Transportation plan, 1998

Government.49.1: Griff Wigley (griff) Fri, 22 May 1998

The Northfield Planning Commission is holding a public hearing on the draft of the

Northfield city transportation plan

The hearing is at City Hall on Tuesday, May 26 at 7 pm. City Council members will attend.

Northfield Citizens Online is teaming up with the Northfield News, KYMN Radio, NTV 26, and the League of Women Voters to sponsor a community forum on this topic. The NCO Web Cafe web forum will occur here in topic 49 of the Government conference from Wednesday, June 3 through Wednesday, June 17.

Web Forum Panelists include:

Margit Johnson, Planning Commission Chair
Scott Neal, City Administrator
Bill Rossman, Mayor
Vic Summa, Planning Commission member (others TBA)

From the 5/22 edition of the Nfld News:

“The draft transportation plan looks at present, long-term and future transportation issues in the city including:

* East-west movement across the north side of the community with better routing and connections of Cedar Avenue and Thye Parkway; * The eastward extension of Jefferson Parkway to possibly connect to a north-south roadway; * Southwest connections to Hwy 19”

More details to follow.

Government.49.4: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 03 Jun 1998

It’s June 3 and we’re ready to roll!

Panelists (Margit, Scott, Bill, Vic), you’re up first.

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

2. How satisfied are you (on a scale of 1-10) with this draft, written up by the consultants, approved by the Planning Commission, and sent on to the city council? What are its major strengths and weaknesses?

Government.49.5: Bill Rossman (war) Wed, 03 Jun 1998

OK, since I have a few minutes, I’ll start. The only transportation planning experience I’ve had is what I’ve been exposed to on the City Council for the past three years, so I’m far from an expert. I’d say I’ve been an observer through this process, at least until now, and that my views are likely to be those of a resident (11years) and that I might, honestly, reflect some biases I’ve developed over the years. But, overall, I believe the plan is well developed in its approaches to vehicular traffic, but that it was not well fleshed out in terms of pedestrian and bike trail recommendations. In terms of vehicular planning I’d give the study an 8. In terms of bike & peds about a 3. Are we going to hear more on these plans?

I do have a concern about the river crossing, (extension of Jefferson Parkway). From a community standpoint I’m not sure that going through Sechlar Park is a good idea (we’ve embraced our parks as “community values” and a great deal of expense has gone into Sechler} and that if we cross at Jefferson we ought not to disrupt the park–perhaps loop around it? Or bring our river/rail crossing further south–since with new retail and residential growth to the south traffic patterns may be shifting.

That’s all for now.

Government.49.6: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 03 Jun 1998

Welcome Bill, and thanks for your opening comments.

The consultant who presented the transportation plan draft to the Planning Commission last week, Glen Van Wormer from SEH, said that the plan was light on pedestrian and bike trails because of the parallel planning process going on… coordinated by a different consulting outfit, the Hoisington Koegler Group.

HKG hosted a public workshop on trails back on May 6; they make a presentation on the development of a Trail Master Plan to the Park and Rec Advisory Board on Tues, June 16, 7 pm at City Hall; and they’re due to host another Public Workshop on it on Wed, July 15, 6:30-9pm at City Hall.

I spoke with Parks and Rec directory Randy Distad a couple of weeks ago about all this, as we’d like to host a community forum on the plan sometime late July.

BTW, Rachel Vogt of the Nfld News had a short article about some of this a couple of weeks ago:

Work on trail, park plan begins Landscape planners request input, information from community members

Government.49.7: Margit Johnson via NCO-Discuss Thu, 04 Jun 1998

I first came to Northfield as a college student in 1966, so that puts me somewhere between an old timer and a newcomer. I moved to Northfield in 1971 and have participated in a variety of city issues since then, including the community development plan CoDeP II, a year-long energy conservation education program funded by the US Department of Energy through the League of Women Voters, a downtown transportation task force, the South Hwy. 3 task force, and most recently, the Northfield Planning Commission.

When I first joined the Planning Commission about 3 1/2 years ago, they were wrestling with several different kinds of issues: there was a need to clarify the different kinds of streets, their designs and construction, as new infrastructure projects came along; there were several major unresolved issues that had been addressed, then ignored in earlier transportation plans, which continued to plague city planners; and the Comprehensive Plan needed an update from its 1988 edition which included a comprehensive overview of transportation throughout the city.

For my first two years on the PC, when we had a spare moment, we would chew on bits and pieces of those various needs. But we seldom made headway. Finally, we held a couple of Saturday work sessions when we hammered out the goals and objectives now found in the draft of the Comprehensive Transportation Plan. About that time the then city planner moved to the Cities, and we marched in place for another 6 months before Kim Johnson was hired as our current and capable City Planner.

I and several other Planning Commissioners were growing impatient. While I had been singularly under-impressed with earlier efforts to plan transportation (a 1983 SEH transportation plan had never been approved by the City Council; an early ’90’s BRW downtown transportation and parking plan also failed to receive approval; a NW area study of a through route in the aborted North Avenue neighborhood had gone nowhere), I realized that the City needed some kind of working overview. And we needed some professional advice about the specifics of that overview. So after several months of deliberations, we hired SEH to conduct a computerized update of the nagging “transportation priority issues,” to help us with street designations and standards, and to advise us on our goals and objectives from a professional’s point of view.

There are several strengths found in this document:

1) It addresses the various issues that have been floating for several and/or many years and makes specific recommendations about them.

2) It contains 5 broad goals which reflect community interests and opinions, and has several specific objectives dealing with various modes of transportation. All of these are concrete “tools” the City and her citizens can apply to specific transportation needs or controversies, including Hwy. 3, bike routes along city streets, a network of sidewalks to schools and other pedestrian destinations, etc. Watch the Northfield News for a letter to the editor I recently submitted about the loss of the Jefferson Bus Lines service, based on one of the Transportation Plan goals.

3) The computerized traffic count projections, which are capable of predicting how one change in the network will affect other areas in the city, is now the property of the City and can be updated by our own staff.

Weaknesses in the Transportation Plan? You bet!

1) The so-called Transportation Priority Issues are like a giant tail wagging the dog. Attention to them has weighted the document heavily toward vehicular traffic, in a town where over 30% of citizens have no access to cars. That is one reason that the objectives are listed in the order of sidewalks, bicycle routes and trails, parking, and finally, the road system. Likewise, modes of transporation begin with pedestrian traffic and bicycles, mass transit, other energy efficient methods of transportation, and finally, cars, trucks and trains.

2) There are relatively few specific “action items” included in the document. But that is characteristic of a strategic or long-range planning document – heavy on the goals and objectives, because they should point the planning process in a general, community-endorsed direction. The specifics need to be hammered out, case by case, using the goals and objectives and guidelines.

3) The will of the City Council – while not a weakness of the document, the political will of our elected officials has been the weak link in transportation planning in the past. In 1983 Sechler Park was identified as a route for a westward extension of Jefferson Pkwy., and the outdoor ice arena on the east side of the river is the official purchased road right of way for that extension. However, in the past 15 years the City has allowed significant park improvements in the area they chose in 1983 to be the road extension. Traffic projections at Hwys. 3 and 19 west, the “5th St. intersection,” suggest gridlock within the next 20 years unless something that is accessible, affordable, relatively convenient and has few environmental impacts is built across the river.

We – the Planning Commission, the City Council, the citizens of Northfield – have our work cut out for us. This discussion is an important part of that process.

Thanks. Margit

Government.49.8: Scott Neal (scott) Thu, 04 Jun 1998

I came to Northfield in June of 1996, a short two years ago, to assume the City Administrator position. In my previous two jobs as City Manager of Norris, Tennessee and City Administrator of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, I was also invovled in transportation planning and development. While Minnesota, and Northfield, have some unique transportation issues, they are, generally, similar to what I’ve seen in other cities and states.

The aspect of the most recent transportation plan proposed by SEH is that it is accopmanied by the necessary software to use on our City staff computers for computer modeling of future transportation planning issues, such a traffic design, signalization, etc.

