Last week, the City of Northfield announced on its website and via an emailed press release (PDF) that the public process for creating a master planning update for Bridge Square begins this Wednesday with an open house at the Archer House, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
There’s now a Bridge Square Blog Site. Yes, you can see my fingerprints on it, as I’ve been hired as a contractor (with my Wigley and Associates hat) by the City to handle the online engagement for the project, teaming up with the lead consultant, Stantec Consulting’s John Slack.
Here on LoGro, the headlines for all the recent Bridge Square project blog posts will appear in the upper right sidebar. But like I did when I posted updates on the recently completed Downtown Parking Management Plan, comments are turned off here because the discussion happens there.
I will attach a comment to this blog post whenever there’s a significant update to the project, just as a way of drawing additional attention to it. There are better ways to stay informed, however. See my post titled Tools for keeping updated on the Bridge Square planning process.
I missed the imprinting of the sidewalk poems yesterday morning so see the short Nfld News video here and the story with more photos at Nfld Patch: Northfield Sidewalk Poetry Installation
The first two pieces of sidewalk poetry were imprinted in the sidewalks (one on Third Street and another on Division Street) around the Northfield Public Library on Wednesday morning.
They included a piece from Lily Hanlon, a Prairie Creek Community School student, and Anne Running Sovik. These are selections from the first sidewalk public poetry contest from last year, which was sponsored by the Arts & Culture Commission and the Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library. More poems from the 2011 selections will be imprinted at a later date.
I chatted with Library Director Lynne Young as I was taking photos and asked her about the funding for the project. She said that the Northfield Streetscape Task Force contributed $5,000 last year and that the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) awarded a grant this year. I see on the SEMAC page of recent grants that the
City of Northfield Arts & Culture Commission received a $7,100 Arts & Cultural Heritage grant for Sidewalk Public Poetry Project.
"Arts & Cultural Heritage grant" is Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment money. Not counted in the total is City of Northfield staff time (public works, engineering).
I love public art and I think sidewalk poetry is cool. But I think it’s worth discussing whether $12,000 of taxpayer money for this project is a good investment. I’m undecided.
Update May 22: Some additional photos:
Left: I don’t understand why only one poem was installed in this new section.
Right: This section of sidewalk appear to be relatively new. Why weren’t poems installed here?
Last Friday, I got this email and photo from Steve Wilmot:
We may have some confused tourists today as all the street signs for Division Street appear to be in the back of this City truck.
Thought you would find this interesting.
I took these photos over the weekend, assuming that the signage replacement was part of the Streetscape Task Force‘s downtown beautification efforts. The brackets used to hold up the signs appears to be consistent with the the other iron work used for the wayfinding signs, for example.
But maybe not. In the March 2 Admin Memo, TJ Heinricy, Streets and Parks Supervisor reports:
Staff has been preparing street identification signage that will be installed soon. These signs are part of the ongoing street signage replacement project.
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?
Back in June, 2011, I blogged about St. Olaf’s new bike repair stations and that we needed something like them in downtown Northfield. In mid-August, I commented: "Ross Currier told me this week that the Downtown Streetscape Task Force is considering installing one of these bicycle repair stations."
Yesterday, two bike repair stands were installed, one at 5th and Division under the stairs of the McClaughry Building, the other at the Division St. entrance to the Northfield Library. Each bike repair stand (Dero Fixit) includes an air pump with a gauge, and seven tools, all tethered with security cables. You can hang your bike on the stand by its seat post so you can more easily work on it.
Props to Ross Currier and members of the Downtown Streetscape Task Force for shifting some money to do this, to TJ Heinricy and his crew at the City of Northfield Streets, Parks & Facilities Divisions for getting them installed before spring, and to Jim Fisher, Grounds Manager at St. Olaf, for bringing this concept to Northfield.
The City of Northfield has applied for $1 million of federal money (Tiger Grant) to construct a pedestrian trail that would connect downtown to the west side. The proposed route would connect to Greenvale Ave. and St. Olaf Ave via the Hwy. 3 underpass at North Water St. The City must contribute $500K to the project.
At last night’s City Council meeting, Councilors evidently decided that half the cost of trail would come from the downtown fund, according to the Northfield News, with the
It’s not clear from the article where the other half would come from. “remainder coming from city reserves.” It’s also not clear what this would do to the prioritized list of other projects that the downtown Streetscape Task Force has identified for funding with money from that downtown fund, especially parking. See NDDC Executive Director Ross Currier’s Oct. 5 blog post: TIF District #4, The Streetscape Task Force, and Downtown Parking.
There is currently enough revenue projected for the TIF District to pay for the Task Force’s long-standing recommendations as well as the City Council’s recent additions. Downtown stakeholders hope that the long-needed parking project will continue to move forward and that this economically critical investment in downtown will be implemented before the TIF District expires.
See pages 68-72 of the Council packet (PDF). It contains a map of the route but streets aren’t marked. Here’s my live Google Map with the approximate route:
View Greenvale/St. Olaf/Hwy 3 underpass & walkway in a larger map
There are now four signs/advertising banners in Ames Park at the corner of 5th St and Hwy 3. Even the Northfield Municipal Liquor Store has gotten into it. Heh.
