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.
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.
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
The boys from Cannon River Tree Care took down the 11 trees on 4th St. between Division and Washington this morning, marking the start of the 4th St. reconstruction project.
See all our blog posts on the 4th St. reconstruction for background. The short version: these trees will be replaced with in-ground trees.
Our 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
Robbie 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).
While 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.
And 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.
Local landscaper Leif Knecht, former mayor Keith Covey 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: