Government

Items related to the running of Northfield

Land use, land sales top this week's city agendas

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The past and the future come together this week as the city deals with plans for a new movie theater and begins plans to divest itself of some land that was part of the former Northfield Hospital site.

City Council: meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The key issue will be a vote on whether to adjust the city’s comprehensive plan to designate about 10 acres of land along Highway 3 for commercial use, rather than light industrial. Technically, the issue isn’t a rezoning, and it’s not tied to a specific use of the land. But in reality, the move is needed to allow a rezoning that would allow property owner James Gleason to sell his land to Steven Payne, owner of Lakes & Rivers Cinema. Payne, who has developed eight cinemas in small towns in Minnesota and South Dakota, wants to build a theater similar to one he owns in Owatonna. If the city refused the change, Payne and Gleason plan to build the theater on an adjacent site across the city boundary in Dundas. The land, directly across from Target and Cub Foods, (in the distance past the familiar intersection pictured here), lies between the busy highway retail area and the light industrial area to the west.


City to sell homes, lots near Way Park

We just pulled this from the City Hall website.

An informational meeting outlining the process for the sale of four houses (including the one pictured at left) and three vacant lots from the former Northfield Hospital campus will be Tuesday, June 6, from 7-9 p.m. at St. John’s Church, 500 West Third St. At the meeting, representatives of Northfield Hospital will present their plan for disposing of the properties within guidelines established by the Northfield City Council. There will be an opportunity for questions. City representatives will also be at the meeting.

The former hospital site and adjacent homes owned by the city cover 4.73 acres in the 800-block between West First and West Second streets. The city council decided in 2004 that the 2.7 acres donated for the 1938 hospital be used to expand Way Park. To underwrite a portion of the cost of removing the old hospital, the hospital is authorized to sell the houses and vacant lots acquired after the original hospital was built.


School Board Withdraws Support for Village School

Vote will likely close area charter school

An article in the StarTribune reported that the Northfield School Board voted 5-2 tonight to withdraw sponsorship for the Village School of Northfield, a public charter school that was established in 1997. Of the 125 charter schools that have opened in Minnesota since 1991, the Village School is just the eighth to lose its sponsor.

Concerns over student safety, behavior and academic performance had been raised over the past few months, and the school's situation was a topic of discussion on our ISSUES list in early April, when it was first reported that the school board was considering this possibility.


Locally Grown podcast #19: Peggy Prowe and the Mill Towns Trail

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We took our recording session to the back room of the James Gang Hideaway on Friday, featuring Mill Towns Trail board member Peggy Prowe. The legislature just allocated $1 million dollars for the trail, so I invited Senator Tom Neuville and Representative Ray Cox to chime in.

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


Locally Grown features Mill Towns Trail, 2:30 pm Friday at The Hideaway

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We're taking our Locally Grown radio show/podcast to the streets this summer. This week, we're recording 2:30 PM Friday in back room at the newly opened James Gang Hideaway, 421 Division St. Our guest: Mill Towns Trail board member Peggy Prowe. Attend the recording session to help provide ambient background noise and maybe even participate.

The legislature just allocated $1 million dollars for the trail. I snapped the photo (above right) today after Northfield Rotary's lunch at the Northfield Golf Club. L to R: Rice County Commissioner Jessica Peterson, Faribault Councillor Carol King, Representative Patti Fritz, Peggy Prowe, Jim Schlicting, Representative Ray Cox, Mill Towns Trail Friends Chair Meg Otten, Senator Tom Neuville, Peter Stolley, Laurie Williams, Neil Lutsky. (Click all photos/images to enlarge.)


Policy and Picnic...What a Combo!

Reminder: this event is TODAY.

Steve MorseThe public is invited to hear about gains for environmental quality achieved during the 2006 Minnesota Legislative session. Steve Morse, Executive Director of Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP), will address the topic and answer questions from 4-5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 25, at the Northfield Public Library.

Steve is a former state senator and a former deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Steve was elected to the State Senate the first time in 1986, representing the Winona area. For most of his 12 years in the Senate, he served as chairman of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Budget Division. He served in the DNR from 1999 to 2003.


City faces tough choice on new theater

Editor's note: How many screens, how many cars, how much popcorn does it take to make money in the movie business today? Check back later for an in-depth interview with Steve Mann, one of the owners of the successful Twin Cities-based Mann Theatres chain.

Southgate CinemaAnyone who thinks small town government isn't a challenge is nuts. I've been covering small towns for many years and the questions they decide often leave them in a no-win situation—with friends and neighbors on both sides. They're decisions I wouldn't want to make.

