Category Archives: Gov’t & Policy

City, County, Township admin & issues

The 2016 Woodley St. Reconstruction Project needs your input: online survey deadline is May 13

The 2016 Woodley St. Reconstruction Project blog site has launched. Yes, I’m a contractor to the City of Northfield for the online citizen engagement component so no opinions from me will be forthcoming.

But online citizen engagement  has long been part of the mission of LoGro so I’ve got no qualms about urging y’all to participate.

There have been two community/neighborhood meetings thus far, with more scheduled in the next few weeks. I’ve posted meeting photos with the Powerpoint presentations on the blog.

The City’s Public Works Department has created the Woodley St. project questionnaire that’s open now through May 13. They’re seeking comments from all Northfield residents, in particular regarding:

  • Sidewalks (1 side or both sides)
  • Bike Lanes (1 side or both sides)
  • Parking (1 side or both sides)
  • Tree Removal

Consider it!

Woodley St. Project Questionnaire Online

City of Northfield seeks input on Sixth St. reconstruction project: cul-de-sac, sidewalks, bike lanes and more

Sixth St. engagement blogIt’s a big week for the City of Northfield’s Sixth St. reconstruction project:

Helen Albers and her Red Maple tree on Bridge Square

Last week in a discussion thread on the Bridge Square project blog about the Civil War monument there, Northfielder Helen Albers wrote:

I want the beautiful Red Maple tree, which I planted years ago, to remain where it is. It is a perfect tree. How fortunate I have been to enjoy our Bridge Square for eighty years!

I told her I wanted to take her photo with the tree and asked her for more details on how it happened.

Hi Griff, Believe I am a regular “Johnny Appleseed.” Being a tree-lover, I plant them about town. When my husband Lowell died, I planted an English Columnar Oak in the UCC garden as a memorial. Then, I planted two Red Maple trees along the Central Park sidewalk, followed by a beautiful Red Maple tree on south side of our Middle School (now Weitz Center) which has inspired our schools to do more plantings. To beautify Bridge Square, I decided to plant the very beautiful Red Maple, which is now shining brightly with Christmas lights for all to enjoy.

Helen Albers & the Red Maple she planted on Bridge SquareHelen Albers & the Red Maple she planted on Bridge SquareHelen Albers & the Red Maple she planted on Bridge Square

I took these photos of Helen Albers last night with her Red Maple tree at the start of Winter Walk.

When I got home, I looked through my gallery of Northfield photos and found two photos that show Helen’s tree in the summer:

The Helen Albers Red Maple on Bridge SquareThe Helen Albers Red Maple on Bridge Square

Left: May 24, 2008; Right: June 18, 2009.

Update Jan 8, 2014:  Helen sent me a photo of the tree, taken last summer:

Helen Albers tree in summer

Register/attend the Bridge Square live web conference, Wed. Dec. 11, 7 pm

Registration: Web conference, Bridge Square Open House, Dec. 11, 7 pm

I’m putting on my citizen engagement consultant hat to alert y’all that tonight at 7 pm, we’re hosting a live web conference that’s intended to replicate some of the Dec. 9 Bridge Square Open House. To participate (comment or ask questions), you’ll need to register.

And if you miss the event, we’ll have a video of the presentation archived on the blog within a day.

Got questions?  Contact me.

Take the Bridge Square straw poll; attend the Dec. 9th Open House or the Dec. 11 web conference

Northfield Bridge Square straw poll

I’m putting on my citizen engagement consultant hat to alert y’all that the Northfield Bridge Square straw poll is ready. It only takes 5 minutes to complete, unless of course, you choose to include comments with it.

For rationale and background, see the Nov. 20 blog post: Help design the Bridge Square straw poll.

Bridge Square Open House, Oct. 23, 2013Bridge Square Open House, Oct. 23, 2013Bridge Square Open House, Oct. 23, 2013

And be sure to either attend the Dec. 9th Open House or the Dec. 11 web conference next week. Consultant John Slack:

At the next open house on December 9th, attendees will have the opportunity to help define a vision for the future of Bridge Square.  Those in attendance will also get to voice, write and even draw, their ideas for improvement of this well-loved public space. Please bring your thoughts, concerns and best ideas to share!

Bridge Square is Northfield’s living room. The public process for planning its future begins Oct. 23

Bridge Square Blog Site Bridge Square press release Oct 18 2013

Last week, the City of Northfield announced on its website and via an emailed press release (PDF) that the public process for creating a master planning update for Bridge Square begins this Wednesday with an open house at the Archer House, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

There’s now a Bridge Square Blog Site. Yes, you can see my fingerprints on it, as I’ve been hired as a contractor (with my Wigley and Associates hat) by the City to handle the online engagement for the project, teaming up with the lead consultant, Stantec Consulting’s John Slack.

Locally Grown - aggregated Bridge Square RSS feed

Here on LoGro, the headlines for all the recent Bridge Square project blog posts will appear in the upper right sidebar.  But like I did when I posted updates on the recently completed Downtown Parking Management Plan, comments are turned off here because the discussion happens there.

