City trails, 1998

Government.50.1: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 23 Jul 1998 21:44:11 CDT (23 lines)

The City of Northfield’s Parks and Recreation Department and the Parks & Rec Advisory Board have been working with consultants from the Hoisington Keogler Group (HKG) to develop a Trail Master Plan for the city.

Two public workshops have been held at City Hall in recent months and HKG has prepared two different concept plans. Public input on the plans is now being sought. Comment boxes have been posted at the Library and City Hall; Northfield Citizens Online is hosting an online forum here in topic 50 of the Government conference from Wednesday, July 29 through Friday, Aug. 7.

Forum Panelists include:

Christie Clarke, Parks & Rec Advisory Board Chair
Randy Distad, Parks & Rec Dept Director
Paul Paige, Hoisington Keogler Group consultant
Randy Peterson, City Engineer
Peggy Prowe, City Council member

More details to follow, including links to the concept plans.

This topic is set to read-only till after the panelists sign-in.

Government.50.3: Griff Wigley (griff) Tue, 28 Jul 1998

The two Trail Master Plan concepts are now up on the City of Northfield’s web site at .

Panelists (Randy D, Paul, Randy P, Peggy), you’re up first. (Christie Clark is still out of town and may not be able to participate.)

1. Say a little bit about your history with Northfield (newcomer? oldtimer?) and more specifically, what involvement you’ve had with the city’s parks and trails, both recently and/or over the years.

2. Which of the concept plans (A or B) are you leaning towards? Or if you’d prefer to not endorse one or the other right now, what strengths and weaknesses of the two plans stand out the most – IYHO (In Your Humble Opinion)?

After we have a few exchanges among you, the panelists, I’ll open up the discussion to the “audience” of citizens lurking in the shadows. 😉

Griff Wigley
Forum Moderator

Government.50.5: Randy Distad (rldistad) Thu, 30 Jul 1998

First I am appreciative of Griff giving the Parks and Recreation Department the opportunity to be a part of a forum on trails. I hope that we get a lot of constructive and helpful comments from people on developing a trail plan for the City.

My history with the City is that I began to work for the City in June of 1997 as the Parks and Recreation Director. Beginning with last years budget process, we began putting a plan together that would outline a system of trails in the City that would be connected and could be used to access businesses, scenic areas, points of interest, parks, neighborhoods, schools and historical areas. Whether this is accomplished through a concept plan of a neighborhood network of trails, through a grand round system, or through a combination of both doesn’t really make a difference to me as long as we get input and support from the community so we can begin moving forward with developing a trail system. With the help of Paul Paige and Amy Bauer of Hoisington Koegler Group, Inc. we are begining to see a plan develop. We still have a ways to go and we really need input from the public on this trail plan. It also will depend on the Park and Recreation Advisory Board and ultimately City Council’s appoval to accept and move forward with the plan that ultimately is developed.

Anyway, I am signed on and I am hoping that we get some good responses to this topic. By the way, I love to bike!!

Randy Distad

Government.50.7: Randy Peterson (rdp100) Thu, 30 Jul 1998

I am happy to be a part of this topic both as the City’s Engineer and as an avid cyclist. I have been employed with the City of Northfield for a little over one year and have lived in Northfield since 1990. My role in our City’s parks and trails is primarily to serve as technical support for the implementation of future trails and related park facilities. I also help in determining the adequacy of our existing streets for adding a striped bike lane in terms of street width and traffic volume.

My hope is that we can develop a trail system using both existing streets and future trails that serves the needs of Northfield and that we can take a proactive approach to accomplishing this.

Randy Peterson

Government.50.8: Griff Wigley (griff) Fri, 31 Jul 1998

Welcome Peggy, Randy and Randy. Thanks for being willing to be on this panel… and for being prompt with your introductory remarks. Christie Clarke is not yet back in town so I don’t know if she’ll be able to participate. I’ll give Paul Paige a jingle to see if he can post his opening remarks today.