I think Margit Johnson’s observation about the importance of political will is the key to this transportation plan doing what the past four of five transportation plans could not – plan a future road system and stick to the plan. That is, by the way, more difficult to do than it sounds.

Government.49.9: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 04 Jun 1998

Thanks, Margit and Scott, for your opening remarks. Victor should be able to post tonight and then we’ll open it up for everyone else to add questions and comments.

Just a reminder to the folks on the mailing list, the transportation plan text and map are at:

Government.49.10: Victor Summa (summa) Thu, 04 Jun 1998

The SEH plan is far short of what I would hope for in innovative traffic and related issue planning. Still I heartily support the City Council’s endorsement of this plan now… hoping that we can continue to look for more facets of problem solving for Northfield’s roadway system. To reject it because it’s weak would be a terrible waste of time and money. Time is of the essence!

Unfortunately SEH didn’t deal at all with mid-town east, west travel… crossing the fabled center section of Hwy 3.

They also side-stepped any creative thought about Parking and Bike/Pedestrian Trails. (at the public hearing some Carleto kids had some ideas) MnDot numbers show that most vehicular travel thru town goes east west across town… than goes north to south or visa-versa, thru town.

SEH took the Plan Commission’s list and did their numbers projection to disprove (or prove) the need for a half dozen or so, long standing ideas.

Mr Van Wormer is a staunch advocate of the Jefferson Parkway extension thru Sechler Park, saying, “no one would go a block or two out of their way to use any other crossing south of town.” He rejects the idea of putting a bridge further south (i.e. connecting on the west side at Armstrong Road and County 100, and then on to a Decker/Garrett west side bypass. I’d favor such a plan facet.

Van Wormer’s numbers also don’t support a bridge north of town, one connecting Hwy 19 across the Cannon to Hwy 3 north of the Arb and possibly on to Thye Parkway or another north side bypass. And, he seems to hide behind the idea that any bridge north of Second Street should be an extension of Greenvale… pointing out, “that won’t work because of the elevation, Arb and other Carleton related factors… so no bridge at all.

I’m sure someday we’ll need a bridge-crossing north, and if the hospital goes north, that day could be soon! At the very least, include it now in a plan for the future.

Finally the SEH plan doesn’t consider the traffic generated by a Target Store at Cnty 1 and Hwy 3… the hospital, growing housing in Dundas, and a lot of other growth and change patterns looming on our horizon.

It (The SEH PLAN) is okay as far as it goes but stops far short of being a comprehensive plan for the entire region and avoids any of our “in town ” problems.

Support it for what it is but don’t stop here.

Government.49.11: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 04 Jun 1998

Ok, Victor, thanks.

1. I’d like to invite the panelists to comment or question one another about what’s been said thus far. In particular, what do you not quite agree with that’s been posted by your colleagues?

2. The conversation is now open to the rest of us, the citizenry! Feel free to pose questions either to individual panelists or to the whole panel. Or just comment on the transportation plan draft itself.

Government.49.12: Robert Shannon via NCO-Discuss (griff) Fri, 05 Jun 1998

I have read and discussed the transportation plan informally with Victor Summa. While I have no experience with these matters of city planning I offer a critique at face value. I assume that this is a working document that is not set in stone as it appears to leave considerable room for further discussion.

1. Parking areas were not indicated.

2. Pedestrian and bicycle pathways seem to be totally left out of the plan.

3. The Arb dare not be traversed by any road or bridge. This has to considered next to sacred!

4. Don’t disrupt the Sechler park area for an east west bridge over the river. Move it a few blocks south towards Dundas.

5. Thye parkway should be extended in a westerly direction from Cedar Avenue and then curve southerly to meet Highway 19 in order to circumnavigate the northwest quadrant of the city, if further development on the north border of the city is to grow in residential and commercial areas especially.

I hope this is helpful to those who will take the time to read this and more importantly read to Plan. Hopefully, the city council et al will also hear.

Sincerely, Robert P Shannon

Government.49.13: Scott Neal (scott) Fri, 05 Jun 1998

The study did not include analysis of the potential Target store because the issue arose to late in the study prep process. However, one of the strong points of this study and the consultant is that they are providing the City with the computer-based tools for City staff to do our own traffic studies in the future. The consultant has established the basic databse of information and will provide us the software necessary to analyze future scenarios.

Government.49.14: Scott Neal (scott) Fri, 05 Jun 1998

I will agree that the SEH study is a bit weka on the non-auto aspects of transportation. But, we are currently working with another consultant (Hoisngton-Koegler & Associates) on a Master Trail Plan for the community. This will cover pedestrian and bicycle types of transport. This process has its own public hearings, etc. This study is being coordinated through our Parks & Recreation Deaprtment.

Government.49.15: George Kinney (georgek) Mon, 08 Jun 1998

The Jefferson Parkway crossing was seen as part of a ‘ring-route’ around a portion of the city. Would shifting the bridge south work without creating the future equivalent of the Hwy 19/Hwy 3 intersections which are seen as bottlenecks? Does shifting the bridge south destroy or diminish the ‘ring-route’?

Secondly, as both the Arb and Sechler are seen as sacred ground, I would propose placing the two western creeks, Heath and Spring Brook, in that same category. And don’t for a second think it’d be cheap/easily feasible to run the bridge crossing through the dump/compost area!!!

Government.49.16: Scott Neal (scott) Tue, 09 Jun 1998

The City Council will take action on the Transportation Plan at its June 15th meeting. The Plan’s plan to deal with the Jefferson Pkway Bridge issue is to study it further. There are other potential bridge crossings of the Cannon River farther to the south of this proposed crossing. The Plan says that the farther south you move the bridge from its proposed Jefferson Pkway location, the less traffic it will carry and the less traffic it will divert from our the intersection of 5th Street and Highway #3.

Government.49.17: Margit Johnson via NCO-Discuss, Wed, 10 Jun 1998

So far, this discussion has focused primarily on vehicular transportation, an all-American association with the term “transportation.” I would like to expand the conversation to include pedestrian and mass transit issues.

First, the pedestrian. Sidewalks continue to be a puzzler for many Northfielders. Several summers ago we induldged in a “sidewalk referendum” to determine if larger neighborhood area funding was considered equitable. As I remember, 70% of the voters who turned out in mid-August for the election said no. At the next council meeting Clancy Dokmo, an adament opponent to sidewalk construction in existing residential areas, warned the council members never to mention the word “sidewalk” again! The citizenry had spoken, and sidewalks were to be deleted from our vocabulary.

More recently, the June 3rd Northfield News’ lead headline was “Beating City Hall, Madison Street project will not add sidewalks.” In a less histrionic fashion than Mr. Dokmo, two Madison St. neighbhors quietly but efffectively said no to a sidewalk on their side of the street, a sidewalk that was intended, according to a city sidewalk network plan, to connect yet another missing link in the sidewalk system. While I understand there is a sidewalk on the other side of Madison Street, the underlying reasoning to their opposition is the same: the sidewalks would come “too close to their houses, across their already short driveways, and over long-standing trees.” Sounds like Woodley St. neighbors, doesn’t it?

On Monday night the Planning Commission recommended approval of the Hubers preliminary plat for 74 acres due east of Mayflower Hill. As per current requirements, sidewalks are required on both sides of collector streets in that development, which will be an extension of Jefferson Parkway. Council member Peg Prowe pointed out that Wall St. and Woodley St. are also designated collectors, and they border the north and south sides of the Hubers development. Shouldn’t they also have sidewalks? Yes, if we are to be consistent with the proposed transportation plan and the existing zoning ordinance. Yes, if we think that in the future, some residents there may want to walk to other east side locations such as the golf course clubhouse, Sibley school, Sibley Swale, etc. Yes, if current Northfielders may want to walk further east for health or rubber-necking purposes, without having to walk in the street/road, which is what they do now along Wall and Woodley Sts. Sidewalks along Wall and Woodley Sts.? The answer could also be no, if we listen to the Clancy Dokmos, the Madison St. neighbors or the folks currently living along Woodley, starting at about College St. where the sidewalk ends, all the way out past Heywood Road. Those folks have said and will say again that neighborhoods east of College St. are the suburbs, and ‘burbs are accessed by cars and SUVs only. People who want to walk should vote with their feet, and move into the old part of town where sidewalks run rampant. As do the housing prices.

