Where are we now?

Where are we? I’m in my office at the top of the stairs and it is a mess: small office, big mess.   This week’s Council agenda is in here somewhere near the bottom of this post; leap over the clutter if you want to get there first.

On the desk: a pop-up card not yet assembled.  Not relevant to city business or public policy except that glue droplets often migrate where they shouldn’t and it is easy to imagine gluing council agendas to other important papers.   Issues get sticky without glue, of course.

On the floor by the desk: land development regulations, notes, and Comprehensive Plan.  The last meeting of the Land Use Advisory Group was supposed to have been April 24, but enough issues remain that the next last meeting will be April 8.    The Planning Commission discussed form-based codes in general and these regulations in particular (which are only minimally form-based) at their meeting on April 28 including the upcoming May 11 Council worksession where the land development regulations will be discussed and the rest of the process for editing, review and adoption of the regulations will be considered.   Dan Olson, City Planner, said he will be recommending that the Council not send the regulations to the EQC, HRA, EDA or other boards for review on the grounds that the Land Use Advisory Group had representatives from each of these groups.  I disagreed with Mr. Olson at the meeting, for although representatives from each group participated in the advisory group and did bring back individual issues to their boards for discussion, that process is not the same as asking the EQC, for example, to read the complete draft for how well the ordinance implements the environmental goals of the Comprehensive Plan (which is what these regs are supposed to be doing).

On the floor by the computer: Ames Park, skateboard plaza notes and materials.  This issue is not on this week’s agenda for the Council – I’ll have to find out when it wil return.   The issue is still being discussed over on Locally Grown here and here; I’ve opined here and here.

On the desk by the computer: Notes from various meetings and conversations about prioritizing Council goals.  Much to sift through here.

In the Red Bag by the chair: fiber optic workgroup stuff, more notes, and my calendar.  The RFI for the fiber project was due yesterday, May 1 and I have an as yet unread e-mail sitting in my inbox about the responses to the RFI

Everywhere else: soccer passes and rosters.  The season starts Monday – head out to Spring Creek park and see Northfield’s young people playing soccer.  About 330 kids from 2nd grade to high school are in the Northfield Soccer Association’s traveling program; another 400 will probably play in-house soccer.   Then there’s TOPSoccer which we hope to get underway this year.  Soccer in Northfield has been a good collaboration of public (Northfield owns the park land and does some maintenance at the soccer fields as well as funding programs through the Grace Whittier Grants) and private (the Soccer Association maintains the fields, Rotary helped build the Amerman Pavilion, the CAC and Youth Sports Collaborative help fund scholarships).

Balanced on the open file cabinet drawer: this week’s Black Binder and Council agenda.  Looks to be a pretty light agenda this week.   On the consent agenda are items for approving new members of the Park Board and Planning commission; the PC has been down a member for quite a few months now so this is welcome news.    I took a stroll down to see the new bike/pedestrian bridge being lowered into place in Babcock Park on Tuesday (see the photos at Locally Grown) and we will consider a resolution to name this bridge the Peggy Prowe Pedestrian Bridge – Peggy Prowe is a former member of the Council and tireless advocate for bike trails.  I can’t imagine a better name.  I hope she’ll get to take the inaugural ride across the bridge when it is completed.

2 Replies to “Where are we now?”

  1. Betsey : It is amazing how many serious projects are on the table, or the top of the open file cabinet drawer at this point…
    How can they all be kept in focus without a lot of very hard work by councilors?
    I appreciate the depth of the questions you pose to the staff when they are reporting, or during the council discussions, but there is one thing that troubles me. There doesn’t seem to be a prevalence of policy based discussion by the council. Maybe it is just that the initial presentation of an issue is just that; an INITIAL presentation.
    But let’s take the subject of administrative citations. I think that deserves a very substantive discussion. I think that has the potential to work very differently in a small town with a hearing board of local attorneys, than it would in a ‘big city’.
    I would far prefer seeing the county develop an administrative hearing office/official which would be more detached. Having heard Judge W, Johnson speak about the lack of funding for the judicial system at the LWV’s annual meeting last week , I think any new office is an impossibility.
    I would find it an unfortunate outcome if the council decided to go along with the idea of locally adjudicated administrative citations, especially if it is looked on as a way to ‘corral’ more dollars for an ailing budget.

    1. I have tidied up my office and my notes on administrative citations. I agree that administrative citations are a big deal and I consider the presentation we heard at our work session to be only a preliminary step. Mary Rossing asked me to confer with Peter Dahlen, chair of the Charter Commission about the issue since it involves a possible Charter amendment. I did so, and the combination of that conversation and my own reading of the materials developed by the city staff makes me ask the questions you’ve raised and more. I don’t know yet when and how this conversation will proceed, but much more consideration of the issue is needed by the entire council.

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