But converting the land will neither easy nor cheap. A giant mound of dirt lies on the north part of the land, which not only makes for a poor view, but also causes a lot of problems for the homes in the neighborhood. County engineer Dennis Luebbe estimated it could cost up to $280,000 just to move the dirt.
The type of dirt used to build the features for these parks matters, as the jumps, berms and rollers deteriorate quickly if it’s not hard-pack dirt. I’m guessing that mound of dirt at Fargaze is black dirt.
Griff, I don’t know what the dirt is but I think there must be more than black dirt. If it was most likely there would have been greater erosion. Amateur opinion. The quietness and growing popularity [of bike parks] along with the age range of participation does intrigue me. Thanks for the links and following up.
Last night while riding my around-town bike in the area, I decided to take a closer look. I was shocked to not see black dirt. So today I went back, took photos, and dug (heh) a little deeper. It appears that Councilor DeLong’s amateur opinion was correct.
First, some perspective:
The mound of dirt looking west, south, and north. Far right: looking north from atop the mound.
Left: My markup of the Google Earth view of the Fargaze parcel. Right: satellite view of the neighborhood with the pond and the mound.
Left and center: two of several dirt cuts/washout areas that indicate that the mound is not made of black dirt. Right: the dirt cuts/washout areas viewable from Google Earth’s satellite.
Primary access to the dirt mound is at the corner of Ford St E and Brogan Dr. (left). Once on top, it appears that the mound is big enough to locate a significant portion of a bike park on top of it. The dirt could easily be moved to build the bike park adjacent to / south of where the mound is. Or both.
While I was there, a couple of thugs helpful staffers from the City of Northfield’s Public Works Department pulled up in a city truck to inform me that I was trespassing. I politely thanked them and profusely apologized, promising to never do it again. (Consider this paragraph to be one of these.)
As for the type of dirt needed for a bike park, a guy I know who’s working on the bike park in Cottage Grove wrote to me:
You want to be able to make a dirt ball, like a snow ball out of it. If it holds together, maybe bounce it a little to see how it holds up. If it does, that’s good. Also look for that reddish brown color. That is mineral soil.
I scraped some some dirt from the side of the dirt cut, brought it home, mixed it with some water and made a ball. It split apart when I dropped it from a height of about a foot so it may not be perfect. I put it in the sun and it was baked into a hard rock by day’s end. So it’s definitely promising and probably worth the money to have a company drill soil samples of the dirt mound.
Once the community was ready to develop the park, they reached out to Alpine Bike Parks to develop the full-service public bike park facility. Mechanized construction included slopestyle downhill trails, skills development areas, and competitive mountain cross and dual slalom courses. These trails raised the public profile of the project and assisted in developing capital for future project phases, including additional skills areas, and competitive BMX and mountain bike race courses.
Duration of Construction: Two months
Scope: Master planning, trail design, trail construction, community outreach.
Methods: Excavators, tracked loaders and skid steers, hand shaping
Client: City of Eagle, Idaho
Curious as to what a pump track is all about? Like swinging higher and higher on a swing with no one pushing you, it’s going around and around the track on your bike without pedaling, a foundational skill that makes mountain biking even more fun. Watch this video of instruction for a high school mountain bike team:
Lastly, I realize that neighbors in the area may have concerns about having a bike park adjacent to their property. If you’re a neighbor and reading this, please attach a comment or contact me.
Members of the Park and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) skatepark met with the Northfield City Council last night in a work session to discuss the recommendation to permanently locate the skatepark at Riverside Park and to contribute $30,000 towards its construction (concrete).
PRAB members Neil Lutsky and David Hvistendahl presented the details of their report which was approved earlier this month by the PRAB. Chair Nathan Knutson was there to make sure they didn’t screw up. Member Grace Clark presented her dissenting view that the skatepark should be located in Babcock Park.
I was pleased with the thoroughness of the discussion last night and if I was on the council, I’d vote to accept the PRAB’s recommendation.
The issue surfaced over the summer after a revised pool apparel policy was approved in the spring (see Revisions to outdoor pool rules now in draft), the result of a 2011 controversy involving a complaint by a parent who was told she had to put a swimsuit top on her three-year-old daughter while at the pool.
While that issue was resolved before summer, news from Seattle surfaced in June that a breastless cancer survivor was told by the Seattle Parks and Recreation department that she could not swim topless in public pool.
When two local residents inquired about Northfield’s swimsuit policy for breastless women, they were told that the issue had never come up. In August, the PRAB appointed David Viscousdahl, Lyle Nuzky, and Gracie Quark to a task force to study the issue. They presented their recommendation to the board last night.
