In 2010, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) received a grant from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support and conduct Health Impact Assessments (HIAs). As part of the grant requirements and in collaboration with the City of St. Louis Park (SLP), MDH proceeded to prepare a desktop HIA on the City’s Comprehensive Plan. MDH used Design for Health’s Comprehensive Plan Review Checklist to determine what health issues to explore. MDH selected 20 ‘essential for health’ indicators from the list of 100. Indicators included assessments of tree canopy, views of greenery, parks & trails accessibility, pedestrian lighting, healthy food, lead exposure, housing affordability, air and water pollution, transit accessibility, density, complete streets, and mixed-use development. The HIA made recommendations in three categories: physical activity and access to healthy foods; personal health and safety; and neighborhood and community health. The HIA recommended expanding on-stree bike lanes to improve connectsion to the regional bike trail and creating and implementing a sidewalk plan, to ensure that all communities have connectivity to neighboring commercial and transit centers. The HIA also recommended adopting a local complete streets policy.
The HIA report was presented to the SLP Planning Commission in August 2011 and was adopted as a planning tool for consideration when updating the comprehensive plan. It is hoped that specific recommendations from the HIA will be included in the final SLP Comprehensive Plan.