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Northfield Depot Has a New Home
Submitted by Rob Hardy on Fri, 05/11/2012 - 11:43am
In 2010 the Save the Northfield Depot(STND) organized to coordinate and promote the effort to preserve Northfield’s 1888 rail depot. The Northfield City Council advanced those preservation efforts significantly on March 20, 2012, when it approved an historic agreement to sell a parcel of City-owned land to Save the Northfield Depotfor $1. The agreement paves the way for moving the depot from its current location on railroad property to a new location on the “Q-Block,” where a restored depot will serve as an anchor for redevelopment.
“The depot now needs the public’s help to ensure its survival,” noted Lynn Vincent, co-chair of Save the Northfield Depot.
With the completion of thepurchase agreement for the city land, STND will focus on raising the funds needed to renovate the depot and move it to its new location. A total of $500,000 will be needed to complete the project, but the first $300,000 must be raised within 18 months in order to demonstrate to the City that sufficient progress has been made toward that goal. Donors wishing to join the effort to meet this deadline and assure the depot’s survival can make a secure, tax-deductible donation via the STND website (www.northfielddepot.org) or send to STND, Treasurer, at 712 4th St. E., Northfield.
According to the purchase agreement, “the preservation and redevelopment of the Depot...would further the public interest by kindling interest in the City’s history, redeveloping a blighted building, [and] stimulating economic development.” For City Councilor Erica Zweifel, who represents the third ward on Northfield’s west side, the restored depot will also serve as an anchor for “reuniting and reconnecting the downtown,” which was fragmented by the construction of Minnesota Highway 3 in the early 1960s.
For the first seventy years of its existence, the depot was a focal point of Northfield’s economic and social life, serving as a meeting place for residents of the city and as their primary link to the outside world. Although passenger rail no longer serves Northfield, it is appropriate that the depot should be restored as a center of vitality in Northfield’s historic downtown. According to Zweifel, a restored depot would once again serve to strengthen connections within the community, while becoming a magnet for historical tourism and economic development.
The depot, which has stood beside the tracks for nearly 125 years, is now at a crossroads. It can be demolished by its current owners, Canadian Pacific, or it can be saved through the efforts of generous donors who want to see an important piece of Northfield’s past preserved for use by future generations. Past and future meet at the depot.
To celebrate the recent successes and to plan for the next step of fund-raising, Save the Northfield Depot will be holding a gathering of those interested in the success of the project. Those attending will be entertained by some stories and music and will also be sharing ideas about planning a successful fund-raising program. The public is welcome to this event on May 20th at 2-4 p.m. at the Northfield Golf Club.