Northfielders will be facing some key street projects for downtown next year. City Administrator Ben Martig said that there will be some heavily trafficked areas that include Division Street between 6th and 8th streets and 7th St. between Water and Washington. This will be full reconstruction. There will also be a mill and overlay of Washington Street from Woodley to 3rd street. Martig said this could be a bigger project as they consider expanding it to addsidewalk extensions. This area currently has the temporary bumpouts.
Martig said they’ll be looking for more community engagement, getting public feedback on the front end before they they put together their feasibility report to see what other enhancements the community might want. There are a number of parking lots on the project list and also Spring Street from Jefferson Pkwy to Huron Ct. This will be just one segment that comes from developer dollars and some state dollars. Due to costs, they’ll do it in segments. They’ll look at an urban design as a major collector street with sidewalks and trails and some infrastructure.
Timing and affordable housing push
Affordable housing was named as a strategic priority of the Northfield City Council. Staff has been working on that issue for years along with the Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The HRA has 11 acres at Southbridge and there have been multiple presentations on various ways to maximize housing. Community Development Director Chris Heineman noted, “in looking at that from an engineering standpoint, from the next step of road connections, it’s likely that it wouldn’t even be possible or wouldn’t be ideal with the existing land so that’s what brought some discussions with the adjacent property owner”. Housing Director Janine Atchison discussed working with the private owner on a possible land swap. HRA Chair Dayna Norvold and other members told Heineman and Atchison that they feel left out of the discussions and that they’re just there for a stamp of approval. Heineman said, “none of this would be coming forward for stamp of approval. And that’s not at all the process that would be taking place here. I think the actual urgency to get something done is maybe driving some of these things to be on the agenda before they’re ready to be on the agenda even for initial preliminary consideration. That’s what I’m feeling and hearing here. In order for this to come forward as a multi-family project which is what we talked about in March, we need to talk about what this project might look like and we’re just getting to step one”. They’re working with Three Rivers Community Action Agency to develop the land. Getting the facts together is a priority for Staff to get for the HRA’s meeting in July.
Nfld School Board approves hires
The Northfield School Board approved moving forward on their Positive Intention and Learning Support Specialists. Superintendent Dr. Matt Hillmann said they had been on a trial basis for this past school year. Hillmann said those positions are intended on helping to intervene with students at the Elementary school level, provide them some on-the-spot instruction about how their behavior was causing an issue for others, what they could do differently and then getting them back in the classroom as soon as possible. The Board also approved some additional music staffing for band.