Items related to the running of Northfield

City OKs Northfield Hospital Clinic

Editor's note: This story has been updated. Schroeder-Leverington had filed suit Tuesday to challenge the awarding of the contract, but dropped the challenge.

The City Council on Monday agreed to hire RJM Construction of Plymouth to build a new clinic at Northfield Hospital for $4,415,700, with work expected to start this month and wrap up in 2007.

That timeline almost faced a delay.

An attorney for Schroeder-Leverington of Bloomington confirmed that the firm filed suit in Rice County District Court to block the contract, but quickly withdrew the action because it wasn't cost effecive. Attorney Einar Hansen told the council that Schroeder-Leverington objected to the city's decision to reject its lower bid of $4,378,000 because the firm didn't meet the experience qualifications set out in the bid documents.

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Couple to move house - from Bloomington to Northfield

house on wheelsPeople move from one house to another all the time. And it’s not unusual for a family to move from a split-level to a rambler. But David and Susan Slettton are putting a twist on the usual story by moving a split-level house from up near the Mall of America in Bloomington to Northfield, putting it on a new foundation that will turn it into a rambler.

At least that’s the plan the City Council approved Monday night. The new site is 1901 Lincoln Street (click for map), just off Jefferson Road. The Slettons, who are from Farmington, said after the meeting that they don't plan to live in the house. It's just their most ambitious project so far in the process made famous on cable television home networks as "flipping." The Slettens buy homes, rehab them and then sell them at a profit. He is an experienced drywall contractor, and she works with him on their rehab projects.

Bond wants out, Malecha considers county race

Most politicians would be thrilled to run unopposed -- and few would openly solicit competition. But at-large Northfield City Councilor Dixon Bond announced at the end of Monday's council meeting that he's encouraging people to run for his seat so he can retire.

"It's my intent not to run," said Bond, who now is 70 and has served six years on the council. "I'd like to see some new blood on the council." Bond said he would keep open the option of running if he felt he was needed, but that he wanted to announce his intention early so people would have enough time to file before next week's deadline. (Bond is shown here in a Griff Wigley photo from our files from last year.)

Galen Malecha, who hasn't filed for re-election representing the council's Fourth Ward, said he'll decide this week whether to shoot for another term or aim higher by filing for a seat on the Rice County Board of Commissioners. The county position is open because Commissioner Jessica Peterson is running for the Minnesota State Senate.

This week at City Hall

City officials took last week off, but they'll be making up for lost time with busy agendas tackling lots of issues. You can check out all the meetings, agendas and other information at the City Hall website and through the links below.

The City Council will hold public hearing on the approval of $33 million in bonds for Northfield Hospital. The total includes $10 million to build a clinic on its Northfield campus and another in Farmington, with the balance a refinancing of the 2001 bond issue for the new hospital. The bonds will be paid through hospital revenues and not the city's general budget, so there will be no tax increase. The council is expected to approve the bond issue and to award a contract for $4,415,700 to RJM Construction of Plymouth for a new clinic on the hospital campus.

Work starts on new pool

Click to view a small photo setOn a perfect day for swimming, dozens of Northfield residents stood around the new city pool at Memorial Park Thursday – or at least around the site where the new pool will be when it opens next summer.

Mayor Lee Lansing donned a red swimming outfit, complete with flippers, to celebrate the groundbreaking for the $2.85M pool project. Park Board and City Council members donned the traditional hard hats and picked up shovels, but they didn’t have to try and break the sun-hardened soil.

Project manager Jack Viebahn of Met-Con Companies of Faribault, the general contractor for the project, brought along a small bulldozer to do the heavy work. That left the officials to smile and pose with neighborhood kids who showed up for the event.

"It's one small scoop for man...a lot of little scoops for the children of Northfield," Park Board Chairman Richard Vanasek joked. Mayor Lansing called his red outfit a tribute to historic swimming apparel, a nod to the past as the city moves to the future.

Election Filings are Open

It's a holiday week, so there are no meetings on the City Hall schedule. There's a lot of action, however, as people decide whether to file for any of the open seats on the City Council. Filings opened yesterday and end July 18, so we don't have to wait long for an answer. The filing period is the same for the Northfield Public Schools, where three School Board seats also are open.

The three City Council positions open are those now held by Jim Pokorney in the first ward, Galen Malecha in the fourth ward and Dixon Bond, who serves at-large.

Here's the lowdown from the Northfield city website:

All positions serve a term of four years, 1/1/2007 - 12/31/2010. The filing period begins on Wednesday, July 5 at 8 a.m. and closes on Tuesday, July 18 at 5 p.m. Interested candidates must file an affidavit of candidacy with the city clerk at the Northfield City Hall, 801 Washington Street, Northfield. There is a $5 filing fee. Candidates must be qualified to vote, be at least 21 years of age on the date he or she would assume office, a resident of the City and of any ward he or she seeks to represent, or will become a resident therein at least 30 days before the election. If more than two people file for a position, a primary election will be held on Tuesday, September 12. The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 7. Contact Deb Little, City Clerk, for additional information.

Planners play tourist to get new perspective

Wednesday evening we made like tourists, complete with cameras, sandals, and shorts, and took a bus tour. The Planning Commission, along with city staff members Brian O’Connell and Dan Olson as tour guides, spent almost two hours driving all around Northfield.

