Category Archives: City

Northfield & Dundas

Three game tables soon to be installed on Bridge Square

20130814_08504020130814_08511020130814_085159

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.

DSC03502DSC03510DSC03507DSC03511

Northfield’s new park could include a mountain bike / pump & jump park and save the city $280,000

Northfield’s acquisition of the Fargaze Meadows subdivision for a future park comes with an eyesore: a huge mound of dirt. In the May 28 Fbo Daily News: Northfield gains 40 acres from Rice County for parks and trails:

But converting the land will neither easy nor cheap. A giant mound of dirt lies on the north part of the land, which not only makes for a poor view, but also causes a lot of problems for the homes in the neighborhood. County engineer Dennis Luebbe estimated it could cost up to $280,000 just to move the dirt.

Eagan Pump and Jump Bike parkDavid DeLongBack in May after a downtown parking management meeting, I was chatting with Ward 2 Councilor David DeLong about my mountain biking adventures and mentioned to him that many municipalities are building bike parks (pump and jump parks) as an amenity for their citizens of all ages. Eagan has one that I regularly use (left photo), Maple Plain has one, and Cottage Grove starting building a big one this week.  Others are in the works for Duluth, Maple Grove, and Cuyuna and probably many more. When Dave learned about the cost of removing the big dirt mound at Fargaze, he emailed me, wondering whether some of that dirt could be used for a bike park. I replied:

The type of dirt used to build the features for these parks matters, as the jumps, berms and rollers deteriorate quickly if it’s not hard-pack dirt.  I’m guessing that mound of dirt at Fargaze is black dirt.

He replied:

Griff, I don’t know what the dirt is but I think there must be more than black dirt. If it was most likely there would have been greater erosion. Amateur opinion. The quietness and growing popularity [of bike parks] along with the age range of participation does intrigue me. Thanks for the links and following up.

Last night while riding my around-town bike in the area, I decided to take a closer look.  I was shocked to not see black dirt. So today I went back, took photos, and dug (heh) a little deeper. It appears that Councilor DeLong’s amateur opinion was correct.

First, some perspective:

Fargaze Meadows, Northfield - looking westFargaze Meadows, Northfield - looking southFargaze Meadows, Northfield - looking northFargaze Meadows, Northfield - looking north
The mound of dirt looking west, south, and north. Far right: looking north from atop the mound.

Fargaze Meadows outlined  - Google EarthFargaze Meadows dirt mound - Google Earth
Left: My markup of the Google Earth view of the Fargaze parcel. Right: satellite view of the neighborhood with the pond and the mound.

Fargaze dirt cutFargaze dirt washoutFargaze dirt mound showing dirt cuts/washouts - Google Earth
Left and center: two of several dirt cuts/washout areas that indicate that the mound is not made of black dirt. Right: the dirt cuts/washout areas viewable from Google Earth’s satellite.

Access point to Fargaze dirt moundFacing east at the bottom of the Fargaze dirt moundFacing west at the top of the Fargaze dirt mound Facing northwest at the top of the Fargaze dirt mound
Primary access to the dirt mound is at the corner of Ford St E and Brogan Dr. (left). Once on top, it appears that the mound is big enough to locate a significant portion of a bike park on top of it.  The dirt could easily be moved to build the bike park adjacent to / south of where the mound is. Or both.

Griff Wigley, no trespassing signtruck: City of Northfield's Public Works DepartmentAn apologetic Griff Wigley
While I was there, a couple of thugs helpful staffers from the City of Northfield’s Public Works Department pulled up in a city truck to inform me that I was trespassing. I politely thanked them and profusely apologized, promising to never do it again. (Consider this paragraph to be one of these.)

As for the type of dirt needed for a bike park, a guy I know who’s working on the bike park in Cottage Grove wrote to me:

You want to be able to make a dirt ball, like a snow ball out of it. If it holds together, maybe bounce it a little to see how it holds up. If it does, that’s good. Also look for that reddish brown color. That is mineral soil.

