City Council approves Monte Nelson as new police chief, tables YMCA donation - Northfield MN: Local

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City Council approves Monte Nelson as new police chief, tables YMCA donation

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Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 11:02 pm | Updated: 9:27 am, Wed Jan 8, 2014.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve Sgt. Monte Nelson as Northfield’s new police chief during its Jan. 7 meeting.

City Administrator Tim Madigan suggested Nelson after conducting an internal search within the Northfield Police Department.

“Monte rose to the top as the individual who would provide positive leadership for the department in the long term,” Madigan said. “I think he’ll do an excellent job for the city and for the police department.”

While some members of the public voiced concerns that the process was difficult to follow and lacked local influence, every member of the council did vote to approve Nelson. Nelson, who met with council members before the meeting to discuss his hopes for the police department, will be sworn in Jan. 21.

When it came to the rest of the agenda, though, the council was a bit more deliberate.

Councilors heard a presentation from Assistant Public Works Director Brian Erickson about the proposed Sixth Street reconstruction project, which includes complete reconstruction of street surfaces and underground utilities from Washington Street to the dead end of Sixth Street, including two blocks of College St., two blocks of Winona St. and one block of Nevada St. Erickson said the engineering department’s plan was to narrow most streets to 32 feet and add a cul-de-sac at the end of East Street. The project is estimated to cost about $2.9 million.

Councilors voiced concerns about a potential loss of parking, the accessibility for bicycles and the aesthetics of the cul-de-sac, which would be seen from Central Park.

They also brainstormed a few alternatives for the project, with Mayor Dana Graham suggesting the streets only be narrowed to 36 feet. When the councilors learned that the Parks and Recreation Board had some reservations on how best to proceed, they decided to approve the resolution so the project could get started but add an amendment that city staff bring back more information, including what the Park and Recreation Board would recommend.

“There’s no point in having an advisory commission if there’s no advice,” Councilor Suzie Nakasian said.

Another point of discussion was whether the council should donate about $30,000 to the YMCA. The YMCA had asked for a donation earlier to cover building fees, but the council balked over concerns that the city would be funding a private organization that focused on mostly private concerns. The council revisited the topic at the meeting with the idea of providing the same amount of funds, this time for a sidewalk outside the YMCA building.

Some councilors approved the resolution, saying the YMCA provides public services that help with Northfield’s health, welfare and safety. City attorney Chris Hood added that under the city’s charter, the city is allowed to donate to private organizations that promote these areas, and Madigan added that the city has funded and started partnerships with other private organizations such as the Northfield Soccer Association.

Councilor Rhonda Pownell pointed out that funding a sidewalk would be a “connectivity” issue, since it would offer a place to cross Honey Locust Drive.

Other councilors disapproved the idea, saying the YMCA is by nature private and shouldn’t be using tax payers’ money when people need a membership to join.

“I would love to give the Y some money,” Councilor David Ludescher said, holding that the city can’t fund a private organization that doesn’t hold a primary public objective. “As a public official, I have the power, but I don’t have the authority. It doesn’t matter how many times we do something against the charter; that doesn’t justify one more.”

After much discussion, Pownell brought up the idea that, since the YMCA is a business, perhaps the EDA can work with it to grant or loan some funds. Other councilors voiced approval of this viewpoint and decided to table the issue until the Jan. 21 meeting to provide more time to explore that option.

Grace Webb covers the cities of Northfield and Lonsdale, and writes about public safety. You can reach her at 645-1117.

© 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Ofsilence posted at 10:20 am on Thu, Jan 9, 2014.

    Ofsilence Posts: 742

    The council shouldn't give any money to the YMCA. This opens another Pandora's box and it will only take months before the council is looked upon as a bunch of hypocrites because another non-profit will ask for money for their project will be rejected. If you want to pay for a sidewalk and chaulk it up to the road budget then so be it, but no direct donation should be given to the "Y". It's not the government's place.

  • Ofsilence posted at 10:18 am on Thu, Jan 9, 2014.

    Ofsilence Posts: 742

    So no public money should be given to the Y because it doesnt fit a class warfare paradigm? Tell me, what's your criteria for differentiating the "have's" from the "have not's'? Income? I hate to say it but there's plent of lazy people out there who have no motivation to better themselves outside of trying to find more and more ways to have their lifestyle subsidized by others so I would not consider these people truly "have not's". To be brutally honest, there's plenty of low income people who have chosen that pathway indefinitely and I dont think organizations like the "Y" should be obliged to cater to these folks. You reap what you sow.

    Now I dont think the council should give money to the Y for other reasons but I think this class warfare argument presented by Hopeful is just ridiculous. If only people would spend as much time fixing what's wrong with their own lives versus trying to force other's to pay for their mistakes...............

  • steakholder posted at 8:24 pm on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    steakholder Posts: 1641

    Mr Ludescher, if you have the power, you have the authority. In any case, I agree with you and DeLong that the council can and should get money to the YMCA, but that this is not the way to do it. You just can't make a donation.

    Let's face it, the council can get money to any non-profit it wants to, it just has to find a legitimate way.

