It has been a purposeful, packed and productive year and a half for the 2011 City Council!
Here are updates on a few of our key projects:
Save the Downtown Post Office
On April 5, 2011 The USPS announced its intention to sell Northfield’s downtown Post Office and relocate retail postal services from our downtown to the remote Highway Carrier Annex out on Highway 3. The community’s response was strong, undivided and clear – we need the Post Office to stay in downtown Northfield!
As a Council representative of the downtown commercial district, I immediately got to work to urge local action to oppose the USPS’ proposed move, and to Keep our Post Office Downtown! In the many months since, I have been working as the Council’s liaison to the NDDC’s Save the Post Office (SOPO) Task Force to negotiate with USPS to find an alternative to the proposed sale, and to keep the local community informed and involved in the effort.
Where things stand? The USPS has moved forward in putting the building on the market for $840,000, but owing to the historic status of the building and the district in which it is located, their move is being opposed by the State Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO). That Office has ruled that USPS must meet with Northfield to negotiate measures that will mitigate or avoid the negative effect of the proposed sale and relocation of postal services on our historic downtown commercial district.
While we wait to see how that battle is resolved, the coalition of local organizations and leaders in the SOPO Task Force are working to prepare for the anticipated negotiation with USPS, research potential options for the local acquisition of the property and explore scenarios for the building’s potential re-use.
It is not clear how long this process is going to drag on, but flanked by the SOPO coalition, the City is working to pursue options that will preserve and bolster the economic vitality of the downtown district.
Additional information on the Save our Post Office effort (and addresses for our Congressional representatives) are available on the NDDC’s Save the Post Office! website.
New Safety Center Update
This is the largest capital improvement project Northfield will see for decades and the City Council is intent on getting it right! This Council did a great job of weighing all possible site options, and deciding on a project plan that is now moving forward. Responding to the input I received from local residents, and from members of the Northfield Fire Department, I introduced a motion to continue the use of the current facility as a centralized location for the Fire Department and to move forward with the construction of a new Public Safety Center for Police, administration and training at the Cowles site (located behind Perkins and next to the City’s Maintenance facility off of S. Highway 3). This motion was passed by the Council, and we are now working on project details. We continue to work to reduce the total cost of the project, and to arrive at a final plan.
Available details about the project are available on the Project Website . Final project details and costs are still in progress. Finally, at the June 5 Council meeting, I urged that the Council put the project on the ballot of the November election to give the community the chance to review and get behind a final project plan. But the Council voted (4-2) to fund the project without bringing it to the voters.
I support the Council’s decision but will continue to encourage that we come to a clear consensus about whether we intend to re-develop the current Safety Center as a temporary fix or a long-term solution. This question remains unclear and needs to be resolved, along with other questions relating to the administration of the Fire Department and the City’s agreement with the Rural Fire Association – both of which are of consequence to design considerations for the project.
This Council has gotten the project moving forward, but we have much work yet to do to arrive at a final project plan and budget. I will continue to work to pursue a clear plan that keeps the Fire Department centrally located and stays within a budget that is realistic for these economic times. I encourage your continued emails and comments to me regarding this important project.
Strategic Hospital Task Force
The Northfield Hospital is an essential and valued asset to the Northfield community! The City Council recently moved to enter into a strategic discussion with the Hospital Board to “study the respective contributions of the Hospital and the City to the public health and economic development of the community, and consider models of future collaboration between the Hospital and the City which: ensure that the residents of Northfield continue to have access to a high quality, affordable health care delivery system; make investments that improve community health, fitness, and wellness; and, promote effective local governance and direction of the health care delivery system.”
I am pleased with the positive direction of this conversation. Council members Ganey, Im and Buckheit were appointed to serve on this Task Force and will be reporting to the Council on the progress of that conversation. Meetings of the Task Force will be open to the public and meeting notes will be available on the website.
Stay in Touch with the Work of the City Council
As always, I encourage you to email me at email@example.com or call me (507-301-6756) with questions, comments or suggestions relating to community issues and the work of the City Council.
I also encourage you to stay informed about the work of the City Council:
- Access City Council Meeting Agendas and Minutes on the Council Website
- Attend our weekly meetings, Tuesdays a 7p.m. in City Hall, 801 Washington Street
- Tune in to our meetings via the KYMN Online Stream (and access archived meetings at www.KYMNradio.net
- Follow our work through the League of Women Voters’ Observer Reports (which you can request be sent to your email by request), and
- Stay in touch with me about the issues that face our community!