Local landscaper Leif Knecht, former mayor Keith Covey and I spoke at open mic at last night’s Northfield City Council meeting, asking the Council to find a way to incorporate new trees on both sides of 4th St. between Washington and Division for this summer’s 4th St. reconstruction. (See the video of last night’s meeting in this KYMN blog post.)
Knecht said that there are varieties of trees that can do reasonably well in an environment where buildings block the sun and bedrock limits root growth. I distributed a printout of the above photo from 2008, showing that the current trees, although tilted and stunted in some cases, still did a reasonably good job for 30 years.
Councilor Rhonda Pownell made a motion to rescind her vote on last week’s Council decision to accept Streetscape Option 1 (“Small planters along 4th Street curb line, provision for hanging baskets on decorative light poles, no bump-outs or large-scale planters” – Page 27 of packet PDF) since it didn’t include trees. Jim Pokorney seconded.
I was impressed with the subsequent Council discussion. Some councilors were reluctant to rescind because it could delay the whole project. Others were understandably reluctant to get involved in this level of detail. They considered the pros and cons of sending the design to the Streetscape Task Force. Several times, they asked for input from City Engineer Katy Gehler and City Attorney Chris Hood. Mayor Mary Rossing did a masterful job of keeping the discussion on track, helping with the language of various motions, and making sure to get input from everyone.
In the end, they voted unanimously to accept the 4th St. plan but they then followed it by passing another motion, again unanimously, directing city staff to incorporate as many trees as possible into the sidewalk areas.
Nice work, Councilors!
Update 3/18, 10:30 PM: