’s great to see neighbors taking such an active role in our community.

I’ve also heard recent suggestions that similar energy could be channeled into other potential Committees.  I would like to hear your thoughts about more (or different) ways neighbors could become involved.  

Below are two ideas in particular.  I would like to you hear opinions on these or other committee ideas.

1.)   A potential “Grounds Committee”  (not to be confused with the Garden Committee) could organize seasonal clean-up and minor maintenance projects & events.  These could include: 

  1. Seasonal cleanup projects

  2. Seasonal fountains startup & shut-down

  3. Irrigation systems oversight

  4. Parks mulch refreshing and minor maintenance

  5. Tennis court windscreen repairs

2.)   A potential “Board Advisory Committee” could organize residents with expertise.  The Committee could advise the Victor Gardens Board of Directors on finding better ways to spend your association dues, and work toward easing the eventual transition of control of the Board of Directors to neighborhood control.  It might be especially helpful to involve residents with talents in:

  1. Budgeting

  2. Finance

  3. Contracts

  4. Management

  5. Insurance

These are a few of the most thoughtful ideas I’ve heard.  I think all residents would be interested in the results of this informal “poll”.  Please email me your opinions.  Thanks!

Sump Pumps Causing Problems on Streets and Sidewalks

I received a question regarding sump pump discharge hoses draining into the streets, storm drains, and sidewalks.  Here’s an excerpt of the message,    " This issue was reviewed during the neighborhood walk around last year.  I don’t know that anything was resolved, but as I recall, CDPC representatives agreed that it may need to be addressed.  The standing water in the alley causes slimy slick spots that are dangerous.  Last year, [name removed] slipped in the slime on her bike and fell down.  Yesterday, I slipped in the slime and fell down.  I strongly believe that something needs to be done about the drainage."  

Our neighborhood lies in a area with a relatively high water table and clay-laden soil. There are many homes in Victor Gardens whose sump pumps run frequently. Quickly responding to this neighbor’s concerns, Shelly Tompkins of CPDC, has suggested a few options, including rain gardens for homeowners with sump pump issues:

I was relieved to meet one of the alley homeowners by happenstance last Friday and we discussed the sump pump circumstances. 


Here's the overall info and resolution:  To date, the City has not allowed sump pump hose directed to the storm water sewer.  There are many cities that will not allow it at all.  I understand why people don't want the sump pump delivering the water to the lawn.  Lawn root systems are very short, it stays very wet surrounding the hose area and it is uncomfortable to mow or to play on.  I think that it is a concern throughout the neighborhood and not exclusive to the alley homesites.  Three individual sump pump hoses are causing the slippery problems on the alley.  The resolution to the slippery alley problem is for the three individuals pumping on the alley surface to keep it on the lot surface instead.  Also, those throughout Victor Gardens that do not like the wet surface on the lawn can use the following resolution as well. 


Any resident can resolve the sump pump concern by installing a Rain Garden at the end of the sump pump hose no closer than 10' from the foundation of the home.  I have attached a design sheet provided by Applied Ecological Services. It shows how easy it is to individually resolve these sump pump concerns.  The proper use of native plants in a Rain Garden will immediately absorb water faster through the depth of plant roots.  The perennial plants are very low maintenance and the surface surrounding the plants can be wood chips or rocks.  Most people want to avoid weeding.  Topping the ground surface around the plants and under the chips or rocks can not be plastic, but can be a product that can stop weeds, while still allowing water to seep through.  Depending on distance from one home to another, neighbors could share the Rain Garden sump pump use and expense by positioning it between two homes on the lot line.  Half the investment of time and money, twice the use!


I researched the two garden centers closest to Victor Gardens, but they do not have native plants and one didn't even know what a Rain Garden was.  Below are three local garden center resources for native plants.  I have worked for several years with Applied Ecological and they are a great resource and I have been to Outback Nurseries and it's a fun native-shopping experience. 


Landscape Alternatives

25316 St. Croix Trail

just south of Osceola on Highway 95



Applied Ecological Services/Spring Lake Nurseries

21938 Mushtown Road

Prior Lake, MN



Outback Nurseries

15280 110th St.

Hastings, MN



More research on how to install a Rain Garden are:




I hope all this information will help each homeowner resolve their sump pump concerns.  I think that there is a great Rain Garden example at the Hugo City Hall if anyone wants to see one first hand.  Please share this information with all the VG residents.  I plan to share it with every future resident through a recommendation in our Landscape Policy.  I am also going to forward it to Ryland Homes as a recommendation to avoid the potential for any future homeowner warranty concerns.


Shel “