Author Archives: Ross Currier

About Ross Currier

Executive Director of the Northfield Downtown D. C.

More Downtown Parking Stakeholder Discussions Scheduled

art.jetson.hbThe NDDC-City of Northfield collaborative downtown parking discussion continues.  In coming weeks, additional important stakeholder groups will gather to share insights and ideas.

Next up is the downtown business owners’ stakeholder group.  On Tuesday, March 19th, 8:00 a.m., the downtown business owners will gather at the Archer House to discuss downtown parking.

This is obviously a very important stakeholder group.  We’re looking forward to hearing their observations and suggestions as part of the on-going downtown parking discussion.

Advertisements

Bicycle commuters to meet, offer input

TheWe Can Bike To Work NDDC is going to meet with another stakeholder group, bicycle commuters, next week.

The meeting is Wednesday, February 6th, 8:00 a.m., at Goodbye Blue Monday.

All bicycle commuters are invited to join us.  It’s all about the challenges and opportunities of bicycle commuting to, from, and in downtown Northfield.

What could we, the community of Northfield, do to make your bicycle commuting experience better?

Please, join the conversation.

Planning for stakeholder input on downtown parking management

Ross Currier and Chris HeinemanChris Heineman, Griff Wigley, and I had a face-to-face meeting last week, January 16.  We have been keeping in touch through Basecamp (web-based project planning service) and decided it was time to have a real meeting.

We chatted briefly about the Northfield News article, How can Northfield better manage existing downtown parking? and decided that I should post my full e-mail to the reporter, Kaitlyn Walsh (@NFNKaitlyn), here on the blog which I did later that day.

We then talked about getting a sense of the 2013 Council’s view of a parking management project in the broader context of other Council priorities.  Until or unless we get new feedback from the Council’s upcoming planning session, we’re going to stick with the concept of project completion (a summary of our findings and some kind of recommendations for the Council) at the end of the first quarter.

Finally, we identified stakeholders groups for face-to-face meetings.  They are, in no particular order:

Building Owners
Bicyclists
Restaurant Owners
Retailers
Pedestrians
Office Users
Residents
City Staff
Visitors
College Students
Public Transportation Users

Our first face-to-face meeting will be with stakeholders who have a significant economic stake in downtown parking management, Building Owners.  Ideally, we’d like to meet with at least one group every week.

In parallel with our face-to-face meetings, we plan to spend time identifying parking management techniques used by other communities.  We don’t want to drive the discussion, for that, we’re looking to the stakeholders.  However, we are interested in the state of the art…or at least “best practices”.  If you’ve heard of anything clever, please let us know.

That’s pretty much what there is to share at this point.  If you have any comments or questions, share them with us by posting them on the project website.  It’s an equal opportunity, but not anonymous, website.

Northfield News article on parking management

Northfield News
The Northfield News published an article today about the downtown parking management project.  I’ve added my entire answer to the News’ reporter Kaitlyn Walsh (@NFNKaitlyn) as there were topics covered in the e-mailed questions that were not included in the newspaper article.  Here’s my e-mail:

Kaitlyn –

I have copied the NDDC President, Greg Kneser, and the Chair of the NDDC’s Parking Task Force, Keith Covey.  I have also copied the Parking Management Team, Chris Heineman and Griff Wigley.

In my opinion, the purpose of the conversation is to generate ideas, and reactions to ideas, from stakeholders, about parking management.  Personally, I define parking management as managing your existing parking resources in an effort to maximize effectiveness and efficiencies.

It is my understand that the entities involved in this parking management project, the City Council, the City staff, and the NDDC, hope that a secondary result of this work will be a replicable model for citizen engagement.  City Administrator Tim Madigan has referred to it as an “Experiment” and I think this is a smart framing of the effort, recognizing both the secondary goal and the innovative aspect.  Northfield is blessed with many smart, creative, and passionate people, finding a model or method to engage their talents and include their contributions could enhance future projects and initiatives.

