Tag Archives: 4th St. reconstruction

The dead 4th St. trees downtown: after 15 months, they’re still dead

In June of 2011, I blogged about how the new trees planted in Nov. 2010 on 4th St. downtown after the 4th Street reconstruction had died or become diseased.  The plan back then was to cut them down and replace them in the spring.

They never got cut down and when I inquired last April about the progress on getting new ones put in, Sean Simonson, City of Northfield Engineering Tech Coordinator, referred me to a blurb he’d submitted to the Administrator’s Report:

Staff met with representatives from BCM Construction to discuss the replacement of the 19 Armstrong Maples on Fourth Street between Division Street and Washington Street.  Staff and BCM agreed that the trees were not properly maintained after they were planted, so replacement will be made at BCM’s cost. 

Staff has indicated that they would like the replacement to happen this spring so the trees have a chance to establish before they go into winter dormancy.  Notice will be sent out when this work is to take place.  Residents can expect parking closures for a few days while this work is being completed.

dead trees on 4th St, Northfield dead trees on 4th St, Northfield dead trees on 4th St, Northfield 
Spring has come and gone. A few trees have leaves but the dead ones are still there, sticking out like a sore thumb at the most prominent intersection of downtown Northfield.

Pavement collapses on a brand new street

pavement collapse at 4th and Division pavement collapse at 4th and Division pavement collapse at 4th and Division
The heavy rain on Saturday morning has collapsed part of the pavement at 4th & Division.  Unlike the hole in the street that opened up on 6th & Division a couple weeks ago, this problem has occurred on a portion of 4th St. that was completely replaced last year.

Will the contractor be held accountable for the repair?

Update, 8 am, 07/26:

It’s worse than I thought.  The pavement has develop a large bulge along the white stripe parallel to the crosswalk, as well as along the concrete edge near the curb, right in front of First National Bank of Northfield.

pavement bulge at 4th and Division pavement bulge at 4th and Division pavement bulge at 4th and Division

Update, 11 am, 07/28:

The street was repaired yesterday, with costs born by the City. See the discussion thread. Photo below courtesy of Hayes Scriven.

Pavement repairs at 4th and Division

New trees on 4th and 5th streets downtown: dead, diseased, damaged, down

5th St. trees, downtown Northfield5th St. trees, downtown Northfield5th St. trees, downtown Northfield5th St. trees, downtown Northfield5th St. trees, downtown Northfield
While biking on 5th St downtown late yesterday afternoon when it was very windy and 100+ degrees, I noticed that a young tree had blown down. I then looked at the base of the other three trees on 5th St near Division and they all looked diseased or damaged at the base.

4th St. trees, downtown Northfield 4th St. trees, downtown Northfield4th St. trees, downtown Northfield
This morning I looked at the trees on 4th St. that were planted late last year. Several appeared dead and many looked sick.

Can anyone diagnose this seemingly sorry state of affairs?

Downtown 4th St. trees installed

4th St. trees 4th St. trees 4th St. trees 5th St. trees
Workers began installing 19 trees on both sides of 4th St between Division and Washington this week, part of the 4th St. reconstruction project. The trees (Autumn Maples, I think) are much taller than I expected, taller than the ones installed on 5th St. last year (right photo).

After the controversy earlier this year over whether or to include in-ground trees on this stretch of 4th St., I was happy to see it.

Fourth Street reconstruction Phase 1B way behind schedule; NDDC’s unskilled workforce to blame?

Fourth Street reconstruction chartI saw this Fourth Street reconstruction chart in the downtown lobby of the First National Bank of Northfield this morning. (See the PDF of the top half of the chart on the City’s site titled Fourth Street Improvements 2010 – Project Phases.)

I asked EDA member and bank VP Rick Estenson what the delay was since the chart indicates (in yellow) that the Phase 1B was to be completed by July 2 and [sigh] there’s no explanation on the City’s 1999-style web page for the project.  "Rick, the weather’s gorgeous. Why aren’t they at least pouring sidewalks this week?”

