Author Archives: Griff Wigley

Summary of Northfield parking management recommendations

See pages 2-3 of the August 13, 2013 Northfield City Council meeting minutes. It includes these 8 recommendations:

1. Increasing enforcement and maintaining markings of existing parking regulations: City Staff has already begun enforcing duration and location regulations and improving paint and signage of existing parking spaces.

2. Reducing parking time limits for some parking to create pick-up/drop-off spaces: City Council and Staff are ready to begin an “experiment” with15 minute pick-up/drop-off spaces and City Engineering, in consultation with the Police Department, has developed a map of 13 proposed locations.

3. Reviewing and upgrading directional and way-finding signs to public parking: City Staff has conducted an inventory from the entrances to the community to the public parking locations and identified signage enhancement opportunities, stressing consistency in internationally-recognized symbols.

4. Providing parking which “safely accommodate[s] users of all ages and abilities” (Northfield Complete Streets Policy); parking near popular destinations should reflect the abilities of those most likely to use it: City Staff is considering possible locations and specifications for this type of parking.

5. Supporting community-wide education initiatives as recommended by the 2008 Nonmotorized Transportation Task Force Report for sharing the “rules of the road” with all modes of transportation by collaborating with schools, local government, police, non-profits and for-profits utilizing multiple media and events.

6. Reducing speeds and/or improving design safety on key downtown corridors of Highway 3 and Division Street: The City will formally engage the State regarding the 3rd Street intersection of Highway 3. City Staff has begun exploring the 3rd Street and 6th Street intersections of Division Street.

7. Tailoring parking regulations and locations for different parking purposes including employees, short trips, and out-of-town visitors. Council adopts policy with input from stakeholders including the Chamber, the CVB, the EDA, the NDDC, and programmers.

8. Improving bicycle and pedestrian accommodation to help reduce demand for automobile parking in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan by (a) continuing to implement adopted policies including bike lanes, routes and trails (identified in the Parks, Open Space and Trail Plan), (b) integrating new projects such as the TIGER Trail at entrances to the downtown, and (c) reducing barriers to bicycle/pedestrian access and circulation downtown by broadly considering possible longer term or larger scale improvements.



Bicycle commuters’ meeting, Feb. 6 at the Goodbye Blue Monday

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Eight bicycle commuters met at the Goodbye Blue Monday on Wednesday morning to discuss Northfield bicycling issues directly or indirectly related to downtown parking. Ross Currier hosted the meeting and I was the designated photographer. It was the second of several stakeholder group meetings that will be held over the next few weeks. (See Ross’ Jan. 24 blog post, Planning for stakeholder input on downtown parking management.)

The group generated a list of items they they’d like to see discussed. Here’s Ross’ post-meeting translation:

  • Mark the Existing and Planned Routes
  • Paint the Center and Parking/Shoulder Lines
  • Focus on the “Priority” Routes
  • Improve Access to “Designated” Routes
  • Improve Connectivity Through the Neighborhoods
  • Improve Availability of “Route Literature”
  • Make Routes “Family-Friendly”
  • Spend Money on Center Line and “Shared” (Bike and Parking) Painting
  • Finish the Mill Towns Trail
  • Finish the Trail/Route Connections
  • Distribute Map of Bike Routes/Trails
  • Connect at the “Hub”/Connect at the “Spokes”
  • Create Events that Highlight Bike Opportunities
  • Create Bike Tour of Northfield Trails/Routes
  • Provide Reliable Bike Parking Throughout Community
  • Provide High Density Bike Parking at Key Locations
  • Visually Emphasize Bike-Friendliness
  • Make Bike Parking Extremely Convenient
  • Get Rid of the “No Biking” Graffiti/Signs
  • Recognize Danger of Diagonal Vehicle Parking
  • Pursue 15-20 mph Speed Limits in Downtown District
  • Install Seasonal High Density Bike Racks
  • Raise Visibility of Existing Bike Parking
  • Consider Bike Parking Opportunities in “Yellow Zones”
  • Pursue Private-Public Partnership for High Density Bike Parking
  • Create/Distribute Posters of Bike Infrastructure
  • Start a “Bike Northfield” Campaign
  • Connect with DJJD Bike Tour on Event
  • Plan TIGER Trail Dedication Event
  • Include Bike Shops as Part of Existing Infrastructure
  • Publicize Bike Repair Stations
  • Emphasize Multi-Modal Transportation Ecosystem
  • Use Seasonal Cross-Walk Signs

Building owners’ meeting, Jan. 28 at the Rueb

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About a dozen downtown building owners met at J. Grundy’s Rueb ‘n’ Stein on Monday evening to discuss downtown parking. Ross Currier hosted the meeting and I was the designated photographer. It was the first of several stakeholder group meetings that will be held over the next few weeks. (See Ross’ Jan. 24 blog post, Planning for stakeholder input on downtown parking management.)

