Among the many developments with the trail that the DNR staff shared were these, most relevant to Northfield and Dundas:
Acquisition of a 6.5 mile railroad right-of-way is in progress to connect Faribault to Dundas
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
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.
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.
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…
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.
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 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.
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.
It seems generally accepted under the current OML that there’s no problem with an elected official having a blog, a Facebook page, or a Twitter account when used for one-way communications. When used as publishing platforms, these tools are no different than having an opinion column or letter to the editor published in a newspaper.
Rather, the concerns are when the interactive features of these online platforms are used: a discussion thread attached to a blog post; comments on a Facebook wall post; conversational tweets; a live web conference with audio and/or text exchanges; a live online chat. In these instances, the possibility exists that a quorum of a public body could end up participating, that this could be interpreted as a serial meeting under the OML, and if not handled properly, could be a violation.
I think this is overly cautious. In her remarks to me by phone, Susan indicated that two areas of concern under the OML for the interactive use of these online platforms are A) whether they can be included in the definition of what constitutes a ‘meeting’; and B) whether they can be consider ‘open to the public.’
The good news is that since the OML places considerable emphasis on the ‘intention’ of the parties involved when a meeting is held, a local unit of government can get an opinion ahead of time from its own attorney and from the State of Minnesota’s Information Policy Analysis Department (IPAD) on the type of meeting it wishes to hold. Doing so would show that its intention was to not circumvent the law.
After getting these supporting opinions, I think the best way to conduct an online discussion with elected/appointed officials would be to A) announce it as a ‘special meeting’ as defined by the law; B) use time constraints on the meeting, for example, 8-9 pm for a live event or two weeks for a blog discussion thread; C) conduct the meeting like a Council Work Session, avoiding decisions, votes, or expressions of intention on how one plans to vote; and D) avoid any discussion of quasi-official business such around land use, property, licenses, etc.
I’ve found Northfield City Council work sessions to generally be more engaging and enlightening because of the open discussion among the councilors. You’re more likely to hear what they’re thinking, wondering, questioning. Opening up that type of exchange to a wider audience via online tools would be a genuinely helpful contribution to public involvement and engagement.
More good news: during the webinar, Susan announced that a bill to amend the OML was to be introduced in the legislature this week with the involvement of the MN Association of Townships. As soon as I find out more, I’ll post it here.
With the power shift in the state legislature, I’m looking forward to the legislative session with a teeny tiny bit of hope and a whole lot of apprehension. My apprehension level rose precipitously yesterday when I read my new state senator’s tweet (@KevinDahle) that he’d been meeting with a district mayor as part of working to increase local government aid. Oh dear, Senator Dahle, but that’s starting at the wrong end of the policy process and so early in the session, too. (continued)
I don’t know if we’ll get the benefit of a substantive online response from Kevin to her since his blog appears to be dormant and his Facebook page is brand new, where so far, he’s having his tweets auto-posted. Maybe he’ll attach a comment to her blog post?
It has the potential for a good discussion. I’m not informed enough to lead it/ask the questions but I’m hoping some of you LoGro readers might chime in, either here or there.
On December 18, a critical decision was made during a Goodhue County Commissioner’s meeting that sealed the deal for an iconic addition to our state trail system. The decision was followed by a celebration among supporters of the Mill Towns State Trail, who until then were fearful that a good year’s worth of collaboration might come undone.
The project entails a key parcel of land where three miles of the Mill Towns State Trail will run. This section of the trail is located along the scenic Cannon River and will offer a connection between two regional parks via a pedestrian bridge over the river and then connect to the popular Cannon Valley Trail. The Parks & Trails Council has been working with partners to ensure this critical land could be acquired for the trail…
Part of what made this parcel so critical to the trail development was its role in enabling the construction of an iconic pedestrian bridge over the Lake Byllesby Dam (on the Cannon River). With this land, the bridge design can be optimized and construction deadline stays on schedule to receive the $1.7 million matching grant from the federal government.
Peggy Prowe, advocates for the Mill Towns Trail and hundreds of bicyclists have a dream of one day being able to ride from Mankato to Red Wing utilizing the area’s various bike trails.