    Just like with the NDDC. You arrange a professional services contract. Or pay for the sidewalk, but say that's what you're doing. This is pretty simple stuff. You want me to come write the thing for you guys or do you think you can figure it out on your own?

    Get it done would you!!!! Cripes.

  • David Ludescher posted at 6:07 pm on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    David Ludescher Posts: 148

    Speaking for myself -

    The first issue that has to be addressed is whether the council has the AUTHORITY under the charter to provide some kind of assistance to the Y. (We clearly have the power.) The charter states the money can't be given if the primary purpose is to benefit a private organization. This is the same issue that was brought to the council earlier by Noah Cashman.

    Ironically, the charter does not prevent us from spending $2.46 million on the TIGER trail as long as we aren't benefiting a private organization.

    You can form your own opinions about the success or failure of government based upon these two projects.

  • someguy posted at 3:12 pm on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    someguy Posts: 283


  • Hopeful posted at 11:47 am on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    Hopeful Posts: 243


    Thanks for checking into that. I am happy to hear this news.

  • Jerry Smith posted at 10:38 am on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    Jerry Smith Posts: 47 Staff

    Hopeful ... I checked with executive director Virginia Kaczmarek and this is what she had to say ...

    "By it's very mission, the Northfield Y works to ensure no one is turned away because of inability to pay. Thanks to the generosity of our community and donors we provide direct financials scholarships to youth, adults and families as well as provide subsidized programs (such as a boxing program for youth or a high school basketball league for students not on the Raider's basketball team).

    We also partner with other organizations in Northfield such as the CAC, Healthfinders and Allina Health. Referrals from these organizations provide automatic financial scholarships for people in our community as well. Receiving financial support isn't solely based on income but includes what is happening in the family such as layoffs, high medical bills or high child care expenses. It's a confidential, respectful conversation with community members who want to participate.

    I would like to add that the YMCA is a small business, not unlike many other small business in Northfield. We have bills to pay and employees that count on paychecks from us so balancing participation with all community members, regardless of their socioeconomic background ensures we are a viable business supporting the needs of our community.

  • Hopeful posted at 9:55 am on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    Hopeful Posts: 243


    Thanks for the link, however, I was told the Northfield "Y" would not be operating under those guidelines. If that is true then no public money should be allocated to the "Y".

  • someguy posted at 9:05 am on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    someguy Posts: 283

    >It was recently brought to my attention that the "Y" will not have adjustable rates for lower income families. This will then makes the "Y" a place for the "haves" and but not the "have nots".

    What's your source? You clearly have the burden of proof here, since the Y routinely provides need-based financial aid.

    "We provide financial aid for income-qualified families on a sliding scale, subject to available resources, up to 75% of membership and program fees."

  • steakholder posted at 9:03 am on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    steakholder Posts: 1641

    Funny you mention that OfSilence....Pownell suggested at one point that the Y go through the EDA. The EDA gave the Archer house $100,000!!!!!! to help Brett Reese remodel his building. Tax payer dollars!!!

    I hear they're also giving the NEC $60,000 a year now.

    The public good was supposed to be that there would be public restrooms. Well there are new rest rooms, anyone see a sign anywhere in Northfield that says there are public restrooms there?

    I think the best thing that could happen would be for every little non profit in Northfield to come up and ask the council for $10K or $30K. Then the council would have to sit up there and rationalize how we've given the NDDC half a million dollars over the years, but each of these exceptional little organizations, which do nothing but provide services to the public, don't deserve money.

    The NDDC is also one of the worst organizations to give money to because most of the money they raise goes to pay their director's salary and overhead. Very little of that money goes back out. Supposedly, that's one of the big critieria for giving money to a non profit, is how much of their budget goes directly to programs, etc, vs overhead and expense.

  • Ofsilence posted at 8:35 am on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    Ofsilence Posts: 742

    Hopeful - can you be more specific? What kind of adjustable rates are you looking for? I hear comments like yours all the time but I want you to place a dollar amount on what the "have nots" (your words) should have to pay versus the "have's" (again, your words).

  • Ofsilence posted at 8:32 am on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    Ofsilence Posts: 742

    This comment is grand by the city council:

    "The YMCA had asked for a donation earlier to cover building fees, but the council balked over concerns that the city would be funding a private organization that focused on mostly private concerns."

    Northfield has been doing this for years to the politically connected. How do you think downtown Northfield receives all their funding? Downtown Northfield is full of incredibly well-connected businessman who have found ways to essentially funnel city money to line their own pockets. This practice continues today and now the city council wants to pull the "City money shouldnt be used for private purposes" card? Come on, you just look rdiculous trying to go this route. The Northfield city council has a rich history of picking winners and losers depending upon who people know.

  • Hopeful posted at 6:14 am on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    Hopeful Posts: 243

    It was recently brought to my attention that the "Y" will not have adjustable rates for lower income families. This will then makes the "Y" a place for the "haves" and but not the "have nots".

    If this is true, then $0 public should be spent on this project. I thought the "Y" was going to be a place for all. I guess I was wrong.

    Perhaps the NN can look into this further and run a story on it.


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