After a visit to NYC a year ago, I suggested here on LoGro that the City should put some game tables in downtown Northfield, and that the money should come from the Streetscape Taskforce. I have no idea if A) anyone paid attention to my suggestion; B) where the money for the tables came from; and C) how much the project costs.
But I’m guessing someone will enlighten us.
The three picnic tables were installed yesterday. Each has an inlaid backgammon and chess/checkerboard.
In the photo on the left (L to R) are high schoolers Arlo Cristofaro-Hark, Helen Forsythe, Antonia Cristofaro-Hark, and Cliff Martin. Not pictured: Avery Swearer. Behind them are two of the many adults who were involved in the project: George Kinney and Mary Jo Cristofaro.
Northfield Transition Youth/YES developed the project to build recycling bins for downtown because, as Griff has complained, the plastic wheelie bins chained to the trash receptacles weren’t very attractive (and then they disappeared) and to encourage recycling. I believe they had a design competition, but their first design made of wood did not pass muster with the HPC. George Kinney was helping develop the project in its design/initial attempt, but I believe this was as a private citizen and not an EQC project.
The Downtown Streetscape Task Force was moving ahead to buy receptacles much like what has been created, but they cost $1500 apiece. Streetscape was willing, but that’s when Howie stepped in to say — Hey, we can do this cheaper here. I can teach kids to weld, we can cut apart old trash containers and “stretch” them with similar-looking slats. A bit more back and forth on this — keeping recycling dry is a big deal because wet paper, according to Joe Stapf, spoils the lot, so ensuring there were lids on the containers was critical. TJ Heinricy helped by providing old trash receptacles for creating a prototype. Streetscape Task Force worked out the details and is paying for the containers.
And, now they’re beginning to appear on the street. I understand from Howie that he’s got some great youth welding talent, too. The Transition youth, Mary Jo Cristafaro (another adult assistant), and Howie deserve a round of applause for their idea, persistence, and execution. Looks great; saves money.
Betsey, in addition to the much-deserving Joe Stapf and T. J. Heinricy, I think thanks, by name, are due to Bob Will, Chair of the Streetscape Task Force, Steve Edwins, Member of the Heritage Preservation Commission, and Betsey Buckheit, Second Ward Councilor, for walking down to Eco Gardens and checking out Howie’s prototype. They all went the extra mile (okay, maybe it was only half a mile) to give the local option a chance.
Although having a decision-making rubric is a great idea (it can promote fairness and efficiency), it would appear that sometimes it’s a good idea to add a little “common sense” or, for a lack of a better term, subjective valuation to the decision-making process. The decision had been made according to the proper policy/procedure and the process/organization was moving toward timely implementation when Howie basically asked, “Could you give it another minute or so?” and Joe, T. J., Bob, Steve, and Betsey said, “We can give it another minute or so”.
Understandably, it would be a challenge to municipal efficiency (in terms of time and, sometimes, money), if we essentially second-guessed every decision made by a public sector group or entity. However, in this particular example of a sometimes stumbling (or seemingly inefficient), and admittedly stop and go process, reviewing the decision, particularly double-checking both the explicit and implicit values likely to be used by the community to judge the results, before taking irreversible steps to implement the plan, resulted in a better outcome.
Well deserved credit goes to the stalwarts of Transition Youth/YES, Mary Jo, and Mera Colling, who worked on quite a few designs over the past year and a half or more — lots of prototypes, many false starts, and I think we are so happy that the final design received everyone’s approval. TJ and Howie really came through for the group — helping to find solutions and getting the process moving. It wouldn’t have happened without their help. The group received additional support and encouragement from Northfield in Bloom and Curt Saffle of Waste Management.
As far as the EQC is concerned, we’ve been pushing for permanent downtown recycling options for probably close to 10 years, with Suzie Nakasian being the champion for several years on EQC (and then Planning Commission).
Thanks to the leadership of a group of Northfield High School and Arcadia Charter School students, along with the help of the community, city workers are now in the process of installing what will eventually be 28 new recycling/garbage bin combos in the downtown area and parks where no recycling bins were previously available.
I’ve been whining about the ugly recycling bins in downtown Northfield for two years (here and here). Last week two classy-looking combination recycling/trash bins made their appearance on Division St., one by the Northfield Library, the other by the Armory. More bins are coming.
I got an email from Northfield Street & Park Supervisor TJ Heinricy yesterday with the news that the City of Northfield compost site will be open this weekend and then on a limited basis until the official April 10 opening.
Open: Saturday, March 31; Sunday, April 1; Saturday, April 7 (but closed Easter Sunday, April 8).
Saturday hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays: noon to 5 p.m.
Most folks who keep a compost pile at home know the rules: No bones, no meat, no dairy, no paper plates or napkins unless you want to attract rats and other unpleasant critters. Those rules won’t apply when the City of Northfield embarks on a new organics-recycling program at the city’s compost site near Sechler Park this spring.
Beginning April 10, when the compost site opens for the season, residents will be able to bring food scraps, including dairy and meat, as well as non-recyclable paper, such as napkins and paper plates, to the compost site for recycling. Residents must use special recycling bags, available at Just Food Co-op, and place their food waste into a lockable bin at the compost site.
Last Friday, I got this email and photo from Steve Wilmot:
We may have some confused tourists today as all the street signs for Division Street appear to be in the back of this City truck.
Thought you would find this interesting.
I took these photos over the weekend, assuming that the signage replacement was part of the Streetscape Task Force‘s downtown beautification efforts. The brackets used to hold up the signs appears to be consistent with the the other iron work used for the wayfinding signs, for example.
But maybe not. In the March 2 Admin Memo, TJ Heinricy, Streets and Parks Supervisor reports:
Staff has been preparing street identification signage that will be installed soon. These signs are part of the ongoing street signage replacement project.
I’m not sure when it happened exactly but some time in the past few weeks, a crew from the City of Northfield Streets, Parks & Facilities Divisions mowed down all the noxious trees at the south end of the pond in Hidden Valley Park. There were hundreds of small trees there, blocking the view of the pond for those of us who live on the south end. The trees also inhibit the pond’s stormwater function.
A tip-of-the-blogger-hat to Street & Park Supervisor TJ Heinricy and his staff for doing this at several parks.
Griff: I saw your recent post about the newly installed compact parking stall signage near the intersection of Division Street and 3rd Street.
The new signage was installed after a large amount of citizen requests to resolve a sight issue when going West on 3rd Street onto Division Street. The issue is being able to see oncoming traffic when trying to enter Division Street from 3rd Street.
The stall is planned to be shortened when the City of Northfield contracted paint striper is back in town.
Ever since, this big red pickup truck has been regularly seen parking there. I took photos of it a week ago in this spot. It was there again yesterday morning.
Yes, the parking stall has not yet been downsized so it’s somewhat inviting to those with big vehicles.
But the owner of this big red pickup truck (MN license plate 422 BXL) doesn’t even bother to stay within the boundaries of the stall, making visibility even more of a problem for vehicles descending the 3rd St. hill and turning onto Division.
In recent years, the downtown DJJD banners were hung by city street staff with no cost to the DJJD committee. But with the 2010 Community Events Policy, this changed. Community groups requiring support services from the City must pay for them.
So to save money this year, DJJD’ers found someone to donate the use of a boom truck. And last Sunday morning at 6 am, City of Northfield Streets and Parks Supervisor TJ Heinricy took off his staff hat and put on his volunteer hat to put up the DJJD banners with Hayes Scriven and Brad Ness. Nice.
There was also discussion about the pros and cons of an ordinance that would prohibit the feeding of ducks and geese, as that’s seen as a contributing factor to the problem on the Sesqui Plaza. In the meantime, the City will place some “Don’t feed the wildlife” signs there.
The signs are now up. Four of them. Some people aren’t happy. Nfld News’ Suzy Rook published an online column yesterday on the issue: Please don’t feed the animals:
A few people, I’ve heard, aren’t happy with the signs the city posted along the Cannon River asking downtown visitors not to feed the wildlife. But there are good reasons for the request, said city Streets and Parks Supervisor T.J. Heinricy…
While the signs, he said, are getting the point across, he’s gotten complaints from those who want to bring their children to the river to feed the ducks and geese. And while Heinricy understands how much fun it can be for a kids to interact with wildlife, he’s asking that we all do our part to keep Northfield tidy and safe: Don’t feed the animals. We’ll all be better off for it.