Northfield Crossing: still messy after all these years

Construction debris at Northfield Crossing Construction debris at Northfield Crossing Construction debris at Northfield Crossing
It’s been two and a half years since Highland Bank foreclosed on the Northfield Crossing development and a sizeable portion of the surrounding property is still a mess. I took these photos last week.

I first complained about the mess in 2007. In June, 2008, I blogged: Banks foreclose on The Crossing; now the City should clean up the surrounding property. A year later, June 2009, I added a comment containing the text of an email from Brian O’Connell, Northfield community development director, on the status of the clean-up.

The relationship is that the clean up items are essentially the same items. Piper wants to renegotiate the TIF note, Council is saying they would consider renegotiating the note if the site clean up issues are completed. Highland is now the owner of the residential condominium to which the clean up items are related. So Highland is now determining the cost to complete the items to see if they can complete in time which will assist in unit sales efforts. Everyone wants the same thing; the issue is determining cost and identifying sources of money to pay the expense.

WTF is taking so long to clean up this ‘gateway to downtown Northfield’

Demolition artists Ross Currier and Dan Bergeson Demolition artists Ross Currier and Dan Bergeson 2 Demolition artists Ross Currier and Dan Bergeson 3
This portion of the property doesn’t look that much better than it did in 2005 when NDDC‘s Dan Bergeson and Ross Currier took matters into their own hands and personally demolished seven buildings when it was known as the Riverfront Development Site. I think we need them again to take charge, this time to haul all the construction shit out of there.

Dan? Ross? How about it?

There is some good news, however. There have been some improvements to other (city-owned?) parts of the property in recent weeks: streetscape-style decorative fencing along Hwy. 3, with many new trees planted.

Streetscape improvements at Northfield Crossing

Fourth Street reconstruction Phase 1B way behind schedule; NDDC’s unskilled workforce to blame?

Fourth Street reconstruction chartI saw this Fourth Street reconstruction chart in the downtown lobby of the First National Bank of Northfield this morning. (See the PDF of the top half of the chart on the City’s site titled Fourth Street Improvements 2010 – Project Phases.)

I asked EDA member and bank VP Rick Estenson what the delay was since the chart indicates (in yellow) that the Phase 1B was to be completed by July 2 and [sigh] there’s no explanation on the City’s 1999-style web page for the project.  "Rick, the weather’s gorgeous. Why aren’t they at least pouring sidewalks this week?”

Rick suggested that the delay might be due to the fact that the NDDC, which agreed to contribute labor to help reduce project costs in front of its office on 4th St., might be hampered by its unskilled workforce.

Ross Currier, laborer  Ross Currier, heavy equipment operator
Sure enough.

Update 7/16, 8 am:  Ross continues to do his part, however inadequate it might be. He poured the sidewalk outside the NDDC office yesterday.

Sidewalk outside the NDDC office

Budget cuts: an opportunity for local government to deliver services WITH citizens. Social media can help.

@Ross Currier, my Locally Grown co-host, tweeted on Monday, “As citizens increasingly challenge politics as usual, is it no longer left vs. right, nor faith vs. reason, but individual vs. institution?”

Listen Participate TransformThen Steve Clift @democracy retweeted this from @72prufrocks today, a report titled Listen, Participate, Transform: A social media framework for local government from the UK-based Young Foundation. It’s part of their Local 2.0 project (see the Local 2.0 Blog here), funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government

The report’s emphasis on the importance of public officials building relationships with citizens, using social media in part, is encouraging and is the best writing I’ve seen thus far on the topic.

In Northfield, this is more than a little timely because:

  1. Significant budget cuts have to be made soon and the process is receiving some criticism
  2. Citizens are being asked to support a referendum for new police and fire facilities
  3. The Northfield City Council has a goal of improving communication with staff, citizen advisory groups and community

From the report’s introduction:

Continue reading Budget cuts: an opportunity for local government to deliver services WITH citizens. Social media can help.

JuneBug 2010 opens

New Moon Band at JuneBug Contented Cow outdoors Contented Cow outdoors Contented Cow outdoors Contented Cow outdoors
Ross and pals (New Moon Band) performed at the Contented Cow last night, the opening night of JuneBug 2010 that continues through Saturday.  The Cow has added a protective canopy on its outdoor stage, an upper deck perch for its sound control system, and a grassy knoll for expanded seating and yard games.

Other venues for JuneBug 2010 include the Rueb ‘n’ Stein and Butler’s Steak & Ale.

Photo album: Taste of Northfield Day 1

Severe weather approaching downtown Northfield Day 1 of the Taste of Northfield was pretty much a bust due to the severe weather in the area. Good thing there’s going to be Day 2 tomorrow.

At around 5:30 pm, just as Robbie and I settled in the beer/wine tent with some ribs from the Quarterback, the storm sirens went off, triggering a mass exodus from Bridge Square. But even before that, the high winds and ominous clouds kept the crowd small, and many vendors had been packing up. Ross and Jessica were definitely grumpy.