My question is this: how will Northfield balance private property rights and convenience with the public need for networked pedestrian transportation? How do we weigh the safety of a child walking along Woodley St. toward Maple St. to get to Sibley School against the value of a tree in a front yard or the inconvenience of having to shovel a sidewalk in the winter? If we don’t plan to integrate future developments and their pedestrian links with the existing areas of Northfield now, who will and when? And at what cost, and who will pay it? The Planning Commission added a condition to Hubers preliminary plat approval on Monday, saying that an escrow account must be established to pay for sidewalks along Wall and Woodley Sts., but that it would have a sunset clause, in case the “missing links” closer to existing neighbhorhoods didn’t materialize in a certain amount of time. Before the sun sets, we as a community have our work cut out for us – to bite the bullet and plan and implement a network of sidewalks along collector streets, existing and new, or relegate Northfield’s growing suburbs to a vehicular-only destination.

More on the other mode of transporation, mass transit, later. Thanks.

Government.49.18: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 10 Jun 1998

A participation update from your humble moderator…

I appreciate the Northfield News for giving this forum a plug in today’s opinion page Our View. (Thanks Evelyn… or was that Rich?)

I’d have to agree with them, tho; “whether it’s the season or for other reasons, the forum has not received the response of past forums on NCO.”

There’s a decent sized audience reading along, however: 27 people in the Web Cafe topic and another 10 on the mailing list. That’s pretty close to the total number of folks who showed up at the Planning Commission meeting last week.

And two citizens have “stood up” and posted: thanks for your input, Bob Shannon and George Kinney. I hope others follow suit.

Government.49.19: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 10 Jun 1998


Four different people have wondered about the possibility of the bridge crossing further south to avoid Sechler Park: Bill, Bob, Victor, and George. Scott addressed this somewhat by reiterating the consultant’s comment: the further south you go, the more out of the way it’ll be and the fewer folks will use it.

Margit, you stated at the meeting last week that this issue will the FIRST one that the Commission will address over the next nine months. So discussion of this is Very Timely.

George asked:

1. Would shifting the bridge south work without creating the future equivalent of the Hwy 19/Hwy 3 intersections which are seen as bottlenecks?

2. Does shifting the bridge south destroy or diminish the ‘ring-route’?

And I’d like to ask:

3. Does anyone know how feasible it might be to shift the bridge JUST SLIGHTLY further south… enough to get around Sechler without a huge disincentive for drivers? Scott, you say there are other potential crossings. Where? Victor mentions County 100. Is that one of them? Where the heck is it? And does the possibility of a Target store make a SLIGHT SHIFT SOUTH more feasible?

Margit and Scott, I guess these questions are mainly for you two to tackle.

Government.49.20: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 10 Jun 1998

Hwy 3 Center Section

Victor notes in post:10 that

>Unfortunately SEH didn’t deal at all with mid-town east, west
>travel… crossing the fabled center section of Hwy 3.

1. Can someone update the clueless among us just exactly where we’re at with the Hwy 3 Center Section plan, including timelines for whatever happens next?

2. What’s currently in the plan re: pedestrian crossings, ie, east-west travel across Hwy 2?

Vic also said:

>MnDot numbers show that most vehicular travel thru town goes
>east/west across town… than goes north to south or visa-versa,
>thru town.

The plan sort of addresses this by suggesting that the Jefferson Parkway extension will ease the traffic congestion at Hwy 3 and 19. But what’s in the Hwy 3 Center Section plan about the crossings at 3rd and 2nd streets that addresses this east-west vehicle volume?

Government.49.21: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 10 Jun 1998

Re: Sidewalks in post:17

Margit asked:

>how will Northfield balance private property rights and
>convenience with the public need for networked pedestrian

>How do we weigh the safety of a child walking along Woodley
>St. toward Maple St. to get to Sibley School against the
>value of a tree in a front yard or the inconvenience of
>having to shovel a sidewalk in the winter?

>If we don’t plan to integrate future developments and their
>pedestrian links with the existing areas of Northfield now,
>who will and when? And at what cost, and who will pay it?

I highlight her questions for everyone’s convenience and invite your replies.

I’d also add that I’ve heard more than a few comments about the lack of north-south sidewalks feeding the new Bridgewater Elementary School (nothing along Division/Hwy 246 or Jefferson Road/Poplar). This, combined with the new busing plan which will evidently require LOTS more kids to walk/ride bikes to the neighborhood schools, might create quite a parental uproar this fall and winter.

Margit, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion – moderator hat off), it’s stuff like this that’ll create more public support for sidewalks. Short of this, it would take an intense public dialogue (dozens of neighborhood meetings in people’s homes, ward by ward) before people could be convinced that the public need of sidewalks outweighs the private needs.

Government.49.22: Margit Johnson via NCO-Discuss Wed, 10 Jun 1998

Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 22:07:07 -0500 (CDT)
From: “Margit Johnson, OCS Advisor”
Subject: Re: The Jefferson Parkway river/rail crossing

In response to several inquiries and suggestions that the Jefferson Parkway river crossing move southward, let me suggest that folks drive out there and check out the terrain by car and on foot, on the east side of the river first, then the west side. Factors to consider: the width of the flood plain, the quality of the floodplain forest, other current land uses including commercial and industrial buildings, the proximity of an extension of the parkway to either Heath Creek or Rice Creek on the west side of the Cannon River.

Not saying that it can’t or won’t be done. But some of the obstacles may return our focus to SEH’s suggestion: that we study the various impacts of an extension directly west of the intersection of Jefferson Parkway and So. Hwy. 3 first. List the pros and cons, including natural environmental impacts, social and recreational impacts, road design, construction costs, and impacts on existing businesses on Hwy. 3. If, after that study, the cons outweigh the pros, then we look at an alternative site somewhere further south, and review the same list of criteria.

I am suggesting to city staff that the Planning Commission aim for a final recommendation about the Jefferson Parkway extension to the City Council by the end of April 1999. Working back from that deadline, we will need to gather information in the late summer and early fall, consider the pros and cons by the end of 1998 to give ourselves time to look at an alternative, if necessary, in early winter 1999, and draft a recommendation by March for a public hearing in early April. An ambitious schedule, given the number of annexations, plats, conditional use permits and other “regular” business we are currently dealing with. I hope that some of the participants in this discussion will be available in the fall and winter to help us gather information and debate the issues, before a decision is made.

Government.49.23: Nancy Gruchow (ngruchow) Thu, 11 Jun 1998

Regarding sidewalks: my original suggestion to the city council, long before we adopted the sidewalk funding ordinance and long before the sidewalk referendum, was to have universal sidewalks. Everywhere, around all blocks. But people were to put them in on their own timetable–with the city paying for it. So if you lived on Woodley and wanted a sidewalk, you would call city hall and get on the list, and in due time you would have a sidewalk across your property. If you lived on Woodley and felt sidewalks were anathema, you would never call and never get one. The next property owner could get one, after you died or moved. I realize this does not create a network so much as it creates measles, but gradually there would be more sidewalks and less hard feelings. And, a block could get together and decide to do it all at once, if they wanted to. I cannot imagine even Clancy Dokmo attacking the right of a property owner to alter his/her own property, which seems to have been a key point in the last go-round. [Although the city does have rights over the real estate close to the street–something many homeowners do not know or do not believe–so why shouldn’t the city install sidewalks on its own real estate?] Anyway, I visualized neighbors getting together and agreeing on sidewalks, and I visualized service clubs putting them in for the neighbors and making a little money at the same time. Still a very good idea, IMHO, although it would take a long time to materialize.

