Public Input Wanted on Concepts for Potential Business Campus

Somehow, word of this got missed, so I’ll start at the end and work back to the beginning: There is an open house today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday) from 4:00-6:00pm at Community Resource Bank, 1605 Heritage Drive. The purpose of the open house is to get reaction to each day’s work on design/concept charrettes drafted by HKG with input from the steering committee.  The charrettes are very much works in process. I’ll add details to this post as I can over the next couple of hours (I’m between meetings). But for now – please plan to attend the open house and give feedback on the concepts being considered.

12:36p Here is what HKG consultant Jeff McMenamin asked the steering committee to discuss this morning:

What is your vision for the project sites?

  1. What is the mix of land uses? (office, industrial, retail, civic, housing, open space and parks)
  2. What are the patterns of development? (how are buildings, roads and open space arranged on the sites)
  3. What is the scale of the buildings?
  4. How can the project best address the issues of preserving the “small town” Northfield character?
  5. How can the project reflect best practices in sustainable development?
  6. If housing were one of the land uses explored for these sites, how should it be designed and integrated into the master plan?
  7. How can the greenway and open space systems be integrated into the business park sites?
  8. What are the opportunities and challenges presented by existing and proposed roadways?
  9. Are there site conditions that prevent development?  How can development sensitively preserve and protect significant natural resources?

The steering committee went on a bus tour of the sites this morning, then met from 10:15 till noon to begin discussing these questions. From now till 4:00p, the HKG design team will be doing concept sketches, and at 4:00p, the steering committee is reassembling to review the sketches. The public is invited to the review from 4:00-6:00p today (Tuesday 12/1), and again tomorrow (Wednesday) at the same time and place.

12:50p I’ve added the schedule document and definition/purpose of the charrette here in PDF form.

1:25p Jane McWilliams spoon-fed me the link to the EDA packet dated 11-19. (Thank you, Jane.) It’s a large file, so I extracted the pages having to do with the business park master plan & steering committee. This information is more recent than the document I posted previously. Here it is.

14 thoughts on “Public Input Wanted on Concepts for Potential Business Campus”

  1. This is maddening. Yes, there were ways to figure out if there was a meeting today and one tomorrow if you were a zealous insider. But most of the tools to inform the public about these meetings were NOT used:

    1. As of 10 am this morning, there was no mention of a meeting TODAY on the city calendar: http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/calendar
    2. As of 9 pm tonight, both meetings are listed as starting at 8 am.  And if you click thru, they’re scheduled from 8 am to 6 pm. How’s the public supposed to know that these 8-6 meetings have a 4-6pm for us?
    3. There’s nothing posted about either today’s or tomorrow’s meeting to the HKG (consultants) Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/northfieldproj
    4. There’s nothing on the public notices page: http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/publicnotices
    5. There’s nothing posted to the City’s news RSS feed: http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/xml/whatsnew.xml
    6. There’s nothing posted to the Northfield.org calendar or blog: http://northfield.org/
    7. There was no story or announcement in the Nfld News, either print or online.

  2. I may be repetitive here because I posted two comments yesterday on the annexation threads, telling people that they could go to the afternoon “pin-up session”.

    There should be NO blame about this not being noticed to the public attached to the consulting firm; I had run into Mark Koegler in the coffee house yesterday morning around 9 AM, and told him there was NO public notice although I knew that he was insistant that there be a public component. He was sincerely surprised.

    I was at the EDA meeting when he explained the process his firm would use. At that meeting Mr. Gunderson (EDA Staff) said he saw no need for a public component , and Mark Koegler said he did see that need , and the public was welcome to listen in any time, as well as participate at specified times.

    As I said in another comment yesterday, when the public is not noticed and therefor does not show up, it is said there is no public interest. When the public then comments later, it is said they are ‘malcontents’, always complaining after the fact when decisions have already been made.

    This is the most blatant offense to the public process that I have seen in 15 years in Northfield.

  3. Griff – that website is silent on the matter of the Prawer/Gill proposal, among other things. And, the announcement on the EDA page on the city site of today’s event is as unhelpful as their “special” annexation one.

    Yesterday, thanks to Kiff’s call, I got the link http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/assets/w/Web-Packet-11-19-09-3.pdf from Sandy Bremer in the Community Development office. If you scroll down far enough, you can see information about the charrette. It is unfortunate that it hasn’t had more visibility.

