The Northfield Depot may have arrived at its new home earlier this year, but the work is far from done.
The Northfield City Council is aware the endeavor is not only going to take time, but will take a significant investment. As such, it stressed its support for the Save the Northfield Depot’s initiative, and plans to approve $150,000 worth of tax increment financing funds to the project.
Though the organization was only requesting $129,000, City Administrator Ben Martig presented the Council with the option of providing the remaining TIF 4 funds, $150,000, that have not yet been designated for other projects.
Martig said in reviewing the history of the project, he found a clear desire from the Council to assist the project financially.
Those funds, he said, will be used for the estimated cost of site improvements like a driveway, parking, curb and gutter, sidewalk and lighting, plus extra dollars for unforeseen issues/changes.
STND’s Alice Thomas said it’s time to move onto additional development, and the Depot is ready for it to take place potentially as early as this fall.
“STND has made significant progress,” she said. “We’re determined to assure continued assessment of the progress and the planning takes place.”
Though Martig proposed approving the funds, he also had a bigger idea for the future of the site.
According to his memo, staff is reviewing options to re-plat the site in conjunction with creating a separate parcel for a potential future transit hub. This final plan may clarify whether it is appropriate for the city to construct the improvements through a public bid or allow STND do the work through a contractor.
He elaborated during the meeting and said if the transit hub is something the Council is in support of, it’s important to design it in a way that will accommodate the bus and truck traffic that it would attract.
If the city and Council wish to pursue the transit hub, “should we in effect have some direct control and maybe even ownership of that?,” he asked. “What about the adjacent property?”
He noted that in a meeting with Hiawathaland Transit, there are some routes that could be adjusted to swing through the hub.
“It’s definitely something that could be worked on and pursued,” he said.
His proposal was well received by the council, though no action was taken.
“It’s a complex puzzle,” said Councilor Jessica Peterson White. “But I think it’s in good hands with various stakeholders.”
“I’m perfectly fine with how this is moving forward,” added Councilor Rhonda Pownell.
As for the work ahead, Thomas said the group is aiming to finish the exterior repairs this fall, and is hopeful the driveway could be completed as well. As for this winter, the focus will be on the interior. As early as next fall, the group will look to construct the sculpture garden, and at least the floor of the pavilion.
Additional fundraising will also continue in an effort to rehabilitate the Depot and the complex for a public-use occupancy projected to be summer 2017.
Council will vote on the funding at its meeting on Tuesday, and the discussion will continue on the other parts of the project, Martig said.