As your moderator I noticed that none of you indicated your preference for either of the concept plans (A or B) nor made any comment about the strengths and weaknesses of the two plans.

Now that may be because you’re all shy Minnesotans. Or it may be because you don’t want to prematurely influence the citizens taking a look at this for the first time. Or it may be that you have so many criticisms that you’re afraid you’ll hurt the consultants feelings… that nice Minnesotan thing again.

But whatever the reason, I think we need a little more input and explanation from all of you on the concept plans that we have before us: Grand Rounds vs. Neighborhood Networks.

For example, it was REALLY HELPFUL to me when Fred whatshisname from HKG explained the transportation plan at the meeting at city hall last month. As he explained an option or a recommendation, he pointed out the pros and cons, and took pains to explain the ripple effect on other parts of the transportation grid that may not be immediately obvious.

So if y’all could do some of this, it would help lots.

Audience reminder: The gifs of the Plans that Tracy Hartke put (thank you Tracy!) are at .

Government.50.9: Griff Wigley (griff) Fri, 31 Jul 1998

There are 18 people in the Web Cafe “audience” thus far, plus another dozen on the NCO-Discuss mailing list.

And I’d like to open up the discussion to the audience, even though we’re waiting for more panelist input.

Lastly, I’m heading up to Duluth today for the weekend. I’ll try to grab a few minutes in the new cyber-Cafe that recently opened downtown but I can’t guarantee it. But I will be back late Sunday night and catch up on everything by early Monday morning.

Government.50.10: Peter Hamlin (hamlin) Fri, 31 Jul 1998

Here’s my two cents —

I really liked what Peggy Prowe had to say in post:4, and agree that the neighborhood plan seems a much more appealing approach. For me, biking and walking are as much functional transportation as they are recreation. I don’t always just want to go for a ride or a walk, I want to go somewhere — shopping, visiting, work, etc. The neighborhood plan, which connects places where people want to go, makes a great deal of sense.

(Of course, as the city expands, we should think about bikes and pedestrians as well as cars on the larger streets that head out of town. The trail to Dundas along Highway 3 is an example of what I’d like to see routinely done on roads like that. It’s especially nice that the trail is away from the road a bit. So I think we should at least keep our eyes on the “grand round” plan and build sections of it when the opportunity arises as roads are updated.)

We should also keep our eyes on how we fit into regional trail systems, and should push projects like the Mill Towns Trail which would link Northfield to two of the great Minnesota trails — Cannon Valley in Cannon Falls and Sakatah Singing Hills and a fine city system in Faribault.

Last but not least — has everyone seen the nearly complete Mill Towns Trail segment almost to Dundas? It’s really fabulous! There is a pretty bridge over Rice Creek, and the trail is beautifully designed to wind along the contours of that scenic area, leading across the railroad tracks into a secluded stretch of the Cannon River. (The Mill Towns Trail web site is Many thanks to Northfield Citizens Online for hosting the site!).

Peter Hamlin

Government.50.11: Peter Hamlin (hamlin) Fri, 31 Jul 1998

On another subject:

Randy Peterson makes some good comments in post:7. I agree, as Randy notes, that there are opportunities for striped paths on existing streets. For example, I live on Lincoln St. South, which has recently been updated with a major infrastructure project. MnDot told me that that the road is designed for two 11′ traffic lanes, an 8′ parking lane on the east side, and a 4′ buffer lane (that could be for bikes or walking) on the west side. So I think the city should stripe the road to mark all those uses.

Peter Hamlin

Government.50.12: George Kinney (georgek) Fri, 31 Jul 1998

As some of you may know, I’m a year-round daily jogger/runner (that certainly depends on the season!!). I depend on striped roads, since (1) sidewalks don’t really seem to go over well in Northfield, and (2) my ancient knees can’t handle the strains of concrete – asphalt is so much nicer to them! I also rollerblade and bike.

