Meet Edina's Hometown Heroes

Edina is made up of people who pride themselves with making the city a great place for living, learning, raising families and doing business.

Elizabeth Bellas

Although Elizabeth Bellas has not yet met all 825 residents of the Strachauer Park neighborhood, that once impossible goal is now beginning to look within reach.

Elizabeth and husband Allen moved their family to this residential area, wedged between Pamela Park and Highway 62 on the east side of Edina, in 2004. They came to know their immediate neighbors well, but this circle of familiarity did not extend far in any direction. That changed in 2011, when the family welcomed their first dog, Pepper.

“Walking the dog regularly got us out meeting and talking with more neighbors,” Bellas explained. “I remember one day in particular, when my then 12-year-old son told me how much he loved being part of the ‘community of dog owners.’ He enjoyed getting out and meeting people because of Pepper. I understood what he meant, and I totally agreed with him.”

Indeed, that sense of community seemed both natural and familiar to Bellas, who, prior to moving to Minnesota, lived for 15 years in the vibrant and distinct Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. “While I loved the city as a whole, I also very much identified as being from Ballard,” she explained.

In 2012, when the City announced its intention to formally define and name its constituent neighborhoods, Bellas jumped at the chance to be part of the process. She attended early meetings of the Edina Neighborhood Identification Steering Committee, and voiced opinions during the public comment period. Her input played a role in the ultimate decision to set West 60th Street as the boundary between Strachauer Park and the Chowen Park neighborhood to its north.

In addition, when the original officeholder moved out of state, Bellas’ neighbors elected her to a term as co-chair of Strachauer Park’s neighborhood association steering committee.

“Helpfully, the members of our steering committee bring a variety of skills and interests to the table,” Bellas said. “Some focus their attention on issues such as road reconstruction, improving storm water runoff, and teardowns and new construction.” All seem to agree that, where these important issues of communal interest are concerned, the new neighborhood association is proving an excellent channel for neighbors to communicate both with each other and with City leaders.

In contrast, “I tend to be the steering committee member who focuses on social aspects of the neighborhood. I feel that there is a huge benefit to neighbors simply knowing one another,” Bellas explained. “Knowing your neighbors is said to improve both safety and overall quality of life.”

Among other events, she organizes neighborhood-wide parties over Halloween and the Fourth of July, and helps coordinate an annual Night to Unite meet-up at Strachauer Park. Bellas is also proud to be a charter member of the new Strachauer Park Book Club, which convenes monthly.

While the neighborhood association has already proven well worth the time and effort needed to maintain it, Bellas is confident that all involved will reap even bigger dividends in 2016, when Strachauer Park is slated to receive extensive roadway and utility improvements. Construction is rarely an easy process, but “neighbors know their neighborhood better than anyone, and a neighborhood association stands in a good place to share local knowledge with the City and to facilitate communication with residents.”


1 of 51  Heroes

© 2015 City Of Edina, Minnesota