‘Name that Neighborhood’ and become part of Northfield’s history and maybe a Google map

  Michele Merxbauer IMG_6798

Michele ‘Mitch’ Merxbauer, head honcho of the City of Northfield’s Housing & Redevelopment Division, has launched a contest to Name That Neighborhood.

Which one?  The same one she talked about on a LoGroNo podcast back in late Feb this year.

Southbridge IISouthbridge II
The HRA has secured 14 acres southeast of the soccer complex (near the Southbridge Development) where it will create approximately 60 units of ownership housing, targeted as starter homes, workforce housing and down-sized homes for empty-nesters. Move/zoom this Google Map for additional perspective on the neighborhood’s location.

View Larger Map

Mitch wrote in a blog post on N.org:

The neighborhood name will be used on all documents and advertising for the neighborhood. Creativity, incorporation of green or sustainable ideas, healthy living and inclusiveness are all elements in a name we hope to see from the community.

The deadline for submitting entries has been extended to July 10, 4:30 pm because all the entries submitted thus far evidently suck. I read that on the internet, I’m pretty sure.

You can submit your entries right to Mitch via email or stop by her office at City Hall and fill out a form.


In true LoGroNo fashion, I think it’ll be more fun to submit your entries here in public via a comment to this blog post since one idea can trigger another. Hopefully, you’ll get your idea submitted before Mr. Listeria, Brendon Etter, takes all the good ones.

My first submission: Horse Apple Acres. It meets all the criteria: creativity (of course), sustainable (duh), healthy living (riding horses), inclusiveness (4-legged creatures).


  1. Charlene Coulombe- Fiore said:

    How about “Mitch Haven”?

    or maybe Mitch Heaven….

    June 30, 2008
  2. John Thomas said:

    The South Forty.

    June 30, 2008
  3. Lisa Guidry said:

    How about Green Acres?

    July 1, 2008
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    How about something with the word ‘prairie’ in it?

    I’ll start with: Prairie Ridge

    July 1, 2008
  5. Anne Bretts said:

    It seems that we’re really naming a development that’s part of an existing neighborhood. Perhaps someone could tell us where the existing neighborhood names and boundaries end and we who live out here could be asked what we’d like to be called.
    Prairie’s Edge sound nice. Of course, most neighborhood names develop organically base on some major feature of the area. My guess is that no matter who wins the contest to name the development, then neighborhood will always be ‘out by the soccer fields.’

    July 1, 2008
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    Southbridge is the name of the development to the east, Anne. I’m not sure any others are applicable.

    So a soccer theme might be applicable. Hmmm.



    Futbol Acres

    Pitch Haven

    Penalty Kick Ridge

    Offsides Ridge

    Yellow Card Ridge

    Manchester Manor

    Chelsea Ridge

    Arsenal Acres

    Someone help me stop!

    July 1, 2008
  7. John S. Thomas said:

    GRIFF! Stop! 😎

    It would be really funny to call it Prairie’s Edge, and in 30 years, it would be the new center of town… That’s planning.

    July 1, 2008
  8. Elizabeth Buckheit said:

    The Sad Place Where All The Houses Will Look The Same

    July 1, 2008
  9. Will Craig said:

    “Eastgate”, as it is east of Gates Avenue.

    July 1, 2008
  10. Jessica Paxton said:

    Okay, Betsy, I know I shouldn’t post this because it will offend many (then again, you did me the justice of doing so first) but that’s really funny! (In a sad way, of course!)


    Isn’t that a Tolkien character?!?

    July 1, 2008
  11. Betsey Buckheit said:

    I’ll support almost any of the names not ending in “gate” given the rather negative connotation of that word ending.

    Almost, since I’ll nix TSPWATHWLTS, too. Maple Hills (just across Jefferson Pkwy from the soccer fields) is another HRA developed area, including permanently supportive housing sponsored by the CAC where the houses do not all look the same. There are a mix of sizes, styles, colors and affordability (if I’m remembering correctly, there are a couple of Community Land Trust homes, Habitat for Humanity and market rate properties in addition to the 2 CAC properties). Indeed, of the subdivisions built in the last 10 years of so, the HRA sponsored one has the greatest diversity of housing styles.

    July 3, 2008
  12. David Henson said:

    Name could be ‘Failed Socialist Vision’ – then residents could say “I live in a failed socialist vision”

    July 3, 2008
  13. William Siemers said:

    Elizabeth…Actually this development will not be ‘sad’ for the first time homebuyers and lower income residents who have the opportunity to buy there…and, the houses will not all look the same…In fact it will look more like a neighborhood, and be more conducive to neighborhood activities, than many of the existing subdivisions in Northfield.

    David H. Strange to read that you think something has failed before it has been developed…perhaps we should rename the many private subdivisions blighted with foreclosures, ‘Failed Capitalist Vision’…then all those unlucky homeowners stuck with underwater mortgages in declining neighborhoods can say…”I live in a failed Capitalist Vision’.

    July 3, 2008
  14. Patrick Enders said:

    The Random Subdivision Name generator (http://adrian.gimp.org/cgi-bin/sub.cgi) suggests the following:

    Country Meadows
    Ivy Country Island
    Colonial Acres
    Oak Farms
    Spruce Hills
    Cedar Country Brook
    Spruce Colonial Meadows
    Walnut Island
    Spruce Point
    Cedar Country Landing
    Pine Woods
    Oak Sunset Acres
    Country Island
    Pine Acres
    Willow Valley
    Pine Circle Acres
    Country Estates
    Oak Country Lake
    Colonial Woods
    Maple Hollows
    Country Forest
    Spruce Meadows
    Oak Circle Valley
    Cedar Country Acres
    Pine Bridge Bay

    July 3, 2008
  15. Anne Bretts said:

    Damn it, this is why I’m against others being able to name our neighborhood, which is more than Southbridge and more than a soccer field and more than a place to ridicule. For hundreds of people this is the part of Northfield we chose and where we invested our money.
    Our houses do not all look the same, except for the twin homes, which by their nature look the same, and the multi-family homes that give diversity to our neighborhood and allow people of many incomes to live here while minimizing the amount of land needed. The single-family homes have a great deal of diversity and interest.
    The problem is that people who only drive Jefferson are really driving in the alley, since our homes face the quieter side streets, keeping traffic away from the ponds and park land. The lots are sloped so you’re seeing the exposed basements, creating two- and three-story walls when the fronts appear smaller. The exposed basements and alley perspective take a bit of getting used to, but they provide fire egress and much more usable space on the same footprint, We have tiny back yards and great shared common areas where the prairie is reclaiming some of the land.
    And we do have a block with an alley, but that option destroys open space, creates a dangerous situation for kids and doubles the amount of paved area in the block. For the rest of us, short driveways in front — along with front porches and common mailboxes — give us plenty of opportunity to be neighbors while minimizing pavement and controlling run-off.
    People have done landscaping (themselves) and created lovely homes connected by paths where they walk their dogs and ride their bikes and where kids play and even kayak and fish in the ponds. We have amazing birds, including egrets, and beavers have built a pretty impressive dam right under the footbridge. And the trees already are growing and filling in enough to make us start looking like all the other neigborhoods in town.
    And without going to the city council or creating a fuss, we have an informal but popular dog park that works just fine without fencing or fuss.
    If you think the name you are proposing is funny, how about we rename the area around Carleton as the Land of Drunken College Students and the land around Way Park the Home of Boring Old Fire Traps. As for homes that look alike, drive down the old streets and you’ll see a handful of architectural styles, albeit painted in different colors. They’re the same designs seen in neighborhoods in old towns across the midwest, and I can drive down a street and tell you the floor plan of most of them without getting out of my car.
    Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t build those houses now because they don’t meet fire codes and aren’t energy efficient and waste tons of space in unusable attics and cellars.
    I thought we weren’t supposed to insult people on this site, but I guess some people in some parts of town are fair game. And you wonder why we ignore downtown. If this is how people in the old parts of town feel about us, why would we support you?
    And while we thank you for nixing the name your daughter suggested, Betsey, your disdain for the people you wish to represent is an odd campaign strategy.

    July 3, 2008
  16. Patrick Enders said:

    I agree with your previous assertion that real neighborhood names develop organically. The idea of giving developments meaningless suburban names is something that developers do, and honestly, I find the names they usually come up with to be sterile and silly. As such, I think it is appropriate to have some fun with the idea of naming this thing. It’s not an insult against your neighborhood, but against the naming process.

    When the proposed new development has some identity, its true name will eventually follow.

    July 3, 2008
  17. Patrick Enders said:

    …and you have to admit, the following naming criteria:

    Creativity, incorporation of green or sustainable ideas, healthy living and inclusiveness are all elements in a name we hope to see from the community.

    …reflects a nice set of goals, but lacks any relationship to the actual land it is intended to refer to.

    July 3, 2008
  18. Patrick Enders said:

    I have learned that people in this town often live in named houses. “I live on the Smith Farm,” or “I live in Dr. Street’s House,” are meaningful statements which indicate some of the history of the place.

    Does anyone know of any historical names which might accurately be attached to this parcel of land?

    July 3, 2008
  19. Gilly Wigley said:

    How about Agrestic?


    July 3, 2008
  20. Anne Bretts said:

    Patrick, I don’t mind having fun at all, but the ‘sad houses’ remarks aren’t funny. And I love your naming idea. I was just thinking today that it would be lovely to name the area for the farm that once was here. It would be a nice way to connect us with the area’s history. We could even have one of those historic markers along Jefferson at the ponds, with a map of the trail system through the area.
    And we’d be delighted to have you all visit to watch the egrets or play with your dogs or meet all our neighbors and tour the many gardens here.

    July 3, 2008
  21. Betsey Buckheit said:

    Anne, I did not insult either people or subdivisions in my remarks – I praised Maple Hills and said nothing specifically about any other area.

    Indeed, I agree with much of what you said. I spend a lot of time at the soccer fields and like how that facility is a wonderful gathering place for all of Northfield (and brings folks from out of town, too) and also enjoy watching the soccer complex neighbors on summer evenings as they barbecue, walk and talk, bicycle, and generally enjoy where they are.

