Northfield Bridge Square straw poll results (196 responses)

Bridge Square online straw poll results

Above: You can view/download the 53-page complete report on the results of the Northfield Bridge Square straw poll (PDF, 196 responses) with the open-ended comments included.

Below: You can also page through the results via the Slideshare version:

REMINDER: a straw poll is an informal unscientific survey of those who ‘show up.’ See my Nov. 20 blog post that explains the rationale for it.
DISCUSSION OF THE RESULTS: I’ll launch some discussion about the straw poll results in the comments section attached to this post.  But if you’ve got something you’d like to discuss, don’t hesitate to chime in.  The comments are threaded, which means you can comment on a comment, but don’t worry about correct placement, as I can move them.

10 thoughts on “Northfield Bridge Square straw poll results (196 responses)

  1. Let’s discussion the results of Question 6: “How important is it to you to keep the Civil War Memorial on Bridge Square?” (We’ve already had some early discussion about this issue on the blog here.)

    Straw poll results:

    Very important: 37.4% – 71
    Somewhat important: 35.3% – 67
    Not important: 23.2% – 44
    Other: 4.2% – 8
    Other (please specify): 33 – 33

    Straw poll comments:

    * It’s good to have the memorial somewhere. I’m not sure if it needs to be on Bridge Square.

    * Not many communities are old enough to have one.

    * I don’t know how long it’s been there, but seems to be well established. I see no reason to remove it.

    * It’s a part of the historic charm and gives Bridge Square a sense of continuity over the years.

    * Maybe it could be moved to a less central spot in the square to allow for better movement, etc.

    * I’d prefer it be relocated.

    * I don’t think it has to remain in its current location, but it is nice to have in the ‘area’. I don’t know its full history.

    * I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t notice that we had one. Could it join the veterans memorial?

    * Is this really up for debate? That is crazy!

    * It has history and it carries an ongoing tradition – a positive tradition and positive tradition is something to be valued & kept

    * I like the idea of moving it to Memorial Park.

    * This is our heritage. I like the historiocity of it. And how would Oles and Carls celebrate their wins over each other without it? However if it could be moved to a different location in downtown that might be okay.

    * I think that having “bits of history,” and Northfield history specifically, reflected in Bridge Square is important. The Civil War Memorial definitely qualifies! However, I also think that it might be either incorporated into the square in a different way, or again if logistically or aesthetically it makes sense to move it to say, Riverside park with the Veterans memorial, I think that would be amenable! One other idea is that sometimes the square feels a little “exposed”–the open space creating a kind of “fishbowl” affect. Perhaps using the CW Memorial, benches or other seating, and planting shrubs or trees, one could create some more “private” or “cozy” areas within the square as well as some openness. (Of course on the other hand it is really nice to have those nice open views–perhaps there’s a happy-medium!)

    * I don’t feel any connection with it –

    * no opinion

    * I think memorials such as these are important reminders of our history

    * What would be the reason to remove it? a reverential and iconic symbol of the community in a central public space, the most appropriate space for it.

    * Nice to have but doesn’t need to be in this location. Could be in Memorial Park for example.

    * We could easily have a monument district over by the veteran’s memorial.

    * No opinion

    * It’s more a bench than a monument.

    * It provides a historical touchstone for our community. If it is moved somewhere else, I think it needs to be replaced with something else that symbolizes the community continuity. A monument for peace might be nice.

    * Very important historical remembrance. Looks nice and great spot for sitting during events.

    * Could that monument be moved to the newer WWII memorial near Riverside Park and Hwy 3?

    * Move it to the Veterans’ Park.

    * That monument was designed for the Square. It has been there since it was installed in the 1920s. It is also listed in the National Register nomination. I could see the memorial moving closer to the river but it would still have to be close to the original location.

    * It doesn’t have to stay right where it is, but the memorial in some fashion needs to be near the downtown (and Ames Mill) as a further reminder of the history of the city and its possible link to the James Younger gang choosing Nfld as a target.

    * It’s a piece of history, and so shouldn’t be lost. But it could be moved elsewhere.

    * It seems worth considering a different location within the Bridge Square area, in order to keep it “in” Bridge Square while allowing for possibly more effective space use.

    * “It is essential to keep our Civil War Monument in its place.

    * Can’t imagine anyone wanting to move this! We honor our veterans.”

    * I think for history’s sake it should stay somewhere in the vacinity, but it does not have to stay in it’s current, prominent location.

    * This could be moved to the other war memorial location along highway 3. However, I’m not a veteran. Veterans may have a different view and it would be a mistake to move something that many people view as sacred.

    * Consider moving it to Veteran’s Park to make more room

    • I thought I’d include here the blog comments made by Helen Albers earlier this month so we’d have all discussion on this issue in one place. Helen wrote:

      I feel strongly that moving would diminish the visibility of our monument as well as the cause it commemorates. Our Civil War veterans were honored by our townspeople who dedicated this monument to them for their wartime sacrifice. My husband studied the Civil War so we visited many battlefields, and observed that Civil War monuments were placed in the town squares, where people were reminded of the great tragedy.

