Northfield City Council postpones skateboard park for insurance concerns - Northfield MN: Local

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Northfield City Council postpones skateboard park for insurance concerns

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Posted: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 11:16 pm | Updated: 12:40 am, Wed Jun 4, 2014.

A proposed Northfield skateboard park years in the making is going to have to wait a bit longer as the Northfield City Council decides how to move forward with insurance concerns.

The city of Northfield has worked with interested parties, including the Northfield Skateboard Coalition, for years to try to construct a skateboard park. The site for the skateboard park was debated and readdressed dozens of times before settling on Old Memorial Field. Within the around 14-acre park, four potential sites have been identified, with the planned project taking up between 3,000-4,000 square feet of a plaza-type park.

So far, more than $80,000 has been raised to fund the project.

In January 2014, requests for proposals were sent out by the city, with California-based Spohn Ranch Skateparks submitting the preferred design bid. However, after starting to work with the design company, Spohn Ranch balked at the city’s professional insurance policy requirements of $2 million occurrence limits and $4 million aggregate limits.

The city’s insurance provider, Bearence Management Group, suggested that the city stick with its policy, though current statutory tort limits are set at only $1.5 million.

Assistant City Engineer Brian Erickson, who has worked with Spohn Ranch on this project, said the company said it would cost between $4,500-$9,000 to add the extra insurance liability onto the project. He added that so far, they’ve been firm in not increasing their liability coverage.

Councilor Suzie Nakasian asked if it would be possible for the city to just cover the extra insurance limits with the city’s insurance, but City Administrator Tim Madigan said that wouldn’t be possible. However, Erickson said it would be possible for the city to build the cost of adding extra insurance into the proposal, so that in essence Northfield would cover the extra insurance costs. This has been done previously for a city project, though that extra insurance only cost around $250.

Erickson said that Spohn Ranch knows the area and the project best, so the project could most forward most quickly if the city continued with that company.

“They’ve already prepared a conceptual design and they are familiar with the area,” he said. “They’re the best of the two proposals we received, and I think they’d do the best job on the project. We haven’t lost the construction season at this point, but the window is starting to close.”

Some councilors agreed, while others suggested putting a limit on how much the city would pay for adding higher insurance limits.

Some councilors were more interested in leaving Spohn Ranch and going on to the next bidder.

“Spohn Ranch didn’t meet the requirements of the rfp,” said Councilor David Ludescher. “They shouldn’t even be allowed in the conversation. Why are we even bothering with them?”

Ludescher suggested moving on to the next bidder, Pillar Design Studios. However, Erickson warned that that company’s proposal wasn’t as strong as Sphon Ranch’s, and he didn’t know what insurance policy Pillar would bring to the project.

Mayor Dana Graham also expressed unease with simply building insurance costs into the projects and setting a precedent for the city.

“It allows us on any project to be backed into a corner and tied in by one vendor,” he said.

Madigan suggested postponing the discussion two weeks to give city staff time to look into both company’s proposals again and learn more about the insurance situation with both.

Councilors agreed, postponing the discussion until the June 17 meeting.

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  • Discuss

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  • ubetcha posted at 2:09 pm on Sat, Jun 7, 2014.

    ubetcha Posts: 299

    Forget the skate park and fix the roads around this city! Good grief!!!!!

  • DoTheMath posted at 4:10 pm on Fri, Jun 6, 2014.

    DoTheMath Posts: 4

    Once again it's clear that the Right Wing has NO sense of humor. "Evil Captain Kangaroo", that's hilarious and poetic and a far cry from what I'd probably characterize DeLong as -- something more like the the soulless hit-man character Wilfred Brimley played in the 1993 movie version of the Firm.

  • parentvoice posted at 7:04 am on Fri, Jun 6, 2014.

    parentvoice Posts: 418

    Agreed. He commented, privately, about a public figure. We're supposed to have moved beyond Puritanism and public shamings.

  • Northfieldtad1 posted at 6:38 am on Fri, Jun 6, 2014.

    Northfieldtad1 Posts: 50

    I'm not associated with Hardy and you'll have to take my word on that. But on a scale of 1 to 10, I just think this barely registers. If he said it on a private means of communication and it got out (and it wasn't that bad to begin with), then the public "shaming" from a few people on this website and the mayor on the radio is probably punishment enough. Maybe he's already made amends with Delong or whoever he thinks he needs to. Just because word leaked out of his words doesn't mean he owes an explanation to anonymous keyboard jockeys. Get over yourselves.

  • steakholder posted at 5:52 am on Fri, Jun 6, 2014.

    steakholder Posts: 1361

    It wasn't like he said, you know, Dana Graham looks sort of like Clark Gable. That would have been saying that a councilor looked like someone.