All this is to say I have a personal interest in the plan, as well as the larger civic interest. I, too, would like to see the local connections first. More later.

George Kinney

Government.50.13: Susan Hudson (shudson) Sat, 01 Aug 1998

Randy, Will there ever be a point in time where the Parks and Recreation Department will charge a fee to use bike paths? This may seem like a silly question, but your department has requested that ball teams be charged, along with skateboarders and picnic table users. Just want the record to be set straight – from the beginning.

Susan Hudson

Government.50.15: Paul Paige via NCO-Discuss, Tue, 04 Aug 1998
From: Paul Paige Subject: Opening comments from the planning consultant First of all, sorry for the tardiness. My name is Paul Paige and I am a Landscape Architect with a planning consulting firm in Minneapolis called Hoisington Koegler Group inc. (HKGi). I am working along with Amy Bower in our office to help develop a trail master plan for your City. Our company has a long history of involving the public throughout the planning process, and this discussion forum is a great way to gather meaningful input from the people who will have the most to gain or lose from a trail plan. I appreciate the opportunity to participate and will be here to clarify the intent of each of the two design options if needed.

General comments related to planning in Northfield: Our first Workshop gave us insight into what people see as important elements within and around the City, and there was no surprise to see an overwhelming draw to the downtown. You have a very identifiable center to your City and along with other community elements like the colleges, schools, parks, river, creek corridors, and agrarian edges combine to give Northfield a very unique identity.

The City is facing strong development pressure due not only to the above described identity, but also because of a strong economy and an ever closer proximity to an expanding metro region. All of this gives more reason to fully understand the impact of planning today to ensure that in 10 or 20 or 50 years, Northfield still retains a sense of the qualities that make it “Northfield” today.

The trail concepts try to connect key features of the community with slightly different approaches. Please help us as outside consultants begin to understand what works or does not work with either alternative so we can be sure that the plan we move forward with is a realistic alternative and is founded in what people in Northfield want for a trail system. Thanks.

Paul Paige

Government.50.16: Griff Wigley (griff) Tue, 04 Aug 1998

Thanks for chiming in, Peter, George and Susan. And greetings, Paul. Thanks much for being willing to participate in this forum. (Christie Clarke is back in town and has just registered for the Cafe.)

Paul, can you elaborate a bit on the major tradeoffs between the two concepts, ie, what does the citizenry basically gain/lose with each plan?

Government.50.17: Randy Distad (rldistad) Tue, 04 Aug 1998

In regards to Susan Hudson’s question about charging a fee to use the trails in Northfield, post:13. I don’t anticipate that there would be a fee charged by the City to use trails that are within the City boundaries, but I can’t make the call on that question because ultimately it would be determined by the Northfield City Council to make that policy decision. Maybe City Council member, Peg Prowe would like to comment on this question. In regards to fees, regional and state trails do have fees associated with their use.

Government.50.18: Randy Distad (rldistad) Tue, 04 Aug 1998

I like the idea of a trail system that combines both the concepts of the Grand Round and Neighborhood Network systems. Whenever and where ever possible, I would like to see the neighborhood networks concept implemented as I believe that we need to focus on keeping our community connected and what not a better way than through a trail system that brings people together. I am interested in hearing what others have to say about the two conceptual trail system plans. Do you favor one over the other?

Government.50.19: Paul Paige via NCO-Discuss, Tue, 04 Aug 1998

From: Paul Paige Subject: RE: Concept plan tradeoffs
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 09:42:31 -0700

Perhaps it would be helpful to post some of the general qualities of each of the Trail Plan Concepts:

Concept A “Neighborhood Network”:

1. The system builds on existing trails within neighborhoods

2. Routes tend to be more indirect or meandering.

3. Uses greenways or parkland as places to extend trail connections, and may include segments on-street where the traffic is light enough to allow both uses.

