Tag Archives: Streetscape Task Force

How to fund a trail connecting downtown to the west side via the Hwy 3 underpass

The City of Northfield has applied for $1 million of federal money (Tiger Grant) to construct a pedestrian trail that would connect downtown to the west side.  The proposed route would connect to Greenvale Ave. and St. Olaf Ave via the Hwy. 3 underpass at North Water St. The City must contribute $500K to the project.

At last night’s City Council meeting, Councilors evidently decided that half the cost of trail would come from the downtown fund, according to the Northfield News, with the It’s not clear from the article where the other half would come from. “remainder coming from city reserves.” It’s also not clear what this would do to the prioritized list of other projects that the downtown Streetscape Task Force has identified for funding with money from that downtown fund, especially parking. See NDDC Executive Director Ross Currier’s Oct. 5 blog post: TIF District #4, The Streetscape Task Force, and Downtown Parking.

There is currently enough revenue projected for the TIF District to pay for the Task Force’s long-standing recommendations as well as the City Council’s recent additions. Downtown stakeholders hope that the long-needed parking project will continue to move forward and that this economically critical investment in downtown will be implemented before the TIF District expires.

See pages 68-72 of the Council packet (PDF).  It contains a map of the route but streets aren’t marked. Here’s my live Google Map with the approximate route:

View Greenvale/St. Olaf/Hwy 3 underpass & walkway in a larger map

St. Olaf debuts cool bike repair stations. We need these downtown.

 Bike repair stand at St. Olaf's Buntrock Commons Bike repair stand at St. Olaf's Buntrock Commons Bike repair stand at St. Olaf's Buntrock Commons Jim Fisher, Grounds Manager at St. Olaf
I got a call today from Jim Fisher, Grounds Manager at St. Olaf, alerting me to the new bike repair stands that he was installing today around the campus. I took these photos of the one on the northside of Buntrock Commons, adjacent to the entrance to Lion’s Pause.

Tools with a Dero Fixit bike repair stand  air pump and guage with a Dero Fixit bike repair stand  Dero Fixit bike repair stand
The bike repair stand (Dero Fixit) includes an air pump with a gauge, and seven tools, all tethered with security cables.  You can hang your bike on the stand by its seat post so you can more easily work on it.

Northfield’s downtown Streetscape Task Force should consider installing one or more of these downtown.

Update Aug. 13:

 Bike racks and bike repair station at St. Olaf dorm Bike racks and bike repair station at St. Olaf dorm Bike racks and bike repair station at St. Olaf dorm
Jim Fisher alerted me to another bike repair he installed at one of the St. Olaf dorms, this time with new bike racks… with an artistic flair.

Advertising banners again proliferating in Ames Park. Streetscape Task Force, whaddup?

Advertising banners in Ames Park
There are now four signs/advertising banners in Ames Park at the corner of 5th St and Hwy 3. Even the Northfield Municipal Liquor Store has gotten into it. Heh.

I blogged about this back in May, 2009:  Advertising banners in Ames Park: what are the guidelines? In the comments attached to that post, one citizen reported that they’d asked City Hall about it:

The answer was that there was no charge for the space and the rules were pretty informal — an honor system of sorts. You just needed to let them know when you would put the sign up and how long you needed the space. It was understood that you’d secure it safely and take the sign down right after the event. It was also understood that the space was for community events like the hospital book fair and not private business advertising.

Looks like one business is advertising, not that I’m objecting.

Mayor Mary Rossing commented:

The Mayor’s Streetscape Taskforce will be meeting again, with new and returning members in the mix, mid June. This is one of their charges. A permanent kiosk has been talked about as we continue to work to add amenities to the downtown and gateway areas. They will be looking at many potential projects and prioritizing and making recommendations to the council. All projects need to be in place (or in progress) by the end of 2013 as this is the end of the master development funds.

So if this was one of the charges for the Streetscape Taskforce two years ago, can someone update us on what was decided, if anything?

A year later and still no progress on downtown’s ugly recycling bins and newspaper vending racks

newspaper vending racks in downtown Northfield DSC03306 recycling bins in downtown Northfield recycling bins in downtown Northfield 
Last June, I whined about all the ugly recycling bins and newspaper vending racks downtown. There were plans to do something about it.

After being removed for the winter, all 20 recycling bins are now back. And with more than two dozen newspaper vending racks currently downtown (most between 2nd and 5th on Division), it’s pretty ugly.  Here’s my count:

  • Northfield News: 9
  • Star Tribune: 5
  • Pioneer Press: 4
  • Northfield News Home & Real Estate: 3
  • Northfield Entertainment Guide: 3
  • Signs of the Times: 1
  • AutoMart: 1

Any chance that the City of Northfield Streets, Parks & Facilities Division, the Streetscape Task Force (website still out-of-date), the NDDC, Northfield in Bloom (website dead), 1st Ward Councilor Suzie Nakasian, and whoever else could get together and address this problem this year?