Cycling enthusiasts are one step closer to that dream as Goodhue County Commissioners voted 4-1 on Wednesday to purchase a piece of property adjacent to Byllesby Park in Cannon Falls. That land will enable the Mill Towns Trail to be connected to the Cannon Valley Trail at Lake Byllesby.
Got some website and social media skills to volunteer? The Mill Towns Trail website is nearly always out of date (last update was last July) and the organization needs help in making use of social media to spread its message and connect to its supporters.
The essential problem is with one-party rule itself. Lengthy periods of one-party rule allow a governing party to indulge its less desirable tendencies without fear of reprisal. In the case of the GOP, that can mean starving government of needed resources and programs. For Democrats, it can mean growing government beyond a sustainable size, as has happened in New York, California and Illinois…
Regardless of policy output, closely competitive political parties produce accountable government and prevent either major party from indulging its worst tendencies. If strong two-party competition produces divided government, that is a risk well worth taking.
All Minnesotans will benefit from a future in which both major parties can seriously contest all major races. It’s up to the state’s GOP to reform itself so that it can again be an effective competitive force.
Steven Schier, professor of political science at Carleton College, said he expects the GOP to de-emphasize social issues, which it can no longer prevail on, and focus on the “hardy perennial” of fighting tax hikes. “That unifies Republicans, and it has the potential to appeal to a broad number of voters,” Schier said.
He thinks the 2012 election’s lesson isn’t as much about “overreach” as about the need for compromise. “Minnesotans accept that decisions need to be made, so we can move on. Some in the Capitol in the last few years saw intransigence as a political good. Minnesotans disagree. That’s not a quality of leadership they admire. People want it done. They expect value for their dollar, yes, but they want government to function to solve problems,” he said.
Members of the new majorities should arrive in St. Paul thinking less about which side of various gaps they stand on and more about how to build consensus. That’s key to convincing Minnesotans that, this time, the DFL can be trusted to govern.
I’m guessing that neither the DFL nor the MN GOP will heed the advice that we citizens want consensus.
Robbie and I are camping at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park for a few days. The camping sites are primarily cart-in, which means that you haul your gear to your campsite with wheelbarrow-type carts. Advantage: the sites are more secluded. I took the photo in the center from the rocky bluff above our tent.
General Mills is taking a stand against a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, becoming the most prominent corporate voice making such a public declaration. Chief executive Ken Powell voiced the company’s opposition Wednesday at a General Mills function attended by 400 gay and lesbian professionals, followed Thursday by a Web letter from the company’s vice president for global diversity and inclusion, Ken Charles. “We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy,” Charles wrote. “We value diversity. We value inclusion.”
Opponents of the voter ID proposal accused supporters of disenfranchising seniors, college students, minorities and the poor. Proponents suggested that their opponents were simply trying to protect an election system fraught with fraud and open to manipulation. The hyperpartisan rhetoric did little to help inform public opinion…
The debate ended the way it began. Republicans called it a common-sense measure to tighten up Minnesota’s voting system and make sure voters are who they say they are. DFLers said the requirement would not prevent the tiny amount of fraud that exists but may erect barriers to certain voters and throw a bombshell into Minnesota’s popular election-day registration system.
Maluchnik’s concerns about costs:
If approved, this constitutional amendment would require the state to spend millions to provide free IDs to thousands of Minnesotans and to educate citizens on the state’s new voting requirements.
In addition, local governments would need to implement provisional balloting, a process that allows voters who arrive at the polls without an ID to cast a ballot that would be counted only if they subsequently provided the necessary identification. This process would require local governments to print special ballots, purchase new equipment, hire and train additional election judges, and pay for storage and security of provisional ballots. Studies have shown that implementing a provisional balloting process will cost local governments — and, in turn, property-tax payers — millions of dollars every election season.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, would allow the sale and use of the full range of consumer fireworks, including aerial rockets and firecrackers. Currently, the state only allows the sale and use of ground-based items such as small fountains, sparklers and snakes.
