The Northfield Safety Center’s flooding problems can be fixed for less than $350K

I’m surprised how few people know that the City of Northfield commissioned an engineering study of the Northfield Safety Center to determine what would be needed to deal with its proximity to the Cannon River.

The report, prepared by Art Kalmes, URS Corporation, is included in the packet for the Council work session on August 31, 2009 (badly formatted PDF), and identified four different options for levels of flood protection, the most costly in the $350,000 range. See pages 8-9 for the consultant’s summary of the options, paraphrased here:

  • Option A involves the constructing a levee and floodwall roofing that will be handled by best roofing contractor in denver, around the perimeter of the facility
  • Option B raises the parking lot to allow access to the building expansion which would be elevated above the 100-year flood level
  • Option C is similar to Option C but would abandon the lowest level of the existing building
  • Option D calls for wet flood proofing of the existing building

Yes, last fall’s 100-year flood threatened the Safety Center. But it survived pretty well and flooding can be mitigated for a relatively small amount of money.

Yes, we need a bigger and better fire facility and the police facility needs many improvements. But that doesn’t mean the current Safety Center (the same age as Greenvale School), should be thrown away.

There are many other reasons that the City Council should not issue a bond for a new Safety Center facility right now. This is one.  Contact members of the Northfield City Council and then show up at next Tuesday’s (March 1) public hearing at City Hall.

See the full engineering report (PDF) starting on page 8 or view it in a variety of ways below:

Review of Flood Protection Alternatives – Northfield Safety Center


  1. norman butler said:

    “It is folly to build in a flood plain”. This is the refrain that is preventing this kind of plan from being adopted. It may have been true fifty years ago but with modern engineering techniques it is entirely doable – and also makes good use of that particular large and mostly unused piece of land upon which the current safety center rests.

    February 24, 2011
  2. David Ludescher said:


    Do you have the emails and telephone numbers handy for your readers?

    February 24, 2011
  3. norman butler said:

    After the recent terrible earthquake in Christchurch in New Zealand, you’d think we would have more sense than to build on earthquake prone land. But, then again, where on earth would we build?!

    February 24, 2011
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    David, of course, I have complete info on all of our 8,500 monthly readers, not only email and phone but Social Security numbers, bank accounts, PINs, credit cards, etc etc. Just download it all here. 😉

    February 24, 2011
  5. Kathie Galotti said:

    Excellent link. LIke an idiot, I actually clicked on it.

    February 24, 2011
  6. David Ludescher said:


    Sorry. I meant the Council members. I now see that it is in the post. Sorry again.

    February 24, 2011
  7. Jane Moline said:

    Love the link, had to click it to appreciate it.

    February 24, 2011
  8. Jane Moline said:

    Hey, Griff, I heard the the existing safety center is on pilings that were pounded into the muck and bed rock–and these will rust and rot and may endanger the integrity of the foundation of the existing building. Any information regarding that in the above report?

    February 24, 2011
  9. Ray Cox said:

    Jane, I like to know where that rumor came from to see who is working so hard to scrap this useable building. Pilings are engineered for each project that needs them. Many huge buildings all across America are supported by pilings for centuries. I don’t know for sure if the safety center is on pilings or not, but I do know that if it is the pilings will outlast everyone that is reading this post. Lots of buildings in town are on pilings….Goodhue dorm, Laird Stadium, the West Gym all at Carleton have been resting on pilings for a long time, and will be for decades longer.

    Buildings that are supported on wood pilings with concrete pile caps are solid structures. Wood pilings don’t rot…there is no air that allows them to decay.

    February 25, 2011
  10. kiffi summa said:

    Jane: if that were true all, of downtown Chicago would be sinking into the swamps.

    It seems there is an effort to make unreasonable, even untruthful statements, in order to have the current building gone… just so no one can say “see it IS reusable!”.

    It’s unfortunate that this council will have to bear the brunt of previous councils’ lack of foresight to prioritize the maintainence of the city’s building infrastructure.

    February 26, 2011
  11. Jane Moline said:

    I think it is good to get the false rumor out and treat it as such. The bedrock under downtown Northfield is very much different from the multi-layered marsh under Chicago that required a “floating” sub-structure to support the skyscrapers.

    What is under one side of the river or in a bend such as where the safety center is located is also differnt from the bedrock on which downtown Northfield buildings are mostly built–but I believe that they would have examined the support and believe that the safety center structure is sound. I am dissapointed that those wanting the “taj mahal” of new safety centers have spread false rumors about the current structure.

    I am for keeping the police at the current location and building a new –reasonably priced–building for the fire and rescue. This is going to affect me as much as Northfield residents as city of Northfield staff have reapeatedly told the city council that Dundas will have to pay a significant portion for the new structure.

    Ray, call me and I will tell you the source of the (false) information.

    February 28, 2011
  12. kiffi summa said:

    Jane : if it is “good to get the false rumor out and treat it as such” why can’t you speak about it here ?
    How is having Ray call you getting it out?
    I have heard several people speak of the so called “bad” underpinnings of the current structure, and in various meetings: David Hvistendahl, Mayor Rossing, and Randy Jennings… just to come up with the ones that come to mind immediately.

    I agree with your summation completely, and hope that you will come to the Public Hearing tonight to provide a Dundas perspective (yes)… because of how this decision will affect our Dundas Neighbors.

    March 1, 2011
  13. Randy Jennings said:

    I have never said a word about “bad underpinnings” (by which I assume you mean pilings), as I have no engineering background to venture such an opinion. I have, on several occasions, pointed to the engineering studies and other documents available on the city’s website that speak to the condition of the building and the cost of repairs required to bring it up to current code.

    Please do not attribute to me statements I have not made.

    March 1, 2011
  14. kiffi summa said:

    As do most of us, I have my memory to rely on, which at this point HAS been reliable…
    However, Randy, If I have somehow impugned your reputation by attributing a comment to you with which you do not agree, I am very sorry, and DO apologize.

    I suppose it comes from the many pieces of writing you have generated about the need for a new Safety Center, and your presence, complete with comments, twice I believe, at two different tours of the facility; and also at the Task force meetings, most of which I attended.

    Again… very sorry if you have never mentioned the buildings’ pilings/’underpinnings’.

    March 1, 2011

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