Woodbury Commissions Revealed

Meet your neighbors who help shape what’s happening in Woodbury.
East Ridge High School junior Logan Scott, a member of Woodbury's Parks and Recreation Commission.

Do you use the parks and athletic fields? Wonder about efforts for affordable housing and incentivizing business growth? “Most citizens don’t realize the influence the residents have on the decisions that impact the community,” says Bob Klatt, city of Woodbury parks and recreation director.   “We have a motto, ‘Woodbury is what it is, because its citizens are who they are,’ and we really live by that,” says Janelle Schmitz, the city’s planning and economic development manager. The city recognizes over 400 volunteers each year who help with everything from ‘buckthorn busting’ to working on one of Woodbury’s six advisory commissions which advise the City Council. Here are a few of your neighborhood insiders who help shape the city by serving on a commission.   Nick Alfano Chair, Parks and Recreation Commission Nick Alfano, senior vice president, global accounts with Ecolab Inc., lives in Woodbury with his wife and three daughters ages 19,17 and 15. “I feel like I got to watch Woodbury grow up,” says Alfano, who moved to Minnesota 17 years ago. “Even though the city grows, we don’t lose that balance of the family and outdoors.” When asked what project he is most proud to be involved with, Alfano says, “It’s been an interesting opportunity being on the task force for the Bielenberg project. We spent many days and nights there when my kids were growing up learning about teamwork and how to compete. I feel good about giving back to help make the facility great for future generations.”   Logan Scott Member, Parks and Recreation Commission Sixteen-year-old Logan Scott brings the voice of local youth to the commission as one of two students appointed in 2013. A junior at East Ridge, Scott was looking to volunteer and saw an article in the paper about the opportunity. Scott says, “We moved here nine years ago, and hanging out at Carver Lake or ice skating at Colby Lake Park really helped me acclimate to Minnesota. It’s really amazing to get a look on the inside of decisions made in Woodbury. Besides just thinking ‘Hey, look there’s a new swing set,’ you actually know what people were thinking when they made those decisions.”   Irfan Ali Member, Planning Commission A Woodbury resident since 2003, Irfan Ali is a senior engineering manager for Medtronic and lives with his wife and a daughter, 8, and a son, 5. The planning commission oversees development plans and zoning issues such as housing development at Stonemill and the new McDonald’s going in near Super Target, and hears concerns from residents in its monthly public meetings. “My main goal is to encourage more diversity of perspectives and ideas,” Ali says. One example: revising code and zoning language to be more inclusive, including updating the term churches to places of worship as a classification. This zoning language impacts churches that may be held in nontraditional spaces like warehouses. “Woodbury is a diverse community and I encourage other minorities to engage in local government; it sets an important example for our kids,” Ali says.   Roger Green Chair, Economic Development Commission A self-proclaimed “professional volunteer,” Green has been active in commissions for the last decade. After 38 years in marketing and public relations, he retired as vice president of strategy, policy and marketing with HealthEast Care Systems last July. Green has served all over the spectrum in Woodbury including coaching youth programs, working on the housing task force for affordable housing and now the Economic Development Commission which focuses on a strategic look to make Woodbury an attractive place to do business. When asked if there were any perks to being on the commission, Green laughed. “No, we can’t take so much as a coffee, but Janelle [Schmitz] makes a mean banana bread,” he says. “The real reward comes by knowing you provided input that is valued, that you’re helping to make Woodbury a better place going forward.”  &  Each fall, the city of Woodbury fills all vacancies on the advisory commissions, volunteer positions that are appointed by the City Council. For more information, go to ci.woodbury.mn.us/government/advisory-commissions/applying-for-advisory-commissions.