      Our Albers’ clan honors our great grandfather, Henry Albers, who fought in Sherman’s March. This monument honors our heroes, and must remain where it is visible in Bridge Square. Townspeople and visitors may share in the tragedy-Northfield history. Let’s remember this history and not move our monument. Our beautiful Veteran’s Memorial Park has become a sacred place, and has a great soldier sculpture to honor soldiers of a later era.

      (Have you ever noticed that our young people, who congregate in Bridge Square, have never damaged the monument?) Respect.

    • One of my comments to Helen when we were discussion this issue earlier this month:

      I’m thinking that Veterans Park is a place where people would be more likely to view the monument with reverence than Bridge Square where it’s more likely experienced as either a place to sit, a means to stand up higher to get a better view of a performance, or to brag about which local college football team beat the other by rotating the eagle that sits on top of it.

    • Hi Griff, I would respectfully argue that you don’t understand the importance of the sense of community that historical monuments like this provide. The monument was put in Bridge Square to make the statement that the memory of these veterans is at the heart of what is special and valued in this community. It means something that they dedicated it on this spot and no other.

      The traditions that have grown up around the monument–people’s memories of sitting on its base at events, turning the eagle towards the colleges–are part of what it means to be a Northfielder. Some of these memories are serious, some are fun. But all of them provide the historical patina that gives a town a deeper sense of meaning. Small towns all over America have Civil War monuments in their central squares because that’s how important–how central–the conflict was.

      As a landscape historian, I can tell you that in many years of research I have never heard of another community crass enough to seriously consider moving one. Northfield has a sad history of moving things out onto the the highway–classic 20th Century sprawl. If you do it with your most important monument, you will be making a powerful statement that, when it comes to history and community, you just don’t get it.

    • Hi Jan, I’m delighted to have you chime in on this issue, both as a former Northfielder and as a landscape historian. I won’t hold your connection to Helen and Steve against you. ;-)

      I’m approaching this more with a spirit of inquiry than a position of conviction and I think many other citizens are, too. We’ve never had to think about the monument before. As you can see from the straw poll and the submitted comments, there’s approximately equal support for keeping where it is, keeping it on Bridge Square somewhere, and moving it to Veteran’s Park. That’s not a scientific survey, of course.

      But I don’t think Northfield is being crass to discuss the issue and a Google search of “Civil War monument relocation” shows many other communities who’ve chosen to discuss it, too.

      In Geneva, Ohio, they recently moved their Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Memorial monument to a more prominent location downtown:

      Do you see that move as disrespectful?

    • Hi Griff,
      Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Anything that gets a community talking is to the good. As for the example you send of the community that moved its monument, they put it in a place equal to where ours is already. More evidence that we’re right to have it where it is, rather than looking like a beached whale in another spot! :) It’s all about context. It means something that Bridge Square is the very piece of ground on which our forefathers and foremothers chose to commemorate their veterans. If you move it, it will never have the same meaning. And Northfield will have lost a symbol that makes our square immediately recognizable as Northfield and nowhere else. I hope Northfielders will show that they still care about our heritage and leave it where it was meant to remain forever.
      Keep up the good work stirring the pot, Griff, and Mom, Steve and I will be here to help!
      Happy New Year,

    • Jan, in your earlier comment you wrote:

      “As a landscape historian, I can tell you that in many years of research I have never heard of another community crass enough to seriously consider moving one.”

      That indicated to me that you were against moving, that the original location was sacred.

      You now seem to be saying, based on Geneva Ohio’s decision to move their monument to a downtown location, that moving a monument is acceptable to you, that in some cases, prominence and community attention for a memorial trump historical setting/location.

      Is that accurate? Any other reasons/values that you would accept as rationale for moving?

    • Hi Griff,
      That is absolutely not what I’m saying. Sorry if I was not clear. They moved their monument to be in a more prominent place–not ideal in preservation terms, but I understand it there. Our monument is already in the most prominent place in town–right where the people who put it up wanted it to be. We are lucky enough to have the heart of our town where it has always been–and to have this wonderful monument marking that spot. And those of us with histories in Northfield have lots of great memories associated with it in that place. The sense of place matters to a community. I stand by my original statement that most towns would never seriously consider moving this type of important and historic symbol from the center of town. It says “Northfield.”

  2. The pedestrian plaza should be expanded by closing the street in front of the Scriver Building and 16 Bridge Square, then moving the post office drop box to Water Street. The pedestrian plaza should be ringed with seating.

    • David, there does seem to be some support for the idea of closing the street in front of the Scriver Building. Do you (or anyone else) know of opposition to the idea? Possible unintended consequences?

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