Buckthorn in Northfield: is there an eradication plan?

Buckthorn in Tyler ParkI noticed last week that there’s quite a bit of buckthorn in Tyler Park near my house.

Anyone know if the City of Northfield has a buckthorn eradication plan in its parks?  A policy for encouraging property owners to get rid of it?

Let’s put some game tables in downtown Northfield

game tables in NYC DSC01661 DSC01735
DSC01729 DSC01731 DSC01727
I was struck by the popularity of game tables in New York City’s parks when I visited there last week. People gather around the tables to watch some of the games, too. Others use the tables as a place to meet and eat. The benches on either side of the tables have backs on them, making them more comfortable for sitting than picnic tables.

I’d like to see the Streetscape Task Force spend some of its remaining money to put game tables with benches in downtown along River Walk, the Sesqui Plaza, and maybe Bridge Square.

Why is Riverside Park called Riverside Lions Park?

Riverside Lions Park Riverside Lions Park
Newcomers to Northfield probably don’t wonder why there are no lions lounging along the river when visiting Northfield’s Riverside Lions Park.

But how did that word ‘Lions’ get in the name?

I’m assuming that the Northfield Cannon Valley Lions Club (Facebook page) did something generous to have their organization incorporated into the official name of the park.

But what was that the Lions Club did? When?  And might this option be available to other non-profit organizations?

Parks & Rec board launches Recliner-in-the-parks project

Recliner in Central Park, NorthfieldNorthfield’s Central Park has been chosen by the Northfield Park & Rec Advisory Board to be the demonstration site for its new Recliner-in-the-parks project.

The goal of the project is to get citizens who spend too much of their leisure time watching television indoors to spend more time outdoors. 

"We know it’s not realistic for most hard-core couch potatoes to become recreational users of our parks overnight," said Knute Nathanial, PRAB chair.  "Research shows that the use of recliners are effective at helping people make a gradual transition. And since TV programs can now be watched on one’s smartphone, the time was perfect to try this."

The PRAB has rescued a number of Barcaloungers and La-Z-Boys from the colleges’ dumpsters in recent years so that no taxpayer money has to be spent on acquiring them for the project.  All the recliners will have plastic tarps stored underneath them to protect them from the elements.

Rice County wants you to take their parks, recreation & open space survey

I got an email this week from Brad Behrens, Environmental Technologist with Rice County Environmental Services (Planning and Zoning Dept), about their current Rice County Parks, Recreation & Open Space Survey.

It’s only a two-pager and be completed in less than 5 minutes, so take it! (Text below is from this news item):

Parks surveyRice County is in the process of updating the Rice County Comprehensive Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan. The Plan will include a full assessment of Rice County Parks as well as an inventory of all existing park and recreation opportunities in all of Rice County (incorporated areas as well as unincorporated areas).

The plan will also include the development of policies to assure park and trail access, encourage use of parks and trails for physical activity, provide information about facilities to all residents and provide for integration of county-owned parks and trails with other recreational facilities in Rice County. This plan will address three questions: Where are we now? Where should we go? And how do we get there?

As a part of this plan update process, Rice County would like to hear from people who live and work in Rice County as to their park usage and recreational needs. A survey has been developed to gather information that will be beneficial in guiding the development of the comprehensive parks, recreation and open space plan.

Photo album: Northfield’s outdoor ice skating rinks at night

It has been a great winter for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and sledding (recent blog posts with photos). But it’s also been terrific for outdoor skating, as we’ve only had a couple days of temps above freezing.  Northfielders are fortunate to have many well-maintained outdoor ice rinks, all with warming houses.

I took photos of a few of them this week during one of our many light snowfalls.  I plan to take photos of the others (see the parks with an ‘x’ in the ice rink column on the City of Northfield’s parks page) in the next week or so.

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

It’s a winter wonderland out there. Get out and enjoy it.

Cross country ski trails in the Lower Carleton Arb Cross country ski trails in the Lower Carleton Arb Cross country ski trails in the Lower Carleton Arb Cross country ski trails in the Upper Carleton Arb
It was heaven on the cross country ski trails in the Carleton Arb yesterday morning. The college has groomed some trails for skate-skiing in the Upper Arb and some for Nordic skiing in the Lower Arb.  And of course, there are many places to go off the groomed trails.

Snowshoe and ski trails around Hidden Valley Park Snowshoe and ski trails around Hidden Valley Park Snowshoe and ski trails around Hidden Valley Park Snowshoe and ski trails around Hidden Valley Park
Like many people in Northfield fortunate to live adjacent to one of our fabulous City parks, those of us in the Valley Pond Townhome Association can go out our back doors and snowshoe and ski around Hidden Valley Park.

Is the sandwich board on Bridge Square kosher?

Advertising on Bridge SquareDynamic Design Landscaping has donated a lighted Xmas tree on Bridge Square. Evidently part of the deal allows the placement of a large sandwich board next to the tree that advertises their Xmas tree lot on South Highway 3. This seems a bit much to me and with its placement next to the big Northfield Area United Way thermometer, makes Bridge Square look cluttered.