4. Neighborhoods are connected together and where barriers (busy roads, railroad, river) are encountered, the trail crosses at key safe crossing points.

5. Sidewalks would be used as trails within older sidewalk equipped neighborhoods.

6. Trails tend to have a more private feel because they meander through neighborhoods, not necessarily paralleling collector roadways.

7. May imply the widening of some older sidewalks to accommodate a multi-use trail (biking, blading, strollers, walking, etc.).

Concept B “Grand Rounds”:

1. The system tends to rely on piggybacking onto the existing and proposed roadway network within the City. For example, where collector or arterial roads exist and a trail connection is desired, a separated trail would be constructed within the road right of way to support trail uses. The trail would be detached from the paved road surface, and ideally separated by a boulevard with street trees. Where less busy roads exist or are proposed, the trail could be integral to the roadway paving by being striped and signed as a trail along the side or shoulder of the road.

2. The routes with this concept tend to offer direct and faster connections.

3. The experience along the trails tend to be related to the context of the roads, because they are generally sharing the same right of way.

4. In this concept, the “greenways” like the Heath Creek corridor would have unpaved gravel trails only.

I hope this helps people further understand the approaches of the two concepts.

Paul Paige, Hoisington Koegler Group inc.

Government.50.20: Griff Wigley (griff) Tue, 04 Aug 1998

Susan, does Randy’s response about fees address your question adequately? Personally, I can’t foresee a scenario in which the city council would charge fees for in-town trail usage, any more than they’d enact a sidewalk usage fee. But I suppose stranger things have happened. 😉

Paul, thanks much for posting those characteristics of each of the concept plans. I suppose many people would echo Randy’s preference: let’s do both! Or would it be too expensive, too chaotic? Must we prioritize? Which plan costs more?

Randy D, you said in post:18 that you’d like to see the neighborhood networks concept implemented:

>as I believe that we need to focus on keeping our community
>connected and what not a better way than through a trail
>system that brings people together.”

I was drawn to the Grand Rounds plan for the same reason… it seems like it would make it more likely that people would use the trails instead of cars to get around town more, esp downtown which is the best commons we have for bringing people together as well as encouraging support for the local merchants.

Government.50.21: Randy Distad (rldistad) Wed, 05 Aug 1998 18:50:03 CDT (22 lines)

I am going to throw this out to the audience especially anyone from the Jefferson Park neighborhood.

The City recently received word from the MN Dept of Natural Resources that the City has received a $21,000 grant for a proposed trail that would connect Jefferson Park to Tyler Park and connect Tyler Park to Bridgewater Elementary School. I just mailed letters to residents living next to Jefferson Park to receive feedbackon whether of not they support a trail going through certain parts of Jefferson Park.

We will be discussing the proposed trail through Jefferson Park at the Park and Recreation Advisory Board’s August 18th meeting. Paul Paige and Amy Bower from Hoisington Koegler Group, Inc. will also be present at this meeting to talk to the Advisory Board and any interested citizens about the feedback that they received from the July public open house on the two trail concept plans.

My first question to the audience is

* do you support a trail going through Jefferson Park

and the second questions would be

* how do you go about convincing residents that a trail is a good idea in their established neighborhood such as Jefferson Park?

By the way, I have talked to one resident who is not in favor of the trail because it would mean that people would be walking past her backyard. I have also received one favorable phone call from a resident who supports this trail. The residents around Tyler Park (I am one of them) support a trail going through Tyler Park.

Randy Distad

Government.50.22: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 05 Aug 1998

Randy, I think you have to give citizens in the area considerable opportunities to discuss and weigh the perceived pros and cons of the trail. Otherwise, all you’ll get is uninformed opinion, sometimes based on unfounded fears.

Could you host some neighborhood-based informational gatherings, eg, coffee and cookies at various houses or maybe in the parks themselves?

