City Council Recognizes Students for Work on Complete Streets Program

Hayford O'Leary, Hellerstein, Buckheit.jpg

At the May 15 city council meeting, Councilor Betsey Buckheit recognized two students for their contributions to the city’s Complete Streets policy development. Ben Hellerstein, a Carleton senior, was instrumental in organizing the citizen group, which met for several months soliciting community support, and drafting the resolution which the council passed to direct the drafting of a policy. He had read about the Complete Streets Task Force in the Northfield News, contacted Councilor Buckheit and then scheduled meetings, provided agendas, brought in other Carleton students and generally kept the group on task.

Northfield native Sean Hayford O’Leary is a senior at St. Olaf who has also been the technical advisor to the Nonmotorized Transportation Task Force. Since his time as a Northfield High School, Sean has been involved in transportation, planning and bicycling issues. Ms. Buckheit noted that his expertise on the Complete Streets Task Force in evaluating particular problems, finding technical solutions, and being a resource for information have been invaluable. 

The Complete Streets Task Force helps develop the city’s Complete Streets Policy, consistent with Minnesota statutes. The goal is to assure that Northfield streets are designed, operated and maintained to be safe and accessible for pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists, and drivers, regardless of age or ability.  At their May 14 meeting, the group reviewed sample policies and drafted a statement of intent to justify the policy. To see the power point presented by Betsey Buckheit: http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/assets/p/Power-Point-prepared-and-presented-by-Task-Force-Chair-Betsey-Buckheit.pdf .

The city council established the Nonmotorized Task Force in 2007.   The Park and Recreation Advisory Board appointed the members and worked with the group which promoted walking, cycling and other human-powered activities. The goal was for these to be safe forms of transportation, creating “healthier, more vibrant, and more energy-efficient communities”.  Creation of a Safe Routes to School program is one of the activities the task force has worked on.  They have applied for grants, provided input to the comprehensive plan, and identified locations for possible biking and walking routes.

Councilor Buckheit said she was delighted to give more public recognition to the two students. She suggested that 10 years from now, Ben would probably be working in a “Paul Wellstone-like mode” doing community organizing. Sean likely would be a “higher up federal transportation type guy.” Members of the council and the public applauded the work of the students and their contribution to the Northfield community.