Soil in the Fargaze dirt moundSoil in the Fargaze dirt mound Moistened soil from the Fargaze dirt mound
I scraped some some dirt from the side of the dirt cut, brought it home, mixed it with some water and made a ball. It split apart when I dropped it from a height of about a foot so it may not be perfect.  I put it in the sun and it was baked into a hard rock by day’s end. So it’s definitely promising and probably worth the money to have a company drill soil samples of the dirt mound.

I’ve begun having conversations about all this with Nathan Knutson, Chair of the Park & Recreation Advisory Board, City Administrator Tim Madigan, and Joe Stapf and Jaspar Kruggel from the Public Works Department.

Eagle ID bike park 1Eagle ID bike park 2Eagle ID bike park 3Eagle ID bike park 4
The photos above are from a profile of a bike park in the city of Eagle, Idaho that was built by a company called Alpine Bike Parks. It has some similarities to the location and height of the Fargaze dirt mound here in Northfield:

Once the community was ready to develop the park, they reached out to Alpine Bike Parks to develop the full-service public bike park facility. Mechanized construction included slopestyle downhill trails, skills development areas, and competitive mountain cross and dual slalom courses. These trails raised the public profile of the project and assisted in developing capital for future project phases, including additional skills areas, and competitive BMX and mountain bike race courses.

  • Duration of Construction: Two months
  • Scope: Master planning, trail design, trail construction, community outreach.
  • Methods: Excavators, tracked loaders and skid steers, hand shaping
  • Budget: $130,000
  • Client: City of Eagle, Idaho

Curious as to what a pump track is all about? Like swinging higher and higher on a swing with no one pushing you, it’s going around and around the track on your bike without pedaling, a foundational skill that makes mountain biking even more fun. Watch this video of instruction for a high school mountain bike team:

httpv://youtu.be/7Vl80yZ0O-g

Lastly, I realize that neighbors in the area may have concerns about having a bike park adjacent to their property. If you’re a neighbor and reading this, please attach a comment or contact me.

A Bikeable Community Workshop in Faribault indicates what Northfield should be doing

KYMN Anderson, President, Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and TourismBikeable Community Workshop BrochureBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MN
Northfield City Administrator and Faribault resident Tim Madigan alerted me to a Bikeable Community Workshop hosted by the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism last week.  I contacted Kymn Anderson, Chamber President, to see if there was room for any Northfielders and she graciously allowed me to attend. Northfield City Councilor Suzie Nakasian was there, too.

The Bikeable Community Workshop brochure (PDF) states:

A Bikeable Community Workshop trains local, county and regional staff, and advocates on how to plan and support more Bike Friendly Communities to encourage more people on bikes more often in Minnesota. Participants enjoy a short bike ride with the best bike locks to assess their community’s bicycle facilities to base an action plan on. Target audiences include engineers, law enforcement, planners, public health practitioners, school administrators, elected officials, and advocates. The course includes a short bicycle ride auditing your community.

Bikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MN
The workshop was presented by staff from the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation. These folks knew their stuff and presented it well.

Bikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MN; photo by Rebecca Rodenborg, Faribault Daily News
After the morning session, we broke up into three groups for a bike audit ride around Faribault.

See the May 14 Faribault Daily News by reporter Rebecca Rodenborg (@FDNRebecca): Faribault leaders take on bikeability issue. Also see her earlier article on May 4: How bike-friendly is Faribault?

My take-away?  We need to begin working immediately with the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota to form a Northfield area bicycle advisory committee so we can begin tackling a myriad of bike-related issues. The City of Minneapolis’ Bicycle Advisory Committee page spells much of it out:

Advise the Mayor, City Council, and Park Board on bicycling related issues; help advance the state of bicycle infrastructure; encourage more people to bike; educate the public; work towards more compliance with traffic laws; help the City and Park Board make bicycle plans; work to increase equity between bicyclist and other modes of transportation; review and suggest legislative and policy changes; recommend priorities for the use of public funds on bicycle projects; help ensure Minneapolis keeps and improves its status as a bicycle friendly community; serve as a liaison between Mpls communities and the City and Park Board, coordinate between difference agencies that interact with bicyclists.

Props to Kymn Anderson at the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and the Faribault area bicycle advocates for hosting the session. It was inspiring.

