Semis in the Babcock Park parking lot: good, bad or ugly?

Semis in Babcock Park The Northfield City Council discussed truck parking in the Babcock Park (rodeo grounds/dog park) parking lot at Monday’s meeting. I wasn’t there but caught a bit of the discussion on a KYMN news report yesterday. It seems that there was staff and Council consensus that this was NOT a good place for semis to park overnight, maybe they were just missing some of these semi truck parts for a repair. I’m not sure of all the reasoning but evidently visual blight was one of them. I’ve always thought it was a perfect spot for the semis: close to the highway, rarely used parking lot, lot big enough for trucks to turn around.


  1. Matt Sewich said:


    I agree with you on this one, I can’t think of a better spot for these trucks to park given the size of the area and the access to the highway.

    I don’t remember the history of this parking area for the trucks, but didn’t it have something to do with encouraging these drivers to not park their trucks in residential neighborhoods and take up a bunch of space and a bunch of noise? Do we want to go back to that?

    If the council is seriously considering taking action on this I would hope they have a better spot for the trucks that offers the same advantages as this one.

    April 22, 2009
  2. Bright Spencer said:

    Although I am not naive to truck parking problems, it is good to have a nice safe place to sleep for these knights of the road who keep the commerce moving and bring us good things we can’t get otherwise. Most trucks look pretty good and some even artful, so let em ride n park unobstructed.

    April 22, 2009
  3. John S. Thomas said:

    I think that this area is a great, centrally located, easy to access area for overnight truck parking.

    When my father came to visit last year, he researched where he could park his semi, and ended up dropping his trailer at the Big Steer, (in a DARK parking lot) then bob-tailing into Northfield.

    I then followed him down to this lot to park his rig, as I knew that parking in a residential area with his truck running the heater was not going to fly.

    I would be curious to hear the council and staff’s alternatives. I cannot think of many.

    April 22, 2009
  4. john george said:

    Griff- I agree, also. In the winter months, most truckers let their diesels idle rather than turning them off and causing fuel gel problems. They use very little fuel at idle, and it is easier on the equipment than a cold start. This area is away from residences, so the noise should not be a factor. As far as any visual blight, I would rather see these trucks parked here than the piles of dirty snow and ice removerd from the downtown area. Those piles, in my opinion, are ugly!

    April 22, 2009
  5. John S. Thomas said:

    How about we put some screening trees between the lot and Highway 3…

    A nice tree or two that they will cut down in 150 years perhaps? 😎

    April 22, 2009
  6. john george said:

    John- Planting some sort of green partition along the boulevard would create two problems that come to my mind. 1) It would cut down the visability of the DJJD events there. 2) It would increase security risks for the truckers parking there. Vandalism is much less frequent in a well lit public area than a darker hidden area. Are these rigs actually that much of an eyesore in this area? I think an area of greater safety concern are all the trucks that park along Armstrong Road just south of Hwy. 19.

    April 22, 2009
  7. John S. Thomas said:

    I really do not think they are not that much of an eyesore. Also, since I have been here, I do not remember that much “running” overnight parking.

    Most of the parking has been resident owners, parking their rigs, and going to their homes in Northfield at night.

    I wasn’t thinking of a dark, secluded area. I was thinking more of some arborvitaes near the bike bath, at the intersection of Woodley and HWY 3, that would screen it a bit. It would not extend down to the rodeo grounds.

    April 22, 2009
  8. john george said:

    John T.- I suppose the site line from Woodley could be screened, but it seems to me that there is a much broader area of visibility. It extends from the Cannon River bridge on south bound Hwy. 3 to north bound Hwy 3 about in front of Dokmo’s. That would entail a lot of trees.

    April 22, 2009
  9. The issue is not whether or not this is a good location for truck parking, but whether truck parking is a good use of a park which we would like to develop to form part of a better gateway to our community. The use of this park for, ahem, parking has become more pressing with the anticipation of the bike/ped bridge.

    April 23, 2009
  10. John S. Thomas said:

    Well, I would agree. I would also agree that the bleachers, used once a year, are pretty shabby looking as well.

    April 23, 2009
  11. john george said:

    Betsey- I see your point. With the new bridge across the river, the whole use of this park is going to change. It will now be a daily transition park rather than a couple times a year destination park. Oh, and I love your word play, using a park for parking. What a novel idea!

    April 23, 2009
  12. John S. Thomas said:

    The bridge is exciting and quite nice. I am excited to head down there today and watch the crane work needed to get it assembled and placed.

    It will be an interesting ballet.