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The group generated a list of items they they’d like to see discussed. If you can’t read Ross’ handwriting in the above photos, here’s Ross’ post-meeting translation:

  • Enforce Parking Limits
  • Better Accommodate Bicycles and Motorcycles
  • Change Striping (ex. “Save this Space for Our Customers”)
  • Add 20-Minute Parking Spaces
  • Hire Traffic Warden
  • Prioritize Enforcement with City/Community Leadership
  • Consider Remote Parking (ex. Q Block)
  • Encourage Employer Enforcement
  • Pursue Public-Private Partnerships (ex. Premier Bank)
  • Change Parallel to Diagonal (ex. Water Street)
  • Consider Installing Parking Meters
  • Launch Educational Program
  • Encourage Employee Parking in Residential Neighborhoods
  • Create Temporary Parking Lots (ex. The Crossing)
  • Install More “P” Signs
  • Review Locations of S-T and L-T Parking

Creating public awareness of the downtown parking management project

PublicityI’ve done a few things to start getting the word out about this project:

This week I’ll contact the City of Northfield to make sure that when the new website launches next week, they’ll have one or more links to this project site in place and use whatever other tools they have to help publicize it.  I also will find out what the City’s plans are for a City of Northfield Facebook page so that I can determine whether we’ll be able to engage with citizens there, too.

In the next week or so we’ll reach out to KYMN Radio and Northfield Patch to explore what they might be interested in doing about this project for their audiences.

If you have feedback on the publicity I’ve done thus far, or have suggestions on what more I could be doing, attach a comment or contact me.

Wider sidewalks vs. a parking crunch: St. Paul’s Lowertown may have lessons for Northfield

Wednesday’s Strib had an article titled In St. Paul’s Lowertown, move to widen sidewalk is afoot; The plan would allow more outdoor dining, but some fear a parking crunch in the district. It’s a good illustration of how issues of downtown parking can bump up against what makes for a vibrant street. Some excerpts:

Lowertown sidewalksDave Brooks and Jim Crockarell, who own the buildings on 6th Street across from Mears Park, want the city to nearly double the width of the front sidewalk to create a promenade for outdoor cafe seating. They lease to some of downtown’s most popular hangouts — the Barrio and Bulldog restaurants and Bin on the Park wine bar — and Crockarell believes more draws could be on the way if outdoor seating were extended.

And on the other side of the issue:

But many Lowertown residents and businesses, already worried about a parking squeeze they fear will come with the opening of the Saints ballpark in 2015, are against the plan. They’re worried about noise, congestion and pressure they’ll face with up to 22 street parking spaces taken to make room for the wider sidewalk and a new bus/bike traffic lane. Longtime Lowertown developer John Mannillo, who’s leading opposition to the proposal, said it would alter the district’s circa-1870 street grid and change building setbacks.

Are ‘popups’ a viable alternative?

Coleman also isn’t necessarily opposed to an idea that Mannillo is pushing — trying out the sidewalk cafe concept first with temporary wooden platforms that could be installed on a seasonal basis and remove as needed. But Brooks and Crackarell won’t pay for temporary extensions, Repke said. A pilot installation was tried a couple of years ago, but they didn’t like the way it looked or the work required to use it. “They don’t want to have to buy a chunk of wood they would have to store,” Repke said. The pop-ups, as they’re called, would cost $73,000 and installation no more than $20,000 annually, Mannillo said. “We’re only going to be using it for, what, four months of the year,” he said. “Besides, people prefer to sit on wood rather than concrete. It’s not as hot on the hot days.”

Here are three photos of ‘popup’s I took a few years ago on a trip to Italy:

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Project for Public Spaces has ideas about parking management

Project for Public SpacesThe Project for Public Spaces (PPS) regularly tackles issues related to streets and vehicles so it’s no surprise that they weigh in on parking.  I’m not sure when they published this article but it’s an opinionated piece that seems to have some relevancy to downtown Northfield. It’s titled, Finding a Place for Parking:

Despite what you may have heard, nobody goes to a place solely because it has parking. In fact, the current obsession with parking is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving livable cities and towns, because it usually runs counter to what should be our paramount concern: creating places where people enjoy spending time. As long as the myth persists that economic prosperity depends on parking, local governments will continue to waste public money and distort the public planning process.

The realization that creating a place where people want to come and spend time is more important than parking unfortunately eludes many municipalities. Worrying about and wasting public money on parking is taking over the public planning process and subsequently parking is taking over our communities. So how can we put parking in its place and draw people back to public spaces?

Be sure to see the section titled 10 Questions to Help Us Get the Most Out of Parking.

In case you’re wondering about PPS, here’s a blurb from their About page:

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Our pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.