Dam birds may have to find another perch to fish if Suzie Nakasian has her way

Ames Mill dam on the Cannon River, downtown Northfield Great Blue Heron on the Ames Mill dam Great Blue Heron on the Ames Mill dam 
On Saturday afternoon as the Riverwalk Market Fair was closing up, John Thomas  (AKA Mr. JST Technology) alerted me to a Great Blue Heron that was perched on the top of the Ames Mill dam. After a few minutes, a Mallard joined it. It’s moments like that that make most Northfielders love that dam and the visually pleasing pool of Cannon River water behind it.  But it could be much more.

There’s a resurgence of interest in planning for the Cannon River as it flows through downtown Northfield, especially if the dam is removed. See the discussion attached to my 2007 blog post: Tear down the Ames Mill dam.  And the Sept 2011 PRAB minutes included this:

Council Member Suzie Nakasian reported. The City of Reno Nevada was chosen as an example of how to maximize the river corridor in a city. The planning was done around the river, recreation, economic development, and flood mitigation. A slide show presentation showed the reconstruction of the river to an Olympic class kayak run. She presented this to the PRAB to inspire creativity and thinking of the Cannon River as a park. To create a corridor along the river as parkland.

I was at that PRAB meeting and saw Suzie’s slideshow. It’s pretty cool what they’ve done along the Truckee River in Reno. See the Reno Riverwalk District, the Truckee River Whitewater Park, the Reno River Festival and the Downtown Makeover page on Reno.

Imagine something like this (smaller, of course) in downtown Northfield:

DSC00728 DSC00729 renokayakparkro6 2478640677_907d140dd5 by RenoTahoe 529539_10151062507755575_2079489686_n

 

Ice circles revisited and a software/app company discovered

Carleton professor Jeff Ondich is a GBM regular and this morning he stopped by my corner office to alert me to the ice circles forming below the Ames Mill dam. I blogged about ice circles back in 2009 but haven’t seen them since.

ice circle below the Ames Mill dam ice circle below the Ames Mill dam Jeff Ondich and ice circle below the Ames Mill dam 
Jeff’s photos (left and center) of the ice circles with his smartphone turned out a lot better than those from my smartphone. However, he really does have zombie eyes from spending too much time in front of a computer.  In addition to being a computer science professor, he owns a language software/app company in Dinkytown called Ultralingua; they also have word game app called Accio.  Now if we could only convince him and his Twin Cities-based employees to relocated to Northfield. Hmmm.

Looking for a place to ice skate outdoors? Consider the pond in Hidden Valley Park

Ice rink at Way Park Cannon River above the Ames Mill Dam  the hockey rink next to the Northfield Ice Arena 
It’s not only the lack of snow that’s plaguing us. It’s also been too warm to make decent ice for outdoor rinks.  As of yesterday, the City’s neighborhood ice rinks weren’t skatable. Witness the rink at Way Park above. The Cannon River above the Ames Mill dam looked skatable for those looking to either win a Darwin Award or to be ticketed by the Northfield Police. Your only option for outdoor hockey: the hockey rink next to the Northfield Ice Arena, as the two hockey rinks at Carleton College aren’t yet skatable.

Ice on the pond in Hidden Valley Park Ice on the pond in Hidden Valley Park Ice on the pond in Hidden Valley Park
However, the stormwater pond in Hidden Valley Park in my backyard is near-perfect for ice skating. Some of my visiting relatives took a tour on foot yesterday afternoon.

Controversy erupts over the 2011 DJJD Horseshoe Hunt

DJJD Horseshoe HuntWhile the 2011 Horseshoe Hunt clues have started appearing on the DJJD website, some members of the DJJD committee have begun to question the wisdom of this year’s location for Horseshoe.

On early Saturday morning, DJJD volunteers were seen lowering Horsehoe Hunt Chair Tim Freeland into the Cannon River adjacent to the Ames Mill, dressed in a diving suit.

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While Freeland’s final destination for the Horeshoe remains a secret, its approximate location quickly became controversial, once other DJJD Committee members learned of the activity.

"I know that we’ve had some problems in the past with the Horseshoe found too quickly," said Hayes ‘Gabby’ Scriver,  a 3rd-year DJJD Board Director. "But this looks to me like it’s a little over the top. If the Horseshoe is anywhere near the dam, we can expect that Malt-O-Meal will object.  They own the Ames Mill dam and they certainly don’t want anyone messing around there, underwater or not. What if the dam was accidentally damaged?"

DJJD General Chair Dwayne Reddy disagreed. "You can’t be spoon fed all your life.  In recent years, the Horseshoe has been so easy to find that you hardly even need to read the clues to find it.  If the frickin’ Mayor of Northfield can find the Horseshoe, what does that tell you?"  Other committee members agreed, though they wished to remain anonymous.

The Northfield Fire Department has agreed to rent out its diving suit to anyone interested in searching the river for the Horseshoe. "I know it’s a bit unusual but considering the City’s budget problems, we need all the revenue we can find right now," said Fire Chief Harry Frantek. "The bingo tent during DJJD ain’t the cash cow folks think it is."

Photo album: receding high water ice formations

The below-freezing temps and receding high water on the Cannon River created some interesting ice formations this week in downtown Northfield, both above the Ames Mill dam and north of the 2nd St. bridge.

