(UPDATE: This story has been updated to add “TIF” to the headline.)
It is the hope of those involved with Save the Northfield Depot that the 1888 depot will be moved across Third Street by the end of the year.
But despite the progress made, and the satisfaction of soon seeing the depot settle into its new home, the work has just begun.
On Thursday, members of Save the Northfield Depot went before the Northfield Economic Development Authority to give an update on the progress made. The EDA financially assisted the organization in 2012 and 2014 with environmental and legal fees associated with the work thus far.
STNB board member Pat Allen said the recent progress at the site is thanks to more than 1,000 donations. But once the depot is moved, exterior and interior work is planned.
“This will help transform this important gateway from blighted to beautiful,” Allen said during her presentation of the new location.
As the move nears, Allen said the next step is continuing to raise money.
STND is seeking $99,000 in funding, specifically TIF (tax increment financing) 4 funds, for a driveway, curb and gutter, parking lot, sidewalks and lighting.
The issue, however, is the TIF funds, which is roughly $1.3 million, are in the hands of the city council, though following discussion on Thursday, the EDA hopes that changes.
“I think the EDA should have some more say,” said Councilor and EDA member David Ludescher. “My thinking is that the [TIF 4 funds] were intended to enhance the downtown and that’s why the money from the downtown districts were pulled together to be used for that purpose.”
However, he said a portion of those funds have been used for projects like the TIGER Trail and the East Cannon River Trail. Mayor and EDA member Dana Graham agreed.
“[The depot] is the type of project that should get these funds,” he said. “This is not only to enhance the downtown, this is the future.”
Though he thought there was a “snowball’s chance in hell” of getting the council to give the EDA the funding, he said the EDA could recommend how the money is used.
“Asking the council to turn over $1.3 million to the EDA probably takes more than a postcard,” admitted EDA member Fred Rogers.
As of Thursday, the tentative date for the depot to be moved is Dec. 28.
And even if the council is not in favor of providing the EDA with the funds that would then be awarded to STND, Ludescher said this project could be used as a model on how he feels the EDA could be involved in future decision-making.
“My thought is, people are using economic development to justify what is community development to get a project through,” he said.
But EDA member Todd Bornhauser felt the request for the funding to be transferred to the EDA, and then the depot, would be time-consuming.
“I would hate to see the depot be held [up] in the political minefield,” he said.
It was then he made the motion to ask to the council to move forward with granting the depot TIF 4 funds as requested, in addition to asking staff to work with the EDA in coming up with a plan on how the EDA could have more oversight in future decisions regarding TIF 4 funds.
The motion was approved, with Bornhauser abstaining from the vote.