The Downtown Northfield Redevelopment project that was announced last year is an ambitious, long-term plan that looks to maintain the economic and cultural health of Downtown Northfield for generations to come. The plans stretch from a redeveloped Archer House site to new developments at 5th & Water Streets, and possibly as far as 7th Street. It would also include changes along the Washington Street corridor, along the West side of the Cannon River, and a redeveloped Bridge Square, as well. Community Development Director Jake Reilly said the city has taken on these plans in order to protect the relevance and importance of the Downtown area.
“With some additional structured parking to try and enhance the downtown pedestrian friendliness and also potentially enhance the number of housing units, because we’re sort of shooting for 10% of our population to live downtown. Data and research suggest that that would ensure that our downtown is as vital for the next 100-and-something years as it has been for the last 100-and-something-years.”
With all long-term, ambitious plans, unforeseen obstacles can arise that force the plans to move in different directions and slow down some timelines, and so it is with the city’s plans for Downtown Northfield.
Reilly revealed on Wednesday that the planned site for a new municipal liquor store, a cornerstone of the 5th and Water Street plans, will have to change. Without going into much detail, Reilly said the “site assembly” process did not work out the way the city had hoped, and the area where they had wanted to build the new liquor store will not be available. He said the city is now moving on to Plan B, but Mayor Rhonda Pownell said the better way to characterize the situation is that there are several different ideas for where the new store could be built.
“I’d like to say we’ve got three Plan ‘A’s. In our back pocket, and each one is going to be great. You know there are just different options, different avenues that we can follow, and we’re going to make sure that we’re going to make a really solid decision for our community.”
Reilly also said the planned Bridge Square redevelopment has hit a snag due to an archeological discovery. Plans to redevelop the park in the center of Downtown Northfield have been in various stages of conversation for nearly a decade. After approving a design team for the project late last year, the city has been planning to actually begin construction in 2024. However, he said, a section of the original Ames Mill’s foundation has been discovered in an area that was to be part of the development. The plan now is to determine whether the discovery is significant enough to delay the plans for next year.
Mayor Pownell and Director Reilly do not seem to believe that either of the developments will significantly affect the long-term plans.
Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Northfield Community Development Director Jake Reilly and Mayor Rhonda Pownell can be heard here
Fourth of July Weekend is one of the most dangerous on Minnesota roads
This 4th of July weekend will bring extra law enforcement patrols out to monitor traffic safety. The holiday week is one of the most enjoyable times of the year for many, but according to the Minnesota office of traffic safety, it is also about one-third of the way into what has been labeled as the 100 most dangerous days of the year on Minnesota roads.
A statement issued by the OTS said more fatal crashes happen on Minnesota roads between Memorial Day and Labor Day than any other time of the year. Of the 444 traffic fatalities that occurred in Minnesota last year, 169 of those, a full 38%, occurred over that 100-day stretch.
As a means to mitigate the danger between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the federal government sponsors traffic safety initiatives throughout the summer, which gives local law enforcement funds to put extra patrols on the roads specifically to watch for unsafe driving.
Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Service Chief Tom Nelson and his crew have seen enough accidents on the road that didn’t need to happen that he knows exactly what the problems are.
“We all are guilty of complacency when it’s nice out, the roads are fine, you know, we’re just kind of tooling along. [But we’re] texting and driving or not paying attention and just not being as aware as we are when it’s raining or snowing. You have got to have that same diligence when you’re driving now, even if it’s nice out to make sure that you’re paying attention.”
The OTS statement said the three major causes of fatal crashes in the summer are speed, impairment, and distracted driving.
Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Service Chief Tom Nelson and Northfield Emergency Medical Services Chief Brian Edwards can be heard here
Rice County United Way offering microgrants
And the Rice County Area United Way is reminding the community that the organization is offering microgrants as a means for funding urgent, community-based challenges or innovative new programs to reach underserved populations.
The grants are in the amount of $100 to $1,000 and will be made to local groups
Specifically, the projects funded by a microgrant should affect members of the Rice County community in the United Way target areas of: Financial stability, Health and Education. The group applying should have limited access to funding. It does not need to be registered as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization, but the project should focus on a charitable, tax-exempt purpose.
The statement said that, while the United Way does not require a specific report on use of the funds, they will request that an informal account of the use and the project results be made to the Executive Director of the Rice County Area United Way, Elizabeth Child.
For more information on the grants, contact Child directly at [email protected] or call 507-664-3510. To find the microgrant application form, visit ricecountyunitedway.org