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Most of the photos are macro shots, with the ones above among my favorites that show something of Northfield in the background.

See the album of 120 photos, the large slideshow (recommended), or this small slideshow:

Photo albums: Downtown Northfield below zero

Downtown Northfield hoar frost The vapor rising from the Cannon River as it flows over the Ames Mill dam has created a wonderland of hoar frost in a small area of downtown Northfield during this recent cold spell.

See my two albums of photos:

Continue reading Photo albums: Downtown Northfield below zero

Ice circles forming below Ames Mill dam

ice circles below Ames Mill damice circles below Ames Mill damI got a call from Dean Kjerland at Art On Water Gallery yesterday, alerting me to some lily pad-like ice floes circulating below the Ames Mill dam. He wondered whether they were pollution related. Rob Schanilec at By All Means Graphics theorized that last summer’s repairs to the adjacent retaining wall may be causing a different circulation pattern in the water, as he doesn’t remember this phenomenon occurring.

Wikipidia has an entry on ice circles. Evidently, there are two different types. More photos here.

Update 12/25: Patrick Enders emailed me this photo of a single large ice circle at the foot of the dam that he took with his iPhone about 1-2 weeks ago. He says in a comment below that there were two of them.

ice circles below Ames Mill dam - Patrick Enders photo

Update 01/12: Another batch of ice circles has formed during the current cold snap:

A pumpkin in distress

Pumpkin on the Ames Mill Dam 
The Ames Mill dam claimed another victim last week.

One month to go: Construction update on the Ames Mill dam retaining wall, Fifth St, Water St. parking lot and riverwalk

I took these photos Sunday of some of the construction happening downtown this summer. Most of it should be done by DJJD, one month from now.

Fifth St reconstruction Water St. parking lot Water St. parking lot Ames Mill dam wall

Public Services Director Joel Walinsky had this update in the city admin Friday Memo (PDF) last week:

Heselton Construction continued with water main on the first section of Phase III, which is on Fifth Street from Water Street to Division Street. They finished up with the water main late in the week and started with sanitary sewer installation. Sanitary sewer and storm sewer should wrap up on this area late next week.

North Country Concrete was on-site at the beginning of the week working on the concrete and crosswalks in the intersection of Fifth Street and Water Street. They poured the base concrete for the crosswalks, and the 1′ limestone colored concrete “bands” on the edges of the crosswalks. These are the same style crosswalks in the intersection of Division Street and Fourth Street, and by the Library.

Bearscapes, Heseltons brick paver subcontractor, was on-site late in the week to install the brick pavers in the four crosswalks in the intersection. Bituminous Materials, Inc. was also on the jobsite Friday to pave the rest of the 3
Water Street and Fifth Street intersection. Heselton anticipates opening this intersection up on Wednesday August 6th.
Work continued on the promenade area along the river this week. Northfield Construction finished up the footings and base for both the Harvest Sculpture and the Kiosk. Guth Electric worked on the electrical in this area, and should have most of the electrical wrapped up in that area next week also.

Next week, utility construction will continue on Fifth Street between Water Street and Division Street. Once utility installation wraps up, the road subgrade will be hauled out, and new sand and gravel will be hauled in to prep the road for curb and gutter. Concrete work along the promenade area is expected to begin next week also. Staff will be evaluating the construction schedule with the contractor to determine adherence to the project schedule.

Sunram construction continued work on the retaining wall this week. They got their coffer dam in place and operating at the end of the week and were able to do some prep work on the bottom of the wall. They pumped grout into the wall where the existing 24″ storm sewer pipe outlets through the wall and into the river. They also worked on removing the old railings and top cap of the wall in preparation of pouring a new top cap and installing new railings on top of the retaining wall.

See Saturday’s Nfld News article, 9 things to know about 5th Street, for more.

Tear down the Ames Mill dam

We got this email today from Norman Butler, proprietor of the Contented Cow and Chapati:

I understand that the sludge behind the dam was recently tested for pollutants with a view to repairing the dam (by Malt-O-Meal). What was the result of the tests? Why not remove the dam and restore the wild and scenic river as it flows through Northfield?

mysteryvessel1.jpg IMG_3058_1000.jpg
I blogged the photos of the sludge testing that was done back in mid-June. I don’t know the test results and don’t have time this week to dig for them. Anyone else want to take a stab at finding out?

But I agree with Norman. Let’s tear down the damn thing. Sure, the water above the dam makes for pretty pictures but that’s no longer a good-enough reason, given the importance of improving the health of the Cannon River.

What's going on here?

IMG_2764_1000w.jpgI took this photo yesterday about 6 pm after getting a tip via phone from a faithful reader.

Click photo to enlarge.

The situation: A truck and a pontoon boat on the sandbar next to the 5th St. bridge, adjacent to the Safety Center.

What’s your guess about what was going on? (Yes, I did find out.)

Update 6/20:

IMG_2765_1000.jpg IMG_2766.JPG mysteryvessel.jpg
These gents from Barr Engineering were hired by Malt-O-Meal to take core samples of the muck in front of the Ames Mill dam. Evidently, there are some repairs needed on the dam and the state requires an analysis of the sediment on the upstream side of the dam in case its got problem contaminents in it, gets disturbed and washes downstream.

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