City Hall Q&A, 2001

For eight days in August, 2001, four City Hall staffers were in the Web Cafe for a general Q & A.

Jill Bishop, Economic Development Manager

Randy Distad, Parks & Recreation Director

Scott Neal, City Administrator

Randy Peterson, City Engineer/Public Works Director

Economic Development

We’ll focus our conversation here on items related to economic development in the City of Northfield.

Jill Bishop is Economic Development Manager for the City of Northfield, part of the Community Development Department. Jill is also on Northfield’s Economic Development Authority, along with Joel West, Northfield Community Development Director. Jill will be checking in here throughout the 8 days of the forum to answer your questions.

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Griff Wigley – 07:44am Aug 13, 2001 CDT (#1 of 23)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Jill’s self-intro

Jill, before I open up the discussion to everyone, would you do a little self-intro? I’d like people to know a little more about you – both professionally and whatever you’re comfortable sharing about your non-work life.

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Jill Bishop – 09:01am Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#2 of 23)

Northfield Economic Development Manager

Introduction

Greetings! I have been with the City of Northfield, MN as the economic development manager for about a year and a half but have been in the community development marketing and project management field for over 15 years in one capacity or another. I had spent eight years practicing economic development in the northern suburb of New Brighton. The main priority with that community was redevelopment of blighted land. A previous job was consulting with Minnesota Star City communities on marketing techniques using a strategic planning process to ready themselves for future growth and opportunities. I also was responsible for coordinating marketing on a State and National level including national market trade shows for the medical, food and wood product industries. Any questions out there?

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Griff Wigley – 09:51am Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#3 of 23)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Welcome, Jill

Hi Jill, thanks for that intro… and for being willing to take the time to do this forum.

I’ll start you off with a post from last week… someone who’s going to be out of town and won’t be able to join us.

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Robert Palmquist – 05:21pm Aug 6, 2001 CDT (#4 of 23)

incubator program

Having this forum is a great idea — unfortunately I’ll be on travel (and won’t be able to connect) during the dates this will be happening.

One item that I’d like to see is a discussion on how to get new businesses rolling in Northfield. We’ve got quite a bit of vacant buildings that certainly could be utilized.

One suggestion I have is that Northfield start a incubator program where the city subsidizes the rental costs of building space for new companies for say a year or so until they get established. If the company is a success, then the cost of the program would be covered by the additional revenue gained by having the employees working locally versus setting up shop in Burnsville or Eagan.

Just a thought… Again, thanks to everyone for putting this forum together.

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Griff Wigley – 10:02am Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#5 of 23)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Northfield Enterprise Center; vacant buildings

Robert, I do know that the EDA has a new project rolling, an incubator called the NEC – Northfield Enterprise Center. Last I heard, they were creating a board of directors for it this summer.

http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/EDA/index.htm

Jill, can you give us an update on the NEC?

Also, Robert asked about a vacant building update…. presumably Fairway Foods, 3M, and ???

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Bruce Morlan – 09:00pm Aug 7, 2001 CDT (#6 of 23)

If you build it … they will come

When Marathon Multimedia left town, and I parted company with them, I attempted to set up such an incubator, using the already wired and connected building Marathon was vacating. Unfortunately, setting up such an incubator would have required committments and money that the startups I approached did not have.

Although there are reports of up to 80% successful graduation of startups (able to leave the incubator and remain in business), the mean times to do so are reported to be two to three years. This means that even if you had several startups on deck at the beginning, you would need perhaps two years of operating capital to support them until they could pay full rate, at which time they would most likely need/want to move on to larger offices, rather than remain at market rates in the incubator. Thus, the incubator finds itself in a constant cash flow crisis, unless provisions are made to continue to realize income from startups after they graduate. This reality is reflected in the change in focus from one of cooperative space and support sharing neighbors to one where the incubators are more min-venture capitalists.

In the earliest and most needy phase of startup growth, startups are often unwilling to give up a percentage of the company that is large enough to cover the opportunity costs of supporting them through the lean years. By the time they are willing to do so, they are looking for venture capital or angel funding, and are beyond the realm of the lower end incubators we were attempting. This has led to the shift in emphasis I describe and as described elsewhere …

“Last year’s model saw investors and real estate owners seeking to capitalize on the tech boom by offering space and services to cash-poor startups in exchange for equity that, in theory, could be worth millions. The wisdom of 2000 seems to be that start-up tech firms need money and networking opportunities more than a spare nook in a renovated warehouse.” http://twincities.bcentral.com/twincities/stories/2000/08/21/story4.html

An additional obstacle in Northfield is the lack of an attractive environment that would nurture the high-tech workers that most incubators need. Contrast this with locations closer to the Cities, which offer quick access to a variety of social activities not supported in a small college town.

The final obstacle, which our plans never really confronted because the plans did not get pushed that far, is the need for a large university environment to provide additional technological support. Although Northfield has two wonderful colleges, neither seemed particularly well positioned to participate in large-scale R&D and product/market development.

In the end, the former Marathon Multimedia facilities were parceled out to meet local needs, and I turned north to explore opportunities.

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Jill Bishop – 11:50am Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#7 of 23)

Northfield Economic Development Manager

Northfield incubator

The Northfield Incubator Project has been a goal for the EDA for several years. The project will be a private venture with support anticipated from the City of Northfield’s Economic Development Authority, the Rochester Small Business Development Center and others. This arrangement allows the incubator to take advantage of both the expertise of the private sector and the use of public funding. The Incubator plans to establish itself as a premier one-stop business assistance agency in the Northfield and Rice County area markets by providing quality small business development services and programs. The board of directors is being assembled at this time. A staff person will be hired as one of the board’s first tasks.

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Griff Wigley – 01:45pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#8 of 23)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Updated EDA minutes

Jill, I see it’s been over a month since the EDA’s minutes have been posted at http://209.163.42.1/Boards/eda/eda.htm

I know you’re not responsible for them but can you contact whoever is so we can catch up on the past month?

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Griff Wigley – 01:52pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#9 of 23)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

NEC or NIP

Jill, is the Northfield Incubator Project one component of the Northfield Enterprise Center…. or are they the same thing and the names are just being used interchangably?

And is there a facility/building that’s part of all this?

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Jill Bishop – 02:30pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#10 of 23)

Northfield Economic Development Manager

Northfield Enterprise Center

The Northfield Enterprise Center (NEC) is the name of the incubator and its related services. Although in its initial stages of development, the objectives of the NEC, Inc. are to stimulate the creation of new businesses, assist in the strategic planning of existing small businesses, promote and provide access to small business service resources, and identify small business concerns that need to be addressed in and around Northfield. It is anticipated that there will be three arms of the NEC

1. The Northfield Financial Group will be a division of the NEC, Inc. It will work to promote and attract a group of private investors committed to the economic health of Northfield who would be willing to establish a pool of funds to provide access to loans and grants to qualified businesses.

2. The Northfield Small Business Development Center (NSBDC)will be a subsidiary division of the NEC, Inc. The Northfield Small Business Development Center will assist businesses with startup and business planning techniques that enhance the opportunity for the entrepreneur’s growth and success. Our goal is to assist clients in surviving the critical and often dangerous early stages of business development and expansion. Our experienced staff will offer professional services at low or no cost, such as:

One-on-one business counseling

Business plan assistance

Access to professional and technical services

Strategic planning

Orientation to federal, state, and local small business programs

Financial analysis, financial projection preparation, and loan packaging

Financing alternatives (conventional and non-conventional)

Business assessment and valuation

Synergistic local and regional networking opportunities

Marketing and promotion

Seminars, workshops, and training to inform small businesses of pertinent issues or changes in the business environment.

3. And eventually it is anticipated that a facility will be part of the NEC. It has been my daily experience in Northfield that access to resources and services for small businesses are needed now and should be addressed as a priority. The Northfield Enterprise Facility would provide office space and support for small businesses located in the facility. Available support services would enhance growth opportunities for small businesses.

I do have to mention that the initial Board of Directors will be meeting for the first time this month. This is still in the planning stages at the moment but you should start to hear more about it soon.

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Jill Bishop – 02:50pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#11 of 23)

Northfield Economic Development Manager

Telecommunications input sought

The EDA recently formed a Telecommunications Task Force to look at Northfield’s access to T3 line broad band capabilities and other communication issues. The main goal is to research and then recommend to Council what technology the City needs now and in the future to meet the needs of the residents and business community. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject.

The Steering Committee includes the telecommunications expertise from Carleton, St Olaf, Northfield Hospital, independent service providers and interested EDA members. The steps suggested include:

Research extended area telephone service.

Determine our connectivity – what services do we have now.

Determine the services we need to maintain an edge on competition.

Survey how local companies use technology: e-mail, internet access, transmitting data, order placement, web sites?

Form a tech oriented community group: colleges, hospital, city, school district, major employers, home based technology businesses.

Provide e-commerce training to local interested businesses.

Explore options to upgrade access options and lower costs.

Encourage Cyber Village concept being explored by NDDC.

Explore DTED technology grant opportunities.

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Griff Wigley – 07:38am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#12 of 23)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Northfield Enterprise Center

Jeesh, I had no idea that the NEC was going to be that comprehensive, Jill. Can you tell us who the board members are? And how soon might a facility be chosen?

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Griff Wigley – 07:52am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#13 of 23)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Telecommunications Task Force

Who are the members of the Task Force, Jill? Are there minutes available online of their first meeting?

I’m thrilled to see that the city is taking a comprehensive look at this issue. Northfield’s economic vitality will increasingly depend on a solid telecom infrastructure — people/expertise, as well as equipment and capacity.

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Jill Bishop – 08:25am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#14 of 23)

Northfield Economic Development Manager

NEC Board

So far the Board consists of Bill Cowles Jr., Adam Elg, Anne Lundstrom, Jim Pokorney. There will also be a couple of EDA members assigned to the Board as it begins its work. The first item of business for them will be to hire a staff person with the specific expertise to assist them in reaching the goals of the NEC. Tracy Davis, Joe Hargis and Jane McWilliams from the EDA have all been very active in getting us to this point. It will be an exciting project to watch as it grows and matures.

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Jill Bishop – 08:35am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#15 of 23)

Northfield Economic Development Manager

Telecommunications Task Force

The Task Force has only met twice so far and is still in a formation stage. We sought representaive from the larger uses in Northfield as well as small independent types. The Board to date consists of Galen Malecha, Northfield City Council & EDA Board; Bob Courchaine, Northfield Internetworking; Tracy Davis, Consultant & EDA Board; Craig Dunton, St Olaf/Carleton; Jane McWilliams, EDA Board; Scott Davis, Safewire Communication Services, Inc; George Suppes, Northfield Hospital and Jill Bishop, Economic Development Manager.

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Nancy Johnson – 05:30pm Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#16 of 23)

retail developments

It seems that there are about 7,500 people in Northfield between the ages of 11 and 21 (or 22), and it is obvious that they are buying their clothes somewhere other than Northfield. This is a market ripe for someone; these people spend a lot of money on clothes!

My experience with family members in this age group and their friends provides some ideas about stores that could do well here…Old Navy, GAP, American Eagle, Abercrombie, Limited & Limited 2, etc. One, two, or even three of these medium-sized stores could do quite well.

Some ideas for sites are dependent on other development in town, but a couple of ideas are:

(1) west side (north of 2nd, east of hwy 3, west of river)

(2) grocery store changes could result in space available at Econofoods, a nice location for a “medium box” clothing store or two.

Also, a favorite idea for the west side area is a good multi-plex theater. It’s nice to go to a movie in a theater with good sound, screens larger than we have here now, stadium-type seating (if that’s how it’s described?) that provides good viewing for everyone, and cup holders to minimize spilled pop on the floor. We find ourselves driving to Lakeville for movies, and it would be nice to be able to stay in Northfield.

There is a lot of potential in Northfield…

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Griff Wigley – 06:44am Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#17 of 23)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Riverfront Redevelopment Project

Hi Nancy, and welcome to the Q&A.

I heartily agree with your comments about a multi-plex theater.

Jill, can you tell us what’s happening with the Riverfront Redevelopment Project, slated for the west side of the Cannon River in the old Kump Lumber area.

My understanding is that it is supposed to contain a multi-plex theater.

I saw an architectural sketch of the Riverfront Redevelopment Project in the new video on the Cannon River by the Northfield Community Video Project . It looks very cool!

