Two Opportunities to Comment on Streetscape Plans and Projects

GriffPhoto.jpgNo one can deny Griff’s rapidly developing photographic skills. Just think, some day when his name is mentioned in the same breath as Brady, Capa and Lange, you’ll be able to say “I knew him when…”.

Many of Griff’s images are of the civic “art” known as Streetscape. His photos have included the Library Plaza, the Riverwalk Arches, and the Parking Lot Screening. All of these pieces are part of a larger scale and longer term effort to visually enhance our town’s infrastructure.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 6th, there are two opportunities to hear about future plans and projects and give the City of Northfield feedback. From 8:00 am to 9:15 am the NDDC’s Monthly Forum, in the Riverview Conference Room of the Archer House, will focus on this topic and then from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm there will be a Neighborhood Meeting in the Council Chambers of City Hall on the same subject.

Hear the details about and talk to the people guiding this work. It’s a great opportunity to help shape your community.

22 thoughts on “Two Opportunities to Comment on Streetscape Plans and Projects”

  1. My no doubt flawed and inadequate summary of this morning’s presentation is now posted at: http://nddc.org/weblog/post/885/

    These projects will have a major impact on Northfield, next summer and for many years after its completion.

    There is another session scheduled for this evening if you missed this morning’s presentation and are interested.

  2. This project needs to have more thought and analysis before it is put in place. It is way too expensive for what we are getting. We are not getting anything additional for $1,400,000.00.

  3. I must admit that ONE of the most disturbing aspects of this morning’s presentation was the consultant’s acknowledgment of the Need (?) (and expressed by what governing entity) to design the 5th and Water area to accommodate the needs of the Beer Tent!
    ONE and one half million dollars , and the “needs” of the Beer Tent is going to drive the design?
    WHOA !

  4. Ross,
    Not having the opportunity to go to the meetings due to other commitments, can you tell us what the 1.4 million will be spent on. The plan on the City website is very general.

    I heard from previous discussions in 2006 at the City Council meeting of a financial estimate of 860k for streetscape improvements associated to the 5th and Water St project. Where does the 1.4 million come from?

  5. Peter:

    You’ll need to ask the elected and/or hired leaders about the use of the $1.4 million. It’s actually something like $1.387 million and it was simply a line item, without details, in some document I perused, probably while sitting in Council Chambers during our leaders’ discussion of a different topic.

    Ross

  6. Alas, I couldn’t attend the meetings. Are preliminary designs available publicly (I couldn’t find anything but the meeting notices on the city website, nor anything on Bonestroo or Bolton & Menk sites)?

    My concern is that this plan, including its provisions for pedestrian access, bicycle lanes/racks (yes, I’m on the Non-Motorized Transportation Task Force), is being developed with knowledge and consideration of the other planning going on.

    The Comprehensive Plan and land development regulations put a premium on the scale and design of the streetscape – will this fit with those ideas? The Transportation Plan revision is now underway, too, including bicycle/pedestrian issues.

    My concern is not only for planning tidiness, although articulating a single planning vision should be a goal. Like David Ludescher, I’m concerned about dollars. This project should not replicate efforts and duplicate costs from other planning projects, certainly, but our comprehensive long term planning should also provide at least context (and perhaps some data) for further analysis and whether this project will justify its cost.

    …and please Ross & Tracy, please tell me that the Beer Tent is not part of the city’s land use planning,

  7. Ross & Tracy,

    I would also like to know if the beer tent is part of the land use planning. If it is it would be very disappointing, and another area of insanity in Northfield.

  8. At the public meeting last night, Joel Walinski clarified that the Streetscape portion of the project is different from the infrastructure portion.

    There are actually three components:
    1. The Water Street “parking lot” upgrades, which are Streetscape issues.
    2. The infrastucture for 5th Street (from the bridge to Washington Street).
    3. Streetscape additions to 5th Street, which may or may not be included in the project, and which may or may not be paid out of Streetscape monies.

    First, I am not in favor of spending $0.5 million dollars to beautify a parking lot. That position places me in the minority in the Streetscape Committee.

    Second, if the parking lot is going to upgraded, then there is an economy of construction to do the infrastructure.

    Third, if we going to do the infrastructure, we might as well do the street.

    Fourth, if we are going to do the street, then we might as well do the Streetscape (on 5th).

    Given that there is no urgency to either the parking lot or the street, I would prefer to see the Streetscape money go to some of the smaller projects that the Committee has identified. Otherwise, there won’t be money in the Streetscape fund for years to come.

    Personally, I don’t understand the rationale for having a nice “promenade” on that block. If we are going to spend $0.5 million, I would prefer to see it across the river where it is visible from Highway 3. That way, it would be an addition, rather than an expensive replacement. But, maybe that ship has already sailed.

  9. I believe the beer tent aspect is being overstated. The question was asked if the project would be completed before the DJJD. The answer was(if my memory is correct), we think so. The consultant and city met with the DJJD committee. They said they met with many affected parties. I think this shows good planning and consideration, not a parking lot designed around a beer tent.

    I don’t remember the consultant bringing up the beer tent until the question was asked. I could be wrong.

    I liked the river walk design. I thought it was attractive and well thought out, though not perfect. the cost seems high especially if the $1.37 mil is for the parking lot, river walk and 2 blocks of 5th st.