Government.49.24: Peter Hamlin (hamlin) Thu, 11 Jun 1998

Here’s something I’ve always wondered about sidewalks: Why don’t we ever consider using part of the existing roadway (and make the traffic lanes correspondingly narrower), instead of always just using people’s lawns? Could Woodley be made narrower to accomodate a sidewalk? That street seems incredibly wide to me for a road that only carries two lanes of traffic. Could this be considered for Greenvale, which also seems wide enough that it could spare some of the roadway for a sidewalk.

In my opinion, many roads around here are excessively wide. I know often we are stuck with state and federal standards, but where do those standards come from, and are they really necessary? My mother lives in a historic town on the east coast, and the roads are by necessity quite narrow. They are less convenient, but they have also not destroyed neighboring property as much as a wider road would have, and I think that’s a fair trade-off. When a sidewalk was proposed for the west side of Lincoln St. S., where I live, I didn’t like it at all, even though I’m an avid walker. I think Lincoln is already too wide, and adding even more width for additional sidewalk right of way would have been excessive. According to MnDot, there is a 4-foot buffer lane intended on our side of the street, so why couldn’t that 4-foot strip be used at least for part of the sidewalk right of way? The total road width could have been reduced by 4 feet (leaving the traffic lanes still at 11′), and sidewalks could then have intruded less on the neighborhood lawns.

Government.49.25: Bob Courchaine via NCO-Discuss Thu, 11 Jun 1998

Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 09:01:38 -0500
From: (Bob Courchaine)
Subject: RE: Sidewalks

Margit and Griff, thanks for delving into this oddly taboo territory.

It has been a true mystery to me why such a “smart” town like Northfield can be so hung up on avoiding a pervasive sidewalk system. If it is truly a love for the old trees, perhaps we should consider what we’re doing to them, encouraging the generation of vehicle exhaust over human!

I am and always have been an avid walker/biker, shunning cars whenever possible. And I am trying to teach the same to my children for _many_ reasons.

In my mind, is’s a scary thing is that our children are growing up not even _considering_ an alternative to “getting a ride”!

The expanding electronic medium is not the only source of decline in our physical fitness!

For the record, this message comes from a home owner on the corner of Woodley and College (the border of “no-sidewalkland” in Margit’s post). I would allow any necessary construction in the name of sidewalks to proceed immediately and would encourage my neighbors to do the same. I’ve held my breath many times as I’ve watched pedestrians mingle w/ Woodley traffic!

Government.49.26: Victor Summa (summa) Thu, 11 Jun 1998

George Kinney… thanks for your observations. I agree, the bridge south of town is/should be, part of a ring road. Also, That the Arb and Sechler Park are sacred ground (at least untouchable) and… keep off Heath Creek and Spring Brook!

Then, add the Target store at its proposed (Cnty 1 & Hwy 3) site and you’ve three or more good arguments for a bridge south of Sechler, at County 100… That’s SOUTH of the compost dump, south of Spring Creek, a fraction of a mile away from Decker Road (soon to be paved to accommodate the Dundas housing explosion). Obviously a river & R R crossing here, becomes the southwestern quadrant of the ring road. sic: Cross the river, west to Decker, north to Garrett… and then on to Cedar/320th et al, etc etc etc.

So, my response the questions you raise about shifting the bridge further south and the negative impact that might have on the ring road concept… I don’t think any.

Costs are of course another matter… but at least we should plan the site now for the future. When we know we want to spend the money, we’ll have the location.

And Scott… I don’t think the plan really says, “the further the bridge is from Jefferson Parkway the less effective it will be in reducing congestion at Fifth St & Hwy 3.” Van Wormer says that, but realistically speaking if there’s one bridge south and it’s a few blocks one way or the other, and, it’s the only bridge in Northfield, south of Greenvale… what’s a few blocks?

Besides destroying the park, another thing about the JeffersonPrkwy/Sechler Park Crossing that really bothers me, is that location is not particularly handsome. While, a bridge further south over the river through the countryside west of town could be quite a visual experience for travelers, one that crosses over the switch yards and sidings, past the butt side of Malt-O-Meal has virtually no visual esthetic. And, transportation wise… only gets you to Armstrong road & 19. Hardly a big jump west of 19 & Fifth Street. Not much bang for the buck!

I’m really curious why you’d support that, or do you just support the SEH Plan?

Government.49.27: Bill Rossman (war) Fri, 12 Jun 1998

The rivercrossing proposal at Jeff Pkwy provides an interesting conflict between what is perceived as a “community value” (Sechler Park) and what is perceived as a “community need” (direct, convenient access to a rivercrossing and link to Hwy 19 west). And while it may be true that a crossing south of Jefferson Pkwy could be a solution, there is the question of whether drivers will use it if it is not perceived as the “shortest distance between two points.” And this is further complicated by the question “will growth on South Hwy 3, with Target, etc., skew the traffic patterns that have already been studied, and beg for a crossing south of Jeff. Pkwy.” From my standpoint, I feel the Council should endorse the SEH plan, with the stipulation that further study and other options be proposed for the river crossing. It seems clear that its going to be necessary, what is not clear is how soon, or where traffic is likely to be when this need becomes pressing.

Re: Sidewalks 1. there is not the political will on the council to enact a comprehensive sidewalk program at this time. I believe that this also reflects the “will” of the majority of Northfielders. Though I would personally endorse such a plan, I think there is need to wait this out a bit and build support with the help of the School District (for neighborhood schools) and concerned parents. I am hoping that support grows, and I expect it to be gradual, as the need becomes obvious.

2. Peter, we have explored the possibilty of building sidewalks in the roadway ROW but run into problems with snow storage, etc. There may be options to this, however, and I will check it out w/Public Works. It would seem that such a plan would remove some of the more common objections to sidewalks.

3. I have asked the City Administrator to contact a consulting firm specializing in downtown rehabilitation. Their experience with cities in growth modes, that are still interested in preserving their historic, small town character, seems extensive. One of the questions we intend to put to them involves the broader community – effects of maintaining pedestrian transportation, bike transportation etc.–one of my concerns is that we build a “philosophical rationale” for implementing sidewalk systems and bike trails..While one consultant may say “yes, you can maintain a pedestrian system and here’s how” we may find that the fact that we can do so may not convince citizens that we should do so. Frankly, to build political support for these programs seems the only way to proceed. More later—

Government.49.29: Nancy Gruchow (ngruchow) Fri, 12 Jun 1998

To answer your question, Peter, about the street widths: Northfield has decided in its ordinances that its public streets need to be 32 feet wide, or wider. Private streets are allowed to be 30 feet wide. The state standard is (I believe) a minimum one, designed to enable firetrucks–which are increasingly lengthy–to negotiate turns and corners and curves, and streets where there is parking. I think the state minimum is 26 feet wide (but I may remember it wrong). Anyway, the state minimum applies wherever state money is going to be used to build the street–which included Lincoln last year. Personally I think narrower streets slow down or “calm” the traffic, so they are appropriate in residential areas most of the time. With the recent death of the kindergartener, though, I bet most parents will distrust the idea of their child walking in the street, where a swerving car could kill them.

Government.49.30: Susan Hudson (shudson) Sat, 13 Jun 1998

I had an eye-opening experience today. I was travelling from the Northfield Retirement Center area to Dundas to run an errand. I don’t live on that side of town, but even if I did, my route would have had to be changed today because of the new detours going into effect. As I travelled down Lincoln Parkway, I planned to link up with Highway 19, turn onto Higway 3 South, then go and do my errands. When I got to Forest Ave and H 19, I realized I could take Armstrong Road. I now see additional possibilities for a bridge further south and not intersecting with Sechlar Park. I figure I saved 5-8 minutes in avoiding the H 3 and H 19 intersection, and even more time if traffic lights and trains got in my way. Many people on the north side could use this route to get to the new Target – yes, Northfield, there will be a Target – or to other destinations that are south of town. Those who live south and want to get north or west will also use this route. Not only is it a scenic route as it stands now, but it is quick! By the way, bicyles were not a possibility as I was transporting three 5 gallon water containers back home. No bicycle is big enough for that load.