    April 24, 2009
  13. John S. Thomas said:

    I stopped down this morning, and talked to the bridge crew. Today is prep and general assembly. (3 cranes!)

    The “big lift and join” is scheduled for Monday.

    Griff, can you get some pictures for us on Monday?

    April 24, 2009
  14. Arlen Malecha said:

    Betsy –

    In post #7 you state “The issue is not whether or not this is a good location for truck parking, but whether truck parking is a good use of a park which we would like to develop to form part of a better gateway to our community. The use of this park for, ahem, parking has become more pressing with the anticipation of the bike/ped bridge.”

    Are there currently plans drawn up for this park and has a timeline been set for the redevelopment? If so, do the new plans take the annual rodeo into account? Not that the world revolves around the DJJD festival but if and when this park is redeveloped parking for the rodeo will become an issue. And lastly, has there been discussion on the council’s / park board’s part as to where trucks may park overnight?

    Any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    April 25, 2009
  15. Let’s see. Semi trucks parked in a large, rarely-used parking lot close to the highway and close to many of Northfield’s eating establishments and service stations where I am guessing that many of the drivers buy food and possibly gas. I drive by that lot in the evenings and am glad to see the space being used, but have not once considered it to be visual blight.

    April 26, 2009
  16. Griff Wigley said:

    The Park System Master Plan has the development plan for Babcock in Appendix A: Appendix-A-Ames,-Aspen,-Babcock,-Bridge-Square. I’m putting the text and a cropped aerial image here for convenience:

    Babcock Park
    babcock-aerialClassification: Community Park — 29 acres


    This is a linear park along the Cannon River adjacent to a commercial and industrial area. The northern most section of park is located along Dahomey Ave. (TH 3) and includes a rodeo grounds (with old bleachers on either side of an open turf area). The primary use of this area is for Jesse James Days. A fenced off-leash area is located adjacent to the river. The only access to the river is through the off-leash area. A partially-paved parking lot in poor condition is provided off of Dahomey Ave. (Commercial trucks routinely use the lot for parking.) An asphalt trail connects the park to Riverside Lions Park on the opposite side of Dahomey Ave. (via a bridge underpass). A ballfield, which is in good condition, is located back behind the commercial and industrial areas further to the south. The gravel parking lot adjacent to the ballfield is fairly steep and exhibiting erosion problems. A hockey rink with an aggregate surface has been relocated to this section of the park. Although located next to the river, the amenity value of this natural corridor has not been used to design advantage.

    Development Considerations:

    As part of the core community parks in the general downtown area, Babcock Park is under utilized and lacks a cohesive and visually appealing design. Although the existing uses remain viable and appropriate, a new master plan is needed to better organize the site, make it more visually appealing, and ensure that the right mix of facilities and amenities are provided to meet community needs. Section 3 should be referred to for a listing of amenities common to community parks. In addition, the interrelationship of the park with the other community parks in the downtown area should be taken into consideration when determining the right mix of facilities and design features. Taking full advantage of the scenic values of the river corridor should be a top priority, as is the need to enhance the general aesthetic quality of the park through good design, landscaping, and architectural elements. As defined in Section 3, the park was selected as a candidate site for a new skateboard park, which if built here would require careful siting as part of an overall design.

    Development Costs to Optimal Level:

    $500,000 (basic improvements) to $1,000,000 (robust improvements) – based on typical costs for similar level of development for a community park, not site-specific program evaluation) An additional $250,000 to $300,000 is needed if the skateboard park is developed on this site.

    April 26, 2009
  17. Griff Wigley said:

    In the Sat. Nfld News, Polishing the Pearls: Riverfront parks, re: Babcock Park parking lot:

    The site is expected to become home to Wednesday night car shows hosted by the Sundowners Car Club.

    Local skateboarders, Walinski said, may even use a portion of the lot as a temporary skatepark. Discussions between city staff and the Northfield Skatepark Coalition have led Walinski to believe the skaters are on board with the city’s proposal. If approved by the coalition and the parks board, the city will resurface the asphalt parking lot, making a smooth surface for the skateboards.

    April 26, 2009
  18. kiffi summa said:

    Prediction: If the skateboarders agree to this ‘temporary’ solution, out of frustration and dejection, they will still be there in a ‘temporary’ situation 5 or more years from now.
    Skateboarders: Please attend the council work session this Monday ( 4.27) and listen to the discussion between the Council and the Park Board. The Park Board has been ‘sticking by their guns’; you need to hear, first hand, what is said.

    April 26, 2009

Leave a Reply