    Thanks to Kiffi and Alice Thomas, I think the word got out yesterday. I hope that will yield a better turnout this afternoon. As far as I could tell, there was no one from the press on hand. When I remarked that this important event was a “well kept secret,” he said he had tried unsuccessfully, to persuade the paper to cover it.

    I found yesterday’s public meeting very helpful and reassuring. They had a team working together, looking at various aspects of a concept: e.g., transportation, demographics, environmental protection. They produced three or 4 “concepts” for each area (Prawer/Gill and NW Territory). Overall, they envisioned much more of a mixture of developments than I had expected – especially in the Prawer/Gill properties. The team was open on a one-to-one basis after the formal presentations/questions and answers, to receive comments and suggestions and information we locals could add. I believe today’s work will be to process the public comments and questions, and work further to refine several concepts for each area. We’ll have another opportunity to take a look and comment on these this afternoon as well.

    While this is an expensive process, I think it is good. We don’t have anyone on our staff with the expertise or the people skills to do this work. How the EDA and council will use it will be interesting to follow.

  4. Spectacular ‘performance’ by the Hoisington/Kogler consulting team… multiple members; besides the planners/designers, additional team members, each with a specific area of expertise like marketing.

    The conceptual progress they made from their initial pin-up session on Tuesday afternoon, until the same format on Wednesday afternoon, was amazing. They were extremely sensitive to public comment, responded with facts, or professional opinion if that was appropriate, and never talked down or were condescending.

    It’s really a shame that these meetings were not openly noticed to the public; with all the concern about annexation there should have been a lot larger audience, and a lot of future angst could have been forestalled.

    Mark Koegler(sp?) offered to make a presentation to the Townships, residents as well as supervisors. Professionals understand that information and answered questions can help to avoid conflict. I hope this botched information situation is not again repeated by our city staff.

  5. I couldn’t stay beyond 5:20 yesterday (Wednesday), so I missed a lot of the post presentation Q and A, as well as the chance to look closely at the 4 concepts (one for the Prawer/Gill and 3 for the NW Teritory). However, Mark Koegler said they would concentrate in the next weeks on the NW Territory, and defer working on the P/G properties until the annexation is sure. He reported that the concepts would be posted on the website, and there will be an opportunity for visitors to comment. http://www.northfield-businesspark.com/

    Stay tuned!

  6. I spoke with Mark Koegler after the meeting, and asked him to have his tech person put an RSS feed onto the project website. He was confident that it could be done.

  7. Today’s Nfld News: Supervisor leaves board over annexation.

    Leif Knecht, the owner of Knecht’s Nurseries and Landscaping west of town on Hwy. 19 and the current chair of the township board, announced his immediate resignation from the board on Wednesday. While several personal and professional reasons led to his decision, Knecht said, chief among them were allegations that Knecht, whose property borders the proposed annexation area, has a potential conflict of interest. “You don’t have to be guilty of a conflict of interest to suffer harm,” said Knecht, who denies having the conflict of interest.

  8. Lack of notice of the industrial park design charettes was disturbing. Word got out to the townships on the first day and two of the three township supervisors did make it to the last day session.

    This week, meeting cancellations due to weather have upset things. Our December township meeting was moved to Dec. l5 so Bridgewater supervisors and residents could attend the Planning Commission annexation discussion set for Dec. 8 at City Hall. With that cancelled and reset for Dec. 15, we again have a conflict, with both meetings set for the same night. At the township meeting, Leif’s resignation will be accepted and an interim supervisor appointed.

  9. I see from the EDA calendar there is a Master Plan Steering Committee meeting tonight, Thursday Dec. 17, 6-8 pm at City Hall Council chambers. This is the group working with the consulting firm on plans for the two business parks.

    I don’t know if I’ll make it, but hope others will go. I did read through the comments from the charettes on the site posted by Jane McWilliams (comment #6).

    On the KYMN noon news just now, Dan Olson was talking about the Planning Commission discussion of Gill/Prawer Tuesday night. He said their recommendation is expected in January. Maybe it is played again at 5 pm.

  10. At this morning’s EDA meeting, a member of that Board asked why tonight’s meeting was not on the City Calendar; staff econ. devel. dir. said it was not a public meeting or , not noticed as such.
    Remember, the principle of the Consulting firm, Mark Koegler, said public is welcome at all meetings of the SteeringCommittee , even if it doesn’t contain a public input segment.

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