Government.49.31: Jane McWilliams (jbm) Sat, 13 Jun 1998

At the Planning Commission presentation, Margit described the plan as a “tool box.” This is a nice image,and it seems to me the box contains some useful ways for establishing transportation systems. For example, the model the consultant has designed for determining future traffic volumes should be useful. In order to work, however,that “tool” demands that we make certain assumptions. Those assumptions will be linked to current and future land use within the city and, I need to emphasize, within the region.

Is the model too provincial? Can we use it as a tool with any confidence if we don’t know what kind of land use decisions our neighbors are making and will make? Does the model allow us to look at traffic volumes generated outside the city limits which have an impact on local transportation planning?

For example, what do we know about development plans in Dundas and their transportation planning to deal with increased traffic and thus demands for roadways? How does Dundas plan to handle increased traffic generated by the new housing development going up there right now? Will they work for an upgrade of Decker Avenue? Will that mean Armstrong Road will need to be upgraded? How far east? Could this have implications for how Northfield would plan to relieve increased traffic created by development in the southeast part of town, necessitating an extension of Jefferson Parkway?

I know this is may seem pretty far out, but I use it to illustrate my point about not looking at transportation too provincially.

Paragraph 8.4 of the report Says “It is very important to coordinate with the communities around … Northfield.” Is that coordination inherent in the report and I’ve just missed it?

Government.49.32: Jane McWilliams (jbm) Sat, 13 Jun 1998

I have two more questions. First, can someone explain to me what kinds of things a study of the environmental impact of a proposed “Southern Connection,” (the bridge to extend Jefferson Parkway) would look at? Second, has someone got a “cost/benefit analysis model” we will be able to use to weigh the resulant info about the “impact on the environment” against the monetary cost?

Government.49.33: Peter Hamlin (hamlin) Mon, 15 Jun 1998

Bill Rossman says the following in post:27 “I have asked the City Administrator to contact a consulting firm specializing in downtown rehabilitation. Their experience with cities in growth modes, that are still interested in preserving their historic, small town character, seems extensive.”

This is a great idea, Bill. I think the more we look at the experiences of other towns, the better. Northfield is not the first pretty little town that is growing fast. There must be hundreds of towns that have faced the kinds of decisions we are currently discussing, and whose choices have had good or bad results that we can learn from.

Government.49.34: Margit Johnson via NCO-Discuss Tue, 16 Jun 1998

Re: sidewalks on local streets that would narrow the traditional 32′ road surface to 26′, with a sidewalk adjacent to the curb: Bill, I would recommend someone in Public Works call the Village of Edina. They did something like that along Blake Road, an extensive stretch of sidewalk next to the curbing. In that case, it was to save some valuable trees. Assuming they’ve solved the snow storage problem, Northfield could look at that alternative. As Nancy mentioned, it could have a go-slower effect for car traffic, and it would encroach less upon the neighbors. However, I think that solution would be less suitable for streets designated as collectors, such as Woodley, which should be capable of handling higher levels of car traffic.

Re: Sechler Park and the extension of the Jefferson Parkway. The transportation plan calls for more study, and SEH recommended that we do that step-wise. First, look at a due west extension, weighing the pros and cons. Jane, DNR, MnDoT and our own EQC will be able to define some of the environmental issues which should be scrutnizied. And, no, we don’t have on hand a cost/benefit analysis tool at this time. But we hope to look at the pros and cons of one site, and if the cons outweigh the pros, then look at alternate sites. In short, try to limit the number of balls in the air at one time. While Victor has a number of good questions about the pros and cons and alternate locations, I think a methodical study will yield more substantiated answers.

Re: regional planning. Yes, item 8.4 on page 24 of the plan, “Development of a Transportation System Plan” does acknowledge the importance of multi-community planning. But more important (it would qualify as a major piece of equipment, like a hammer or pliers), the last but not least goal under 2.1 on page 2 is “Transportation planning shall be a collaborative effort between the City of Northfield and surrounding jurisdictions; Rice and Dakota Counties, and MnDoT.” The City Council is meeting with the townships on June 29th. I have spoken with Scott Neal about meeting with the Dundas Planning Commission and the Rice County planning director some time in the next several months. Regional planning is a basic assumption of this plan.

Re: mass transit. My second point, several days ago when I ran out of time, was the importance of public transportation, both within the city and through the city. Moving the Jefferson Bus Line stop to Lyndale Ave. in Faribault is NOT progress. Having umpteen vans and shuttle buses in town serving different clientele at different times and with limited success is not good transportation planning. In an effort to explore the options, I have called a meeting about the Jefferson bus stop and transit within the city for

Monday, June 22nd, 4:30 -5:45 PM, City Council Chambers.

Any and all interested folks are invited to participate. It will be a chance to get the facts on the table and begin charting a course toward improved public transportation.

Two more days. Surely someone has something to say about creating safe bike routes along city streets and state highways? A network of sidewalks or pedestrian routes on existing sidewalks to Sibley School and Bridgewater School? Extending public transit to rural areas, to Dundas, to Faribault on a scheduled basis? The effect of light rail transit on Norhfield, if it ever makes it this far? The increasing numbers of car trips/household in Northfield – why, where are we going, would we continue if gas was $5/gallon?

Government.49.35: Peter Hamlin (hamlin) Tue, 16 Jun 1998

Margit, thanks for speaking out on the bus issue. I agree that getting bus service to Northfield should be a priority, and it does make sense to consolidate all the different services like the college shuttles. (Sorry I’ll be out of town for the meeting on the 22nd.) Too bad they can’t stop at the Archer House any more — that was a wonderful place to arrive in Northfield! I hope any new stop we come up with is downtown, though. In terms of regional transportation, I think it’s just plain bizarre that we have virtually no connection other than automobiles between Northfield and the airport. Even when the buses ran, it was almost impossible to find a schedule that reasonably coincided with airline times. Personally, I’d completely love to see a passenger train linking Rochester, Northfield, downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the airport!!!!

Government.49.36: Peter Hamlin (hamlin) Tue, 16 Jun 1998

About pedestrain pathways: I’d love to see more “non-road” pathways through neighborhoods. Can such trails be included in new developments when they make sense? Pathways for pedestrians through cul-de-sacs are helpful in keeping neighborhoods connected. There are a few little walking paths I’ve found in Northfield that connect between streets, and I really love them. Also, I’ve seen housing developments that have green space and walking paths, rather than roads, connecting the front yards. The car roads are around the back. There’s a fantastic development like this in Des Moines — houses have “front yard” views of the trails and lawns and a little pond. The garages and roads are in the back, still convenient to the houses but out of sight when you’re in the park area. It’s really beautiful. What is the development south of town with a trail near a pond — Jefferson Square? That sort of thing really enhances the area, in my view.

Government.49.37: Jane McWilliams (jbm) Tue, 16 Jun 1998

Yes, I do have something to say about other forms of transportation than the almighty car. We give them short shrift in our society. That is hardly an original idea, and I am grateful that articulate and influential people here in Northfield and elsewhere are trying to mitigate that reality. Many of the suggestions in previous posts are worth pursuing.

On the other hand, our city is about to rescind an ordinance so that we can permit, no, encourage the development of an automobile-dependent commercial area south of town which will is predicated and dependent on primarily vehicular traffic. We defeated a sidewalk policy which would accommodate us pedestrians. Rather than figure out how our downtown area might be allocated from time to time (and probably only during the summer season)for youth to use the streets for skateboard antics (e.g., an hour or two a couple of evenings a week) we ban them to an area out of sight and out of mind. Once again, the mighty car calls the shots.