    I agree w/ David L. that I too am worried that this project is spending all of the loot and smaller projects will be overlooked.

  10. The hope of the portions of the community that has questions on the rationality of this project lies entirely with the Streetscape Committee.
    Several of them have said this is not progressing according to their committee’s recommendations.
    They must be reconvened to discuss the project, and its real or perceived value to the community. And the discussion needs to be able to honestly evaluate it’s linkage with the 5th St. engineering project and the functioning of that in relation to the Eastern part of the 5th. St project.
    The committee must take charge of the dialogue; they were put there as an agreed to citizen voice, and they should have the (agreed to ?) impact. If this doesn’t work, then we need to ask who does City Hall function for?

  11. Jerry, I am totally in agreement with you about the beer tent. This aspect is being completely over blown. The city and the designers met with the DJJD committee and asked for their input. That’s what you need to do when a celebration brings in 100,00 + people. I highly doubt that they are designing the whole parking lot around the beer tent. I asked the question about the completion because; the DJJD committee has been told that the parking lot will be done in time for the celebration. However, I was not convinced by Joel’s response. I think the timeline should be looked at tighten up to be finished by DJJD. Like it or not DJJD is MN largest all volunteer festival and it brings in a lot of money to Northfield. The project MUST be finished by then.

    David and Kiffi, I also agree withy you both. I am supposed to be on the Streetscape committee, but because of a conflict I was unable to attend the meeting a few months back. I think the Streetscape committee needs to meet before the month is out and discuss the new designs. I was blown away when I was told that the entire budget for the Streetscape was going to these projects! That is crazy!

  12. It is clear that the project will not be finished by Sept. since the schedule showed it going through the entire construction season, up to November.
    DJJD of course brings a lot of people to see our fabulous community, and I think that can, in the long run, be very positive. I’m sure the city will make sure that DJJD is not negatively affected by the construction,i.e. phasing it to have as little negative impact as possible.
    My concern about the Beer Tent was simply that in actuality it could be on any adjoining street area, or on the Bridge (?), or in Ames Park, and this project is too costly to have anything but the best outcomes for the next 50 + years drive any part of the design.

  13. Hey folks, I think we’ve got more important concerns than the beer tent. I believe that the consultant said that they had checked the proposed design and found that the beer tent would still fit NOT that they based the design on the beer tent.

    We certainly wouldn’t want to design our parking lots around a once-a-year event. However, the DJJD is an important piece of our community’s cultural activities and remembering it when reviewing a preliminary concept drawing is not a bad thing.

    So let’s leave the beer tent behind us for now and focus our attention on the other issues raised in these comments. Let us also hope that the Mayor’s Streetscape Task Force is following this discussion.

  14. Thanks for clarifying the different components of the project, David.

    Aesthetically, I’d like to see the walkway/riverfront enhanced along the Water St parking lot. This stretch of river is extremely visible from Highway 3 (some time when you’re sitting at the stoplight heading into town on 19/5th, look across Ames Park) and also forms a vital pedestrian/green-ish space link between the center of downtown, Bridge Square and the 5th/Water businesses. As it is currently designed, the parking lot and 5th/Water intersection is a nightmare for bicycles and somewhat confusing for pedestrians.

    Financially, I’m less sure this project is worth depleting the streetscape budget, but I’m also interested in knowing whether infrastructure and parking lot improvements can be made to provide the space and configuration which will allow streetscape and riverfront enhancement to happen later, or in smaller phases.

  15. Griff, all I could find on the City website was the plan itself. All projects can be found on the City website here.

    This information is provided as is, without representation as to its
    fitness for any purpose, and without warranty of any kind, either
    express or implied. I will not be liable for any damages, including special, indirect, incidental, or consequential damages, with respect to any claim arising out of or in connection with the use of this information.

  16. This really pisses me off. I got the names of the Streetscape Taskforce members vial email (below).

    But it’s outrageous that there’s no place on the web where citizens can get info about this hugely important project.

    Mary, David L, Hayes… you’re on the Taskforce and following this thread, I hope.

    Can you please throw a collective shit fit at the next meeting and insist that the City create and maintain the webpages for this project?

    Steve Edwins – HPC
    Bob Will – HPC
    Michael Budd – DAB
    Mary Rossing – dntn business (Historical Society board member when appointed)
    Krin Finger – dntn. business
    David Ludescher – Chamber
    Kathy Feldbrugge – Chamber
    Hayes Scriven – Historical Society
    Michael Fallon – Arts Guild
    Joe Grundhoefer – NDDC
    Rob Schanilec – dntn business

  17. Add to list in #17: Keith Covey.
    Please remember that one of the major problems in Denison, Iowa, was huge building projects that the city could not afford; the Convention Center at the Golf Club was a financial mess, is not making money/not successful, and their Downtown Streetscape Project, has stopped before completing its Phase Three because the city has no funds to complete that project.

    Our streetscape project was started about was started about 4 years ago, and was to make good use of funds that could only be used for capital improvements , in the downtown, as that was the origin of the money (Master Development District). It was started with the best of intentions, and has had a lot of design work done on it. It is now being pushed, and some facets of it are being pushed without the “buy-in” of some members of the
    streetscape committee.

    Projects like these are ” resume builders”; they can, and SHOULD as originally conceived, be a huge bonus to the community. But if they go awry, they end up as a “bullet” on a resume, and wasted value to the town.

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