I blogged about this back in May, 2009: Advertising banners in Ames Park: what are the guidelines? In the comments attached to that post, one citizen reported that they’d asked City Hall about it:
The answer was that there was no charge for the space and the rules were pretty informal — an honor system of sorts. You just needed to let them know when you would put the sign up and how long you needed the space. It was understood that you’d secure it safely and take the sign down right after the event. It was also understood that the space was for community events like the hospital book fair and not private business advertising.
Looks like one business is advertising, not that I’m objecting.
Mayor Mary Rossing commented:
The Mayor’s Streetscape Taskforce will be meeting again, with new and returning members in the mix, mid June. This is one of their charges. A permanent kiosk has been talked about as we continue to work to add amenities to the downtown and gateway areas. They will be looking at many potential projects and prioritizing and making recommendations to the council. All projects need to be in place (or in progress) by the end of 2013 as this is the end of the master development funds.
So if this was one of the charges for the Streetscape Taskforce two years ago, can someone update us on what was decided, if anything?
Last June, I whined about all the ugly recycling bins and newspaper vending racks downtown. There were plans to do something about it.
After being removed for the winter, all 20 recycling bins are now back. And with more than two dozen newspaper vending racks currently downtown (most between 2nd and 5th on Division), it’s pretty ugly. Here’s my count:
- Northfield News: 9
- Star Tribune: 5
- Pioneer Press: 4
- Northfield News Home & Real Estate: 3
- Northfield Entertainment Guide: 3
- Signs of the Times: 1
- AutoMart: 1
Any chance that the City of Northfield Streets, Parks & Facilities Division, the Streetscape Task Force (website still out-of-date), the NDDC, Northfield in Bloom (website dead), 1st Ward Councilor Suzie Nakasian, and whoever else could get together and address this problem this year?
It was just us this week and we spent our entire non-fluff segment talking about downtown parking, as it’s at the top of Streetscape Taskforce’s list of recommendations (PDF of June packet).
$760,000 is budgeted for expenses related to the purchase of this rental property at 304 Washington St.
Update 10:30 PM:
I took these two screenshots from Google Maps view of the street, adding an arrow on one that points to the property.
Comments are closed. Continue the discussion attached to the June 30 blog post Downtown parking: what’s really needed?
Click play to listen. 30 minutes.
You can also download the MP3 or subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe directly with iTunes. Our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, usually airs Mondays at 6:00 PM and Sundays at 10 AM on KYMN 1080 AM.
City Administrator Joel Walinski writes in the June 4 Friday Memo:
Downtown Recycling Cans, Oh! They’re so ugly! 20 temporary recycling containers were put in place Friday June 4, 2010 along Division Street. Street Supervisor TJ Heinricy has been working with Waste Management staff to develop a test-recycling program for the downtown area over the past several months.
Our interest is in the assessing the recycling waste stream and how much use there is or could be. This information will be used in the cost analysis and consideration of the return on investment for allocating future dollars on more permanent (eye-appealing) recycling containers in the downtown area.
Seems like downtown recycling bins and newspaper vending racks should be a project for the Streetscape Task Force.
Left: I like the ones used in Montreal near McGill University.
Center: the ones in Missoula, Montana aren’t bad
Right: even better are ones in Toronto that serve another purpose – Art:
Continue reading Recycling bins and newspaper vending racks: a project for the Streetscape Task Force?
A downtown business owner grumbled to me this week about the condition of the grass on Bridge Square, wondering why, if the park is the crown jewel of downtown, the grass in such bad shape.
I took these photos last night. Yep, it’s pretty bad in many spots.
The condition of the grass is mentioned twice in the Downtown Streetscape Framework Plan, created back in 2006:
P. 71: “Seed grass and repair lawn in Bridge Square.”
P. 73: “Bridge Square would have grass in the bald spots.”
I know, the grass takes a beating because the park is so popular and so many community events are held there. And there are probably issues with fertilizer and weed killer, both human and environmental.
With that in mind, is there anything that can be done that would also be cost-effective? And if so, what time of year would be best to do it?
I blogged about the problem of graffiti on downtown buildings back in 2008 and again in 2009 so I was glad to see this item on the tentative agenda for the April 6 City Council meeting: First reading of Ordinance No. 909 – Graffiti ordinance.
As you can see from the photos above that I took this week, graffiti from the 2008 incident is still visible on some buildings. (I’ve removed the password protection on the post with the photo slideshow.)
I could find nothing on the City’s web site about the proposed ordinance (sigh) but a building owner emailed it to me and I’ve converted it to a PDF here.
90% of the proposed ordinance language is oriented towards dealing with the property owners (victims) who don’t remove the graffiti. There’s nothing about prevention or surveillance, nothing about the restrictions for buildings in the historic district, nothing about funds to help building owners with the costs of graffiti removal, etc.
This draft needs reworking, IMHO, so I’m curious how it got this far without the involvement of the Streetscape Task Force (STF) and the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC). I don’t see anything in recent STF agendas on this issue, even though their mission includes this:
2. Explore the development of a program that may assist downtown property owners with vandalism/graffiti prevention.
Page 71 of the Streetscape Task Force plan says “HPC should develop grant program for removing graffiti from historic buildings – an expensive process.” I don’t see anything in recent HPC agendas on this issue either.