Yesterday, my dog and I walked from home on the west side out to Dokmos to pick up my car which was being serviced. I grateful for the sidewalks which are pretty consistent here in this (older) part of town, and for the lovely river walk between second street and Woodley. But I got pretty frustrated along Professional Drive where it is assumed evidently that everyone who has work done on their car at Dokmos will use the courtesy car and won’t need sidewalks to get to the service center there. Anyone who thinks that the service roads between Woodley and Dokmos is a safer place to walk than the roadway just hasn’t tried it.

Government.49.38: Susan Hudson (shudson) Wed, 17 Jun 1998

I, too, have walked home from Dokmo on many occasions and have felt very uncomfortable with walking along Woodley, a collector street, that has sidewalks in some but not all sections. I share your concerns, Jane, with Professional Drive, also. I recall once this winter trying to walk from Dr. Appeldoorn’s office to Brick Oven, right next door, and having to go through the street because of large mounds of snow. We don’t make it easy to walk in Northfield, do we?

Margit, where do you stand on the new Target store, both as an individual and as chairperson of the Planning Commission? Does the Transportation Plan provide a plan for large retailers coming to Northfield? As a tool for our future, I would think that this document would have addressed this area in particular.

Government.49.39: Molly Woehrlin via NCO-Discuss, Wed, 17 Jun 1998

My two bits for the discussion, Molly

I gather that you are all aware of the importance of Rice Creek, the very valuable trout stream–because there have been so many references to it. Anytime a new road would be built across it, there would be great cause for concern about it’s impact on the integrity of the stream–recently we have seen that the DNR forced the bike trail to go from a culvert under the trail to a bridge–at much larger cost. Even despite that different construction, some damage will probably ensue–but it is near the outlet into the river, so the damage wwould not be as worrysome as further upstream.. For this resason, the talk about upgrading Decker Avenue makes me very nervous–for it too crosses Rice Creek.

I have another alternative to support (hardly a new idea though)–From Dundas, it is equidistant to the Rte 19 and 35W intersection to cut across County 1 to the Millesbrurg entrance onto 35 (just the oppose sides of a rectangle to the Decker AVe/Rte 19 plan)–a lovely drive. From Jefferson Rd to head south through Dundas would perhaps be a mile or so longer, but it could easily save time on a commute north on 35W.

It would make more sense to have that route should the Target store and mall be developed.

One further thought is that with the hospital on the verge of locating a site, which will involve relocation of the River Valley Clinic as well as the hospital and nursing home, there will be another major traffic issue.

I think the Jefferson/Sechlar Park connection is way too short sighted. Can you imagine what the intersection where Forest Ave & ARmstrong Rd come to Rte 19–what that intersection will be like??? I fear that there will be a temptation to push the road straight North from Sechlar Park to Rte 19.That would go around the warehouses, consuming a lovely green belt, where there are current plans to pave a hiking/biking trail and perhaps establish a number of soccer fields. That would dump traffic only a bit further up on Rte 19,near the St. Olaf entrance and cause another complicated intersection. Why not use the well dsignated routes of County One as an alternative–of course in league with the Dundas planners?

Is it a harginger of good news that I saw a Jefferson Bus today (headed south by destination on the front) stopped in front of the Archer House?

Another idea that has been bandied about for years–not as an alternative to good bus service though–but as a supplement–is a communication service (perhaps at the CAC which does a lot of referral already) where one could find out who else is coming or going from the airport. Don;t we almost always see fellow Northfielders at the airport when we leave or arrive and wish we had known about their plans? Would it be so difficult to call the CAC and let them know of your plans and let them make the linkage? Perhaps there would be a grant available. Should someone explore with a airport limosine service to see if a Northfield route could be added?. Especially with the colleges, I imagine there would be plenty of business.

I think a gathering on the 22nd to discuss in person and develop an action plan, is a good idea! –emphasis on developing recommendations, not going off all the issues again.

Government.49.40: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 17 Jun 1998

The forum is coming to a close Real Soon Now. Officially, today is the last day but I’ll keep this topic open for further discussion. However, once the panelists have posted their final remarks, they are “free to go” and may not reply to further questions from us, the common citizenry. After all, they do occasionally have other tasks to do. 😉

Attendance here in the Web Cafe is now up to 32, with another dozen on the NCO-Discuss mailing list. Over a dozen people have contributed comments.

Here’s my summary of questions that still need a reply. If I’m missing anything, please repeat your question.

* Griff (that pesky guy) in post:20 asked:
>How about for an update on the Hwy 3 Center Section plan, including
>timelines for whatever happens next and pedestrian crossings plan
>for east-west travel across Hwy 3

* Vic asked Scott in post:26
>I’m really curious why you’d support that, or do you just support
>the SEH Plan?

* Margit in post:34 asked:
>Surely someone has something to say about
> – creating safe bike routes along city streets and state
> highways?
> – A network of sidewalks or pedestrian routes on existing
> sidewalks to Sibley School and Bridgewater School?
> – Extending public transit to rural areas, to Dundas, to
> Faribault on a scheduled basis?
> – The effect of light rail transit on Norhfield, if it ever makes
> it this far?
> – The increasing numbers of car trips/household in Northfield –
> why, where are we going, would we continue if gas was $5/gallon?

* Peter in post:36 asked:
>What is the development south of town with a trail near a pond —
>Jefferson Square? That sort of thing really enhances the area, in
>my view.

* Susan in post:38 asked Margit:
>where do you stand on the new Target store, both as an individual
>and as chairperson of the Planning Commission? Does the
>Transportation Plan provide a plan for large retailers coming to
>Northfield? As a tool for our future, I would think that this
>document would have addressed this area in particular.

* Molly in post:39 asked:
>Why not use the well dsignated routes of County One as an
>alternative–of course in league with the Dundas planners?

Government.49.41: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 17 Jun 1998

Bill or Scott, what happened at the Monday evening that the Council didn’t address the transportation plan?

Jane in post:37 said:
>Rather than figure out how our downtown area might
>be allocated from time to time (and probably only during the summer
>season)for youth to use the streets for skateboard antics (e.g., an
>hour or two a couple of evenings a week) we ban them to an area out
>of sight and out of mind. Once again, the mighty car calls the

Jane, I’ll jumpstart the discussion of skateboarding in Topic:31 since the ordinance goes into effect next week and the skate park opened yesterday. (I still think that, instead of the casual/loitering kids, it’ll only be the really athletic skateboarders and in-line skaters who’ll use the park – and even this is in question, since they don’t like the user fees and padding requirements.)

But related to the transportation issue at hand and the dominance of cars, I still *really* like Nancy Gruchow’s suggestion last summer that we close Division St and BridgeSquare several nights/times per week during the non-snow months and restrict it to non-vehicular traffic: anyone wanting to bike, board, blade, frisbee, impromptu music jamming, etc..

Also, I saw Becky Bazan yesterday and when I found out there’s going to be a couple of youth street dances downtown this summer, I suggested that she tried to get a waiver on the skate ordinance during the dance times.

Government.49.42: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 18 Jun 1998

I’ve phoned all the panelists and hope to get their final comments here by week’s end. So we’ll push the formal close of the forum back till late Friday.

Government.49.43: Margit Johnson via NCO-Discuss, Fri, 19 Jun 1998

Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 21:15:37 -0500 (CDT)
From: “Margit Johnson, OCS Advisor”
Subject: Signing off from this discussion, but not from the issues…

I’ve appreciated reading several people’s comments and questions about transportation in and around Northfield. Before I go out with a few concluding remarks, I would like to answer some of the specific questions:

CR 1 through Dundas has been discussed as a long term, next step in our westerly routes to 35W. Whether it could take the place of a Jefferson Parkway extension within the City of Northfield, or would need to be in addition to that second river crossing, depends on many factors, including growth in population, commercial and industrial activity, and numbers of vehicle trips/household. Of course, it also points to the need for serious discussion with the City of Dundas about our growth and their growth and transportation demands-needs-expectations between and beyond the two cities.

I think it is somewhat presumptuous of Northfielders, Rich Kleber most recently in his editorial column in today’s News, to assume that a westerly arterial road should go through Dundas, to save our baseball parks and service our vehicular needs, without talking to them first.

To answer Susan’s question about the proposed Target store at CR 1 and SH 3: The reason this development is not directly addressed in the transportation plan is because we have been working on this plan for 2+ years, and the Dayton Hudson proposal surfaced about one month ago. However, the plan does actively anticipate residential, commercial and industrial growth on several of Northfield’s city borders. So I think that it will be able to address some of the pressures such a development, be it Target or some other commercial/industrial development in that area. As Scott Neal pointed out, we now have the computer software to update and amend the traffic projections for various sectors within the city. Those projections, combined with our goals and objectives, should enable us to chart a reasonable transportation plan or scheme for that particular area, and for areas which may be impacted by it. As SEH made clear in their report, changes in one traffic area affect other intersections and routes.

You also asked where I stand on the Target proposal. Personally, I shop at Target stores about twice a year. As a Planning Commissioner, I have no position at this time, since nothing has been presented to the PC yet. We did hear Dayton Hudson’s presentation, with the Council and the EDA and interested citizens. But we have no additional information from staff or the council, nor have we received any direction or instruction about the next step. We have worked with the EDA during the past year to review an industrial site plan analysis and to update the Comprehensive Plan to designate land uses in that area to be industrial/commercial, given its proximity to a state highway. That occured long before Dayton Hudson approached the City of Northfield.

While the specific proposal is new, the trends are not. The Planning Commission is acutely aware of the growth occuring in and near Northfield. That is why I am interested in joint meetings with the Dundas Planning Commission, the Rice County Planning Director, and the school district administration – to hear first-hand what they are planning and working with them to coordinate the growth in the area. It is also why I am interested in spending time and energy updating the Comprehensive Plan as a whole, with updated land use designations, etc. The last time it enjoyed a thorough review was in 1988.

Some concluding remarks: I hear Bill Rossman say that pedestrian routes in Northfield will happen when there is public pressure to make them happen. I hope that parents of school kids in the Sibley and Bridgewater Schools neighborhoods take this on as a cause, and that those of you who are walking on Professional Drive, Woodley, Prairie St. and elsewhere organize support from other walkers and make concrete proposals to the City Council.

I hope students and adults who bike in town pick up the recommendations made by the Carleton students and work with the Park and Rec Board and the EQC to formulate a recommendation, as part of the comprehensive trail plan, and eventually the Comp Transportation Plan.

I hope that Monday, June 22nd’s meeting about buses, both the Jefferson bus and the city buses, will connect people with common interests and needs. I don’t expect solutions to come out of that particular meeting, but I hope it will create the necessary momentum and connections among parties to ensure adequate bus service in and out of Northfield and convenient and affordable public transit within the city and perhaps to and from Dundas. Public transportation deserves serious attention as anticipated growth becomes a reality.

I hope that a wide range of citizens join the Planning Commission in the study of an additional river crossing, be it an extension of Jefferson Parkway due west or something else. Or possibly nothing else, with a full understanding of the consequences. We need to better understand Northfield’s recreational/baseball and soccer field needs in the next 20-30 years, the city’s interest in river trails and floodplain preservation, the tolerance citizens will have for heavier traffic, etc.

Finally, I would endorse the idea that Division St. become an occasional pedestrian street during the summer months. In the future Northfield may, in fact, have two “main streets” sandwiching the river – Division St. for the speciality shops, restaurants and community services (banks, library, post office, etc.), and Hwy. 3 for the general retail and highway commercial business. In reality, we have already moved in that direction. So if Northfield has two main streets, one of them, Division, could be dedicated to pedestrians on occasion. Such a scheme has worked well in Copenhagen, with a slow, methodical, thorough plan which accomodated the concerns of the retailers and met the needs of the consumers and visitors. Definitely worth thinking about.

Hope to see several of you on Monday, 4:30 PM, City Council Chambers, for the exploratory meeting about public transit in and through Northfield.

Government.49.45: Griff Wigley (griff) Sat, 20 Jun 1998

Thanks for those closing comments, Margit. I’m still nagging your colleagues to do the same. 😉

A number of transportation-related articles appeared in this week’s editions of Nfld News. All but one are now up on their web site:

Transit talks: Meeting planned to discuss city, Jefferson Line buses
By Rachel Vogt

Inside Out: Jefferson Parkway bridge should not be considered with transportation plan
By Rich Kleber

Waiting for the bus: Transit buses log record trips, positive comments
By Rachel Vogt

For some reason, the webmaster for the News chose not to put up the article on this forum that Rachel Vogt wrote, cutely titled, “Transportation forum draws traffic” – Page 3A in Friday’s edition. I thought it was a well-done summary and it included quotes and comments from the panelists as well as participants George Kinney, Bob Courchaine and Peter Hamlin.

(Kudos, Rachel. Rich, can you get your webmaster to post it?)

Government.49.46: Victor Summa (summa) Sun, 21 Jun 1998

Being a dinosaur in the electronic communications craze – (TREND)… Future! It’s perhaps only reasonable that I might limp in, after hours, with one final gasp.

Reviewing posted comments in the Cafe at the library, while better than a stick in the eye… is certainly no reasonable way to try to stay up with all you articulate 21st Century posters.

Still, let me try to respond – agree with – or assail, some of what I read this AM (Saturday).

First, as a result of the N’fld News’ summary of the Cafe Discussion, I received a phone call from a citizen – Ed Horejsi – Ed’s a retired farmer from out Webster way and now lives just off Hwy 19 on the edge of Northfield. He, along with most of us agree the bridge over Sechler etc, is a lot like The Bridge over River Kwai – a bad idea. Might be a good movie though.

Next: I agree with Jane McW… the bigger picture is not well dealt w/in the document. Now… just recently it has been better articulated by much of the Plan Commission, and Margit defends here positive position… but, when I came on the PC as Ex Officio (is that Italian?) last January, I got the feeling that generally speaking, we were going to deal with “particulars” more than a broad based concept. I believe that Margit’s remark that “Target didn’t exist conceptually when the process started” inadvertently supports my conclusion. I’d argue: any complete plan should have looked at the intersection of Cnty 1 and Hwy 3 and concluded there’s a point of future interest– be it Target, a Hospital, housing, or an Ice Arena. Same’s true for the now dead north-of-town river crossing.

I don’t think the “methodic study” of the Sechler crossing area, is necessary to grasp the obvious defects in a Bridge over Sechler then meeting at Armstrong and 19 — the negative aspects are obvious, and such a crossing’s failure to contribute well to the ultimate ring road; should be the death knell for that idea.

Impact and costs ARE very important and will be part of final decision of where such a bridge should be placed. I’d save a creek where ever possible but i’d weigh carefully the value of a towns reasonable progress over the “no change at all” option. Especially, when you look the other governmental entities that could do a worse job than I might myself: County, Township, or neighboring City.

Margit’s ideas about inter-community meetings is not only a good one… I believe it’s essential and goes along with Bill Rossman’s remarks about the necessity for public support for sidewalks and other changes. I’m encouraged that the City Staff and Council met with the Board and Commission Chairs. Its obvious that the various citizens advisory groups are not all on the same page.

Unfortunately, a jaded POV might yield the perspective that there’s a “divide and conquer” mentality a foot.

An example.. The recent NCRC flap — (my word).

Briefly: Attempted manipulation keeps the HRA from knowing where the Plan Commission’s heart is on the Presidential Commons plan and keeps the PC from knowing much about the HRA concerns for the same residential development. Neither group feels the Housing plan is acceptable.. and both have received unwarranted pressure from the NCRC partners to support the housing plan. The Quid Pro Quo for land and TIF has evolved upwards, and the advantages at referendum time seem to be eroding fast. In short we’d better speak openly and across interest groups, or we’re running the risk of more bad decisions…. in housing, commercial, industrial, or transportation planning.

SIDEWALKS: I applaud Margit’s stand on finding new and innovative ways to implement some sort of “old town” sidewalk plan.

