The year — 1977. A young couple (my husband and I) in our 20s, decided to build our first home in Chanhassen.
“Where?” our family and friends asked. “It’s kinda out by the old Excelsior Amusement Park” we replied, to then-understanding nods. Ours was the first house built after lifting a moratorium on building, while water, sewer and gas were installed in the muddy streets.
What did downtown look like? Hmmm ... a farm, a pumpkin patch; the dinner theater; two bars (Pauly’s and the Pony Express); Chalet Pizza (delivery and take-out only); a bait shop; a small bank (one bank!); a small city hall with a small library downstairs; a gas station; St. Hubert’s Church and school (now Chapel Hill); a small Kenny’s Market for basics; The Riviera Club (then private, now Axels); Merlin’s Hardware; a small fire station; a small elementary school; and restaurants amounted to McDonalds and a small taco drive-in stand diagonal from McDonalds. Now that’s really a lack of sit-down restaurants.
But we loved it just the way it was. We could snowmobile right out of our yard, there was hunting right across a single-lane Powers from us in the farm fields and open hunting south of Highway 5, where there was not much of anything but farms and rolling fields.
No grocery stores, no Target, no OfficeMax; no liquor stores; no coffee shops; no medical buildings; no landscaped median through downtown; no stop lights (actually no stop lights even on Highway 5); no sidewalks, no bike paths; no Fourth of July celebration or FebFest; no Paisley Park (Prince? Prince who?); no Market Boulevard; no Kerber Boulevard; and very little traffic anywhere.
This was a place where everybody knew everybody and nobody really thought much about locking their door.
Fast forward about 10 years. The city welcomed Todd Gerhardt as assistant city manager and Todd Hoffman, as assistant to the Park and Recreation director. They both worked their way up to the top spots by showing their knowledge, work ethic and leadership skills, and our city has thrived under their direction and vision.
They worked under the direction of six mayors, countless council members, hundreds of commissioners and dealt daily with thousands of residents and staff. They represented us well and advocated for us when developers approached our city with their proposals.
We now have thriving businesses; our own Rec Center; an expanded Lake Ann Park complete with award-winning picnic shelters; lighted ballfields; Bandimere Park; an expansive path system; our own high school; another elementary; a variety of housing that provides for all ages; and a city which has been recognized multiple times as a top place to live in our country.
They have preserved the beauty of our lakes and natural areas for generations to come, while providing for a wide variety of job opportunities and housing throughout our city, as well as recreational options.
None of this could have been achieved without these two men! As they are both leaving their legacy behind them this summer, we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude for all they have done for our city.
Chanhassen is a better place because of them. We can only hope for their replacements to have their great vision and dedication to our city.
So, thanks to our two Todds and best wishes in their retirements. They deserve a rest!