I have been receiving an increasing amount of feedback on the upcoming referendum and the projects themselves expressing concern about the timing of the projects in light of both LGA cuts plus questions about whether the project is sufficiently well-developed to educate the public and have a successful referendum in the short time frame available.
I cannot support the projects until I can be assured
- the Council (not the steering committee, design committee or architects) can hold the line on budget and has considered costs in the context of disappearing LGA
- the Woodley site is available at a reasonable purchase price
- the possible partners – rural fire, colleges, Dundas – have been brought to the table in any substantial and collegial way.
- Lifecycle costs have been projected
- Energy efficiency and other sustainability issues have been addressed.
I do not want to have a failed referendum, but rather would like the Council to consider taking additional time to more carefully address the issues above. In light of Joel’s decision to move on, the City is faced with additional challenges including asking staff to devote more time to finding an interim administrator in addition to managing the on-going fiscal decision-making. I would like to be able to throw my whole-hearted support behind the projects to ensure a large and lasting success for Northfield. I believe we need more time to do this. I would like to stress that I am not advocating for “doing nothing” but a slower pace with room for input from our partners and the public.
I would like to request that the Council consider a motion to postpone the referendum on the police/fire projects. As is the case with this week’s packet with councilor-initiated items, I will be happy to write the introductory paragraph for this item.
As it turns out, I didn’t need to start torching whatever political capital I may have (and with the Mayor and Administrator, I’d say I probably had negative political capital to begin with).
At our regular Tuesday meeting, we had another update on the police/fire facilities (follow other coerage: News, Locally Grown and don’t forget you can watch meetings streamed live or archived on KYMN – here’s a link to the police/fire update item). Joel Walinski gave an update on discussions with MNDoT about the Woodley site and the dominoes are not falling as hoped/anticipated. MNDoT is looking at a new site in Dundas for their truck station currently located at Woodley and TH3. However, environmental assessments for the Dundas site won’t be complete until after the November referendum date, so Joel Walinski recommended delaying the referendum.
The other real update was the recommendation of the “Jasnoch 2” site at Honeylocust and Jefferson Road for the policte station.
Mayor Rossing asked for motions on the following
- Affirming the Woodley site as the preferred site for fire: 6-1 vote to affirm (Councilor Jon Denison against)
- Postponing the referendum: 7-0 to postpone
- Directing KKE architects to proceed with design for the Jasnoch2 site: 2-5 not to proceed (Mayor Rossing and Councilor Kris Vohs voted to proceed)
The third action followed a lengthy discussion about putting a combined facility on the Woodley site which KKE will explore and report upon at our August 3 meeting. Community members are still suggesting reusing the current facility for police, but that option has not quite crept back onto the table.
So we can breathe a small sigh of relief as the pace of these projects and the referendum has slowed slightly and now is the time for citizens with concerns about cost creep, library planning and other such issues to contact Councilmembers.