Don’t get me wrong. I love Woodbury. It’s been our home for 21 years. It has great bike trails, a decent school system, a hospital and several clinics, politicians who haven’t been arrested (well, we did have a mayor years ago of ill repute involving the nearby Target and young people) and — let’s see, I’ve mentioned the bike trails, right?
Woodbury’s a pretty good place. No complaints.
But if you squint your eyes, it also could be Anywhere, USA, which doesn’t do much to explain how it made Money Magazine’s Top Places to Live List.
I’m burying the lede here because Maple Grove finished No. 2, just behind McKinney, Texas. But I don’t know enough about Maple Grove, other than famous TV people live there.
Eagan finished No. 11. A lot of planes fly over there, a man who wanted to be president lived there, and you can pick any of dozens of chain stores to shop in. This concludes everything I know about Eagan.
Except that it looks a lot like Woodbury, which, by the way, is in the process of plowing under the last remaining farm fields to build another shopping center. It’ll have a grocery store, a gas station, and a bunch of places you go into and then get confused because you forget which city you’re in. Beat that, everywhere else!
Let’s see what Money has to say about the 12th best place to live:
Frigid Minnesota winters aren’t so bad when you have your own indoor park. That’s right: Even in deepest February, Woodbury residents can hang out among the trees and other plant life at the enclosed Central Park, which connects to the to local library, seniors’ residence, and YMCA.
Of course, folks in Woodbury have plenty of outdoor options, too. More than 130 miles of paved multi-use trails connect the city’s lakes, parks, and neighborhoods.
And Woodbury is also wrapping up construction on its Bielenberg Sports Center. The facility—over 100,000 square feet—is already open to the public for skating, soccer, lacrosse, and other seasonal sports. When it’s finished, it will also become the practice home of Minnesota United FC, the state’s pro soccer team.
The whole Twin Cities region has low unemployment and high job growth, and Woodbury is no exception.
The healthcare industry is particularly big here. Woodwinds Health Campus is the city’s largest private employer; Allina and Woodbury Healthcare Center also hire lots of people. Some residents also make the short commute to Maplewood, home of Post-It and Scotch Tape creator 3M.
It’s true, Central Park is nice, except when they close it because some bridal parties take pictures there. It’s reminiscent of St. Paul’s Town Square Park, back when St. Paul had a Town Square Park.
The YMCA is pretty neat, too, although it hasn’t expanded since it was surrounded by cornfields. I quit when they got rid of the racquetball courts in order to create more things for little toddlers and their parents. But if screaming kids indoors is your thing, Woodbury calls you.
And, sure, the economy is good. Lots of people are working and driving out of Woodbury to do so.
This is the part where I note that you can’t get a bus after 7:50 a.m.
But, oh those bike trails! They’re some of the finest in the Twin Cities, for sure.
Still, Woodbury lacks a “there,” an affliction which affects many suburbs in America. And it hasn’t quite figured out how to make a “there” there without a chain store of some sort. When I moved in, you could pass a field of Holsteins on the way to work. That’s the sort of thing that makes a “there.” But not there. Not anymore. There are no more working farms.
Woodbury is what it is and for lots of us, that’s good enough. We can take the slings that come over from the city.
And we can just wave the survey in front of the naysayers faces, even though we know it is some seriously hyped-up PR.