"We think the vast majority of Northfield residents would find it uncomfortable to view the chest of a breastless woman at a public pool," said Quark. "But to head off future controversy and to level the playing field, we recommend a policy requiring men with enlarged breasts to cover them up with a mansierre while at the pool." Quark then held up a photo of Jack Nicholson and said, "Besides, man boobs are an eyesore anyway."
When PRAB chair Knute Nathanial asked how pool staff would go about enforcing such a policy, Viscousdahl cited the Ann Lander’s pencil test. "That type of test should work equally well for men. Plus, pencils are cheap and in-service training would be minimal. I’m happy to be the practice subject for the lifeguards, no charge."
PRAB members then discussed whether more input from the public was needed. "We’ve interviewed lots of people," said Nuzky. "It’s no secret that we’ve been studying this. Anyone who was truly interested would have contacted us by now or shown up for tonight’s meeting."
Hearing no comments from the assembled residents, the PRAB unanimously approved the measure. It will go into effect for the 2013 summer season.
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.
Resident Anne Sabo approached the PRAB with the concern that she was unfairly approached by pool staff and asked that she dress her daughter in appropriate swimwear. She felt that this was unfair sexualization of girls. The PRAB addressed Ms. Sabo and stated that the swim apparel policy was for public safety for all those at the pool. The PRAB informed Ms. Sabo that they are aware of her concerns but feels that the PRAB is not the place to change the rules of the pool that will be handled with staff involved with the Pool.
I’ve taken a few photos the past week or so of the sites being considered for a skate park. One of them that appears to be a leading contender among PRAB members: the northeast corner of Washington Park at 8th and Union.
But Washington Park is a neighborhood park, not a community park, defined by the City of Northfield’s Park System Master Plan (chapter 3) as serving “a broader purpose than neighborhood parks. Focus is on meeting community-based recreational needs, as well as preserving unique landscapes and open spaces. ”
The Master Plan’s Facility Development Guidelines clearly show that a skatepark is inappropriate for a neighborhood park and instead should be located in a community park or athletic complex. (Northfield has 6 community parks: Ames, Bridge Square, Babcock, Memorial, Oddfellows, and Riverside Lions. And it has 3 athletic complexes: Sechler, Sibley Soccer Fields, and Spring Creek Soccer.) Given the close proximity of that corner of Washington Park to the houses at 8th and Union (see aerial map), it doesn’t seem an appropriate location. Skateparks can generate a fair amount of noise.
Page 28 of Chapter 3 of the Master Plan’s discusses the location of the skateboard park, and includes a table of the pros and cons:
Skateboarders’ interests were represented by The Northfield Skateboard Coalition during the public process. The group currently has a proposal and design concept for a new skate plaza that would serve their needs. The desired size of the facility is 12,000 to 15,000 s.f. Access to nearby parking, bathrooms, drinking fountain, vending machines, benches, picnic tables, shady areas, and grassy areas for sitting is also desired. A facility of this size would have a capacity of up to 200, although daily use would be less.
A key positive aspect of the skateboard park is that it would serve an age group not always interested in other forms of outdoor recreation. The advocates also point out the importance of the social aspect of the activity, underscoring that location matters for facility success.
The importance of selecting a location for this type of facility that addresses the needs and concerns of the user group, along with those of the larger community, should not be underestimated. To that end, and after much discussion, the PRAB concluded that the facility is best located in a community park, with Ames, Memorial, and Babcock Parks being candidate sites.
The PRAB also concluded that a separate public process was necessary to adequately consider the issues from various perspectives and select the site that best balances the interests of the various stakeholders. To aid that process, the following table identifies the opportunities and limitations of each of the sites currently being considered.
Considering the list of pros and cons for Old Memorial Park, I think it’s a much better choice than Ames or Babcock. And the constraints listed for Memorial “surrounding residential properties (i.e., noise,
traffic, security concerns, etc.)” and “loss of general open space” are really minor issues.
Look at these photos:
Old Memorial Park is a huge park. Yes, the open space is one of its assets.
But there are a number of places where a skate park could be ‘tucked’ into the park without affecting the open space or the neighbors. One spot seems ideal: the north side of the park, just below the sand volleyball court (photos above).
There is only one house nearby and it’s not that close. See the aerial view with my arrow pointing to it (right). And the night I took these photos, I met the homeowner who said that that would be a much better location than out in one of the open spaces.
Other smaller spots are possibilities, too.
I don’t have any skin in this game. But now that the City has the skate park equipment and the Union of Youth has the money to put towards an asphalt or concrete pad for it, it’s time to get this done.
I’m fine with a temporary location this year at Riverside or Babcock. But I think Old Memorial Park is the best permanent location for the skatepark.
The group is looking for guidance on the next step. The $10,000 grant they obtained will expire at the end of 2012. They are looking for a permanent place for their newly acquired equipment. Discussion with the PRAB and the group included past skate park issues, possible sites, and monitoring of the park. Staff will begin looking at the size requirements for the equipment, and costs associated with pavement, fencing and other expenses. Staff will also research user fees and costs for staffing a skate park.
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.
There was also discussion about the pros and cons of an ordinance that would prohibit the feeding of ducks and geese, as that’s seen as a contributing factor to the problem on the Sesqui Plaza. In the meantime, the City will place some “Don’t feed the wildlife” signs there.
The signs are now up. Four of them. Some people aren’t happy. Nfld News’ Suzy Rook published an online column yesterday on the issue: Please don’t feed the animals:
A few people, I’ve heard, aren’t happy with the signs the city posted along the Cannon River asking downtown visitors not to feed the wildlife. But there are good reasons for the request, said city Streets and Parks Supervisor T.J. Heinricy…
While the signs, he said, are getting the point across, he’s gotten complaints from those who want to bring their children to the river to feed the ducks and geese. And while Heinricy understands how much fun it can be for a kids to interact with wildlife, he’s asking that we all do our part to keep Northfield tidy and safe: Don’t feed the animals. We’ll all be better off for it.
So we can now start brainstorming possible locations and what the pros and cons might be of each. If the City creates a Campground Ad Hoc Task Force, the discussion here might be helpful to them.
For example, Sechler Park:
Sechler Park was one of the sites mentioned at last week’s PRAB meeting. I took the above two panoramic photos of the open space at the southern edge of the park, between the two ball fields and near the picnic shelter and playground. (See the aerial view image on the right, taken from page 5 of this Park Master Plan Appendix (PDF).
Advantages for tent camping:
Flat grassy area
Water and bathrooms at the picnic shelter
Adjacent to the Cannon River
Adjacent to Mill Towns Trail
Close to downtown
Gates to the park would allow it to be restricted during off-season, high water, etc.
Little needed for infrastructure improvements
Disadvantages for tent camping:
Noisy railroad yard nearby
Attach a comment if you can think of other pros and cons for tent camping at Sechler. Would the site also work for RV camping?
Got another site you think suitable for tent camping and/or an RV park? Suggest it!
Exactly one year ago yesterday, I blogged about the lack of progress in the City’s effort to control the problem of Canada geese shitting in Ames Park, Riverside Park, Babcock Park, and Sesquicentennial Plaza. I suggested a solution (Border Collies), other suggestions emerged in the discussion thread, and the Northfield News drew attention to the problem with an article, editorial, and letters to the editor.
But as you can see from these photos of Riverside Park this week, the problem is worse than ever. Are condo owners at Village on the Cannon pissed? Not only are the geese spoiling their ‘front yard’ and adjacent walking trails, they are likely hurting the sales of condos. Ironically, on their association’s home page, they feature a photo of the geese on the Cannon River. Oy.
It’s just as bad in Ames Park and in and around the Peggy Prowe Pedestrian Bridge in Babcock Park. It’s especially bad on Sesquicentennial Legacy Plaza. I wonder if Ray ‘Jake’ Jacobson knows what the geese are doing to the granite pavers surrounding his ‘Harvest’ sculpture?
I waved Northfield Park and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) chair Nathan Knutson over to my corner office at GBM yesterday and told him I had just taken photos of the problem. He said the issue came up at the PRAB retreat recently and that they were considering what to do. I don’t see anything about it their recent minutes and agendas but I hope this blog post will help focus attention on the problem.
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.
Griff Wigley: The Northfield Bridge Square straw poll is ready. It only takes 5 minutes to complete, unless of course, you choose to include comments with it.
Griff Wigley: Northfield News article by Grace Webb: The future of Northfield’s Bridge Square will be topic of second open house
Griff Wigley: Concepts for a Future Bridge Square Save the date: Open House #2, Dec 9, 5:30-7:30 PM, Archer House; Save the date: Live Web Conference, Dec 11, 7-8:30 PM Recent blog posts (these are all clickable links): * Northfield Park &...
Griff Wigley: New post: Oct. 23 Bridge Square open house: photos, documents, comments, feedback
Griff Wigley: Blog posts thus far: * How is the citizen engagement process for the Bridge Square project going to work? October 20, 2013 * Photo flashback: Northfield citizen engagement with John Slack October 19, 2013 * Mrs. Johansen’s popcorn...
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.
George Kinney: I agree, Paul. And now would be the time to properly size all three culverts for the three transportation modes cut by the latest flood. Then start thinking about mitigating all the flooding in our region, since it seems to be...
Brendan Gilmore: Amazing pics. Bet you didn’t know one of those orange/yellow lines carries all CenturyLink long distance traffic from the whole state of South Dakota. Still down as of now.
Griff Wigley: July 2 StarTribune: With schedule change ruled out, Northfield looks at other options to close achievement gap Reminder: School Board work session on achievement gap and ‘summer slide’ to follow Monday’s Board...