The purpose of our adventure was to be better able to visualize our “sense of place” as a group by sharing the common experience. I thought that it was very worthwhile. Pictured here is our tour group, wearier but wiser for our efforts.

This journal of our journey represents my own thoughts. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of the entire Planning Commission and has nothing to do with my role as part-time executive director of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation. I have done my best to capture the comments made by the participants on the tour.

Downtown library draws support

Editor's note: Our thanks to League of Women Voters member Kiffi Summa, who was kind enough to send these notes, along with a challenge to people to get involved in an important civic discussion. You can do that by adding a comment here or joining the dialog on the ISSUES List.

The Northfield League of Women Voters (LWV) devoted its "4th Monday" public meeting in June to discuss expansion or replacement of the Northfield Carnegie Library.

The meeting was hosted by Lynne Young, library director, and Mark Gleason, chair of the library board. Lynne began with a short tour of the library, which clearly illustrated the many space problems the library currently faces. There is a lack of shelf space for developing/growing the collection, but an even more pressing need is for additional work space for all the behind-the-scenes work of processing materials, inter-library services, etc.

This week at City Hall

It's the end of the month and next week is a holiday, so We're moving into a light schedule of public events. All are at City Hall unless otherwise noted. You can click on the links to see details when they become available.

Zoning Board of Appeals
, 7 p.m.
Planning Commission, 7:10 p.m.
Planning Commission Bus Tour, 5 p.m.
ArtsPlan06 Stakeholder Forum, 6:45 p.m., Northfield Community Recreation Center, Room SS 103.
Hospital Board, 6:35 p.m., Northfield Hospital

HRC seeks new member

 By Judy Dirks, HRC Chair
The Northfield Human Rights Commission is accepting applications for one vacancy on its commission.

Interested persons are invited to pick up an application at the Northfield City Hall, 801 Washington Street. Applicants will be invited to attend a regular Human Rights Commission meeting to meet current members and ask questions.

Members are appointed by the mayor of Northfield with the recommendation of the Human Rights Commission. Efforts are made to draw from a broad cross-section of the community, and appointments represent both sexes, various economic levels, including welfare recipients, members of the business and professional community, renters and homeowners, racial and ethnic minorities, various religious groups, and a wide age span, including senior citizens and students. 

This week at City Hall

A new Economic Development Plan, changes in the downtown historic district's building restrictions, a nearly $2 million plan to buy wireless automated meter-reading technology, and plans for an innovative artists' studio/housing center downtown are all up for discussion this week.

The council is slated to set a July 10 public hearing on the approval of $33 million in bonds for Northfield Hospital's plans to build a clinic on its Northfield campus and another in Farmington. The bonds will be paid through hospital revenues and not the city's general budget, so there will be no tax increase. In other hospital business, representatives will discuss progress on sales of two homes and three lots near the former hospital site.

In addition, the council is slated to approve $3.21 million in bonds for the new outdoor swimming pool, with payments that will come out of the annual city budget at a rate of between $110,000 and about $245,000 a year through 2025. In a technical move, the city will lease the pool to the Economic Development Authority, which will issue the bonds.

This week at City Hall

We have the dates and time for all the government meetings this week. But we can't tell you whether you need to ink them into your schedule. 
The agendas aren't all available yet, but you can check the City Hall website to watch for them.

City Council, 7 p.m. Monday. This is a work session, but no agenda is posted yet.
Planning Commission, 7 p.m. Tuesday. The commission is expected to make a recommendation on the planned unit development of the Rosewood 5th Addition, then continue its discussion of the city's comprehensive plan.
The Park and Recreation Advisory Board, 7 p.m. Tuesday. No agenda is available.
Heritage Preservation Commission, 4:30 p.m. Thursday. No agenda is available. 

Locally Grown podcast #20: Don Tarr and Kris Vohs on workforce housing

We took our Locally Grown show recording session to The Tavern's outdoor patio this afternoon. Our guests: Don Tarr, Chair of the Northfield Housing and Redeveloment Authority; and Kris Vohs, City Councilor and member of the HRA. Our topic: Northfield and the need for workforce housing.

Click photos to enlarge and continue reading to hear the whole show (30 minutes).

This Week in the Northfield Blogosphere...

The 'Sphere is back from Sin City - tanned, rested, and with both of my kidneys. That's a successful Las Vegas trip by any standard.

Since the 'Sphere's been out of the loop for a while, it's *_Current Events_* as the topic this week: things being built, things being torn down, and everything in between.

More inside...

Council OKs theater, keeps some land industrial

Editor's note: This is the second part of a story we started yesterday outlining the issues surrounding a proposed new movie theater in Northfield.

Owatonna CinemaThe Northfield City Council, faced with a need for both commercial and light industrial land, reached a compromise Monday that maintains a little of each.

"I like this better than the last meeting," said Steven Payne, vice president of Lakes & Rivers Cinema, which plans to bring a multi-screen cinema to seven acres along Canon Road, just off Hwy. 3. He was referring to the May 23 meeting of the Planning Commission, which rejected the land use designation needed as a first step to rezoning for a theater.  

For the details on the vote and much, much more, read the rest of the story...

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