If that sketch is on the city’s web site, could you point us to it? If not, could you attach it to a posting here… assuming you’ve got it in a .gif or .jpg format?

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Jill Bishop – 12:23pm Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#18 of 23)

Northfield Economic Development Manager

Riverfront Redevelopment Project

The Riverfront Redevelopment Site will be a major undertaking by the Northfield Economic Development Authority for 2001 and 2002. They are sought qualifications from interested development teams to acquire and redevelop a 6.77-acre site next to the Cannon River adjacent to Northfield’s historic downtown area. The EDA recommended and the City Council approved a local team of developers for the project. The project will address the economic viability of the project and include a mix of uses, including, but not limited to entertainment, residential, office, retail and recreation. The first phase of negotiations has been completed and phase II are continueing on the project.

The initial site plan suggested a theatre on the site but we are looking at logistics of traffic flow, parking and space requirements of the theatre owners at this time. It is very early in the process to predict what will ultimately end up on the site due to market considerations and finacial constraints. They are pursueing the idea at the moment and it is a possibility.

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Peter Hamlin – 07:44pm Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#19 of 23)

Nature & Environment Host

I am thinking especially about Bruce Morlan’s post:

“An additional obstacle in Northfield is the lack of an attractive environment that would nurture the high-tech workers that most incubators need. Contrast this with locations closer to the Cities, which offer quick access to a variety of social activities not supported in a small college town.”

Northfield is obviously a “plus” as a living environment for many. (The town was an important reason why I wanted to relocate here.) Is there any attempt to identify businesses whose employeess would find Northfield a plus, rather than incubate businesses whose employees are more likely to go to the Twin Cities after they get established?

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Griff Wigley – 07:21am Aug 17, 2001 CDT (#20 of 23)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Businesses whose employeess would find Northfield a plus

Great question, Peter.

Washington Post columnist Neal Peirce had an interesting column lately that spoke to this. It’s focused on big city downtowns, of course, but definitely has some applicability to how Northfield is pitched to startups:

New Downtown Success Rx: Vitality, Skills

http://www.postwritersgroup.com/archives/peir0604.htm

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Jill Bishop – 08:01am Aug 17, 2001 CDT (#21 of 23)

Northfield Economic Development Manager

Incubators

We are blessed with a wealth of intellectual capital in Northfield and there are many entrepreneurial types locally that are interested in starting their own businesses. Not all of them are high tech related. The incubator will be nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit within many business classifications. We want to provide a support for anyone with a sound business idea.

In that regard, a few years ago, the EDA established a grant program called the Clement Shearer Micro Grant Program. The goal of the program is to support innovative ideas or compelling business models that will lead to contributions to Northfield’s economic base. So far this year we have given out three $5,000 grants to local small business to assist them in taking a significant step with their company. The companies so far for 2001 were:

Benchmark Genetics – Additional computer capacity for research

Fab Lab – Additional molds for making replacement potato-handling parts

Applied Polymers – Computer program for three dimensional tooling processes.

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jbm – 09:16pm Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#22 of 23)

2001 Tax Reform

Jill,

There was an interesting discussion on MPR today about the impact of reform in the state’s property tax laws and more specifically, the impact it will have on the money cities have historically “captured” in Tax Increment Financing Districts. How much do we know to date about what effect the new law will have here in Northfield?

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Griff Wigley – 06:38am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#23 of 23)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

TIF

Hi Jane, welcome to the discussion.

FYI, Sunday’s Strib had an interesting opinion piece about TIF:

Business forum: The other side of TIF

Bill Tobin and Tom Sexton

Sunday, August 19, 2001

The Northfield.org Web Cafe Government Archives Archived Web Forums (time-limited events) City Hall Q & A: August, 2001

Miscellaneous Q&A

If you have a comment or question that doesn’t seem to fit the other discussion topics, post it here.

Either City Hall Administrator Scott Neal will respond or he’ll find someone at City Hall who can.

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Griff Wigley – 08:26am Aug 13, 2001 CDT (#1 of 17)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Scott’s self-intro

Scott, before I open up the discussion to everyone, would you do a little self-intro? I’d like people to know a little more about you – both professionally and whatever you’re comfortable sharing about your non-work life.

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Scott Neal – 01:41pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#2 of 17)

Northfield City Administrator

Self Intro

My name is Scott Neal. I have been the City Administrator here in Northfield since June 1996. Prior to that I served as the City Administrator of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa from March 1990 to May 1996. Prior to that I was the City Manager of Norris, Tennessee from June 1988 to February 1990. Prior to that I received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree both from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

I have enjoyed my career over the years. I have been exposed to many different projects and disciplines. During my years in city government, I have managed an airport, a cemetery, a 2,000 acre municipal forest, an ice arena, a liquor store, a wastewater treatment plant, water treatment plant, auditorium, library, etc, etc,

I grew up in Independence, Iowa. I married my high school sweetheart, Deedee, and we’ve been married for 18 years. We have three sons: Toby, 16; Turner, 14; and Ethan, 11. I have no real hobbies. My only quasi-hobby are my boys. I spend lots of time with them at their sporting events, primarily soccer and wrestling. I have been the fields coordinator for the Northfield Soccer Association since 1997.

I have participated in Griff’s web forums in the past. I look forward to this one as well. I always learn something from these things.

Thanks,

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Griff Wigley – 02:14pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#3 of 17)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Ok, Scott, thanks for that intro… and of course, your willingness to do another web forum. Our very first web forum was five years ago… and you’d been on the job as city administrator all of about 100 days:

http://nco.northfield.mn.us/html/state_of_the_city__96.html

Ok, this discussion topic is open for questions and comments.

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Griff Wigley – 02:27pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#4 of 17)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

City’s web site

Scott, I see in your Aug 3 Friday report at

http://209.163.42.1/administration/Friday%20Reports/8-3-01.htm

that there’s about to be an assessment of the city’s web site and that a consultant’s been hired to gather input.

Can you tell us more about this?

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Scott Neal – 10:20pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#5 of 17)

Northfield City Administrator

City Web Site

I have retained a bright young guy by the name of Mike Bollinger to assist the City with assessing its current web site. Mike is a native Northfield guy who polished his skills in web design working for Keith Lauver at gearworks.com. He is in college now in Indiana. He is starting his own company. He needs a client (or two) to get things going. SO, I have asked him to start the process of visiting with all kinds of people about the City’s web presence. That’s about all I can say on that one for now. More to come….

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Griff Wigley – 09:51am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#6 of 17)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Bikes on sidewalks downtown

Scott, this is probably best answered by Police Chief Gary Smith, but since he’s not participating, you’ll have to do. 😉

I’ve been officing downtown for about two years now, and I’ve yet to see a police officer intercept kids riding bikes on sidewalks. I don’t think it’s a huge problem, but it happens enough that I expect to get clobbered before long.

BTW, I rarely see a skateboarder downtown anymore… the city (especially you and Bill Rossman) did a great thing in creating the skate park in Riverside Park.

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Scott Neal – 06:03pm Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#7 of 17)

Northfield City Administrator

Bikes & Boards

You may not have personally witnessed one getting caught yet, but the Police nab their fair share of bikers and skaters and boarders downtown. The police will usually confiscate the mode of travel until the young citizen pledges his/her future cooperation, or pay a small fine, whatever works.

THe skate park has been a good asset for our community. In its three years of operation, we’ve had only one serious injury. A kid from Faribault broke his leg in the park this summer.

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Kurt – 07:08am Aug 17, 2001 CDT (#8 of 17)

easy contact

Scott,

I just wanted to find out the easiest method to contact police for non-emergency subjects. One example is enforcement of parking issues, vandalism, etc… On a few attempts to contact them at the public safety building they told me to use the phone in the lobby to contact the dispatch center in Owatonna. I actually was disconnected after being on hold for a long, long time.

Can you tell me who I would contact to express concern over access to the local police.

Thanks

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Griff Wigley – 07:10am Aug 17, 2001 CDT (#9 of 17)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Graffiti

Hi Kurt, welcome to the discussion. Great question!

A related question for Scott:

What’s the City’s program for graffiti reporting and removal? And which department is responsible for this?

I notice that a lot of it along the Riverwalk Commons got removed during the community volunteer day back in May.

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kmhargis – 03:30pm Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#10 of 17)

new city council members

scott, I see that there are four new potential canidates in my Ward 1 (replacing David Koenig).

If citizens would like to express support of any of these canidates, is there a procedure? How is it decided who gets the seat? Is there a special election? This is an important ward in the historic district of downtown. Thanks!!

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jbm – 09:20pm Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#11 of 17)

lst Ward appointment

Scott,

I heard that the council has discussed requesting that the person they appoint to fill D. Koenig’s seat NOT become a candidate in November. Is this true? And have they decided whether or not to follow that procedure?

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Scott Neal – 06:21am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#12 of 17)

Northfield City Administrator

Police Contact

Kurt,

If you go into the Police Station from 7am to 7 pm Monday throught Friday to report something like this, you should not be referred to the phone in the hallway. I will bring that up with the Chief.

You did the right thing, the first time. Thanks for bring it to my attention.

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Scott Neal – 06:24am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#13 of 17)

Northfield City Administrator

Graffiti

Griff,

The City’s policy is to remove graffiti from public property within 48 hours of its report. We always photograph the graffiti to aid in the investigation of its authors. It can often be gang-related as well, so we log it to improve our level of intelligence with local gangs.

Graffiti removal from private property is not handled by the City. It is the responsibility of the private property owner. Some remove it immediately. Some do not. We do not have an ordinance that requires private property owners to remove graffiti, although we’ve studied possible ordinances to do this from other communities.

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Scott Neal – 06:27am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#14 of 17)

Northfield City Administrator

1st Ward Council

Past City Council discussions on this subject have produced a consensus of Council Members that still desire to fill the position left vacant by David Koenig’s resignation. The special appointment would be in place until 12/31/01.

I believe there are still Council Members who do support this consensus, but the consensus seems to be holding together.

As for Katie’s question about contacting Council Members to make your preferences known, by all means – do it. The sooner the better. There are no rules about it and I think the Council Members would appreciate your input.

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Griff Wigley – 06:50am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#15 of 17)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Redistricting

Scott, can you give us a little preview of what’s planned this fall re: redistricting?

About all I know is that we’ll be moving from 3 wards to 4 here in Northfield and that the plan has to be filed with the state by March 12, 20002, correct?

Is there a task force on it? Is there a city hall staff person assigned to work on it?

Anyone know if the League of Women Voters is doing anything special on it? All I see on their web site that they’ve been holding Redistricting Committee meetings http://nco.northfield.mn.us/lwv/Events/

We may want to do a special web forum on it here.

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Griff Wigley – 07:19am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#16 of 17)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Neighborhood Commercial Ordinance

Scott, can you give us an update on the proposed Neighborhood Commercial Ordinance? Is this still on the Planning Commission’s plate or has it moved to the Council?

Personally, I’d love to see a few more Ole Store type businesses in the city’s neigborhoods.

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jbm – 09:14am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#17 of 17)

Redistricting

Griff,

The League of Women Voters is, in fact, doing a fairly exhaustive study on redistricting. Check with Suzannah Ciernia

The Northfield.org Web Cafe Government Archives Archived Web Forums (time-limited events) City Hall Q & A: August, 2001

Parks & Recreation

We’ll focus our conversation here on items related to the City of Northfield’s Parks & Recreation Department, which also includes Community Education.

Randy Distad is Northfield’s Parks & Recreation Director.

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Griff Wigley – 07:57am Aug 13, 2001 CDT (#1 of 12)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Randy’s on vacation

Randy Distad’s on vacation this week. The nerve of that guy! City Administrator Scott Neal will try to fill Randy’s shoes here the first few days until his return next week. We may extend the forum a few days beyond next Tues, Aug 21, to give Randy a chance to undo whatever damage Scott might have done in his absence. 😉

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Griff Wigley – 02:16pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#2 of 12)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Ready for questions and comments

Scott Neal is filling in for Randy and since Scott has now signed in, this discussion topic is ready for questions and comments.

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Griff Wigley – 03:17pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#3 of 12)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Bridge Square

Scott, what’s the timetable for the redesign of Bridge Square?

Have all the changes been decided?

If so, is there someplace on the City’s web site where citizens can find out more about what’s going to be done?

If not, what’s the process for further input?

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Scott Neal – 10:25pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#4 of 12)

Northfield City Administrator

Bridge Square

There is an approved Master Plan for Bridge Square. It was reviewed and approved by both the Park & Rec ADvisory Board and by the City Council. I think it was 1998, or maybe 1999.

