Council approves Froggy Bottoms request for River Walk seating

On a 4-3 vote, the Northfield City Council last night approved "a Request for the Temporary Private Use of a Portion of the Public River Walk and Amendment of the Liquor License for Froggy Bottoms."

See the motion and conditions documents (PDFs).

See the photo album of the meeting. I also added photos of the area in question, the letter to the City from Dave Hvistendahl, owner of Froggy Bottoms, and a sketch of the plans.

Several members from the Union of Youth and members of the public spoke against the motion (see the photo album for their pictures. The Key's deck/rear entrance is adjacent to the rear entrance of Froggy Bottoms.

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On observers report: The Council voted 4 to 3 in favor of the Motion versus public input of 9 to 1 against it. First Ward Councilman Pokorney, serving both The Key and the bar, and with the potential tie-breaking vote, dissed the Union of Youth, told them to 'go clean up their room', voting instead in favor of the bar. He apparently has forgotten that for a full 2 years he allowed that bar to keep a disorderly (sometimes filthy) trash dump on city land on the same riverwalk in question. Mayor Lansing, against a reprimand from one member of The Key, got all caught-up in the minutia of defining a 3 feet 6 inch path on the public river walk through the bar patrons for youth of The Key to get to their property. He cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the Motion.
Dean Kjerland, neighbor.

Who else voted for the motion? We need some accountability here.

Are there other examples of permanent use of public space for the financial benefit of an individual private business--besides the garbage units? Are they to pay rent?

-My initial reactions.

I left the Northfield City Council meeting last night with a bad taste in my mouth. My own personal feelings on the Froggy Bottoms matter aside, I was disgusted by the way the council treated the members of the Union of Youth. Last night I saw a group of polite, respectful, passionate young people who gave up more than three hours of their day in order to express their views. They spoke of the importance of creating a substance-free enviornment for teens and of how this would become a challange by having a bar essentially on their back doorstep.
These concerns didn't seem to matter to council as much as pleasing a local business owner. I hope in the future the council chooses to place a higher importance on our youth than on the rights of a bar to make more money. Perhaps as soon as these young adults are old enough to vote the council will pay more attention.

Re: One Observer's Comment (above), add, after '...Union of Youth"..., the words "and Fourth Ward Councilman Malecha"...

Also, Councilman Davis got it right: ...'this really doesn't increase the bar's business, just accomodates already existing customers'.

Yes votes were: Pokorney, Malecha, Bond, Lansing

So, they have allowed one more unnecessary taking of public space for this private bar for 12 plus hours a day for smoking and sales of food and alcohol for the next 6 months and force the public to skirt the inside wall along the fence and bushes to use the riverwalk there or get to the non-smoking, non-drinking deck of The Key. The bar argued that this is necessary to allow them compete with the Minneapolis bars.

This rush to act by the Council was unnecessary.

An open letter to the city of Northfield and the Mayor and Counsel.

I do not mean to be drastic but there was a crime against the youth of Northfield committed by the city counsel, Mayor Lansing, and David Hvistendahl. There will be a new bar made next to The Key, on public property, on the river walk. For those of you who don

Don't forget: the community can vote with its feet. If you feel wronged, insulted, or otherwise abused by a business, or that a business thumbs its nose at the bests interests of the community, you are free to spend your money elsewhere. Also to recommend such as action to your family and friends.

Dean, Alex, gardnerab, Ben, and Jeffrey,

Thanks for your posts on this.

Not many people read the comments attached to blog posts but we do have about 100 people, including several City Council members, on the ISSUES discussion list. I've launched a discussion thread about this today:

I hope you join us there. Subscribe at:

A cautionary note: while it's fine to be sarcastic here with weblog comments, it's not acceptable on the ISSUES list. See our guidelines at:

Also, on a related note, I've blogged about two things related to this issue on my own Citizen Wig weblog.

1. How impressed I was at how members of the Union of Youth handled themselves after the vote on Tuesday night:

2. the messy back yard/deck area of the Key:

Ben hit the nail on the head. You can't vote yet. the key word is YET. when you guys hit 18, use the democratic process to your advantage. it has worked before, it will work again.

if you need any help, contact me,

I just got this note from someone named "llauner":

> I'm on the youth board of the key. I saw your post about the messy
> back deck, we are already planning on cleaning it today at 3:30.
> We have been trying to but it hasnt worked out yet because of the
> rain and finding a truck.
> thanks for your concern, you can come help if you would like.

To Griff, your post...

Re: Sarcasm vs ISSUES.

I guess I prefer to read/add comments here among the sarcasm-tolerant few than to see the world through a sarcasm filter. Anyone want to see a 2-year collection of pictures of private bar and restaurant litter and filth on west side City property? My only relief has been the joy of being sarcastic about it, since all else has failed. Dean Kjerland

Dean, I do love sarcasm, but it doesn't work in a problem-solving/conversation setting... and that's what we're trying to preserve on the ISSUES list.

I blogged the spring cleaning at The Key yesterday on the main weblog:

and pointed to it on my own blog.

Just believe me: Germany, and especially Bavaria, has survived thousands of beergardens spending a lot of comfort in the summertime. Just try! As a great fan of the top location of Northfield with many charming people, nice colleges, and high class events I am looking forward very much to my next Minnesota visit in September. This will include the Defeat of Jesse James Days and a celebration of the victory of "Froggy Bottom" with an open air Wiedersehn... Cheers!
With greetings from Herrenberg in Stuttgart, southern Germany.

My name is Drew Voegele, a board member on the Northfield Union of Youth board of directors. I read some of the weblog entries, including the letter to the city council by my friend and peer Ben Simpson. While I might not agree with the harsh tone of Mr. Simpson's comments, I have to agree with most of them. All of us at the Union of Youth felt more or less betrayed by a four to three vote to approve liqour service on the public space located directly behind our public youth center, The Key. To hear the comments of some 8 or 9 citizens, adults and youth alike and then watch them be essentially disregarded by 4 of the 7 voting city council members disturbed me greatly. I have been a member of this community since late in my 7th grade year, and now I am a junior at the High School. I have been involved in countless city affairs, and grown close with many community figures over the years, including many of the city council members. Prior to the mayoral election, Mayor Lansing came down to one of our weekly meetings and spoke on his strong support for the Union of Youth. I grew excited even informally campaigned for Mr. Lansing in hopes that things around here would change, that the council and the mayor would show us their support, even more than councils past. It saddened me to learn that Mayor Lansing's promises of support may have been false, and in this case, certainly were. To learn that this city would vote to approve an essential bar behind a youth center that has done nothing but better the city, against much public outcry, really makes me wonder where this city's priorities are. Remind me again, who is the future, youth, or a money hungry amphibian with dreams of a town where kids have nowhere to go and hangout (more 4 parking lot?)?

Drew, can you join the discussion on the ISSUES list?

I've added your comment there but it would be great to have you (and anyone else reading this) to join us there. Several council members are on the list, plus over 100 other area citizens. It's a much better forum for discussion/problem-solving than this blog comment thread.

See the archives of the list if you'd like to get a feel for it before subscribing: