Podcast: The triumvirate weighs in on the ongoing City Hall saga

Tracy Davis, Griff Wigley, Ross Currier
After several weeks, Tracy, Ross and I were together in the KYMN studio today, sans guests. After our fluff segment, we turned to — what else — the ongoing meltdown at Northfield City Hall, including today’s revelation that Mayor Lee Lansing had file a lawsuit late yesterday against the city, the city administrator, and three other city councilors.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes.

Our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, usually airs Wednesdays live at 5:30 PM on KYMN 1080 AM. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe with iTunes. We seek your comments and suggestions

8 thoughts on “Podcast: The triumvirate weighs in on the ongoing City Hall saga”

  1. Thanks to Tracy’s persistence on the Oct. 17 podcast, asking about the state of the public library. This is one of several issues that is suffering from City Hall dysfunction and distraction.

    As a member of the Library Board I can offer this update:

    • The expansion of our 12,000 square foot library has been on the Capital Improvement Project list for over 8 years.
    • Two years ago the library retained Bob Rohlf, an experienced library consultant who worked on the 1985 expansion when the public library grew from its original 4,000 square feet to its current 12,000 square feet. He assessed the library’s facility and services for a modestly projected population of ca. 38,000 residents (Northfield and the northern half of Rice County) for the next 20 years.
    • Mr. Rohlf submitted a report to the Library Board in the fall of 2005. The report leaned heavily toward a 32,000 square foot library all on one level for the sake of efficiency and flexibility.
    • The then new city administrator asked the Library Board to step back from more active planning (for a levy referendum in the fall of 2007, among other things) so that he could conduct a city-wide municipal space-needs assessment. The Library Board did that, supporting his interest in getting all the big pieces on the table for the benefit of the taxpayers.
    • That space needs assessment by Hay-Dobbs is now in its second phase with 7 possible scenarios still in play. The first two scenarios explore the library in its current location but expanded toward or through Third Street. Mr. Rohlf recently reviewed the sketches included in the Hay-Dobbs draft report, submitted to the City Council in late September 2007, and found the sketches woefully wanting in terms of the adjacencies that he had recommended two years earlier. “Adjacencies” being an in-house term for services and facilities within the library being close to one another to enhance efficiencies and best practices. In short, Mr. Rohlf still favors a 32,000 square foot library on one level, preferably somewhere else in town.
    • The Library Board is committed to the identified space needs in the Rohlf report (very few of those square feet are “mere” wants) if the library is to serve this community for the next 20 years. We understand that it may take a Very Creative Solution to expand the library on the current site. But we have heard from many, many residents that Third and Washington/Division is the preferred location.
    • So the Library Board passed a motion in August 2007, to submit a resolution to the City Council. The resolution would acknowledge that both the NDDC and the Arts and Culture Commission have submitted letters of support for the Library Board’s request for permission to issue a Request for Proposal to three architectural firms to explore the feasibility of expanding the library on its current site with the appropriate interior adjacencies. As of the October 2007 board meeting the chair of the Library Board had not yet submitted the resolution to the City Council.
    • When that resolution is entered into the public record, and with every hope that the Council will endorse the need to gather more information about the feasibility of the current site, the Library Board has every hope to receive what Ross calls “solution concepts” and share them widely with the community for input, suggestions, and additional ideas.
    • With that information the Library Board will be in a much stronger position to formulate a recommendation for an expanded library, in sequence with the other municipal facilities in need of expansion and/or construction, that will actually serve the growing needs of a growing city.
    • Meanwhile, the next discussion that the Library Board will need to share with the community is how to make the current library work for the next 3+ years, assuming the most optimistic timetable for levy approval, design and build. Right now for every new book that comes into the library, another book must be tossed out for lack of shelf space. Children’s book groups are meeting in the library director’s office for want of adequate meeting room space.

    The Library Board meets the third Tuesday of the month in the [one] meeting room in the public library. The meetings are open to the public, and we would welcome all interested, frustrated, or impatient citizens to join us in pressing onward in spite of news coming out of City Hall.

  2. Thank you for that update, Margit, and thank you for drawing our attention to one of the consistently good things about our city government. The public library is one of the real jewels in Northfield’s crown, and Northfield can be proud of at least one city manager: library director Lynne Young. Lynne is responsible, knowledgeable, friendly, and all-around wonderful. I, too, hope the library can stay in its historic downtown location. But (as a member of the Library Board for six years) I know that, whatever decision is made, Lynne is always looking out for the best interests of Northfield’s library users.

  3. Margit’s remarks are so important, in my evaluation, that I think that they should be elevated from comments to a posting, both so that they are less likely to be overlooked by interested citizens and that we can start a discussion thread on the library.

    Thoughts from the other two-thirds of the triumvirate?

  4. Griff,
    the NDDC speling did not suk. How dare you. We were Xselent spelers. We got a raw deal because we were given a french word or roman or some such nonesense. St. Olaf got off easy with a third round word.

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