After some opening remarks by Bridge Square project consultant John Slack at last night’s Bridge Square planning open house, Dan Bergeson from the Mayor’s Streetscape Task Force (MSTF) spoke briefly about why the project is happening and why now. He also talked talking about the MSTF and its role, as well as how the project fits with the May 2006 Downtown Northfield Streetscape Framework Plan.
Marcia Klopf, St. Olaf student intern working on the project, then provided the audience with an in-depth history of Bridge Square (see slides 11-39 below). John Slack followed with an overview of the community uses of Bridge Square (slides 40-45).
John Slack invited the audience to participate with comments, questions, ideas, and memories of Bridge Square. See the album of 45 photos but here are photos of nearly everyone who spoke:
Marcia Klopf took these notes on those who spoke. We’ve tried to match up the comments below with the names of the people who made them, but we’ve missed a few. If you were there and can help us out, attach a comment to this blog.
- Cliff Clark: What is our idea of the boundaries of Bridge Square? The Cannon River, but not the Riverfront going to 5th St.; enhancing the connections to Bridge Square; Importance of Connectivity
- Lin Bruce: The fountain was a gift to the city from Sheldahl, the only place to put it at the time was in Bridge Square; the only place in the Square at the time was the location of the flowerbeds
- Paul Niemisto: 3 Structures in Bridge Square- are they really permanent? Maybe the better question is if they are permanently in Bridge Square
- Sarah Beimers: National Register (1980): surveyor for John North marked the public square from the very beginning; 1856 Northfield records; The irregular shape of the squares may be because of the stones- somewhat follow the river; John North was from the Northeast and he valued having the public space for gatherings as many towns in the Northeast were designed to accommodate; idea of having a Village Commons- a green space/town square (this was also a business decision for North as it served dual purpose as a parking lot for his mill); 2 public spaces originally designated for Northfield
- (?????) Does there need to be more flexibility in the Square?
- (?????) Daily use just as important as the programmed uses throughout the year
- Cliff Clark: 1970s: “Save Our River” campaign, to beautify the space of the river, extended place in the town; part of the city wide plans; The Square doesn’t exist in isolation; Look at how to engage the river
- David Hvistendahl: Grass isn’t functional now because of the intense use of the Square, it is extremely difficult to maintain; suggestion to instead use raised planters which could also be used as seating (he mentioned that one of the most important issues to address was the lack of adequate seating in Bridge Square); using semi-permeable surfaces in the square
- (Paul Cloak) Automobile Parking, especially along Division Street; What becomes the solution for Bridge Square may set the precedent/be an inspiration for elsewhere in Northfield; Possibility of creating a primarily pedestrian space
- (?????) Not turning our back to the river
- (?????) Bridge Square as an island; look at the traffic pattern and flow; closing roads during large events, something that is really appreciated and possibly even an idea to expand past the time of these events
- John Slack: Possibly perform traffic counts as part of the study
- Jim Pokorney: Memory – he stated that people know Bridge Square differently based on if you can walk there or if you have to drive there; says he’s been here for about 20 years and when he first moved here he walked his 6mo old to the Square, she played in the fountain while he talked with a senior citizen, they quickly became friends; this is the idea of Bridge Square- small town ways of having a conversation with anyone around, wanting to meet new people; The Square changes from day to day, from week to week; it is a multi-use space and this is something that should be stressed during the project. Bridge Square is not just a place for tourists or for locals, it is a place that accommodates everyone
- Judy Code: flowers in Bridge Square and Riverwalk; not enough seating and no irrigation plan; can we spread the seating out along the Riverwalk by putting benches elsewhere rather than all concentrated in Bridge Square? To accommodate for larger numbers of people but also to protect the flowers by putting benches in front of parts of them to direct people in different ways; possibly putting concrete or bricking in elsewhere as well as an irrigation system?
- Dale Gehring: Need for more space- do we need the street by the Post Office? (the one right in front of the NHS, which also does not have a name) If we get rid of this street, will the mailbox also move?
- Jim Pokorney: Post Office- is this part of the plan? It’s a critical element to a successful Bridge Square; Making sure that it’s part of considerations as we move forward
Some comments to to Marcia after official meeting ended:
- (?????) Think about the trees as well and the permanence of the trees
- Cliff Clark: Importance of flexibility in the Square; possibly look at San Antonio and their relationship with the Riverfront
- Jane McWilliams: The Dam- what year was it built? (Ross mentioned that the current dam is the 3rd dam); So what do the historians vs. the environmentalists think about the dam?
Input and Response sheets
Lastly, attendees were invited to fill out an ‘input and response’ sheet:
You may give your name if you wish, but that is optional.
We’ve scanned 22 of the sheets into a single PDF document.
Next week, we’ll have an online version available here for everyone: an online straw poll.
If you were at the meeting and have comments, questions or feedback that you’d like to add, attach a comment below.
And feel free to react to the comments of others, either those comments:
- made at the meeting
- captured on the response sheets
- made here in the blog discussion thread