Tag Archives: Dana Graham

Mill Towns Trail update from the DNR: Northfield citizens have a problem to solve

L to R: Dana Graham, Galen Malecha, Peggy Prowe, Courtland Nelson, David Bly, Joel Wagar, Steve HennessyL to R: Peggy Prowe, David Bly, Joel Wagar, Steve Hennessy, Glenn Switzer, Peter Hark, Dana Graham, Galen MalechaMill Towns Trail maps

Top officials from the Minnesota DNR Parks and Trails Division held a meeting for a group of local elected officials on Friday at Dundas City Hall to bring them up to speed on current and future developments with the Mill Towns Trail.

DNR Parks and Trails staff:

  • Courtland Nelson, Director
  • Peter Hark, Field Operations Manager
  • Steve Hennessy, Acquisition and Development Specialist
  • Joel Wagar, Area Supervisor

Local elected officials who were able to attend:

Local bike advocate Peggy Prowe also was there.

Among the many developments with the trail that the DNR staff shared were these, most relevant to Northfield and Dundas:

  1. Acquisition of a 6.5 mile railroad right-of-way is in progress to connect Faribault to Dundas
  2. 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
  3. 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.

Root River State Trail, downtown LanesboroRoot River State Trail, downtown Lanesboro

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.

As I blogged back in March, there are other projects and developments here in Northfield that have a bicycle-component: the Northfield Depot; the East Cannon River Trail segment; the TIGER Trail (aka the Northfield Modal integration project); and the Cannon River Corridor recreational concept.

So the time is right for more citizens to get involved as bike advocates.  Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement.  In the meantime, see my three blog posts about the need for Northfield to get its bike act together, including the formation of a regional bike advocacy committee.

Dana ‘Darth Vader’ Graham raises $800 for LBSA with a snow shovel

Laura Baker Services Association annual Gala fundraiser 2012Laura Baker Services Association annual Gala fundraiser 2012

Robbie and I were among the small army of volunteers at last night’s Laura Baker Services Association annual Gala fundraiser at the Carleton’s Weitz Center last night, marching to orders by master organizer Mary Closner (Queen/Owner/Heavy Hitter/Decision Maker/Slave Girl at Swag).  Like last year, Bridgette Hallcock volunteered her photography services and her photos of the evening should be posted to her Bridgette Hallcock Photography Facebook page in a few days.  I took a few photos with my crappy smartphone camera, among them:

Dana GrahamSidewalk Shoveling donation by Dana Graham

Northfield Mayor-elect Dana Graham donated sidewalk snow shoveling for the live auction ("your home or business one time during the 2012-2012 winter season"). He helped auctioneer Kevin Dahle get the crowd revved up for bidding by donning a Darth Vader-type winter coat, complete with a light sabre coming out of the hood, as my photo above clearly shows.  The winning bid of $800 was by Brett Reese who owns many buildings in the area, many with sidewalks (eg, the Archer House). I’m sure Brett will be praying for a heavy wet snowfall Real Soon Now. Hopefully, Dana will be have some leverage with his teenaged sons when the time comes.

Join mayor-elect Dana Graham for a live text chat today, 8-9 pm

Dana Graham and Griff WigleyNorthfield Mayor-elect Dana Graham stopped by my corner office stand-up table at the Spur this morning. He’d finally gotten some sleep after being up all night for the election on Tuesday so he was more than marginally coherent.

Lately I’ve been sermonizing lecturing brow-beating suggesting to him and a few other city officials that the time is ripe for using a variety of online tools to ramp up citizen engagement. The City’s new website will launch early next year but the technology by itself won’t automatically make citizen engagement happen.

So I proposed a few different ways that he could do a "Q&A with the Mayor-elect" here on LoGro and he opted for a live, one-hour text chat.

Here’s the FAQ:

WHEN IS IT? Monday, Nov. 12, 8-9 pm.

WHERE? Right here in this LoGro blog post.  I’ll move it to the top of the page on Monday so it’ll be easy to find.

WHAT DO I NEED TO PARTICIPATE? If you’re reading this on an internet-connected device, you’ll need nothing beyond what you’re using now. 

HOW DO I PARTICIPATE? Just type your comments or questions in the text box.  I’ll select the ones that I think are best for Dana to respond to.

WHAT?! HE MIGHT NOT EVEN SEE MY QUESTION OR COMMENT? Correct. I’m the emperor moderator.

WHAT IF I CAN’T ATTEND? You can submit a comment or question ahead of time. Attach it to this blog post just like any comment.  I’ll archive a transcript of the chat here so after it’s all over, you can read what happened at your leisure.

 

The Ole Store Restaurant of Northfield appears to be a hit

Marin Amundson-Graham, Dana Graham, and sons Steve Hartke and daughter Madelyn Hartke Anne Kroes and Meredith Fierke Mary Rossing and Linda Schneewind Griff and Robbie Wigley
Robbie and I had dinner last night at The Ole Store Restaurant, newly reopened this week. As you can tell from the thumbs-up and smiles, patrons are liking it. L to R above: Marin Amundson-Graham, Dana Graham, and sons; Steve Hartke and daughter Madelyn Hartke (celebrating Madelyn’s 21st birthday); Mary Rossing and Linda Schneewind; me and my sweetie.

Owner Chuck Pryor (far right) and friends Food: The Ole Store Restaurant of Northfield Executive Chef Chris Basina and Sirie Basina Food: The Ole Store Restaurant of Northfield Food: The Ole Store Restaurant of Northfield
Chuck Pryor (on the far right in the left photo above), purchased the building earlier this year and owns the restaurant. (Chuck also owns The Tavern of Northfield and The Grand Event Center.)

Chris Basina is the Executive Chef and his wife Sirie Basina was our waitperson (center photo above). I’m no restaurant critic so let’s just say that Robbie and I were blown away by the quality of the food and the service. Chris and Sirie were delightful, as was manager Deanna Sharp (not pictured).

Interior: The Ole Store Restaurant of Northfield Interior: The Ole Store Restaurant of Northfield Interior: The Ole Store Restaurant of Northfield Interior: The Ole Store Restaurant of Northfield Menu: The Ole Store Restaurant of Northfield Menu: The Ole Store Restaurant of Northfield
The interior has been revamped and spiffed up a bit. It’s quite classy. The dinner menu? Wow.