I’ve always thought city staff and council members should have more neighborhood-based meetings. Sure, meetings at city hall are more efficient and convenient but not always as effective at engaging us citizens.

Could you post the text of the letter that you sent out to those in the affected neighborhoods?

My uninformed opinion is that the trail is a great idea, since sidewalks are in such short supply around Bridgewater school.

Government.50.23: George Kinney (georgek) Thu, 06 Aug 1998

We just got our letter from Randy last night (I have a back yard that runs into the park). So I was planning to send Randy an e-mail with comments. Guess they might as well be public!!

I’m in favor of the trails, and it would be fine if people were walking past our back yard. Folks who have lived in areas with sidewalks are pretty used to their neighbors walking past, saying hello; I think this in itself is a means of slowly building community. As I had said in an earlier post, I jog, and my wife and I walk and blade — it’d be wonderful not to be on the street!

My only comment on the actual placement of the trails is to check out and avoid the low areas — there are locations that form ‘Lake Northfield’ regularly (this is, after all, the stormwater collection system for the area). The water is usually gone in a couple of days, so no big deal (and the kids would splash through it on the way home from school anyway!!!).


Government.50.24: Christie Clarke (cclarke) Thu, 06 Aug 1998

Sorry I’m so late in logging on. I feel that the two trail plans should be combined. You really can’t have the grand rounds without adequate acess from the “inner city” trails. In terms of implementation I would recommend constructing the trails in phases over a set period of years – not dragged out indefinately. It must be adequately funded. We might as well do this right the first time around. Frankly , I was surprised that we were given a choice between only the inner or outer trails. Better choices would have been various combinations of inner trails combined with the outer trail from very simple to complex (as we have proposed now).

Government.50.25: Randy Distad (rldistad) Thu, 06 Aug 1998

I would like to address Griff Wigley’s comment in post:22. The Park and Recreation Advisory Board has held meetings before at parks to discuss development issues related to parks. You’re right, holding a meeting at the park seems to be a good thing. The letter to residents of Jefferson Park did identify the purpose of the trail, where the trail would be constructed and some possible ways that the trail could be used. Construction of the trail would also be a great time to address some of the drainage concerns in Jefferson Park that George Kinney has.

Government.50.26: Randy Distad (rldistad) Thu, 06 Aug 1998

The following letter was sent to the Jefferson Park residents on July 31, 1998. Thus far I have received three responses from residents and commented on two responses in post:21. The third came courtesy of George Kinney in post:23. If there are any more comments about the Jefferson Park Trail, please respond.

TO: Residents Living Next To Jefferson Park

RE: Trail Development

I am writing this letter with the intent of receiving input and feedback from you on a possible trail being constructed through Jefferson Park. The proposed funding of this project will be a combination of City funds and a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Cooperative Trail Grant. There are no special assessments proposed for this project. Jefferson Park has been identified as a possible site for a trail for a number of reasons. They are as follows:

1. A trail in Jefferson Park will allow another route for children, who will be attending Bridgewater Elementary School, to use in order to travel more safely from their home to school.

2. The Jefferson Park trail will connect to a proposed trail through Tyler Park. The Tyler Park trail will connect to a trail that the school district has already constructed from Bridgewater Elementary School to the northeast corner of Tyler Park.

3. Trails will not be constructed in all of Jefferson Park. Rather, the trails will be constructed so that a connection can be made to Truman Park to the west, to Grant Park to the North and to Roosevelt Park to the Southwest. This will connect all Jefferson Park Subdivision parks with trails (please see attached map of proposed trail route).

4. The City has installed new playground equipment in Jefferson Park and a trail will help to make it accessible to all neighbors who live to the south of the playground equipment. The trail will also make the playground equipment accessible to children with disabilities

5. The trail will provide an opportunity for all Jefferson Park neighbors to use so that they can exercise and move from park to park.