Sunset over Hidden Valley Park The storms ultimately slid to our south and all we got was a light rain shower, with a spectacular sunset.

See the album of 13 photos, the large slideshow, or this small slideshow:

Taste of Northfield finally gets a domain name and its own web page, just in time for today

Taste of Northfield

I’ve nagged Ross for over a year to register a domain name and set up a webpage for the Taste of Northfield and he completely ignored me, hurting my feelings.

But last week, he got enough pressure from his task force that he finally caved and hired me to do what needed to be done. is now working and the page is up, complete with the two-day schedule of activities and performers, the list of vendors, the list of sponsors, and photo albums from previous events.

I’m pretty much over it now, Ross. No need to kiss and make up, however.

Sarah gets a taste of Ross with a Taste of Northfield

Podcast: Emily Northey, Minnesota Main Street

Emily Northey, Ross CurrierEmily Northey, Minnesota Main Street Program Coordinator with Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, joined us this week for a chat about historic commercial districts like we have in downtown Northfield.  She and the board were in town Monday afternoon for a long-range planning retreat at the Archer House.

Ross has written about the program here and here on the NDDC blog:

Continue reading Podcast: Emily Northey, Minnesota Main Street

Photo redux: Girls Nite Out

Former members of the Shop Local dancers - put out to pastureRoss has the info in his blog post detailing Friday night’s Girls Nite Out (GNO) activities (PDF).


What he fails to mention is that the veteran members of the Shop Local/Somewhat Full Monty routine at the Grand, he and I among them, have not been invited back. We’ve retained counsel.  Clearly age discrimination.

Hopefully, they’ll let <ahem> photojournalists in the Grand.

See the 2009, 2008, and 2007 GNO photo albums.

Great downtown Northfield brochures don’t just happen

NDDC Brochure 2010 page 1The NDDC has a slick new downtown Northfield brochure out (“Great downtowns don’t just happen”),NDDC Brochure 2010 page 2 the work of Board member Anastasia Balfany who teamed up with Nichole Day Diggins at Flying Pan Productions. ED Ross Currier’s job was to nag me for photos.

Click the thumbnails above for a quick look or view this big PDF.

Photo album: NDDC Partnership Celebration 2010

Last night’s NDDC 10th anniversary/Partnership Celebration at The Grand was a huge hit.

See the album of 80 photos, the large slideshow, or this small slideshow:

Ross ‘Liberace’ Currier invites you to NDDC’s 10th anniversary bash on Sat.

Ross Currier in his NDDC vestLiberaceI had a Liberace flashback when Ross began strutting around the GBM this morning in his new NDDC vest, promoting Saturday night’s NDDC 10th anniversary/Partnership Celebration, 6 to 10 p.m at The Grand.

I’ll be there with my sweetie, taking photos.

It’s open to the public, no cover, free d’oeuvres, lots of live music, and a helluva raffle.

Update 2 PM: Here’s the flyer on the raffle

NDDC 10th Anniv. raffle flyer

For more details, see Ross’ blog post, or this email from Jessica Paxton:

Continue reading Ross ‘Liberace’ Currier invites you to NDDC’s 10th anniversary bash on Sat.

Be Local Rock Local

Ross Currier

Ross stopped by my corner office at the GBM yesterday to show me a new NDDC poster that’s a variation on the Be Local…Buy Local campaign:

Be Local… Rock Local! Live Music Downtown Northfield Seven Nights A Week

His NDDC blog post from yesterday lists all the music happening around Northfield this weekend.

The fruits of the Downtown Holiday Decorations Fund are now showing

Downtown Holiday Decorations Downtown Holiday Decorations Downtown Holiday Decorations
Ross has been posting to the NDDC blog all year (eg, here, here and here) about the Downtown Holiday Decorations Fund and yesterday, the decorations (blue banners and lighted snowflakes) were put up all over downtown — big ones on the bigger light poles, smaller ones on the historic light poles. I’ll try to get some nighttime photos this weekend.

Update 11/21: As promised, some night shots:

Downtown Holiday Decorations Downtown Holiday Decorations

Is Northfield’s train depot worth saving?

Northfield's train depot Northfield's train depot Northfield's train depot 
Ross Currier sent out a Tweet yesterday morning that he was "Trying to arrange my schedule so I can attend a gathering of few motivated citizens to discuss the potential of the historic railroad depot." About the same time, I was chatting with Bob Will about it at GBM. Bob indicated that the Northfield Rotary Club was considering it as one of their long-term projects. (continued)

Continue reading Is Northfield’s train depot worth saving?

Podcast: Mary Ho on H1N1 flu preparations

Griff Wigley, Mary Ho, Ross Currier

Our radio show/podcast guest on Monday: Mary Ho, Rice County Director of Pubic Health, talking with us about local preparations for the H1N1 flu season. Ross and I did the proper virus-preventive fist bump upon her departure though now I see that we may have to graduate to elbow bumps.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes.

