Category Archives: Articles

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.



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:

img-7359 img-73601 img-736111

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.

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,