Podcast: the Triumvirate on downtown parking

The LG TriumvirateIt was just us this week and we spent our entire non-fluff segment talking about downtown parking, as it’s at the top of Streetscape Taskforce’s list of recommendations (PDF of June packet).

304 Washington St. 304 Washington St. 304 Washington St.
$760,000 is budgeted for expenses related to the purchase of this rental property at 304 Washington St.

Update 10:30 PM:

downtown satellite map downtown map streetview
I took these two screenshots from Google Maps view of the street, adding an arrow on one that points to the property.

Comments are closed. Continue the discussion attached to the June 30 blog post Downtown parking: what’s really needed?

Click play to listen. 30 minutes.

You can also download the MP3 or subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe directly with iTunes. Our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, usually airs Mondays at 6:00 PM and Sundays at 10 AM on KYMN 1080 AM.

Recycling bins and newspaper vending racks: a project for the Streetscape Task Force?

Recycling bins downtown Recycling bins downtown newspaper vending racks downtown
City Administrator Joel Walinski writes in the June 4 Friday Memo:

Downtown Recycling Cans, Oh! They’re so ugly! 20 temporary recycling containers were put in place Friday June 4, 2010 along Division Street. Street Supervisor TJ Heinricy has been working with Waste Management staff to develop a test-recycling program for the downtown area over the past several months.

Our interest is in the assessing the recycling waste stream and how much use there is or could be. This information will be used in the cost analysis and consideration of the return on investment for allocating future dollars on more permanent (eye-appealing) recycling containers in the downtown area.

Seems like downtown recycling bins and newspaper vending racks should be a project for the Streetscape Task Force.

Recycling bins, Montreal Missoula recycling bins  Flash Forward recycling bin, Toronto
Left: I like the ones used in Montreal near McGill University.
Center: the ones in Missoula, Montana aren’t bad
Right: even better are ones in Toronto that serve another purpose – Art:

Continue reading Recycling bins and newspaper vending racks: a project for the Streetscape Task Force?

The grass on Bridge Square: still lousy after all these years

A downtown business owner grumbled to me this week about the condition of the grass on Bridge Square, wondering why, if the park is the crown jewel of downtown, the grass in such bad shape.

grass on Bridge Square grass on Bridge Square grass on Bridge Square

grass on Bridge Square grass on Bridge Square grass on Bridge Square
I took these photos last night. Yep, it’s pretty bad in many spots.

Downtown Northfield Streetscape Framework PlanThe condition of the grass is mentioned twice in the Downtown Streetscape Framework Plan, created back in 2006:

P. 71: “Seed grass and repair lawn in Bridge Square.”

P. 73: “Bridge Square would have grass in the bald spots.”

I know, the grass takes a beating because the park is so popular and so many community events are held there.  And there are probably issues with fertilizer and weed killer, both human and environmental organic dry pelleted fertilizer.

With that in mind, is there anything that can be done that would also be cost-effective?  And if so, what time of year would be best to do it?

Proposed graffiti ordinance coming to the Council: where’s the HPC and STF input?

graffiti on building in downtown Northfield graffiti on building in downtown Northfield graffiti on building in downtown Northfield graffiti on building in downtown Northfield
I blogged about the problem of graffiti on downtown buildings back in 2008 and again in 2009 so I was glad to see this item on the tentative agenda for the April 6 City Council meeting: First reading of Ordinance No. 909 – Graffiti ordinance.

As you can see from the photos above that I took this week, graffiti from the 2008 incident is still visible on some buildings. (I’ve removed the password protection on the post with the photo slideshow.)

graffiti ordinance I could find nothing on the City’s web site about the proposed ordinance (sigh) but a building owner emailed it to me and I’ve converted it to a PDF here.

90% of the proposed ordinance language is oriented towards dealing with the property owners (victims) who don’t remove the graffiti. There’s nothing about prevention or surveillance, nothing about the restrictions for buildings in the historic district, nothing about funds to help building owners with the costs of graffiti removal, etc.

This draft needs reworking, IMHO, so I’m curious how it got this far without the involvement of the Streetscape Task Force (STF) and the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC). I don’t see anything in recent STF agendas on this issue, even though their mission includes this:

2. Explore the development of a program that may assist downtown property owners with vandalism/graffiti prevention.

Page 71 of the Streetscape Task Force plan says “HPC should develop grant program for removing graffiti from historic buildings – an expensive process.” I don’t see anything in recent HPC agendas on this issue either.