One of my cranky dad’s passions was his love of fireworks, one of the few things that that he loved to do with me and my brother. He’d buy $100 or more of fireworks every year, and this was back in the late 50s when that would buy an arsenal.
He showed us how to blow up sandcastles and cardboard houses; how to launch tennis balls high in the air by putting them on top of lead pipes and lighting a cherry bomb underneath; how orange juice cans were great to use with regular black cats; how to launch cherry bombs into the air with a slingshot. He loved that we loved it and I cherish those memories.
When Minneapolis Tribune columnist Cedric Adams successfully led a campaign to ban fireworks in the state, he was not deterred. He and many fellow Munsingwear employees would place an annual fireworks order with the interstate truck drivers. They’d purchase them down south and bring them back for distribution at the loading docks. ‘Civil disobedience’ he called it.
I know the dangers of fireworks firsthand. When I was 13, some buddies and I climbed to the top of an empty barn silo to drop Black Cats mid-air for the big echo effect. I had about 20 of them stuffed in my front shirt pocket and when the fuse died out on one that I was ready to throw, I put it back in my shirt pocket so that I could harvest its powder later. It exploded in my pocket which set off a couple more went off. I was sure my left nipple was blown off but fortunately, the burns were just below it. I borrowed a shirt from a friend and hid the injury from my parents for about a week. A real memory-maker.
That’s a familiar family face in photo #4 of the gallery, holding a sign that says “Straight, not narrow.”
Caption: Gilly Wigley, 25, St. Cloud, waits for the start of the Above the Clouds Pride March Friday.”
– St. Cloud Times photo by Kimm Anderson
In November 2012, Minnesota voters decide whether to approve an amendment to the constitution banning same-sex marriage. Those of us who are straight are especially needed to help defeat the amendment.
On Saturday, the effects of Friday night’s severe thunderstorm were everywhere: trees and branches on and blocking the trails. The MN DNR maintains the trails and normally would have been out in force to quickly clear them for the big holiday weekend. But with the shutdown, DNR employees are laid off.
The good news: a chainsaw-toting network of local landowners, volunteers, and even laid-off DNR employees had all the trails open by mid-day on Saturday. We only had to carry our bikes across one downed tree on Saturday afternoon but it was removed on our return trip. It’s a good example of how motivated citizens can take on a task that government typically provides.
The bad news: the trails are littered with millions of small sticks and branches, often making for a very bumpy ride (photo on far right). It’s likely that those will remain on the trail until the shutdown ends and DNR staff can get out and sweep the trail (example here.) It’s a good example of how motivated citizens can’t do everything that government typically provides.
I took the above panoramic photo of the construction (parking lot and addition) underway at Rejoice! Lutheran Church in Dundas yesterday. (To see the large version of the photo, right-click on it and open it in a new browser tab. Other photos below.) Groundbreaking was last Sunday, according to this story in the Nfld News.
The Ad Hoc Advisory Task Force on Holy Cross Church, consisting of local citizens Julie Schrader Bicket, Stephanie Henriksen and Jane Moline, is pursuing an appeal to require an EAW. I got this press release from Stephanie yesterday:
Citizen Group offers to drop appeal if Rejoice agrees to restore sanctuary
The Ad Hoc Advisory Task Force on Holy Cross Church, a group of local citizens, has filed an appeal in the Minnesota Court of Appeals against the City of Dundas asking the Court to order the City to complete an environmental assessment worksheet on the project of Rejoice! Church on the historic Holy Cross Church site in Dundas.
Holy Cross Church is a historic treasure in Minnesota and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Upon taking possession of the property, Rejoice! stripped the historic interior sanctuary of Holy Cross, including pews, altar rails, lecturns, chairs, plaques, and other items of historic significance. Destruction of outer walls of the Parish Hall and grading activities on the site for construction of a new building began this past week.
Minnesota law required the EAW because of the partial destruction of Holy Cross Church, a listed National Register property. There is hope the case will lead to restoration of the sanctuary, currently being used as a meeting room. If the Court requires an EAW, a process will take place that will address this, among other things. The Citizens group has offered to drop the case in the Court of Appeals if Rejoice! agrees to restore the historic sanctuary.
