NDDC to Learn From Winona’s Example

Winona, Minnesota City Manager Eric Sorenson will be one of three panelists at our March NDDC Downtown Forum. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be Tuesday, March 1, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. in the lower level of the Archer House.

Speaking along with Sorenson will be Debbie White, newly elected Winona City Council person, who spent 14 years in New York City studying, performing and teaching professional dance; and Steve Nagel, who serves on an advisory committee to the City of Winona and Winona County relating to bicyclist and pedestrian access. Nagel will talk about plans for trail development in southeastern Minnesota and neighboring Wisconsin.

“Among the central purposes of the NDDC is to support the arts in its
many forms throughout the Northfield community and in the downtown
especially,” says Bardwell Smith, a founding member and current board
member of NDDC. “We are convinced that these areas of community life
have economic implications for Northfield.”

The City of Winona provides a healthy example of how public and private entities have cooperated in promoting the arts and thereby stimulating economic activity, Smith explained. The most prominent example is the newly instituted Great River Shakespeare Festival, which will be held in Winona for four weeks this summer for the second year.

As City Manager of Winona for a number of years, Sorenson has played a prominent role in economic development and in public-private
collaborations. The City of Winona also has worked extensively with
Winona State University and St. Mary’s University.

Oh Yeah, the Block Heads

Last Wednesday, February 9th, the NDDC hosted one of their increasingly regular (must be the bran muffins) Block Head Gatherings. As is our practice, it was held at Joe Grundhoefer’s Rueb-N-Stein at 8 am.

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Our special guest was Heidi Hamilton, Director of Public Works for the City of Northfield. She brought Joel Walinski, the City’s new Operations Manager to the meeting.

We asked Heidi to join us in a discussion about our interest in having a “Lick and a Promise Cleaning” of downtown before the Community Day of Service on April 30th and a substantial “Spring Cleaning” before the Northfield High School and St. Olaf College Graduations on May 29th. We also voiced our interest in working with the City to get the river railings painted by citizen volunteers. Heidi listened to and clearly understood our wishes and indicated that she would see what she could do to to accomodate them.
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NDDC Presents Safe Crossing Recommendations

The NDDC presented its report on Safe Crossing of Highway 3 to the City Council last night.

Mayor Lee Lansing had asked me, as Executive Director of the NDDC, to form an Ad Hoc Task Force to offer recommendations of ideas that could contribute to increased safety in crossing the highway.

The Task Force was made up of Suzannah Ciernia, owner of Life Skills Education, myself, Dale Finger, owner of the Quarterback Club, Amy Gage, St. Olaf College Director of Communications and NDDC Board Member, Leota Goodney, owner of Leota Goodney CPA, and Mark Quinnell, owner of the State Farm Agency.

The group looked at the March 10, 1997 Report of the Ad Hoc Highway #3 Design Committee and MNDOTs current construction plans. The Task Force then held one meeting and developed a list of 10 recommendations.

The recommendations are:

1. Rename the center section of Highway 3 to John North Boulevard.

2. Longer pedestrian crossing (walk) signals.

3. Rigorously enforce the 30 mph speed limit.

4. Add a traffic light at 3rd Street.

5. Install contrasting concrete aggregate at the intersections.

6. Install street lights that are similar height and design to the ones in downtown.

7. Add signs advising that pedestrians are crossing.

8. Add a traffic light at St. Olaf Avenue.

9. Create a gateway landmark at 3rd Street.

10.Eliminate the right turn lane at 2nd Street.
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EDA Approves Historical Society Loan Request

At Thursday morning’s meeting, the Economic Development Authority reviewed and approved a request by the Northfield Historical Society for $75,000 of Downtown Revolving Loan Funds.

The Historical Society will use the funds to restore the roof of the Scriver Building to its original design (repairing the leaks in the process), create new exhibit space to expand their offerings, and to address interior wiring, plumbing, and soundproofing issues.

This work will be the first phase of the planned restoration of this important downtown building and is expected to be completed in time for the July 4th celebration.

The NDDC had worked with the EDA to make the Downtown Revolving Loan Fund more “user-friendly” in the hopes of stimulating just this type of exciting project. This is the first loan approved since the terms of the program were revised and the first loan in 2005.

For more information on the Downtown Revolving Loan Fund, call City Economic Development Specialist Deanna Kuennen at 645-3069.

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Next NDDC Downtown ForumTuesday, March 1 8:00 a.m.

The next NDDC Downtown Forum hosts three Winona, Minnesota officials who will discuss the economic implications of art and recreation in their community. Long time City Manager Eric Sorensen and one newly elected member of the Winona City Council (a former ballet dancer)will discuss how various forms of art in the Winona area impact the economic landscape of this community. A third guest speaker, who has been influential in developing bike trails in southeastern Minnesota will address how forms of recreation benefit the local economy as well.

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Kim Marten-Cotten and Rex Young in the 2004 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of the performances during the first annual (and highly successful) Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona.

Stay tuned for more information about this event. There will be extended opportunity for discussion with the audience.