6. It will provide an opportunity for families to walk, bike or in-line skate together.

The trail will be 10 feet in width. It will be a paved trail that will be available to bike riders, walkers and in-line skaters. Since the proposed trail would be connected to Bridgewater Elementary School, the City will perform the winter snow removal duties.

The Department is looking for comments from you. Please contact our Department office at 645-6676 and give us some input on this trail. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will be discussing the proposed Jefferson Park Trail at its August 18th meeting. You are invited to attend the meeting and give the City feedback on the proposed trail. Thank you for your help in this matter.


Randy Distad, Director Northfield Parks and Recreation Department

Government.50.27: George Kinney (georgek) Fri, 07 Aug 1998

I just sent Randy an e-mail with a few other comments about the Jeff. Park trail plan, and a thought occurred that I thought I would put forward to the group:

A trail through a park makes that park more accessible.

I know we are all good midwesterners, living in Lake Wobegon-land, and we never want to get out of line — what this means is that without a trail or sidewalk, we would never think of stepping into a park area –“Don’t walk on the grass” has been drilled into us for years. Thus, we have un-used park areas. The trail allows us to enter.
Government.50.28: Griff Wigley (griff) Mon, 10 Aug 1998

Welcome, Christie! And welcome back, Peg!

We’re extending the discussion on the city of Northfield’s proposed Trail Master Plan for another week. Why?

I. A couple of panelists (I’m not saying who but see above for hints) have been out of town and unable to participate as much as they’d hoped.

II. Randy Distad would like more feedback on the proposed trail connecting Jefferson Park to Tyler Park and Tyler Park to Bridgewater Elementary School.

III. We’d like to get more citizen input on the two proposed Trail concept plans

I sent out a detailed NCO-News this morning. All of you should have received it.

So, carry on!

BTW, the full transcript of the discussion to date is now up on the NCO web site at:

Government.50.29: Griff Wigley (griff) Tue, 11 Aug 1998

Paul, can you address the issue of combining the two plans? Christie (in post:24) suggested constructing the trails in phases over a set period of years… and that instead of a choice between only the inner or outer trails, why not present the city with “various combinations of inner trails combined with the outer trail from very simple to complex”?

Government.50.31: Paul Paige via NCO-Discuss Tue, 11 Aug 1998

The qualities of the two plans can certainly be combined into an alternative that better suits the desires of Northfield. Part of the public input process is to extract the pieces of each approach that work and eliminate parts that don’t work. I am sure that the final plan will have aspects of each alternative.

Regarding implementation, Christie’s point about setting a firm schedule for various phases is very important because without a strong commitment from the Park and Rec. Advisory Board, Planning Commission, and City Council, and the rest of the people in the community, the plan will probably not be built. That is why this phase of design is essential to developing a plan that reflects what is desired by Northfield.

Paul Paige

Government.50.32: Griff Wigley (griff) Fri, 14 Aug 1998

Thanks, Paul.

I don’t know if it’s because it’s the dog days of August, or just that for most folks (including me), it seems sensible to combine the plans somehow and it’s tough to know what to discuss.

Is there a way to estimate the costs of the two plans, or maybe better put, which plan tends to be more expensive?

And I know I keep asking this but maybe I’m not saying it right: Is there a way for us to get smarter about the tradeoffs and consequences of choosing various aspects of the plans over others?

For example, concept A, Network Neighborhoods, involves using some existing sidewalks as trails and may involve widening some sidewalks. Some citizens may see this as a better, more cost effective use of sidewalks and therefore may be more supportive of putting more in, whereas in the recent past, there’s been widespread opposition to more sidewalks.

Or another example: what are the pros and cons of striping the sides of roads for bike trails?

Can anyone think of others?

Government.50.33: Griff Wigley (griff) Tue, 18 Aug 1998

Just a reminder… the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meets tonight at 7 at City Hall, 2nd Floor conference room.

And a final thanks to the panelists for participating in this forum!