But, the City has not yet budgeted the funds to actually follow-through with the improvements that are called for in the Master Plan. Why? Because the improvements were quite expensive. I think it was in the nieghborhood of $250,000+.

We have, however, gone forward with some of the smaller recommendations in the Master Plan. First, we pulled out a bunch of ugly evergreen bushes. Second, we took out the kiosk. I’m sure there are other things. I ‘ll let Randy Distad answer this one too.

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Griff Wigley – 07:31am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#5 of 12)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Adopt-a-Park

Ok, thanks for the Bridge Square update, Scott. I’ll flag that for Randy to expand on when he returns.

What’s been the response to the city’s Adopt-a-Park program?

http://209.163.42.1/Park-Rec/forms/Adopt%20a%20park.htm

I don’t spend much time in parks other than Riverside, Bridge Square, and the Riverwalk (is that considered a park?) but I’ve not seen any signs that announce who’s adopted parks…. or even promotion of the program.

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gkinney – 11:45am Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#6 of 12)

Wildflowers!

I would like to praise Randy and the Park and Rec Board and all the city staff for the work to put the prairie plantings in the parks. I know it is controversial and that folks with allergies are not that happy with the decisions, but I think it is great. I walk my dog in several parks each morning, and have been enjoying the many prairie species as they come into flower.

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Griff Wigley – 03:21pm Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#7 of 12)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

I agree, George, thanks for pointing that out.

Related: has the reduction in grass-mowing that was announced this spring been problematic…. or generally well-received?

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RandyDistad – 10:38am Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#8 of 12)

In regards to the Master Plan for Bridge Square, there was a master plan approved in 1999 but the City Council at that time chose to appove it not as drawn so I am not sure what exactly was approved. The Park and Recreation Department will be requesting funding in the 2002 budget to review the current master plan for Bridge Square with lots of public input and bring forward to the City Council for approval a master plan that reflects what the public input has dictated. In conjunction with the review of the master plan for Bridge Square we will also be requeting funding for developing a master plan for the park area that will be developed as part of the west side development area (currently referred to as the Kump Property). Since both areas will be downtown parks, it seems to make some sense to plan both parks at the same time so as to create some diversity in the City’s downtown parks.

Scott was right, we have implementated some aspects of the existing master plan for Bridge Square including removing the mugo pines that had overgrown the area and had actually caused the available space for events on the square to be decreased.

The kiosk was also removed to storage as it became quite an eyesore and was not being used the way it was intended to be used.

Should the City Council approve funding to further review the master plan for Bridge Square, be sure to watch for notices to occur in early 2002 inviting the public to participate in the master planning process.

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RandyDistad – 10:57am Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#9 of 12)

Thanks George for the nice comments about the prairie restoration that we have done around the City. It was an idea that started with Lashbrook Park and then grew to other park areas and then on to storm water pond areas. Change or a new way of doing things is sometimes difficult for some people to accept. It has taken some effort in getting people to buy into this new idea. It does appear to be more and more acceptable to the community as more prairie areas are developed in the City. Its very similar to trails in that once people got used to trails and realized there were benefits to having trails, they became acceptable to the community.

While in some parks the seeding of prairie plants has been well received, some neighbors still strongly oppose the plantings in other parks. We have really tried to concentrate our efforts in planting prairie plants in areas that are conducive to the plants including sloped areas, filter strips in drainage areas, and natural areas along creeks or stream beds. In the next couple of years perhaps the area that will be most impressive with prairie plantings will be the Spring Creek Park area. While the Spring Creek Park area will contain space for active areas it will also contain passive areas that will be planted in prairie plants that will actually abut the active areas. It will truly be a very unique park in Northfield.

Randy Peterson, Public Works Director and I have started a process of meeting with the neighbors who live adjacent to storm water pond areas in order to work with and educate them on the restoration process of the storm water pond slopes. This process has resulted in three City storm ponds being seeded with native plants. It is hoped and budget dependent that every year an existing storm water pond’s slopes will be reseeded with native plants.

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Griff Wigley – 04:04pm Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#10 of 12)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Downtown Parks

Welcome back from vacation, Randy. And thanks much for taking time to answer questions here.

It does make sense to rethink both Bridge Square and the future Kump Property park together.

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jbm – 09:23pm Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#11 of 12)

Spraying policy

Randy,

What is the city’s policy on the use of chemicals to control weeds?

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Griff Wigley – 07:09am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#12 of 12)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Adopt-a-Park

Randy, I posted this earlier but you may have missed it. What’s been the response to the city’s Adopt-a-Park program?

http://209.163.42.1/Park-Rec/forms/Adopt%20a%20park.htm

I’ve not seen any signs that announce who’s adopted parks…. or promotion of the program, eg, which parks are waiting to be adopted.

BTW, congrats on the three DNR grants. A hat trick! $28,000 for park development at Cherry Park; $34,000 for park development at Truman Park; and $38,900 for trail development in Sibley Swale Park.

The Northfield.org Web Cafe Government Archives Archived Web Forums (time-limited events) City Hall Q & A: August, 2001

Public Works

We’ll focus our conversation here on items related to the City of Northfield’s Public Works Department, which includes engineering, streets, wastewater and water.

Randy Peterson is Northfield’s City Engineer and Public Works Director and he’ll be checking in here throughout the 8 days of the forum to answer your questions.

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Griff Wigley – 07:25am Aug 13, 2001 CDT (#1 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Randy’s self-introduction

Randy, before I open up the discussion to everyone, would you do a little self-intro? I’d like people to know a little more about you – both professionally and whatever you’re comfortable sharing about your non-work life.

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RDP – 02:25pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#2 of 34)

Northfield City Engineer/Public Works Director

Randy Peterson Introduction

Hello, my name is Randy Peterson and I am the Public Works Director/City Engineer for the City of Northfield. I have lived in Northfield for 11 years, and have worked for the City for the past 4 years. Prior to employment with the City of Northfield I worked for Barr Engineering, a large consulting company located in Bloomington.

As the Public Works Director/City Engineer I am responsible for the management of construction projects occurring within the City where public improvements are occurring. These include the reconstruction of streets and underground utilities in existing neighborhoods and the addition of new public streets and utilities in developing areas of Northfield. Public works operations also include the maintenance of existing City streets and downtown sidewalks, and snow removal operations. I also manage the operations of our City’s water supply system, sanitary sewer collection system, and wastewater treatment facility.

