Tag Archives: Northfield Roundtable

USPS puts Northfield Post Office building on sale for $845,000. Now what?

Northfield US Post Office building for sale

The government’s listing for the Northfield Post Office building reads:

14 Bridge Square, Northfield, Minnesota represents a unique opportunity to purchase a unique and beautiful former US Postal Service facility. The building is a 9,708 SF and is located on 0.53 acres. This architecturally distinct building was built in 1936 and sits prominently in the historic center of Northfield. The property includes 15 surface stalls in the off-street parking lot.

The realtor is Chris Gliedman, CBRE, based in Mpls.

The Northfield Roundtable held two planning sessions last week, focused on Bridge Square.  The notes from that day are not yet available but see the Feb. 4 Nfld News: Northfield Roundtable focuses on Bridge Square. According to the article, these were some ideas generated at Friday’s session that were Post Office-related:

The downtown post office could be turned into a Northfield Business Center, serving as an incubator and housing the Chamber, NDDC and NEC, along with small shops.

By tying Bridge Square with the service areas and alleys surrounding the post office building and the buildings facing Division Street, all properties on the block could be on the river.

Should the Downtown Streetscape Taskforce buy it, since a year ago, the City Council rejected its recommendation to purchase the rental property at 304 Washington St. for a parking lot at a cost of $760,000?

The next phase for Northfield Roundtable’s ‘Greening of the Commons’ is about to begin

(clockwise from the left): Steve Engler, Bonnie Jean Flom, EdDee Imm, Dave Van Wylen, Lynne Young, Pat Allen, Dale Gehring, Lynn Vincent, Ann MoseyOn Tuesday night, I sat in on a meeting of citizens who are interested in taking the Northfield Roundtable’s Greening of the Commons to the next stage. 

Those present (clockwise from the left): Steve Engler, Bonnie Jean Flom, EdDee Imm, Dave Van Wylen, Lynne Young, Pat Allen, Dale Gehring, Lynn Vincent, Ann Mosey. 

There will be others at the next meeting who couldn’t be at this one.

Northfield Roundtable’s most recent document is Framework Planning in Northfield, Sept. 2011:

What is a Framework Plan?

A document of conceptual illustrations to inspire ideas, generate conversation and explore “what could be.” A Framework Plan supports a larger idea of the whole, that is easily lost when individual elements are only considered as separate entities or identities.

Intentions of the Framework Plan

The Framework Plan will always be a work in progress. It is a document designed to be inspirational rather than prescriptive, with an emphasis on what could be as opposed to what should be. The goal is to encourage long-range visioning that will keep Northfield, Minnesota, an attractive and vibrant place to live, learn, work and play…well into the future.

Other recent links related to the Northfield Roundtable and Greening of the Commons:

http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/events/admin/2011/01/29/northfield_round_table
http://northfield.org/content/greening-commons-discussion-tonight
http://www.northfieldnews.com/content/greening-commons-community-conversation
http://northfieldnews.com/content/northfield-roundtable-hopes-encourage-what-could-be
http://northfield.patch.com/articles/northfield-commons-group-seeks-support-for-greening-plan
http://northfield.patch.com/articles/northfields-hwy-3-with-trees
http://locallygrownnorthfield.org/post/21456/

The Northfield Roundtable: a public planning group without the public

For the past year or so, I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about a group called the Northfield Roundtable (also referred to with three words–the ‘Northfield Round Table‘–making online searches trickier). They met last Saturday in the conference room of the Archer House and I took a few photos.

Northfield Roundtable, April 30, 2011 Northfield Roundtable, April 30, 2011

Consultant Bill Johnson, Northfield Roundtable, April 30, 2011 Northfield Roundtable conceptual framework plan Northfield Roundtable conceptual framework plan

The Northfield Roundtable has been around since at least the fall of 2009. The EDA packet for June 24, 2010 contains a letter (page 25) from the group with their request for $9,000 from the EDA (the EDA minutes for that meeting show that the funding request was approved) for the services of consultant Bill Johnson, pictured above.  Members of the group at that time:

Blake Abdella, Dixon Bond, Rick Estenson, Margit Johnson, Bruce King, Joel Leer, Art Monaghan, Suzie Nakasian, Dave Neuger, Brett Reese, Fred Rogers, Jennifer Sawyer, Alice Thomas, Dave Van Wylen, Steve Wilmot.

How did the group form? How were members selected/invited?  What is their mission?  Who do they report to? Where are the results of their planning sessions?

It’s tough to find out, as there’s no overview document, brochure, or website for the group that I could find. Has the Northfield News, KYMN, or Northfield Patch done any reporting on the group? Apparently not.

Planning Commission Chair Tracy Davis included this update in a blog post last September:

Commissioners Davis, Imm, Herreid and Schulte participated in a workshop sponsored by the recently-formed Northfield Roundtable.  Commissioners Nakasian and Thomas were also participants in the workshop as Roundtable members.  Other participants included Messrs O’Connell and Olson. 

The fifteen members of the Roundtable, all volunteers, work to clarify, support and facilitate a clear vision and framework for development and redevelopment opportunities that enhance the economic vitality and livability of Northfield. 

The workshop was conducted to solicit ideas for improving connectivity and encouraging development in the rectangular commercial area bisected by 2nd Street, touching the Library and Q-Block on the east and west, and extending north to south from the Crossing to Bridge Square.  Ideas solicited by a consultant from the workshop participants will be packaged by the Roundtable into a future report.

So it seems that a group of influential community members has formed on its own to conduct brainstorming/planning sessions for Northfield-related public development, with public financial support, without much (any?) public process, public transparency, or public engagement.

Sure, whatever results or recommendations generated by the Northfield Roundtable would go through the various public bodies (Planning Commission, City Council, etc.) before any actions are taken.

But by then, all the educational opportunities are gone, the interesting discussions have already occurred, the influential positioning has taken place, and average citizens are pretty much left with just weighing in pro or con, as any public hearings appear to be mere formalities.

And public cynicism deepens.