Downtown parking panel discussion via video conference scheduled for today, May 6, 5 pm

Britt Ackerman Mary Closner Ross Currier Leota Goodney

Chris Heineman Christopher Tassava Steve Wilmot

We’re hosting a live video conference today, May 6, at 5 pm to discuss the DRAFT "final" report on the Downtown Parking Conversation. The draft is on the agenda for the City Council work session on Tuesday, May 14th.

Panelists confirmed thus far:

We’ll be using Google+ Hangout Air for the video conference, embedded on the downtown parking conversation blog.  If you’re unable to attend the live conference, I’ll have it archived there shortly after it’s over.

There are three ways for you to participate in this event:

  1. We’ll be using an online text chat feature so that anyone can submit questions for the panel during the video conference.
  2. You can submit questions for the panel ahead of time by either attaching a comment to the blog post, or by using the Contact Us form
  3. After the panel is over, we’ll continue the discussion via blog comment thread till Friday, May 10, possibly later.

Got questions or suggestions? Attach a comment or contact me.

Photos: Lynne Young and Liz Wheeler retirement reception

Lynne Young, Scott Neal, Liz Wheeler20130430_162251DSC09625DSC09626
I went to last week’s retirement reception at Northfield City Hall for Lynne Young, Northfield Public Library Director, and Liz Wheeler, Director of Human Resources, IT and Risk. Former Northfield City Administrator and current Edina City Manager Scott Neal was among the dignitaries who attended.

DSC09628Griff Wigley and Liz WheelerDSC09629
I was pleased that City staff chose one of my photos of downtown Northfield to give to Liz. The photo is used on the City’s new website.

Mark Murphy, one of Northfield’s finest, retires today. Party on Monday.

Northfield Police Sergeant Mark Murphy stopped by my corner office at GBM on Wednesday and gave me the news: he’s retiring today. I later found the details of his retirement party in this KYMN news blog post, Sgt. Murphy hangs up his badge:

Interim Police Chief Chuck Walerius…  invites the public to an open house for Murphy next Monday, April 22nd at the City Hall Chambers from 3pm to 5pm.  There will be coffee and cake and a chance to say thanks to Mark for all his service to the community.

Mark Murphy blogger Mark Murphy issuing citation 
Mark and I have a history. He hired me to help him with his campaign blog when he ran for Rice County Sheriff. Despite his loss, I was hoping that our professional relationship would be enough to have him look the other way whenever it might happen that I was observed to not be in full compliance with local traffic laws. Not so, it turned out.

Sergeant Mark MurphyMark Murphy and colleagues buying, what else, doughnutsSuzette Taylor, Mark Taylor, Michelle Murphy, Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy personal parking spaceMark Murphy: undercover or just really plain clothes?Mark Murphy and grandsonMark Murphy DWI task force

See all of my blog posts here on LoGro that have involved Mark Murphy. And then get down to City Hall on Monday afternoon to say goodbye.  No need to be careful where you park.

Do you live in/near downtown Northfield? Does the school calendar matter to you? Then your input is needed

Some news on the two Northfield-related citizen engagement projects that I’m working on:

NDDC's Ross Currier, making the roundsSchool Calendar Straw Poll
Left: my photo of the NDDC’s Ross Currier, navigating icy sidewalks last week to distribute invitations to residents who live near downtown, inviting them to a residential stakeholders meeting this Thursday, 8 pm at the Northfield Public Library. Details here.

Right: a screenshot of the Northfield School Calendar Conversation straw poll that’s now live. Details here.

Teresa Jensen will soon be in control of all Northfield’s information. Can we hurry up and find her a decent house?

Lynne Young, Teresa JensenI pretended to be a City of Northfield official this afternoon and attended a reception for Teresa Jensen, Northfield’s new Library/IT Director. Approval of her hiring is on the agenda for Tuesday night’s Council meeting.

I’m not exactly sure when current Library Director Lynne Young retires and when Teresa starts but I hope it’s not on April Fool’s Day. And hopefully, Pastor Will Healey will pay off his library fines before Teresa starts.

For more on Teresa’s hiring, see last week’s Northfield New article: City administrator appoints Northfield’s director of library, IT.

And if you know of a house for sale in Northfield that’s a comfortable walk/bike ride to the library, add a comment here and I’ll make sure Teresa sees it. She needs one.