Continue reading Is the sandwich board on Bridge Square kosher?

City publishes a new parks, open space, and trails map

Parks and Trails Map - sshotThe City has a new map of the 2009 Northfield Parks, Open Space, and Trail System Plan (PDF) available. I don’t know who created it but it’s very detailed and well-done.

It can’t be found yet on the Parks/Rec Trails web page where the 2007 version, updated in Oct. 2008,  is still there.

Council rejects Ames as skate plaza site and then rejects Park Board from further planning

Northfield City Council 2009 It was no surprise to me that the Northfield City Council voted 5-1 tonight to reject Ames Park as the location for the skate plaza. Betsey Buckheit was the only one to vote in favor of it. The real surprise was in the post-vote discussion where they opted to take over the criteria setting and planning process for a skate park location from the Park & Rec Advisory Board (PRAB). I briefly chatted with PRAB Richard Vanasek after the meeting who seemed stunned by the latter.

Continue reading Council rejects Ames as skate plaza site and then rejects Park Board from further planning

Advertising banners in Ames Park: what are the guidelines?

Car Care Fair banner This big banner in Ames Park is promoting this Saturday’s Car Care Fair at Econofoods. Participating businesses are all part of the Napa Auto Care network. I love the idea of the fair but I’m curious: can any business advertise in this park like this?  Must a fee be paid? Are business banners different than non-profit banners? (I don’t see any guidelines on the City’s Rentals and Permits page.) If and when the Ames Park Master Plan is implemented, will advertising banners continue to be allowed in the park?

Straw poll: Locate skate plaza in Ames Park or not?

 Northfield City Council with the Parks and Rec Advisory Board The Northfield City Council has agreed to an up or down vote on the Parks and Rec Advisory Board’s (PRAB) unanimous recommendation to locate the skate plaza in Ames Park. They’ll likely vote next Monday.

Before you take the straw poll, 1) see the 60+ comments attached to this Feb. blog post; 2) see pages 7-8 of the Monday’s Council agenda packet PDF; 3) see the meeting page for a list of 8 related PDF attachments.  According to the PRAB, these are the opportunites/benefits and constraints/limitations for locating the skate plaza in Ames Park:



  • Central location near downtown area
  • Social atmosphere of downtown area, with added appeal of local and outside visitors being in the area as casual observers
  • Adequate space to accommodate need
  • Proximity to other social activities
  • Positive image for City
  • Noise impact not an issue
  • Visibility –adds to safety
  • More direct access
  • Ames easier to fix safety issues
  • More urban feeling, hard surfaces better fit with urban design
  • Other facilities more relative to youth activities
  • Visibility from Water Street Project
  • Greater visibility for surveillance
  • Social atmosphere
  • Proximity to Police Station
  • Part of DJJD celebration
  • Access to site through downtown area and across river more congested
  • Lack of support facilities, such as parking, restrooms, etc
  • Uncertain visual impact of facility as a gateway feature into downtown area
  • Impact of facility use patterns on surrounding downtown businesses serving a diverse cross-section of clientele (ie., noise, traffic, security concerns, etc)
  • Loss of open space for other uses, such as annual events
  • Require full development

Feel free to ask questions and comment, even if you don’t take the poll. I’m especially interested in your thinking/explanation of why you voted as you did.

[poll id=”36″]

Semis in the Babcock Park parking lot: good, bad or ugly?

Semis in Babcock Park The Northfield City Council discussed truck parking in the Babcock Park (rodeo grounds/dog park) parking lot at Monday’s meeting. I wasn’t there but caught a bit of the discussion on a KYMN news report yesterday. It seems that there was staff and Council consensus that this was NOT a good place for semis to park overnight. I’m not sure of all the reasoning but evidently visual blight was one of them. I’ve always thought it was a perfect spot for the semis: close to the highway, rarely used parking lot, lot big enough for trucks to turn around.

Public Open House for Ames Park Master Plan tonight; focus on Skate Plaza

ames-overview-1 There’s a Park and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) meeting tonight, with an Public Open House for Ames Park Master Plan scheduled (PDF). The meeting will be at 7:00 PM, in the Northfield High School Lower Cafeteria.

According to this Sat. Nfld News article, the focus will be on the skate plaza. I’m not sure why the PRAB doesn’t offer that detail.

According to the Oct. PRAB minutes:

B. Erickson reported that 4 responses were received concerning the Ames Park Master Plan project by the October 3rd deadline. Bonestroo, with project manager John Slack will be awarded the contract. The firm and the project manager are both familiar with the City and with the downtown area and have completed a skateboard park project. Mr. Slack is currently the project manager for the Fifth and Water Street project and will insure a consistent design from Downtown to Highway 3 along Fifth Street.

Alas, there’s still no Park System Master Plan on the City’s web site, even though it was approved by the Council on Nov. 17.

Roller hockey arrives

roller hockey rink in Riverside Park  roller hockey rink in Riverside Park
We’ve been talking about the new roller hockey rink in Riverside Park for over a week. I took these photos of two Northfield High School hockey players using it on Wednesday. More info on the Northfield Raiders Hockey Association web site.

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