Category Archives: Action Squad

Preachin’ to the Choir?

SidewalkDining.jpgSome might say he was preaching to the choir last night. Jay Walljasper remarked on it himself as he opened his presentation at The Grand for the NDDC’s Partnership Celebration. In fact, he said he was working with folks in Brainerd recently and he asked them what they wanted their downtown to be like when they had completed their project and they said “Northfield or Stillwater”. He noted that they are both successful, but slightly different, models of great downtowns.

Indeed, Walljasper emphasized the importance of many things that the NDDC has been talking about for almost ten years.

He talked about Fostering Community and Assuring Safety, and we hold Monthly Forums and Block Head Gatherings, regularly focusing on “Quality of Life Issues”. He praised Places to Hang Out and Nurturing Pleasure and Pizazz, and we work for Sidewalk Dining and Downtown Events. He advocated for Taming Traffic and Keeping Things Clean and Green and we’ve argue for safe crossings of Division Street and Dahomey Avenue and an Annual Spring Cleaning Downtown. Finally, he emphasized Boosting Local Economic Vitality and we champion Reduced Commercial Property Taxes and Shopping Locally.

Jay also spoke for benches, bike racks (yes, bike racks), public restrooms, allowing sidewalks sales and sidewalk dining, and overturning regulations that hinder economic vitality. The NDDC’s old Action Squad formally presented many of these ideas to the City Council and Staff back in 2003. Most of these ideas are now being slowly but steadily realized.

It was clear from his remarks that changes for the better take time, often more time than seems necessary. From Jay’s perspective, the most important ingredient for change is Social Capital, the citizens who are dedicated to making their communities great places. He gestured to the group and pointed out that it was obvious that we are rich in that kind of capital in downtown Northfield.

With on-going attention, unflagging determination, lots of hard work, and an occasional enthusiastic celebration, our progress will continue. Thanks to Jay for his fine presentation and thanks to all the “social capital”, the folks who partner with us for the success of the NDDC, Downtown, and Northfield.

Photograph courtesy of Griff Wigley. See more about last night on Locally Grown.

Way-finding Sign Returns!

WayFindingSign.jpg…actually, the first one was just a test model. This latest appearance is that of the real thing.

On the north side of 4th Street, just east (up the hill away from the river) of Division Street, is a way-finding sign. It’s part of a planned series of signs in and around downtown to help folks find their way to arts, recreation and cultural opportunities in our community.

This one includes such landmarks as the Historical Society, the historic Grand Auditorium, the historic Carnegie Library, the renowned Northfield Arts Guild, the historic Archer House, the town-spawning Ames Mill, the much enjoyed Riverwalk, and the much used National Guard Armory. Note the icons for public restrooms and public parking too.

Here’s another opportunity to give a big “thank-you” to Joel Walinski and his crew down at City Hall. Thanks Joel, you can count on us to praise them each and all, one by one.

New Railings Installed at Ames Mill Dam Overlook

NewRailingAtCannonDam.jpg In the category of celebrating life’s simple pleasures, such as fresh paint on crosswalks, new way-finding signage, and the installation of additional bike racks, there are now the new railings installed at the Ames Mill dam overlook. My appreciation for them last week was almost ecstatic.

The old ones were in pretty rough shape. Personally, I think that their replacement with these new ones in such an often visited place in town sends out a powerfully positive message about our community.

While I was perhaps being a bit too enthusiastic in my appreciation, putting my eyes within six inches of the railings and caressing the surface with my hands, several teenagers asked me if they were going to be painted. Analytically appraising the current coating, I shared my opinion that it looked thin and flat like primer.

“They should be black, to match the rest”, the group offered. I’ll respectfully pass that input on to Joel Walinski and his talented crew down at the City of Northfield.

Celebrating Life’s Simple Pleasures

FillingPotholes.jpgBike racks, trash receptacles, street striping…how low can I go on the civic investment “to-do” list?

Don’t ever underestimate me.

Try to imagine my unbridled joy when I saw City of Northfield crews filling potholes in downtown the other morning. Let me help to stimulate your imagination.

Personally, I believe that unaddressed potholes are the harbingers of the decline and fall of civilization as we know it. Seeing these guys fill the potholes renewed my sense of hope in our community’s future.

Thanks again to Joel Walinski and his team at the City of Northfield.

Flowers on the Bridge

FlowersOnTheBridge.jpgOne of the most exciting things that the Northfield Garden Club announced (as part of their Northfield In Bloom initiative) at the NDDC’s April Forum was their plan to place flower boxes on the Pedestrian Bridge. I thought it would be a symbolic, but vibrantly visual, uniting of the east and west sides of the river.

Well, they’ve done it. Not that anyone who has met with these folks would think that they move slowly. However, it was a real treat as we were walking around Bridge Square this morning, planning placement for elements of the Taste of Northfield, to see the flowers down river.

It’s only the beginning…of all the beautification projects and celebratory events planned for Downtown Northfield this summer. So come on down(town) and share in the visual treats and fun activities. Everyone is not only welcome but appreciated…

…in Downtown Northfield.