Preview of 11/09 Council Worksession


Not my dog, fortunately.

Before we get to the worksession, we also have a brief meeting to adopt minutes, act of the consent agenda, and canvass the votes from Tuesday’s election.  The work session, however, is where the action will be despite the fact we do not take action at work sessions.

Welcome center reimagined: Follow our discussion about the Welcome Center coordinator back in August, we will be hearing a proposal for a public/private partnership between the city and Growing Up Healthy for a LINK center.  Read the proposal and related information in the packet.  The Council must allocate funds for 2011 for this proposal to allow it to go forward; $20,100 is the dollar cost, but like in-kind services to community events and supporting the Library, this is not just an expense, but an investment in Northfield’s social infrastructure about which I’ve written before (commenting on Art Rolnick’s ideas, about the Library, and community events).

Safety center: It’s back.  We still don’t know what MNDoT plans for the Woodley site and our partners are not yet really included, but:

The Council needs to answer three basic questions:

  • What is the project scope?…
  • How much is the City Council willing to commit to funding the project and how will it be financed? …
  • Where should the facility(ies) be located

Wind project (described briefly last week): The only item included in our packet is a copy of an e-mail requesting a delay by the Rice County planning commission in considering a conditional use permit for 2 wind turbines.  Unfortunately, this minimal documentation is part of a much larger information management failure at city hall.  Fortunately, interested citizens and have helped alleviate the data void:

  • Notification about the project: the Council only learned of the project in Rice County after a neighbor contacted Councilor Jim Pokorney who contacted city staff who, finally, contacted the entire Council.
  • Review and comment: under Rice County ordinances, the city is to be notified so it can review and comment on a project in the County’s UR (Urban Reserve) zoning district.  Unfortunately, Council did not receive the information in time to comment before the Rice County planning commission met last week to consider the conditional use permit.  Fortunately, requests from Tim Madigan, interim city administrator and Tracy Davis, Northfield Planning commission chair along with other interested citizens have delayed the CUP until December 9.
  • Project documents: Unfortunately, the Council was not provided with any of the relevant documents; fortunately another project neighbor e-mailed the Council the Spring Creek (Hubers) Wind Turbine CUP application, a Neighborhood Petition, and Attorney Carol Overland’s Brief.
  • Carol Overland’s Legalectric blog: fortunately, we have a local energy law and policy maven.  Read this for lots of background and information about not only the 2 turbines on which Northfield is permitted to comment, but other related wind projects in Rice County, the legal infrastructure for permitting large wind projects, and a guide to the policy and practical issues.

The Council has been allotted 15 minutes (!) at the end of the worksession agenda to consider our comments to Rice County and/or future steps the Council can/should take.

Pro forma budget review continues with information about enterprise funds (utilities, liquor store), municipal district #4 (the downtown TIF district) capital projects and capital equipment plans.  I’ve said enough about the Pretty Picture Budget Process.

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2 responses to “Preview of 11/09 Council Worksession”

  1. there is one item on the consent agenda that I have a question about; as a matter of fact , I think it should be pulled from consent for a brief discussion. It is item #7 re: “receive and file work session notes”, etc.

    I have to do the Council observing for the LWV this week and Jane McWilliams and I have already discussed this agenda item which does raise some questions:
    . Whose notes are these?
    . What is the relevancy of these notes, if they are not a council approved record of the meeting?
    . Why would not a visual record be more accurate?
    . What is the Council’s use for these notes, and therefor the need for accuracy?
    . Absent a discussion by the Council of the need for, process for, and degree of accuracy required of, these ‘notes’, how did this amendment of procedure come about?

    As a matter of historical interest, I have some notes from a work session during Keith Covey’s Mayoral term; there is no doubt they are helpful both for council and public… but the term “receive and file” does not provide much information as to either origin or veracity.

    On another issue: the Safety Center location. You say the location is one of three questions the Council will need to answer. I would certainly agree; however I had thought the consensus was that MNDOT had to tell NF whether or not the Woodley/Hwy 3 site would be available.
    As to the ever present debate on reuse of the current site for the Police, regardless of the Mayor’s and Councilor Denison’s statements at the Flood update meeting that the flood proved the UNusability of the current site. I would say that the flood proved just the opposite conclusion. The current building was defensible with sandbagging, and had nothing but trickles of water inside.
    After that meeting, Councilor Pokorney commented that the site was reusable with the building of a 20 K concrete dike. I think he was wrong on the dollars, but certainly right on the principle.
    Additionally, while in the Muni several weeks after the flood, the pest control management serviceman was saying to the employees that he had come to replace all the vermin traps in the lower level of the current SC, assuming they had gotten wet in the flood, but indeed they were still all fine.
    As a citizen, I am wondering when a list of concrete (no pun intended) facts about the current building will be presented; the costs to flood-proof it, the costs to bring it up to better functionality, correct the put-off maintenance issues, and addressed by other than city generated public relations “information” pieces.
    Isn’t it time the Council asked for such a list?

  2. Having just now looked at the 11.16 Council packet, specifically the Safety Center item and its accompanying resolution, it would seem that the Council must essentially begin the whole discussion once again, as the blanks re: scope, budget, and location are left for the Council to complete.
    Good Luck!

    What was very interesting in the accompanying material was the letter from Police Chief Taylor, now Public Safety Director Taylor, which puts forth the concept expressed by the Mayor at last week’s work session i.e., that the decision to go back to a combined facility for police and fire was essentially made at the time it was decided to combine the two departments under one dept. head.
    That concept was never expressed at the time, either at the original discussion in July/August or at the adoption of the reorganization plan in September; indeed the decision was still to wait for NDOT’s decision re: the Woodley site, then expected in November.

    Now November is upon us and everything has once again changed, saying a decision was effectively made earlier… maybe so… but certainly not publicly stated in a Council meeting.

    And now I believe the Chief’s letter stated the need for a site (for a shared facility) of 5-6 Acres. WOW! Cost?

    As I said, Good Luck!

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