Anyone who purchased interior furnishings from Rejoice who is willing to return them (and be reimbursed for prices paid) may call this number:
Ad Hoc Advisory Task Force on Holy Cross 507-645-7086
Among the Northfielders he interviewed: Chuck DeMann, Peggy Prowe, Sue Lloyd, Al Linder, Jim Johnson, and me.
Sue Lloyd was quoted: "How we’ve come to such extremes I don’t know… Are there middle [ground] people? I don’t know anymore."
Sue, we had a "middle ground" legislator not too long ago: Ray Cox, a moderate Republican by most measures. Back in 2007, Ray got a measly 26% score from the Taxpayers League, was at times branded at RINO by some in the GOP, and received the endorsement from the Star Tribune. Ray wrote in a Jan. 2008 blog post after he lost the special Senate election to Kevin Dahle:
In the recent Senate Special election I was honored to receive the endorsement of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. That meant a lot to me. The editors and writers there conducted a thorough review of my voting record. They conducted a comprehensive interview about current issues. While they were careful to keep partisan politics out of their discussion, the editors are well aware of the environment that the legislature must conduct its work. They noted my ability to work in a bipartisan manner on state issues in an attempt to resolve some of the more pressing concerns.
Northfield’s liberal voters rejected this moderate Republican and instead voted for Dahle in large numbers. Likewise, Cox was not enough of a social conservative for a large number of voters in the western part of the district and so they didn’t vote in large enough numbers to offset the liberal vote in Northfield.
Northfield’s liberals won the battle of 2008 but they lost the war in 2010 when the Republicans fielded much more conservative candidates in Al DeKruif and Kelby Woodard who were able to get out the D-25 conservative vote in big numbers.
So for 25B voters to now complain about extremes, partisanship, and gridlock seems a little disingenuous. Al and Kelby and the rest of the freshman Republicans know who and what got them there. Why compromise with Gov. Dayton until you have to?
Griff Wigley: Concepts for a Future Bridge Square Save the date: Open House #2, Dec 9, 5:30-7:30 PM, Archer House; Save the date: Live Web Conference, Dec 11, 7-8:30 PM Recent blog posts (these are all clickable links): * Northfield Park &...
Griff Wigley: New post: Oct. 23 Bridge Square open house: photos, documents, comments, feedback
Griff Wigley: Blog posts thus far: * How is the citizen engagement process for the Bridge Square project going to work? October 20, 2013 * Photo flashback: Northfield citizen engagement with John Slack October 19, 2013 * Mrs. Johansen’s popcorn...
Griff Wigley: See yesterday’s Northfield News article by Kaitlyn Roby, @NFNKaitlyn: Brainstorming Bridge Square’s future in Northfield
Griff Wigley: Northfield City Engineer Joe Stapf sent me these photos today of the repairs to Armstrong Road and the adjacent Mill Towns Trail. Joe wrote: The trail paving is complete (still being rolled so not yet open), and the roadway is...
Doug Peterson: Hi Griff, After reading Jan Hill’s reply, I realize my mis-understanding on “riding the rails”. You got me. Can I blame that on getting old?
Jan Hill: I knew this was a send-up, Griff, having investigated possible routes ourselves (and knowing you!) But I thought for sure the cyclist on the rail was a fake–until I watched the video. Now that’s scary.
Griff Wigley: Nick, I’ve heard from another Northfielder on this who wrote via email: The part where you suggest that riders go on to the active rail line does not make good common sense to me. I have worked on the railroad as a head...
Nick Benson: Your non-pussy readers should note that trespassing on railroad tracks, as shown there, is both dangerous and illegal; trains can be surprisingly quiet when approaching on smooth welded rail like that, which doesn’t...
Ross Currier: I just walked through Bridge Square and ALL THREE of the tables were occupied. It didn’t look like they were playing chess, though, more like eating lunch… …and what a day for it, in beautiful downtown Northfield,...
Griff Wigley: The three picnic tables were installed last week. Each has an inlaid backgammon and chess/checkerboard. I’ve added photos to the blog post above.