Rick suggested that the delay might be due to the fact that the NDDC, which agreed to contribute labor to help reduce project costs in front of its office on 4th St., might be hampered by its unskilled workforce.

Ross Currier, laborer  Ross Currier, heavy equipment operator
Sure enough.

Update 7/16, 8 am:  Ross continues to do his part, however inadequate it might be. He poured the sidewalk outside the NDDC office yesterday.

Sidewalk outside the NDDC office

Podcast: Councilor Kris Vohs

Councilor Kris Vohs with grandkidsOur guest this week, Northfield City Councilor Kris Vohs (At-Large), with two of his grandkids in the audience.

We asked him to explain his vote in favor of the plan to reuse the existing Safety Center location for a new fire station and to build a police station at a new location. The surprising short version of his answer: getting ‘political’ support to build a single building would be difficult in this economic climate. More surprising: he doesn’t support going to the citizens on a referendum to fund the facilities.

The rest of the show we spent discussing the trees on 4th St. which again comes before the Council tonight.

Continue reading Podcast: Councilor Kris Vohs

Sidewalks and planters and trees, oh my!

Robbie Wigley, drinking bubble tea on Eat StreetRobbie and I had our first experience with bubble tea on Saturday. Yum. (The rumors continue to swirl around Northfield that’s a bubble tea restaurant that’s going into the into the old Bagel Bros on Division St.) We got our drinks at Cafe Thang Bom on Eat Street before we grabbed some takeout at Harry Singh’s Original Caribbean Restaurant (yum again).

Sidewalks at 28th and NicolletWhile walking around the intersection of 28th and Nicollet, I noticed how the in-ground trees, the planters, and the tables, chairs, and umbrellas for sidewalk dining all made for an attractive urban landscape.

Sidewalks at 28th and NicolletAnd I noticed that the less-than-five-feet of clearance between the tables and the buildings does not seem to be an issue. 

Why do I mention it?  Because the issue is back before the Northfield City Council this week as staff have brought back two options for trees on 4th St. reconstruction, one of which seems to include some faulty assumptions.

I’ve closed comments here. Join the discussion attached to the blog post,  Council directs staff to include sidewalk trees on 4th St. reconstruction.

Council directs staff to include sidewalk trees on 4th St. reconstruction

Leif Knecht speaking to Northfield City CouncilLocal landscaper Leif Knecht, former mayor Keith Covey Green trees on 4th St.and I spoke at open mic at last night’s Northfield City Council meeting, asking the Council to find a way to incorporate new trees on both sides of 4th St. between Washington and Division for this summer’s 4th St. reconstruction. (See the video of last night’s meeting in this KYMN blog post.)

Knecht said that there are varieties of trees that can do reasonably well in an environment where buildings block the sun and bedrock limits root growth. I distributed a printout of the above photo from 2008, showing that the current trees, although tilted and stunted in some cases, still did a reasonably good job for 30 years.

Councilor Rhonda Pownell made a motion to rescind her vote on last week’s Council decision to accept Streetscape Option 1 (“Small planters along 4th Street curb line, provision for hanging baskets on decorative light poles, no bump-outs or large-scale planters” – Page 27 of packet PDF) since it didn’t include trees. Jim Pokorney seconded.

I was impressed with the subsequent Council discussion. Some councilors were reluctant to rescind because it could delay the whole project. Others were understandably reluctant to get involved in this level of detail. They considered the pros and cons of sending the design to the Streetscape Task Force. Several times, they asked for input from City Engineer Katy Gehler and City Attorney Chris Hood. Mayor Mary Rossing did a masterful job of keeping the discussion on track, helping with the language of various motions, and making sure to get input from everyone.

In the end, they voted unanimously to accept the 4th St. plan but they then followed it by passing another motion, again unanimously, directing city staff to incorporate as many trees as possible into the sidewalk areas.

Nice work, Councilors!

Update 3/18, 10:30 PM: