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.
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.
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.
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.
While 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.
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."
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.
Most of the photos are macro shots, with the ones above among my favorites that show something of Northfield in the background.
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.
Update 01/12: Another batch of ice circles has formed during the current cold snap:
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.
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?
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.
I 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.)
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.
Helen Albers: A big Tree Hug to all of our town tree-lovers! With thanks to all who have responded to express their appreciation of trees! Happy Holidays! Helen Albers
Beth Kallestad: Thank you Helen for your tree planting and reminding us of the need to protect those trees!
John S. Thomas: It truly is a beautiful tree. I am still “sick” of the way the trees on Fourth Street look. It will be MANY years before they mature… and I hope they do!
Marsha Kitchel: What a lovely photo of Helen Albers, beautiful in red, hugging her red maple. Hold on for dear life if “new and improved” means touching this gorgeous tree or any of the trees on Bridge Square. Northfielders would be...
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.