A plan to relocate the city's historic depot on city-owned property moved further down the tracks Tuesday even as opposition from one nearby land owner was made public.

The plan, presented by the Save the Northfield Depot committee to council last month, asks the city to give or lease about .8 acres of land behind the Quarterback Club on Hwy. 3 so it can relocate the 1888 structure from is present site one block south.

Committee members say the depot, owned by the Canadian Pacific Railroad, would be turned into a transit hub. It's hoped it will eventually be expanded and returned to use as a depot if commuter rail again makes its way to Northfield.

Money to move and renovate the dilapidated structure would come from Save The Northfield Depot's fundraising efforts.

A staff-generated memo gave a kick start to the evening's discussions, suggesting the council consider everything from legal issues related to the transfer of city-owned land to whether the move would be consistent with the city's vision and existing planning documents.

"Is it a viable business plan?" Mayor Mary Rossing asked rhetorically.

"To me we're going to have to make the case this is a good economic value to the citizens of Northfield."

Her suggestion to send the proposal to the Planning Commission and Economic Development Authority for their input got mixed reviews.

Councilor Suzie Nakasian supported the idea, but Councilors Patrick Ganey, Betsey Buckheit and Rhonda Pownell found the move unnecessary.

"I feel it would muddy the waters to go to two other boards," said Pownell, noting that the committee previously asked for EDA input.

Rossing continued to make her case for board input on the plan.

While the Save the Northfield Depot committee has formulated its plan in a public process, said the mayor, "it has not been a city-led process."

While the council has been generally supportive of the project, not everyone is happy with the proposal.

Dale Finger, who not only owns the Quarterback Club, but a majority of land on the block under consideration, opposes the move.

"I believe if the depot was to move there, any future development would have to be focused around the depot, limiting what could happen on my property," he wrote in an April 5 e-mail to the council.

"I also see this property being a gateway to downtown and someday hope a retail development will bring more traffic to the central business district."

—Suzanne Rook covers the city for the Northfield News. Reach her at 507-645-1113.

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