For example, lots of cities face zoning issues where community officials know that a developer can take a lucrative project to another city if they don't approve it. Rarely, however, does the developer have the option of moving a mere 80 feet away to get to that other community.

That's the philosophical debate the City Council will face in June when they receive a Planning Commission recommendation to refuse a change in the Comprehensive Plan to allow commercial zoning for about seven acres of land along Highway 3 across from Target. The change is the first step needed for landowner James Gleason and a developer to build a multi-screen movie theater complex.


Peterson campaign Northfield kick-off Thursday

Click to visit campaign websiteThe Contented Cow will be the site for the official Northfield kick-off for Jessica Peterson and her campaign for State Senate. This public event will be from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, this Thursday, May 25.

Everyone is invited to this open-house event. It will be a good chance for people to meet the candidate, ask questions, express concerns, volunteer to help out, and generally mingle with others who want to see Northfield once again have progressive representation in the state legislature.

Scott Covey is Jessica Peterson's campaign manager


Locally Grown podcast #18: Streetscape and ArtsPlan '06 with guest Howard Merriam

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Howard Merriam, Director of Resource Planning for the City of Northfield, was the guest for Friday's Locally Grown show, discussing plans for the downtown Streetscape & Way-Finding Plan (bike racks up first) and the ArtsPlan06 project. (L to R: Howard Merriam, Morgan Weiland, Ross Currier, Tracy Davis.)

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


Booker the Book Bus nears the end of the road

Already faced with the ongoing discussion of how to replace its downtown facility, the Library Board soon must decide what to do with its aging bookmobile, known as Booker the Book Bus.

The familiar bookmobile will be on the road through the summer, but it's not clear how much longer it can last. Library Director Lynne Young told the board Tuesday that the immediate need is about $8,000 for a generator, but the bigger question is whether it's wise to put any money into Booker, who turned 20 last year.

Booker already was well-worn when the Northfield Library bought it from the regional library system, SELCO, for $2,000 in 1991. The library and the Northfield Public Schools wrote a grant for the purchase, and a number of local organizations donated new paint, carpet and fixtures. The routes stretched outside the city to meet the school boundaries.

Ever since, Booker has been a big part of the library's outreach services. This year the library began a contract with the county to provide services outside the school district. The regional library service, which had retired its bookmobile, donated some of its collection to Booker.


City wins National Recycling Award

Click to enlargeThe next time you sort your recyclables and carry them to the local centers, give yourself a little round of applause. You are part of the reason the city of Northfield has won a national award from the American Forest and Paper Recycling Association.

Seattle won for the best big city program and little Northfield beat out the pack among cities under 100,000. This week city officials shared the honors with adults and kids from the Moravian Church Youth group and Project Sight, two of the Green Teams who worked on the citywide project. Pictured are Sam, Josephine and Addison Luhman with Mayor Lee Lansing, backed up by Randy Bongard and Brad Easterson. The children are part of the Moravian Church group.


HRA Considers Affordable Housing near Way Park

Way Park may get some new neighbors, and the city may get some needed affordable housing without sprawl, thanks to a plan the Housing and Redevelopment Authority is slated to present to the Northfield Hospital Board Wednesday.

Details haven't been released, but HRA officials are slated to begin discussion today on the possibility of taking ownership of three lots the hospital owns adjacent to Way Park. The park was recently expanded to include the site of the old hospital, which was razed after services were moved to its new site along North Avenue. The hospital retained ownership of three lots outside the park boundary.


Streetscape Plan is approved -- and available online

It's not quite summer reading, but policy wonks will be happy to know the new Downtown Streetscape Framework Plan is "available at the City Hall website":http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/assets/4/4160frameworkplanfinal1.pdf. ( _PDF_ )

The City Council voted Monday to approve the plan, which includes reams of information about park bench styles, the color of street pavers and other civic fashion news. For those worried about light pollution, a separate study will be done this year to determine how to get a historic look with environmentally friendly lighting. More inside...


Calling All Photographers: Request For Images

The Economic Development Authority of the City of Northfield is looking for images to include in EDA marketing materials, including the soon-to-be-released Economic Development Plan. The EDA is specifically looking for photographs that are representative of Northfield, and would credit the photographer on the printed pieces.

If you have photos you would be willing to share, please contact Deanna Kuennen, Housing and Economic Development Manager. (Email Deanna.Kuennen@ci.northfield.mn.us; phone: 645-3069.)


This Week in the Northfield Blogosphere

It's a visual feast this week on the 'Sphere - if your pics ain't rockin', we don't come knockin'. Pictures of Northfield, St. Paul, Beijing, and much, much more after the jump...


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