Continue reading Podcast: Mary Ho on H1N1 flu preparations

We don’t need no stinkin’ drummer

New Moon Trio New Moon Trio New Moon Trio
The New Moon Trio performed on the Contented Cow‘s outdoor stage last Friday, minus their drummer Lance Heisler. Athena Currier more than made up for his absence by joining papa Ross Currier and Justin London for a set.

Photo redux: Crazy Daze 03, 04, 05, 08

Ross Currier and his donut Ross’ post to his NDDC blog about tomorrow’s Crazy Daze reminded me to put up some slideshows from previous events. Crazy Daze 2003 was one of only 4 community events that year that I took photos at.  The poor quality of the photos and lack of cropping is painful for me to revisit but by Crazy Daze 2004, I was improving and took a memorable photos of Ross and his monster Alaskan donut from Quality Bakery. Crazy Daze 2005 was better yet. I missed 06 and 07. See Crazy Daze 2008, the large slideshow, or this small slideshow:

The limits of downtown law enforcement in the new world of social media

Ross Currier and Mark Taylor

Photo album: Taste of Northfield 2009

Ross Currier and Ray Cox Ross Currier Sarah and Ross Currier
NDDC head honcho Ross Currier made sure his brother-in-law brought his magic umbrella downtown last night for the Taste of Northfield. The weather gods showed their pleasure with Ross, as did many of the women in attendance.

See the album of 60+ photos, the large slideshow, or this small slideshow:

The Taste of Northfield, rain or shine

beer/wine tent No, the beer/wine tent on the 4th St. bridge didn’t blow down this morning. But it could be an exciting day for the Taste of Northfield, as the forecast is 50-50. If it gets nasty, Ross has a contingency plan.

Whither the Locally Grown podcast/radio show?

Although no one has asked (sniff!), we have to assume y’all are worried sick about the status of our weekly show since we’ve gone two weeks now without a new one.  Well relax. Wednesdays have proven to be a scheduling challenge so it’s looking like we’re going to make a move to Mondays, starting June 1. Until then, stay tuned to the new KYMN 1080 AM.

Representative Journalism (RepJ) team descends on Twin Cities, Northfield

The Representative Journalism (RepJ) team paid a visit to Minnesota yesterday. (See the initial RepJ blog post for details on the project.)

Bill Densmore, Peter Hutchinson, and Leonard Witt MinnPost billboard RepJ team at MPR Griff Wigley at MPR Bill Densmore and Len Witt at MPR
Left: At the offices of the Bush Foundation, L to R: Bill Densmore (RepJ collaborator, Director of the Media Giraffe Project, U of Mass, Amherst), Peter Hutchinson (President of the Bush Foundation), and Leonard Witt (RepJ founder, Communication Chair and Associate Professor, KSU, Atlanta, Georgia)
Left center: Len mugs for a billboard in a downtown St. Paul skyway
Center: Afternoon coffee break: Len and Bill with Andrew Haeg, director of Minnesota Public Radio’s Public Insight Journalism Network.
Right center/right: Me, Bill and Len, relaxing in MPR’s listening pods

Bill Densmore, Chris Peck, Len Wittruth_ann_harnischBill Densmore, Len Witt, Chris Peck, Tracy Davis RepJ Team RepJ Team
Left: Recording a Locally Grown radio show/podcast at KYMN studios: Bill and Len with (center) Chris Peck, RepJ collaborator and editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, TN. (Earlier in the afternoon, Len and Bill also paid a visit to John Schott, Chair of Cinema and Media Studies at Carleton.)
Left center: Present in spirit throughout the day: Ruth Ann Harnisch, President of the Harnisch Family Foundation, which has funded RepJ.
Center: Relaxing at the Contented Cow: Bill, Len, and Chris with Tracy Davis, LG co-host and head honcho of GuildCraft Carpets and Northfield Carpets International. We then dined at Chapati.
Right center/right: Late night RepJ strategy session in the lower level Archer House conference room: Ross Currier, LG co-host and Executive Director of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation (NDDC) with Bill, Chris, Tracy and Len.

We recorded next week’s episode of our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, focused entirely on the RepJ concept, of course.

Click play to listen (30 minutes). The show will air next Wednesday, March 19 at 5:30 PM on KYMN 1080 AM. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed (or one click subscribe with iTunes). We seek your comments and suggestions. 


Update 3/15: The RepJ team had a few more collegial visits in the Twin Cities yesterday.

Len Witt and Joel Kramer Bernadine Joselyn, Bill Densmore, Len Witt Bernadine Joselyn and Griff Wigley

Left: Len Witt with Joel Kramer, CEO/Editor of
Center and Right: Len, Bill Densmore and me with Bernadine Joselyn, Director, Public Policy and Engagement, Blandin Foundation.

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