Griff Wigley: Joe, thanks for that explanation. And if your eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Gentilini, is still around, I think she might approve of your communications style.
kiffi summa: Joe or Mr. Stapf… Thanks for the explanation; I think its/they’re great, and long overdue… I just didn’t want anything to put off the Bridge Square redesign implementation … and often it’s...
Joe Stapf: Ah-h-h-h, yes, The Gaming Tables… Question #1) Who authorized them!!!??? I did. The picnic tables (if you recall, a trial) were deemed by me to have been a success. We received absolutely 100%, pure, unadulterated positive feedback...
Griff Wigley: Two new parking-related blog posts: A bicycle field trip with Dale Gehring to get smarter about ‘making the connections’ http://northfielddowntownparki ng.org/2013/08/30/a-bicycle-fi eld-trip-with-dale-gehring-...
Griff Wigley: New blog post: Proposed layout of directional and way-finding signs for public parking
Griff Wigley: New blog post: Washington St. lot restriped to optimize parking spaces
Griff Wigley: Blog post update: recommended downtown parking management action steps for Aug. 13 Council work session
Griff Wigley: Blog post update: July 31 parking management planning meeting at City Hall
Griff Wigley: There is a Prayer Walk for the Northfield School District today, 4-8 pm: By Maria KayLynn Olson and Kiersten-Kiwi Williams Bielenberg Schedule: 4:00-4:25 Prairie Creek 4:30-4:55 Arcadia 5:00-5:25 Greenvale 5:30-5:55 Sibley 6:00-6:25...
Griff Wigley: Hi Marie, thanks for asking. I’ll contact you via email.
Marie Wright: I’d like to use this photo on my website. My theme is vintage Main Street USA. I feel that I need your permission to copy this photo and use it. (Julia Rose Grey is my pen name for my genre of novels.)
Griff Wigley: Dave, I like the two-prong attack, too. Can you let us know when the short-term task force is due to meet? I’d like to attend, and I’m sure some of the neighbors would as well. And make sure that pizza with mushroom...
Griff Wigley: Nfld News article on Tuesday’s Council action on this issue: Subcommittee to explore fixes for tax-forfeited land acquired by Northfield During heavy rain, water has overtaken the yards and basements of Karen Moldenhauer and...
David DeLong: Griff, I’m told there’s over 50,000 cubic yards of dirt in the pile which translates to over 2,500 dump truck loads. I think there’s enough to go around. The problem is moving all that over residential streets, if we sell it or...
Griff Wigley: At last night’s meeting, the City Council opted to A) form a 4-week task force of 3 council members plus engineering staff and citizens to deal with the runoff problem in the neighborhood; and B) ask the Parks & Rec...
kiffi summa: good to know, Griff… I trust that you’re correct about the amount of dirt needed for the create of a bike park. Maybe if there’s so much more than needed, a berm could be created between the park and the houses, if...
Nancy Averill: Ah KDWB. THE best radio station ever. We had the KDW-Beatles. We had the KDW-Beach Boys. We were color radio. We had leaky billboards. I maintain that Professor James Francis Patrick O’Neill is the very basis of my humor. We...
Griff Wigley: Paul/George, they reopened the old culvert and put in a new larger secondary one. I’ll try to get photos.
Griff Wigley: Thanks everyone for your kind comments about the photos. I’ve added a few of downtown to the blog post above. See Rob Hardy’s comprehensive listing of links related to the flooding on Northfield.org.
George Kinney: I agree, Paul. And now would be the time to properly size all three culverts for the three transportation modes cut by the latest flood. Then start thinking about mitigating all the flooding in our region, since it seems to be...
Brendan Gilmore: Amazing pics. Bet you didn’t know one of those orange/yellow lines carries all CenturyLink long distance traffic from the whole state of South Dakota. Still down as of now.
Griff Wigley: July 2 StarTribune: With schedule change ruled out, Northfield looks at other options to close achievement gap Reminder: School Board work session on achievement gap and ‘summer slide’ to follow Monday’s Board...