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Griff Wigley – 02:43pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#3 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Welcome Randy

Greetings, Randy, and thanks for the intro and taking time out to participate here. It’s IS construction season in Northfield, that’s for sure.

Ok, we’re open for questions and comments for Randy.

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Griff Wigley – 02:53pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#4 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Crosswalks

Randy, can you tell us a little bit about how decisions about where to put/paint crosswalks are made? Can citizens just put in a request and then it goes through some process?

I live two blocks off Woodley on So. Linden and there are no crosswalks between Hwy 3 and Water St. – and as you probably know, traffic really hums on Woodley. I’m willing to gather the neighbors to lobby for this, but it’d be good to know the process.

BTW, those fold-up “Stop for Pedestrian in Crosswalk” signs sprouting around town are terrific. I’ve noticed a big improvement in driver behavior in the past year.

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RDP – 04:44pm Aug 14, 2001 CDT (#5 of 34)

Northfield City Engineer/Public Works Director

Crosswalks Response

Griff:

Crosswalks are a common concern and an important one. For almost all situations, our policy has been to paint crosswalks at all locations where a stop sign, sidewalk and pedestrian ramp exist. This turns out to be 100’s of locaions. I would not recommend crosswalks across Woodley Street in this area, this is a major collector street and it would not be safe or reasonable to stop traffic in this location.

We do not have a formal process for a crosswalk request, other than a request to City staff and possible appeal to the City Council. This has not occurred in recent years that I am aware of. We are bring forward a policy for stop sign requests to the City Council for adoption on August 20th.

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Griff Wigley – 07:23am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#6 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Sidewalks

Ah, that makes sense – it probably is safer to NOT have a crosswalk there.

But since you mentioned sidewalks, Randy, let’s open that can of worms. 😉

Is anything happening with a revised plan for financing them? Last I remember, voters rejected the plan back in 1996-97. We had a long discussion going in the old Web Cafe at:

http://www.northfield.org/motet/bin/topic?Government+2

FYI, to get into the old Cafe, login with

Username: guest

Password: guest

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Paul Krause – 08:58am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#7 of 34)

Infrastructure on Fremont

Hi Randy,

First of all, I would just like to say how well the infrastructure is proceeding on Fremont. I’m at 214 East Fremont and have been a keen observer of how the contractor is handling things. I now realize how complicated this process is and have only good things to say about how impressed I am with the process. The crew has been very helpful in maintaining access to my driveway during most of the “dig” and everyone has been courteous.

I guess my only long run concern is how one of my trees will do now that half of its roots have been removed. According to Ken Brackee it may take a few years before I’ll know for sure if the tree will make it. I realize that the sewer had to be installed and the tree was partially in the way so no blame here, just a question about whether the City might supply a replacement tree once we see what happens.

Otherwise, a good choice of contractor. Good work.

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Paul Krause – 09:03am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#8 of 34)

Waste basket in front of Blue Monday

Hi Randy,

I’m not sure you’re the right person to ask about this. Please refer me to someone else if you wish.

On many occassions on Saturdays and Sundays the garbage bin in front of Blue Monday has overflowed and there is debris on the street. Why people can’t walk across the street and use the one in front of the bank is beyond me, but can we put an additional container near Blue MOnday? It really looks awful to have that pile of debris.

I will talk with Dan and Katherine about other solutions, we need to keep the downtown looking clean and fresh for visitors.

I’ve also noticed that the pavement in front of Blue Monday is badly stained. Is there a solvent and/or sealer that can help prevent this?

Just curious.

Thanks

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Bob Courchaine – 09:57am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#9 of 34)

More on sidewalks

The need for sidewalks has been a primary issue for me since I moved to town five years ago, Randy.

I live at the corner of Woodley and College and am very concerned about seeing pedestrians and child cyclists having to share Woodley’s shoulder with motorists going 35-40mph to go east/west by my house.

It particularly worries me to see kids heading to/from Sibley School. Since the only stop sign in the neighborhood is on Maple, they constantly take chances trying to get across Woodley.

I bet they’d be more prone to use the Maple crossing if it was easier to get to it!

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Griff Wigley – 09:58am Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#10 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

GBM

Hi Paul, good to have an NFL hall of famer here. Or are you the other famous Paul Krause? 😉

I’d echo your complaint about the garbage can problem in front of the Blue Monday coffeehouse. It’s a good problem to have in some ways, tho… it’s a real downtown hotspot for youth, especially in the evenings. Division St. vitality!

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RDP – 03:03pm Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#11 of 34)

Northfield City Engineer/Public Works Director

Sidewalks, Garbage Baskets, and Trees

Griff, Paul, and Bob:

First, sidewalks: At this time, nothing is happening with regard to sidewalk plans or new ideas to finance sidewalks. City staff has been recommending sidewalks in areas where we are reconstructing streets and replaceing utilities, and it’s always controversial. The Northfield School District has periodically made requests to the City to add sidewalks in areas that would have a significant effect within our neighborhood school walking boundaries. The City Council has not given us direction to work on these requests, and one of them in the past has been for a sidewalk on one side of Woodley Street – I believe the north side. Since sidewalks are such a controversial act it will take specific Council direction for City staff to focus a specific effort here.

The public works department and parks department share different maintenance duties within the downtown. The parks department contracts with Waste Management for garbage removal, I believe this occurs 2 to 3 times a week. I can’t give you much of an answer on this until Randy Distad returns Monday, however garbage downtown is an issue we are struggling with and hope to resolve soon. The historic garbage cans downtown cost about $1,000 a piece, and I’m sure if the answer is as simple as increasing the frequency of pick-ups. As far as the sidewalks, we do have a pressure washer than we use for this type of cleaning. During Jesse James days we have crews cleaning the downtown each evening (early morning) and will try and hit this area then as well.

Back to Paul and the tree on Fremont Street, we have a 1-year warranty on the work involved with our projects. This is our general policy, but we do review these situations on a case by case basis. Usually if a tree is severly damaged it’s pretty evident within the first year. I would think with our dry weather this summer that you would notice right away if the tree was stressed. We’ll keep an eye on this one.