You’d probably be better off asking City Administrator Tim Madigan or members of the 2012 Council, perhaps in particular the downtown Councilors, about the decision regarding the NDDC’s role.  However, I’ll take a shot at it.  Based on my observations at the Council meetings, it seems to me that the NDDC was chosen to lead this effort for at least two reasons.  The first is that the NDDC has been working to enhance downtown parking since the birth of the organization in 2000; it has always been a priority for our stakeholders.  The second is that the stakeholders who experience the greatest economic impact of the parking supply and demand in downtown, the building and business owners, have worked with the NDDC on this issue for many years.

We, the parking management team, are meeting this week to detail the schedule.  I believe there was some early discussion about completing this work in the first quarter, however, there are some other topics/priorities on the Council’s agenda/plan that may shape our schedule.  In an early meeting with City staff and downtown Councilors, it seemed, at least to me, that assuring significant and meaningful engagement with stakeholders was more important than an end-date on a timeline.

The one thing that I would add is the expression of my personal and professional appreciation to the 2012 City Council for their incredible work on and contributions to the downtown parking issue.  It’s an issue that has been identified and discussed at least as far back as the 1970s.  The 2012 Council looked at the issue, including past reports from consultants and current input from stakeholders, worked through their various perspectives on and philosophies about parking, and ultimately determined to move forward with some enhancement of parking but also to find some ways of increasing leverage from existing parking.  They thought not only about the present but also the future.

I hope this gives you enough for your article,

Ross

The NDDC wants you to join “The Conversation” on downtown parking management

SONY DSCHello, I’m Ross Currier, Executive Director of the Northfield Downtown Development Corp. (NDDC).  I’ve served with the NDDC for the past eight years.  Prior to working at the NDDC, I was part owner of a restaurant, a financial manager at a property management firm, an asset manager at a bank, and a real estate developer for both a non-profit firm and a for-profit firm.

NDDCThe NDDC is based on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Program.  The Program has four points: Organizing, Promoting, Designing, and Economic Restructuring.  Essentially, we bring people together to enhance the image, character, and economy of the downtown district.  A key aspect of our work is finding and implementing stakeholder-driven ideas and initiatives.

Assuring that people can get to downtown is a key to the district’s vitality.  Some come in a motorized vehicle, some come on a bicycle, and some come on foot.  Assuring that there is a place for their car, bike, or backside in downtown is also important.  I’ve been teased for my alleged “obsession” with bike racks, questioned about the need for benches, and, let’s say, “challenged” for my calls for more public parking.  I am undaunted.

In recent years, the City of Northfield has added a number of bike racks and benches.  In fact, they even installed two way cool bike repair stations.  In 2012, the City Council voted to expand public parking in the downtown.  Much to my personal happiness, the site they selected, Washington Street near 3rd Street, can also help to protect and strengthen the Northfield Public Library.

However, the new additions to the downtown public parking supply will barely begin to address the backlog of demand for parking.  Furthermore, as then-Councilors Betsey Buckheit and Erica Zweifel said to me, we can’t just keep building more parking lots year after year.

I’ll be the first to admit it, the “stars” of downtown are the retailers, restaurants, and service providers that fill our buildings and that parking, along with benches and bike racks, are really more of a support function.  It’s important to save space for the stars.

We need to come up with some ideas to help Northfield continue to assure that people can get to and stay in downtown through a variety of transportation options.  If the community continues to expand by the average of 250 people per year of the past decade, the challenge will only increase…and that’s only the people who live here.  There are also the people who want to work and/or play here…and they need “parking” for their cars, bikes, and backsides too.

We need your ideas and initiatives to help assure that people can get to and stay in downtown.  We’re talking a little longer term planning, say ten or twenty years, and a lot of community visioning.  At City Administrator Tim Madigan’s suggestion, we’re calling it “The Conversation”.

We, the NDDC, along with our partners from the City of Northfield, are currently thinking stakeholders, outreach, media, and meetings.  But, don’t wait for us, if you give us too much time we might develop a PowerPoint presentation.  So, just join “The Conversation” and share your thoughts with us and the rest of the community.