It’s obvious that a blanket ordinance that might work for new development can’t be implemented in the old parts of Northfield. Trees, setbacks, historic road use, and other factors make it necessary to reach compromise. I believe the former City Council view (Grouchow, Colby, Rossman & Hager) was along those lines of implementation, and that the Dokmo rage blew that issue all out of proportion. The City Council’s recent sidewalk decision on a part of the Madison Street rebuilding project is not as The News put it “Beating City Hall” it was instead, compromising in a reasonable way. Hooray! Wouldn’t you know that if the News covered something they’d put the wrong spin on it?

My idea for pedestrian walkways in old town where conventional sidewalks won’t fit is to build them down the middle of blocks (walkway alleyways). Take excessive depth from private homes (so many of our older homes have inordinately deep lots (mine’s 240 feet plus) and build back yard sidewalks. Backwalks? Quiet paths winding past the backyards of homes… past gardens and children playing, away from traffic. Could be a pleasant innovation.

Each old neighborhood needs it’s own solution. The connecting paths at the rear of cul-de-sacs is a similar idea for newer neighborhoods. We need more of these. Ideas, that is. Peter’s seen something in Des Moines. Sounds like it would work some places, here. Take the garages off the front of the lots… return them to alleys. We don’t have to lose the war with the auto, but we do have to co-exist. That’s a peace accord.

That’s why the 2 year stint on the center section of highway 3 was worth the time… not a waste of time… as so many complained.

SKATE BOARD & THE AUTO: Jane’s got a thing for the Skate Board Park. I agree the fee structure and limited access times seem out of place. Jane wrote of her skepticism a year ago. Two or three Council members struggled with that plan but weren’t too receptive to other ideas. The local police blamed Jane’s effort (her opinion) for stalling some sane use enforcement of the road by the skateboard kids. Two of them (Northfield Cops) told me so, when I asked them one night why they didn’t admonish the kids for throwing themselves in front of traffic.

I truly hope the kids love it. I hope the city builds some bleachers and old folks and young parents go and watch these kids perform. But no matter what, skateboarding was out of place on Division Street just as the bicycles are out of place on the sidewalks of Division Street. If you don’t believe that, step out of the doorway downtown and have a bike whizz past almost clipping you in full in the side.

There seems to be a “fear of challenge” at work in Northfield. Too many, stay too quiet. too long… and then, after the fact… an awful lot chime in with the “told ya so” whine…

What’s most important is that we don’t allow the developers an open hand at creating or new neighborhood’s esthetics.

Look at the Presidential Commons plan and you’ll see what a mistake that could be. Look at Council Person’s Stangler’s variation on that plan, and you’ll see how a little creative effort can change the whole picture. Eat an Ole Roll!

Now we’ve got a Jefferson Bus flap. Maybe there’s too many Hispanics arriving from the south and some people don’t want that element downtown. Maybe? I don’t know, but wouldn’t be surprised.

While the bus company’s abandoning Northfield is an inconvenience for some… the big picture is precisely as Peter said re: the insanity, that we can’t have bus service here for those that need it. Actually, I’ve not found the airport bus link very accommodating except in emergency, but there are people that need a bus, and Northfield should see that it continues it’s service until something better comes along.

Why not a service of the NCRC? I understand there’s about $5000 in annual revenue in ticket sales for the service provider that sells tickets and provides some limited waiting and arriving space. Hey, the Seniors could do that!

Aw, come to think of it, the NCRC probably won’t work. Too far out of town. Maybe, the Big Steer?

Molly Whorlin’s remarks about the south side bridge over the RR Tracks and the Cannon River are interesting. Jerry Anderson mentioned a similar concept. He thinks that MnDot and the railroad will be able to work out an over/underpass where the Hester Street extension into downtown Dundas meets the tracks. I think that’s not too likely and anyway, if implemented, that would really destroy the small business strip in Dundas. More importantly, would not contribute to Northfield’s ring road unless it pushed traffic north and south along Decker and Garrett. There’s those creeks again.

In closing I must admit my amusement at Jane McWilliams trying to find safe conveninent sidewalk access to Dokmo. There’s cruel irony in that idea.

Government.49.47: Griff Wigley (griff) Sun, 21 Jun 1998

Ok, two down and two to go. Thanks, Victor.

I spoke with city admin Scott Neal tonight. He’s been unable to get online because the city’s system has been down for over a week. He expects it to be back up on Wed and hopes to post his closing comments then. I left a voicemail for Mayor Bill to let him know that we’re still open for closing comments.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to react to Margit’s or Victor’s closing comments, or any other previous posts, be my guest.

Government.49.48: Scott Neal (scott) Thu, 25 Jun 1998

Ah. I’m back.

Our communications server at City Hall was down for about the last two weeks so I haven’t been able to participate down the home stretch here like I had wanted to. So much to react to, in so little time.

Someone has asked me earlier about the Jeffereson Parkway Bridge and what my personal opinion of it was. My personal opinion is that I do not believe a bridge at this proposed location is worht the trade-offs in a compromised park. or the eventual tie-in to Armstrong Road. The traffic benefits, in my opinion, are just not there. While we are talking about diverting a relatively large volume of traffic per Northfield standards, a bridge investment ought to be weighed against some sort of absolute standard of vehicle diversion. A bridge costs too much to do otherwise.

Sidewalks will come. You must remember that City Councils both lead and follow the public. Leading is good sometimes. Following is good sometimes. The last few City Councils in Northfield tried to lead the public on sidewalks and got whacked for it. I think you’ll see the next couple of City Councils follow the public on sidewalk issues. As neighborhood schools evolve, you will see a change in public attitude towards the necessity for sidewalks. Then, you’ll see a change in the way City Councils deal with the issue.

The City Council postponed its consideration of the Transportation Plan at the June 15, 1998 meeting because the consultant from SEH could not attend the meeting to present the plan to them. We have put this issue back on the City COuncil’s agenda for their July 6th meeting.

Thanks to all who participated in the forum. It’s been nice.

Government.49.49: Larry DeBoer (dutch2me) Fri, 26 Jun 1998

I just returned from two weeks vacation in Europe and spent a lot of time walking and driving around the old center city areas in places like Amsterdam, Munich, Bern, Freiburg and the their sidewalk plan deserves to be recognized. The old cities cannot tear down buildings, clear trees or widen the existing streets. But they get along quite nicely with cars, bikes, mopeds, pedestrians and even delivery trucks. They simply put clearly designated paths for bikes and pedestrians and everyone respects the space of others. You’ll experience “Dutch road rage” from hundreds of bicyclists if you inadvertently walk in the bike lane. The clanging of those handlebar bells to warn you to move is clearly effective. While they have no snow to worry about, I think the city of Northfield should expand its thinking and think “outside the box” on the subject of sidewalks. It seems only Americans require a separate ribbon of concrete surrounded by grass to make an area for people to walk. Let’s use some paint, some markers and cones and put “sidewalks” on every street. It would sure be less expensive and we eliminate ripping up homeowner’s yards and trees.

Government.49.50: Griff Wigley (griff) Fri, 26 Jun 1998

Thanks, Scott, for your closing comments, especially that “big picture” paragraph about the cyclical aspects of public vs. city council leadership.

Larry, since we’re at the end of the forum, your post about “painting sidewalks” on the streets probably won’t get a reaction here. But I hope you post it again when we host a forum on trails and paths… which might come as soon as late July or early August.

Government.49.51: Griff Wigley (griff) Sun, 28 Jun 1998

Time to finally formally finish this forum. Fhwew!

Between the Web Cafe forum and the NCO-Discuss mailing list, we had a total of 40 people attend, with 10 different citizens contributing — not counting me and the four panelists. Not a bad showing considering it’s a good time of year to avoid one’s computer.

Thanks much to the panelists: Scott, Margit, Bill and Victor. As public officials, you folks all have lots of f2f commitments. You deserve kudos and appreciation from the online citizenry for your accommodation to this medium.