First, a small patriotic message. The 4th of July is, of course, Independence Day and so I urge you all to take this seriously and consider that with freedom from a monarch comes the responsibility to govern ourselves. This means more than whining about what’s happening, especially when it comes to local government. Your voice matters and so does your participation when it comes to managing Northfield’s limited resources, making wise choices for the future of the City and for building a strong community. Do your part.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled update. The Council packet seems pretty thick this week, but there is much which is housekeeping sort of action rather than big ticket items. You can read the complete agenda, but here are what I see as the highlights:
Loan to Archer House for public access to restrooms as part of renovations to the hotel. Other local media have not been putting this proposed action in a particularly favorable light (See the Northfield News editorial). A few points to keep in mind:
Nature and source of the loan: the loan is “forgivable” – that is, it does not need to be repaid if conditions are met including completing the work on the restrooms within 3 years and providing access. The News complains that this means it’s not really a “loan” but if we call it a grant, or even a handout, I still think this one is a good idea. The source of funding is the Master Development Fund which must be spent on improvements (only) within the Downtown Master Development district. Because we have this dedicated funding source, the real question is not about afforadability but suitability: is this appropriate use of these funds. Yes – think leverage. The Archer House is proposing to spend $1.2 million to renovate its facility. The Archer House is an anchor for the north end of Division Street and its economic success is vital to downtown. For the City’s $100,000, we will see increased property taxes, improvement to a local economic development asset AND public restrooms. The public investment in this private project helps the Archer House owners invest in Northfield and provides needed facilities for the public. I think Northfield’s modest investment will be repaid even if the loan is forgiven.
Rental ordinance: There’s strong interest in the rental ordinance, especially the “20% Rule” but the item for tomorrow is one of those housekeeping amendments tidying up cross references, clarifying some fee requirements, requiring screening of permanent waste containers and adding owning an “excessive” amount of animals as an enumerated nuisance. The Council has indicated a willingness to revisit the 20% density limit, but that’s not on the agenda for July 6th.
Initial discussion of the 2010-2014 Capital Improvement Plan. Almost nothing could be more important.