    And like you, I think naming neighborhoods is organic and when we try to do it in advance, we get the name generator sort of names from Patrick’s comment: pick a natural feature (cove, valley, island) and a plant (Oak, Holly, etc.) and – presto.

    July 4, 2008
  22. Betsey Buckheit said:

    To get back to the original point of this thread – naming the new HRA development…when I was on the Planning Commission, we used to invite the chairs of other boards and commissions to come tell us what they were doing in their group.

    The HRA’s report was always great. The late Don Tarr came to speak as chair of the HRA several times and he impressed us with how much the HRA accomplished each year (a steady record of grants received and projects built). Perhaps a name which honors Don Tarr?

    July 4, 2008
  23. rod zumwalt said:

    I’m probably missing something, but why don’t we just subsidize the purchase of the existing oversupply of housing in northfield rather than build yet more housing?

    July 4, 2008
  24. William Siemers said:

    Rod Z.
    That is a good question. Near term, It is probably related to federal, state and local budgeted allocations for specific kinds of projects. Build it or lose it, so to speak. Further out, the combined influence of the many interested parties who benefit from those allocations for building carries a lot of weight. But you are right, going forward, HRA agencies should look at putting a larger part of their budgets into subsidizing the purchase and rehab of existing homes and buildings.

    July 5, 2008
  25. Thanks for the kudos, Griff, or was it a shout-out? Hold on… I asked someone else; they told me it was more closely aligned with giving “props.” I hang out in theaters. I know what props are.


    I agree with Anne’s points about making fun of the people who live out here. I live out here.


    I’m not sure where exactly because every house looks the same, and the people, echoing their homes, are uniformly dull and non-communicative. I have been wandering the cul de sacs for weeks with my laptop computer, picking up boring, wireless internet signals (even the internet looks the same out here) from so many cookie-cutter houses, desperately e-mailing my family, hoping they can provide directions that make sense.

    But, since I live out here, I get to make fun of it. Right?

    Just kidding. I get to make fun of whatever I want.

    Here are my contributions, a couple serious ones mixed in with silliness:

    Vegenvirotarianantidiscrimination Acres
    Happy Family Fun Time Land
    Village Green Preservation Society Park
    Grass Pass
    Hale Vale (bring your own valley)
    Garden Paths
    Utopian Ecological Family Residential Development #18379-F

    and, my personal favorite,

    I’m actually quite excited by the plans for this new development very near my house. Glad that more-affordable and more-environmental housing are on their way. I don’t much care what name sticks to it, though I fear, despite the best intentions of the HRA, that it will be one more generic, obliquely-aspirational, non-contextual bit of the humdrum.

    July 8, 2008
  26. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Brendon… I knew you could deliver! Betsey, I like the idea of something that connects this to Don Tarr…. but what? Tarr=tar which is not exactly ‘green’ sounding.



    July 8, 2008
  27. It is exciting to see the level of discussion on this blog. I just want to clarify a few points:

    The area of the development is extremely important for a variety of reasons, and was chosen on purpose. The connection to the pathways, proximity to schools, the closeness of a major athletic/recreation complex (soccer fields), and the infill potential all played a vital role in why this property was chosen.

    Spring Creek runs through the area, Southbridge is to the east and the soccer complex is obviously to the north. Any name that incorporates local physical features, or historical references, is more than welcome.

    The HRA is sensitive to the concerns of the community regarding this development, and our goal is to be all inclusive with any one who would like to live in a home built to specific Green standards. The goal of the naming “contest” is to generate support, interest and enthusiasm for a development designed around the health of the homeowners and involvement with the community.

    I’d be happy to answer any other questions or concerns. Thanks!

    And thanks to Griff for the visibility here-I’m not sure about the horse poo, but I see where you were going with it. Stretching a bit, don’t you think? Ha ha!

    July 8, 2008
  28. Since the property is west of the Southbridge development, I like this option for its all-inclusive use of the entire directional compass:

    Westbridge of Southeast Northfield

    and on the Don Tarr note, since it is in the Spring Creek area, how about:


    I’d suggest “Donnybrook” which fits with the general mood in local politics lately, but I didn’t know Don to be that combative, at least not when I was building sets for plays with him.

    July 8, 2008
  29. Griff Wigley said:

    The three finalists for ‘Name that Neighborhood’ are:

    Prairie Edge
    Spring Creek Commons

    Vote now at the bottom of:

    July 16, 2008
  30. David Henson said:

    Post #17 is suggesting something one hears over and over again that the current housing meltdown relates to private greed. Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac are in fact government back entities with the purpose of encouraging home ownership through government back securities … this is a socialist program. These programs were great to stoke the housing industry into building homes super fast and getting lots of people into home ownership. The problem with all government backed programs is the market distortion. These programs created a big machine churning out new homes and when the industry ran out of qualified buyers it just kept churning out new homes and relaxed the credit standards and when even this couldn’t get create enough customers then the industry just kept building new homes – as many as 18 million of which are now empty. The sad thing is unlike private endeavors which chug along up and down with demand these social programs hit a wall and then it’s lights out for a whole industry.

    August 11, 2008

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