I will attach a comment to this blog post whenever there’s a significant update to the project, just as a way of drawing additional attention to it.  There are better ways to stay informed, however. See my post titled Tools for keeping updated on the Bridge Square planning process.

Mill Towns Trail update from the DNR: Northfield citizens have a problem to solve

L to R: Dana Graham, Galen Malecha, Peggy Prowe, Courtland Nelson, David Bly, Joel Wagar, Steve HennessyL to R: Peggy Prowe, David Bly, Joel Wagar, Steve Hennessy, Glenn Switzer, Peter Hark, Dana Graham, Galen MalechaMill Towns Trail maps

Top officials from the Minnesota DNR Parks and Trails Division held a meeting for a group of local elected officials on Friday at Dundas City Hall to bring them up to speed on current and future developments with the Mill Towns Trail.

DNR Parks and Trails staff:

  • Courtland Nelson, Director
  • Peter Hark, Field Operations Manager
  • Steve Hennessy, Acquisition and Development Specialist
  • Joel Wagar, Area Supervisor

Local elected officials who were able to attend:

Local bike advocate Peggy Prowe also was there.

Among the many developments with the trail that the DNR staff shared were these, most relevant to Northfield and Dundas:

  1. Acquisition of a 6.5 mile railroad right-of-way is in progress to connect Faribault to Dundas
  2. The current Dundas to Northfield segment needs a complete rebuild, but a new route is bring pursued that would be more scenic and eliminate two railroad crossings
  3. Discussions with Union Pacific Railroad on acquiring right-of-way for the segment from Northfield to Lake Byllesby have not been successful; other possible routes are being explored including a combination of private land acquisition and road right-of-way.

I’m particularly intrigued about #2. If you want to know why, ask.  Likewise, if you have questions about what’s happening with the trail in the Faribault and Cannon Falls areas, as staff provided updates on developments with those cities, too.

What’s the big problem facing Northfield?

The City of Northfield currently has no plan to provide a visually significant route for Mill Towns Trail bicyclists to ride through Northfield.  Those are my words. I use the phrase ‘visually significant’ because DNR staff was unequivocal: a bike trail that appears to end as it enters a city is a giant disincentive for bikers. Yes, trail bikers like to stop in towns along the trail to eat and shop and sightsee. But without strong in-town trail visuals, people tend to not return. The trail itself as it goes through town needs to be memorable, not just the town.

Root River State Trail, downtown LanesboroRoot River State Trail, downtown Lanesboro

A good example is the visual impact of the Root River State Trail as it goes through downtown Lanesboro (screenshots above from the DNR’s cool virtual tour of the trail). Lanesboro is much smaller than Northfield, of course, so it’s not a perfect comparison. But the point is, once you’ve ridden through Lanesboro on the trail, you don’t forget it and you want to go back.

As I blogged back in March, there are other projects and developments here in Northfield that have a bicycle-component: the Northfield Depot; the East Cannon River Trail segment; the TIGER Trail (aka the Northfield Modal integration project); and the Cannon River Corridor recreational concept.

So the time is right for more citizens to get involved as bike advocates.  Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement.  In the meantime, see my three blog posts about the need for Northfield to get its bike act together, including the formation of a regional bike advocacy committee.

Three game tables soon to be installed on Bridge Square


EQC member George Kinney stopped by my corner office at GBM this morning and asked me if I knew what was going on with the concrete truck on Bridge Square. I went to investigate and learned from Streets & Parks Supervisor TJ Heinricy and Councilor Dave DeLong that the three concrete pads will soon have game tables on them.

After a visit to NYC a year ago, I suggested here on LoGro that the City should put some game tables in downtown Northfield, and that the money should come from the Streetscape Taskforce.  I have no idea if A) anyone paid attention to my suggestion; B) where the money for the tables came from; and C) how much the project costs.

But I’m guessing someone will enlighten us.

Update 9/14:

The three picnic  tables were installed yesterday. Each has an inlaid backgammon and chess/checkerboard.


The Mill Towns Trail between Northfield and Dundas is navigable, if you’re not a pussy

Armstrong Road between Northfield and Dundas is still closed from the July 13 flooding (Flooding wipes out Mill Towns Trail bridge, slices Armstrong Road, undermines railroad bed) and it could be months before it reopens.  Likewise, the Mill Towns Trail.

But there’s a way around, as I discovered last night. From Northfield, just ride your bike through the compost facility

all the way to the back till you arrive at the big rocks by the reconstructed railroad tracks. Then…

20130723_205831 copy20130723_210351 Danny Macaskill - Industrial Revolutions video
you can ride on the tracks a few yards till you get past Spring Creek. The small rocks in between the rails make it pretty level. Alternately, if you’ve got good balance like Danny MacAskill, you can just ride on one of the rails like he does here. Smooooooooth. Then…


ride down the larger rocks (pick your line carefully) and you’ll see the trail a few yards away. Piece ‘o cake.

[Footnote: Does my blog title offend you?  It shouldn’t. Remember when the word ‘sucks’ was offensive? If not, read this. Then see this Atlantic Wire article: Free Pussy Riot: When ‘Vulgar’ Words Become Acceptable.]