    He said....DeLong was and "EVIL" Captain Kangaroo

    He clearly said it with the purpose of insulting and belittling DeLong.

    Also...I think it's unclear right now how exactly this got out. Did he email the whole council? DId he just send to to a few buddies?

    If he's talking to his pal in the corner of the bar, or sends someone an email, and he wants to insult people, that's his private business.

    The problem is, it didn't stay private, did it?

    Mr Hardy needs to be held accountable for his behavior in the same manner students or teachers would.

    I think we're steam rolling over what is a serious issue here. It's just like how half the council ignored Zweifel's email.

    The longer it takes a public official to apologize for a mistake, the more we understand that they really don't think they did anything wrong, and thus the apology in the end, is forced, and insincere.

  • isthereprogress posted at 11:04 pm on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    isthereprogress Posts: 34

    And what should that controversy be? The fact is that if you are associated with Mr.

    Hardy, you are willing to overlook it There is a differentiation between what is said

    and "posted" by an elected official and what I say in my back yard.

  • Northfieldtad1 posted at 9:03 pm on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    Northfieldtad1 Posts: 50

    I don't see the big deal. He wrote something on his Facebook page? He said a councilor looked like someone? Big deal. How is this different than having a conversation --- a private one --- with a group of friends? It's not like he said it at a meeting or a forum or something. And it's not even that bad of a remark. People get up in arms over the littlest things. All it is is distraction from real issues. Is it time to
    move on to the next 'controversy'?

  • stupormajority posted at 8:49 pm on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    stupormajority Posts: 26

    So Rob Hardy made a mistake. He must realize it by now. He should apoligize so we can move on.

    Then the school board can censure him and ask him to resign.

  • steakholder posted at 6:15 pm on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    steakholder Posts: 1361

    This seems to be the very disturbing trend here.

    Anything my friends and supporters do that's bad, can be ignored and overlooked.

    Anything that my opponents do that's bad, has to be pointed out.

    The thing people don't seem to be realizing is that apparently twice now, someone with a conscience who got these emails must have found them offensive and come forward.

    It's really sad and disturbing that this is how this group of people view people with differing opinions, and that this is what they think is appropriate behavior.

    It's been what, 2 days now? I give Mr Hardy 3 more days before he'll issue a formal letter of apology. The feedback is probably rolling in as we speak.

  • isthereprogress posted at 4:35 pm on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    isthereprogress Posts: 34

    I believe that it is very cowardly of Mr. Hardy to do what he did. But, if my information

    is correct, he did it in a post to council member Peterson White. Did she point out

    how wrong this was? Or by not replying to his post was she in agreement? She

    defended council member Zweifel's email about Mr. Ludescher, is she going to

    defend her close friend Mr. Hardy's comments also? Does she have an obligation

    to do so? I believe that as a sitting member of the council, she does.

  • steakholder posted at 4:33 pm on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    steakholder Posts: 1361

    Scott, I disagree with you.

    The school district policy says 3 things must be present to constitute bullying.

    1) Agressive behavior that involves unwanted negative action.

    I'm pretty sure Mr Delong didn't want to be called derogatory names in public.

    2) bullying involves an imbalance of power or strength.

    Well, here we have one of our elected representatives calling someone derogatory names. When someone in a position of power personally attacks another person, I would say they are doing so from a position of power and strength.

    3) There must be a pattern of behavior repeated over time.

    You've got me on this one, as I do not know whether Mr Hardy has a history of such behavior.

    The question; is there enough evidence that the school district should look into this, just as they might look into claims that a student was bullied, even though all the criteria might not be readily apparent, but some are?

    Certain public offices are more sensitive to certain behaviors by those that hold them than others.

    Because school board members are inherently involved with the process of raising and teaching our children, I propose that they should be held particularly accountable for any of their behaviors which are contradictory to the manner in which they expect School Administrators, Teachers, and Students to conduct themselves.

  • steakholder posted at 3:24 pm on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    steakholder Posts: 1361

    Parentvoice....I may not have been clear, or you mis-understood my point.

    My point is not that we should not be critical of our elected representatives. Clearly I have been, and extensively.

    The public even has a right to call them derogatory names, as well as they're within whatever laws apply.

    My point was, or my question it appropriate behavior for an elected official to refer to another elected official using derogatory names?

    My opinion is, we need to expect better from our elected reps., especially one that is involved in the administration of our schools.

    I would have liked to have seen the outcry if Dana Graham had called one of the 4 female councilors a derogatory name. They'd be screaming bloody murder.

    Also, are you suggesting that endorsing one candidate is the same as calling the other candidate derogatory names? My guess is you'd agree that they are not at all the same thing. If Mr Hardy enorsed Mr Delong's oponent in an election, clearly that's different than calling him an evil captain kangaroo.

    So really my issue isn't so much that David DeLong got called a name, my issue is who it was that called him a derogatory name?

    Does that make more sense, Parent voice?? My issue is unprofessional behavior by a member of the Northfield Schol Board.

    I don't know if this rises to the level of bullying. But calling someone names on line can be part of a bullying complaint/issue. I don't know if there is any other history here or not.

    So if a student goes on line and calls other student bad names, is it not bullying as long as the other students don't care?

    Is it ok for a student to go on line and call another student a derogatory name, as long as they only do it once?

    If you were a student, and you got suspended for cyber bullying, and then you see a School Board member go on line and call someone a bad name, without any consequences, how does that make you feel about the fairness of how you've been treated?

    I certainly think it's hypocritical of someone who was bullied, and has taken a public stance against bullying as a member of our school board, to then go on line and undertake behavior that is at the best, bad role modeling, and at the worst, could be considered by some to be bullying.

    In the end, what really frosts me, is that someone would suggest that Captain Kangaroo might be evil?

  • parentvoice posted at 9:59 am on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    parentvoice Posts: 418


    It seems to me that public figures get to be commented on, even if the comments are unflattering. You have criticized Susie Nakasian, Rhonda Pownell, Erica Zweifel, and Jessica Peterson White repeatedly. Are you a bully? Dana Graham implicitly criticized Jessica by explicitly endorsing her opponent. Is he a bully?

    Please note: I'm not taking a position on any of these as to whether or not the criticism is fair or well-founded or (god help me ) "nice." I am saying that public figures have to expect that others can and will criticize them in their actions while carrying out their duties. That's fair game.

    I don't think anyone's been a bully. Some are a little more Minnesota nice in the way they talk about others; some are more straightforward. Personally, I prefer straightforward.

  • ScottOney posted at 8:27 am on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    ScottOney Posts: 23

    Steakholder: According to the KYMN website, Hardy made the comment in an e-mail to the mayor and council. It reflects poorly on his character, but it flunks at least two of the three components listed in the definition of bullying in the district's policy. (I hadn't read the Northfield policy before; thanks for including the link.)

    Thanks also for the reminder that Hardy quoted himself from the MN2020 website. I wish more Northfielders would wake up to the mind-sets of the folks they're electing to office.

  • steakholder posted at 8:26 am on Thu, Jun 5, 2014.

    steakholder Posts: 1361

    I'm curious to see how long it will take Mr Hardy to issue an apology. It usually seems to take abut 5 days for enough negative feedback to roll in when an elected official does something wrong.

  • steakholder posted at 4:10 pm on Wed, Jun 4, 2014.

    steakholder Posts: 1361

    On the KYMN morning show, Dana Graham stated that School Board member Roby Hardy called David DeLong and "evil captain kangaroo". He said that this statement was "posted". That seems to indicate that it was posted on facebook or possibly some blog site?

    It also seems that this statement is related to last nights discussion regarding the skateboard park, as it was in that context that Dana Graham brought this forward.

    Rob Hardy is a member of the Northfield School Board.

    Calling people names is a form of bullying. The Northfield School District has a bullying policy.

    Here are a few exerts from the policy.

    "No teacher, administrator, volunteer, contractor or other employee of the school
    district shall permit, condone, or tolerate bullying."

    It only seems logical that School Board Members would be subject to the policy that they in fact wrote.

    So my question is, is Mr Hardy in violation of the spirit and or the letter of this policy?

    The policy also says....

    "A person who engages in an act of bullying, reprisal, or false reporting of bullying
    or permits, condones, or tolerates bullying shall be subject to discipline for that
    act in accordance with school district’s policies and procedures."

    So according to the School District Policy on bullying, if Mr Hardy is guilty of bullying, should Mr Hardy should be subject to discipline for this act?

    In his response to the Northfiled News not endorsing him in his run for School Board, here is what Mr Hardy said about bullying.

    "Our schools should have an approach to bullying that is educational, not merely punitive. As I said in a MN2020 piece on bullying in May 2011, I do know about bullying, and want to eliminate it from our schools. I was myself a victim of bullying as a youth. Maybe that experience has given me empathy, even for the bullies themselves who desperately need help. But if the folks at the Northfield News need an answer they can understand and that fits their 75-word limit for candidate responses: bullying is bad."

    end of quote

    My question for Mr Hardy is....does calling city councilors derogatory names help eliminate bullying from our schools?

    Is this setting a good example for our children?

    What if a teacher went on line and called another teacher a derogatory name? Would that teacher be disciplined?

    So in this age of extreme sensitivity to bullying and concern about appropriate behavior, how do we reconcile such behavior by one of our school board members, while at the same time, our students are expected to live up to the bullying and behavior related policies written and or approved by that very School Board Member?

    This certainly raises some interesting questions.


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