Will comp plan address lack of fiber in Northfield’s economic diet?

I saw this article in the Sunday Strib: In a hurry for ultrafast Internet: Eagan sees radically accelerated access speeds as an economic development tool, and it’s looking for a company willing to provide it. And this quote:

We want to future-proof the city so economic development can continue 20 years down the road,” said Jim Moeller, a member of the city’s Technology Working Group, an advisory panel of the city’s top tech minds created to improve Eagan’s technology policy and improve its competitiveness.

compplanlogo.gifWe here at Locally Grown have been yapping about this for a year. Our Feb. 26 and April 28, 2006 podcasts were about it. We’ve blogged about fiber several times. The big public input forum on the Comprehensive Plan is this Tuesday, April 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Northfield Armory (6th and Division Streets). Can everyone remember to put it on your small group butcher paper’s list of what’s needed, puhleeeeeease?


  1. Holly Cairns said:

    Hi, I didn’t see any of that in the map or discussion , either. Good idea to bring it up. Disruptive to put it in, later.

    I hope this isn’t too much of a tangent, but Wow, what a plan. I like it. I like “new” and “balanced”, and it looks pretty balanced.

    I’d like to see one more major road go from east to west on the north side of town…. hmm, I wonder if it was there and I just missed it. And, we need a gas station or something else commercial by the Dairy Queen area. I vote for that.

    Now, who can get rid of the icky buildings that are the old dairy, etc. along Hwy 3? Are they utility buildings or something? And that elevator– is it used? And the old rail depot?

    April 2, 2007
  2. Tracy Davis said:

    Griff, at last week’s Planning Commission meeting we reviewed the draft of the first three reworked chapters of the Comp Plan. While there’s still a lot of work to be done (and input to be obtained), I can assure you that fiberoptic infrastructure will be somehow included in the plan, so that it becomes part of the process in going forward.

    April 2, 2007
  3. Anne Bretts said:

    Griff, I’m trying to understand your problem here. If you feel high speed service is important, and it may be to the business community, contact the Chamber and the NDDC (I believe you have some influence there) and put together a plan and a price tag and start figuring out how to make it work financially.
    The people who wanted bike trails didn’t wait until someone provided the trails, they went out and planned them and put together costs and found financing and made them.
    So think of this as your high speed trail plan and get working on it.

    April 3, 2007
  4. Tracy Davis said:

    Even though I give Griff a hard time whenever he sings his Johnny One-Note song, I’m also convinced that fiber-to-the-premises is a necessary part of the infrastructure for any community that wants to remain competitive in the global economy.

    At last count, the U.S. had fallen to SIXTEENTH place worldwide in utilization of broadband (you know, behind cutting-edge countries like Czechoslovakia). As an indicator of how far behind we are, the FCC’s definition of “broadband” is a woefully inadequate 200 kbps;
    the rest of the world, e.g. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has defined a broadband connection as any rate higher than T-1, or 1.5 mbps. Even these speeds are best considered “consumer-level” speeds, inadequate for many businesses even in non-technology sectors. (For a great primer for non-techies, visit SpeedMatters.org. )

    Putting together a plan and a price tag is something I’m encouraging the City and the EDA to do, and I hope I can honestly say “We’re working on it.” However, the scale of what we’re talking about is very large, and the vision of what I’m talking about is even larger, and there’s a hefty educational component to it. People need to understand that we’re not talking about being able to surf the web and get e-mail faster. I’m talking about the ability to run and deliver entirely different applications which are not possible with our current information infrastructure (or lack of same). As much as I’d love to declare myself a free-marketeer, this is one area where there’s been a definite market failure, and it may be in our best interest as a community to not leave the “solution” to the private sector. But that’s another rant for another day.

    I’m scheming a bit with Library director Lynne Young about some of the possibilities that may be open to us as a community if/when the library gets a fiberoptic connection. I’ll keep you posted.

    April 3, 2007
  5. Anne Bretts said:

    I realize this is a big project, but hardly unique to Northfield. That means there are lots of examples of design and cost and implementation that can be used to avoid re-inventing the wheel.
    And it surely is an issue that should be a priority for the Chamber and NDDC. All I’m saying is that the people for whom this is huge issue should do some of the research and get the ball rolling. Perhaps there will need to be public participation, but there’s no reason why the business community can’t take the lead on this.

    April 3, 2007
  6. After going to the public meeting, I think that the planners will get some good citizen input. The interactive portion of the public meeting was the most beneficial, and I wish we had more opportunities to really dig into the “maps” of Northfield more.

    As far as the consultants… well, I think that there were times when they became a bit “testy” and I feared at one point that the whole process could break down. Next time, I hope that folks from the planning commission or city officials would facilitate. I think that some folks could have felt more listened to and validated. The process was rushed, and not clearly explained. I felt badly for my table’s 80+ year-old, yet very WISE man participant, who needed things explained to him more clearly.

    However, all in all, the chance to get together with neighbors to talk about these issues and bring something concrete to the table was incredibly valuable!

    April 3, 2007

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