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.
David Beimers: My take-away? We need to begin working immediately with the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota to form a Northfield area bicycle advisory committee so we can begin tackling a myriad of bike-related issues. I completely agree. I’m...
Bright Spencer: I lived and worked in Chicago, Hyde Park, to be more precise, and I biked several times a week to my job. There I could use the street or sidewalk unimpeded, but there was very little vehicle or pedestrian traffic. It was great....
Paul Zorn: Long time no post on LoGroNo. But here is something to stir the bicycling pot, now that the weather might stay bike-conducive for a while. The author asserts, essentially, that rules written for “4000 pound” cars don’t...
Griff Wigley: See my Storify story blog post on bike sharrows.
Griff Wigley: A helpful sharrows cartoon from Bikeyface.com:
Griff Wigley: Strib: Wooddale Avenue’s pioneering bike lanes in Edina look doomed The street that has baffled Edinans since it was re-striped last fall may get an easier-to-understand painting fix this spring. Wooddale Avenue, a primary...
Bright Spencer: Thanks for those super photos, Angela. I really miss my former digs and this brought me back home for a moment.
Angela Lauterbach: How about some photos? I’ve got some for you! [img]http://locallygrownnorthf ield.org/wp-content/uploads/20 13/05/IMG_20130502_085009.jpg[ /img] [img]http://locallygrownnorthf ield.org/wp-content/uploads...
Griff Wigley: The video of last night’s school calendar panel discussion is now up; blog comment thread now open thru Apr 30.
Griff Wigley: I’m putting on my consulting hat again this week and inviting y’all to this panel discussion video conference/live chat/blog discussion thread on the school calendar scheduled for this Wed, April 24, 8 pm.
Griff Wigley: Also in yesterday’s Northfield News, reporter Ashley Klemer (@AshleyKlemer) has an article titled Northfield Public Schools holds second school calendar meeting. You can comment on my Calendar Conversation blog post about the article...
Griff Wigley: The Draft Report on the Downtown Parking Conversation is now up. blog comment thread now open thru May 3.
Griff Wigley: In yesterday’s Northfield News, reporter Kaitlyn Walsh (@NFNKaitlyn) has an article titled Downtown Northfield parking conversation nears its end. You can comment on my Downtown Parking blog post about the article here.
Griff Wigley: Do you live downtown? Do you live near downtown? Then you’re invited to a meeting to discuss parking issues, Mar. 28, 8 pm at the library. Details here.
kiffi summa: One only has to see how LG has been dormant in recent days/weeks to see how much energy it has to absorb to keep ‘alive’ , and how much of that energy has to be primed by its moderator. But it is sad to see how this forum...
Griff Wigley: Thank you, Bill. It’s not over yet and I have no idea what’ll happen next.
Griff Wigley: Thanks for digging that up, Curt. Very strange.
Curt Benson: The Minnesota Secretary of State website says the name was registered by Gehring in December, 2012: http://mblsportal.sos.state.mn .us/Business/SearchDetails?fil ingGuid=475f479d-c443-e211-bc4 3-001ec94ffe7f
Griff Wigley: Just an FYI to those inquiring: Dick Heibel doesn’t check this blog, he does not have email that I know of, and his web page is no longer working. You’ll have to phone him. I’m not sure if this number is current but...
Mary-Lynn Wigodsky: Hello Mr. Heibel, I would love to have my small snow globe repaired. It has a small figurine that is broken in just two places. The base looks solid. We had it in our home growing up in the 50′s -but it may be older than...
Griff Wigley: Arlen, I actually didn’t mention or link to a realtor in my blog post or comments. I just linked to the MLS listing for the two houses I spotted on Nevada.
Arlen Malecha: Griff – As a Realtor I am glad to see you helping promote homes for sale within the Northfield community. However, I think it is prudent to advance the local realty websites such as www.coldwellbankernorthfield.c om vs the one...
Jesse Steed: Hello Teresa, I’m a Realtor with Edina Realty based in Northfield. If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know. My office number is 507-645-1179.
Jesse Steed: Thanks for posting my listing! Here’s a link to 410 Nevada that includes the virtual tour (an audio tour of the home’s history) performed by the seller himself! http://www.edinarealty.com/jes se-steed-realtor/homes-for-...
Teresa Jensen: Thanks, Bill; it looks like a lovely home, but my home search is limited to Northfield city limits. Thanks, too, Griff, for the Nevada house links– I will check out in person when I arrive in May!
Griff Wigley: In today’s Strib: Wooddale Avenue’s pioneering bike lanes in Edina look doomed The street that has baffled Edinans since it was re-striped last fall may get an easier-to-understand painting fix this spring. Wooddale...
Griff Wigley: Kiffi, I don’t know that it would be practical to try to launch a Northfield Bike Task Force, a Dundas Bike Task Force, a Rice County Bike Task Force, a Bridgewater Township Bike Task Force, etc. Maybe at some point those...
Griff Wigley: David, I don’t think the primary purpose of a regional bike council would be to secure taxpayer money for bike projects/infrastructure. It would be to study, recommend, plan, guide, educate, collaborate, etc.
Griff Wigley: Mary, the trend among hyperlocal online news entities seems to be heading towards the non-profit membership model where you get extra benefits (see, MinnPost members, Texas Tribune members). I’m not sure Northfield is big...
Mary Schier: Patch (AOL) is under intense pressure from shareholders to make a profit this year. It’s had a hiring freeze for some time and with fewer people, it has been going to more regional coverage. This works OK (not great, but OK) in...
kiffi summa: Agreed …I’m about to unsubscribe. There’s also a tinge of sensationalism, instead of serious news updates; for example: what’s with the story of the death of a 26 year old Lonsdale woman ‘above the...
Griff Wigley: I agree, Jane. And they seem to be over-reaching to make the connection to Northfield on some stories, eg: Northfield State Sen. Dave Thompson Mulling Run for Governor. Next up: Dundas State Sen. Kevin Dahle?
Jane McWilliams: My observation is that there is no local reporting . . . just as I feared!
Donna Volkmann: I see this forum is pretty old from 2008. Does anyone know if there are any homeschool co-ops in Northfield for social interaction? I see there are many in the cities but can’t seem to find any in Northfield. Also, do you...
Griff Wigley: Nfld News: Northfield orders new street signs to fix misspellings “Nineth” Street in Northfield will soon be back to Ninth Street. City staff recently ordered new sign blades from the city’s vendor to fix the...
Griff Wigley: Today’s Nfld News: Proposed bill would take Northfield public meetings discussion online Minnesota Newspaper Association attorney Mark Anfinson said it’s “entirely sensible” to update existing law to reflect the advantages that...
kiffi summa: another tragedy: in a middle school outside Detroit, amidst 800 students,a popular, non-bullied 14year old shoots himself in the head, fatally, with a 40 caliber Glock pistol…. School had no metal detectors; staff said he was...
kiffi summa: Maybe I’m just too saddened by this story now, david… but I don’t think so… I have long thought that a total overhaul of our correctional system , with its many abuses, needs to be done… but that does not...
David Henson: Kiffi, funny how we always see these stories differently. The USA has over 1 million people enslaved in our prison system. The criminal justice system is a sham. Corrections is big big business (some great stocks if you have the...
kiffi summa: OK… if LG is going to ‘die’ … it should die in step with a deplorable part of American culture, and go out with a ‘BANG’… (don’t get all upset; that is just a metaphor, and contains no...