Big Project Rolling into Downtown Next Year

StreetscapeForumSized.jpgThe City of Northfield, featuring Bonestroo consultant John Slack, presented the planning work to date and the project schedule as currently envisioned for the Water Street Parking Lot and 5th Street Reconstruction work this morning at the NDDC’s Monthly Downtown Forum.

Slack opened the presentation by saying that the goal of the Streetscape Framework, the overall design theme, was to increase the feeling of hospitality in the community by enhancing the built environment. The tactics in that strategy include maintaining the parking quantities, identifying new tree locations, and adding amenities such as benches, signage and, we hope, bike racks.

He then focused on the upcoming Water Street Parking Lot project. One goal is to better connect parking, downtown and the river. Details of this project include reconfiguring the vehicular traffic flow, adding trees to lessen the heat generated by the parking lot, working to protect the river from stormwater, and maintaining space for the DJJD Beer Tent.

The presentation of the proposed 5th Street Reconstruction took a bit longer. There are five concepts, A through E, and appear to vary on parking counts, street width, and whether or not bump-outs are installed. Some of the concepts include a bike lane and some do not. Cost estimates are yet to be developed.

As expected, the audience of about 40 business and building owners was very concerned about disruption from the construction work. The 5th Street work is currently scheduled to be completed first, requiring 7 to 9 + weeks. The next phase is the Water Street Parking Lot, requiring 6 to 7 + weeks. The final phase is the crosswalk pavers at both 5th and Water and 5th and Division, requiring 3 weeks.

The City will be developing a parking plan, detour routes, information on the web, and additional signage to help lessen the adverse impacts of construction on business. John Stull, former Mayor and current Mill Towns Trail Activist, pointed out that by facilitating the use of bicycles, you could lessen the issues related to vehicular traffic in downtown.

Another session, a Neighborhood Meeting, will be held tonight at the City Hall, in Council Chambers, from 5:00 to 6:30 pm. A Public Open House on the final design will be held on December 18th.

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