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Scott Neal – 06:13pm Aug 15, 2001 CDT (#12 of 34)

Northfield City Administrator

The Garbage Menace

Public garbage. A problem for the ages.

The public garbage cans in the downtown are policed by the City. We own them and have them picked up on a regular schedule by Waste Management.

The number of containers and their placement around the downtown is based on the need to provide a place for itinerate garbage. The public should not have to pay to solve the garbage problem created by a specific business or person. I believe businesses in the downtown that produce a product that produces garbage ought to provide sufficient garbage collection facilities of their own to service their own garbage production. In other words, it would seem fair to me that if a particular business creates a specific problem (i.e. – trash in the downtown) that business should step forward and address the problem themselves and not slough it on to the public via the city government.

I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh but personal responsibility ought to be the rule when it comes to garbage, if it can be attributed fairly.

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Griff Wigley – 06:29am Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#13 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Historic garbage containers

Scott Neal wrote:

it would seem fair to me that if a particular business creates a specific problem (i.e. – trash in the downtown) that business should step forward and address the problem themselves and not slough it on to the public via the city government.

Scott/Randy, could the Blue Monday just plop an extra garbage can of their own on the sidewalk? Or are there restrictions because of downtown historic guidelines… they’d have to purchase one of those $1000 historic ones?

I don’t know that Dan & Catherine at the Blue Monday are trying to “slough” this problem off to the city. I’ll ask them, though!

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Griff Wigley – 06:35am Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#14 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Sidewalk decisions

Randy wrote:

City staff has been recommending sidewalks in areas where we are reconstructing streets and replacing utilities, and it’s always controversial

Randy, evidently there are no sidewalks going in on the Fremont infrastructure construction in Paul Krause’s neighborhood, yet there are sidewalks going in on the Jefferson Parkway infrastructure construction in Wes Chapman’s neighborhood.

Can you give us some background on how this came about so we can understand how sidewalk decisions are currently being made?

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Leota – 07:43am Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#15 of 34)

Sidewalks

Randy,

Could you explain who gets notices of public hearings on infrastructure projects? I live on the corner of Ames and Washington, not in the immediate infrastructure area on Fremont, but fairly close. Because I live close by and walk to and from work on Washington, I would have liked to advocate for sidewalks in that project, at least on Washington.

I’ll try to pay better attention to the public notices in the paper, but it would have been nice to get a mailed notice as well.

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RDP – 07:52am Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#16 of 34)

Northfield City Engineer/Public Works Director

Sidewalk Decisions 2001

In the Fremont Infrastructure project area we are only replacing existing sidewalks, and not adding new segments. We had proposed additional sidewalks, to be located on both sides of the street in some locations. The City Council was divided on this issue, and voted to not add any additional sidewalks. We felt that some additional sidewalks were necessary in this area to better accomodate pedestrians in this area which is within the walking area to Sibley School and the High School.

The Jefferson Road project was a little different in a few respects: Jefferson Road is a collector street taking more traffic than for example Fremont Street, and we changed the design of the street from a rural to urban section of roadway. The most controversial aspects of this sidewalk were the proximity to homes, and we were able to keep this 30 of more feet away, whereas some proposals in the Fremont area would have resulted in sidewalks as close as 20 feet.

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Scott Neal – 08:03am Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#17 of 34)

Northfield City Administrator

Garbage Sloughing

Griff, I understand that the original public garbage question was about a can in front of Blue Mondays, but my response to this question was not directed at Blue Mondays, specifically. My response was to provide a preview of what I might argue should the question be formally posed to the City at sometime in the future. I am not familiar with the garbage situation at Blue Mondays enough to comment on it either way.

Will my argument win out? Maybe, maybe not. I’m sure there is a compelling argument for the City picking up everyone’s trash all the time, but I just haven’t heard it yet. When Randy Distad, our Park & Rec Director, gets back in town and on-line, we’ll get him to comment on the actual garbage collection schedule. It is possible that we could pick the cans more often. Maybe that would help.

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gkinney – 08:55am Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#18 of 34)

Downtown Garbage

But — would the business owners need to use a certain type of receptacle if they wanted to be responsive and provide a clean appearance in front of their business? I think that will be a determine.

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Griff Wigley – 03:16pm Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#19 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Notices of public hearings on infrastructure projects

Welcome to the discussion, George and Leota.

Randy, thanks for the explanation on the two infrastructure projects. I didn’t know the Fremont sidewalks came to a vote on the council.

You might have missed Leota’s question:

Could you explain who gets notices of public hearings on infrastructure projects?

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Griff Wigley – 03:56pm Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#20 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

GBM garbage

Scott wrote:

It is possible that we could pick the cans more often. Maybe that would help.

Or it could be as simple as the Blue Monday (or any other business) having an extra garbage on “standby” and directing their staff to put it out if the existing can is near to capacity.

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RDP – 04:10pm Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#21 of 34)

Northfield City Engineer/Public Works Director

Public Hearing Notices

Yes Griff (and Leota) I had just submitted the last response and then saw Leota’s question. Our general practice is to notice the project area and then extend to within 350 feet of the project area or about 1 city block. It looks like you were just outside of that area. We are also required to place a notice in the newspaper, however this falls under the legals section and is often not seen by the general public.

The 350 foot value comes from a state law for other general public notice requirements. After our recent experiences, I think that when sidewalks are going to be a issue we will be looking at expanding this area.

Next year we are planning on reconstructing 7th Street from Washington to Prairie Street and will recommend a sidewalk, none exists today. I’m sure there will be plenty of discussion and debate.

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Leota – 06:18pm Aug 16, 2001 CDT (#22 of 34)

Sidewalks

Randy – Thanks for the info about the 7th Street project. I’ll watch for the public hearings. I walk that route from time to time also.

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Griff Wigley – 07:04am Aug 17, 2001 CDT (#23 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Garbage containers

Randy/Scott,

This morning I talked to the Waste Managagement worker who picks up the garbage along Division St. (It’s done on Mon, Wed, and Fridays.)

He said he’s asked his supervisor several times about getting another container in front of the Blue Monday. His boss tells him that when he asks City Hall about it, he’s told that the City wants to remove all those historic garbage containers, so the request for another one is denied.

Sounds like there’s a communication problem somewhere along the line.

Dan and Katherine weren’t there this morning, so I don’t yet know their take on this.

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Wes Chapman – 07:25am Aug 17, 2001 CDT (#24 of 34)

Infrastructure

Randy: As one of the residents on Poplar Street I do want to thank the engineering group, particularly Matt and Sean for the communications that they have directed to me on a variety of issues. In my experience so far the city has taken necessary steps to correct road alignment and sidewalk placement.

The latest item to come up is the placement of a group mail box. This would probably make sense for the Post Office and give us added security. I have forwarded a suggestion to the Postmaster that I hope has found its way to Matt regarding the placement of such group mail stations. In our particular case the sidewalk is some 5-6 feet from the curb. I suspect the the boxes have to be placed in a manner that allowes for easy reach for the mail truck. Therefore, there is going to be some distance from the back of the unit to the sidewalk.

I have suggested that the sidewalk be extended from its edge to the curb with a support for the box placed within the sidewalk extension. This would provide for two distinct grass areas and allow for snow removal and simplified maintance.

Does the city already have a design for such a situation or is it developed on a per situation basis?

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RDP – 11:01am Aug 17, 2001 CDT (#25 of 34)

Northfield City Engineer/Public Works Director

More Garbage & Infrastructure

Griff: I’ll let Scott take the next round on the downtown garbage question.

Wes: The group mail boxes will need to adjacent to the curb line. We do not have a “design” for such a situation, most people walk across the grass or they have been handled on an individual basis by the property owner. Matt and I will take a look at this and see how involved this would be, I suspect it would be fairly simple to add at this stage of the project.

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Scott Davis – 11:05pm Aug 17, 2001 CDT (#26 of 34)

Future Infrastructure plans

Hi Rand,

Thanks for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions. Mine is related to the infrastructure upgrade in the Fremont area and future upgrades of this nature. Is the city thinking to the future and laying some “conduit” for future needs, such as fiber, a competing cabling company, electric, etc.? It would appear to be cheap to do in now while the roads are all torn up and then lease/rent this access to future communications or utility companies. Would save on tearing up our nice new roads and would provide an annuity to the city.

Scott

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Griff Wigley – 05:26am Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#27 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Welcome to the discussion, Scott… great question.

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RDP – 07:27am Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#28 of 34)

Northfield City Engineer/Public Works Director

Future Infrastructure Plans

Scott: With regard to future utility plans such as cable or others, we place this responsibility on the private companies ahead of our projects. We send them our plans before the project begins and tell them they should plan now because we will not allow them to tear up the new roadway after.

I agree it would be nice to lay some additional conduit, but it always seems to be in the wrong location for these companies when they get to a future installation. We are not able to rent/lease space in the right of way, the private utility companies have statutory rights for use of the right of way, and then we regulate their activities by means of a permit process. We have just enacted use of a new more restrictive permit process and having the Council adopt a new right of way ordinance, so we are hoping for much better control and coordination of these issues in the future.

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PaulZorn – 02:17pm Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#29 of 34)

Assessment for infrastructure improvements

Infrastructure improvements (sewers and sidewalks, mainly) were done on my street (Manitou) in summer 1997, and home owners were assessed for a portion of the cost. The whole system seemed reasonable enough to me with one exception: Individual homes were assessed

on the basis of lot area, rather than by some other measure of lot size. (One natural choice would have been street frontage.)

I ended up having to pay a considerable extra amount as a result of this peculiar policy. This occurred because my house lot is about 330 feet deep by 67 feet wide. While this admittedly multiplies out to a large area, the lot has such narrow street frontage that I can’t even build a garage on the property without seeking a variance.

Feeling my ox gored by this assess-by-area policy, I asked about it at a city council meeting. I heard no reasoned defense of the policy. The closest facsimile was something to the effect that changing the policy now would sadden others who’ suffered it silently in the past.

Given this reception, I surrendered (and paid the bill).

Since then I’ve heard it rumored that the pay-by-surface-area policy has been changed or scrapped. Is this true? If so, what did the trick? If not, is there some rationale for such a policy?

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RDP – 03:30pm Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#30 of 34)

Northfield City Engineer/Public Works Director

Assessments for Infrastructure Projects

Paul:

I began employment with the City in June of 1997, shortly after the assessment process you reference occurred. Noting continued problems and opposition as you described, the assessment policy was rewritten in 1997/1998. The new policy determines the assessments based on developable units on a given property parcel as defined by our zoning ordinances. This results in almost all residential properties being assessed the same amount unless the building has apartments or the parcel is large enough to be split into two.

The old policy did not include many specifics on commercial or industrial properties and how to assess these, therefore this was also added to the policy.

I have worked in other communities that use a lineal frontage basis for determining assessments. This method seemed to go over fairly smoothly, however at the time the City Council wanted something a little more involved.

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Griff Wigley – 03:58pm Aug 20, 2001 CDT (#31 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Assessments?

Welcome to the discussion, Paul… and for phrasing your situation so delicately. 😉

Randy, how are sidewalks paid for now during these infrastructure projects?

And are the homeowners along the Jefferson/Poplar infrastructure (new sidewalks) assessed more than the Fremont homeowners (no sidewalks)?

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Scott Neal – 06:33am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#32 of 34)

Northfield City Administrator

Special Assessment Policy

I just wanted to chime in regarding Paul Zorn’s message.

I think the Manitou Street project, and Paul’s contributions to the dialogue at that time, pushed staff and Council to examine the fundamentals of our special assessment policy. We did, and then we overhauled the policy.

Citizens can impact local government policy. It happens almost everyday.

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Scott Neal – 06:41am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#33 of 34)

Northfield City Administrator

Downtown Garbage

Griff, so you talked to a garbage man who talked to his boss who talked to someone from the City……. Well, I don’t think that triple-garbageman hearsay is valid evidence of a City policy direction – not even in Northfield.

The City has no intention of removing garbage containers from the downtown – despite what the garbageman-in-the-street might say. We’ve examined other styles of garbage containers. We may be coming to the Council with a proposal for that. But take them out, no way.

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Griff Wigley – 06:59am Aug 21, 2001 CDT (#34 of 34)

Web Cafe Community manager, forum moderator

Downtown Garbage

Well, that’s good to hear, Scott. I’ll set the guy straight the next time I see him. In the meantime, I’ll bring the folks at the Blue Monday up to speed on this topic and see if there can be an interim solution.

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