Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Give to the Max for Way Park!

Today is Give to the Max Day for Minnesota nonprofits. All donors contributing funds through the website are eligible for hourly drawings that add $1,000 to your donation. Please help Way Park as we work toward the completion of the Way Park Master Plan.

Visit Friends of Way Park on or our Donate page now (or any time) to make a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

South End Progress

This has been an exciting summer in Way Park! Working with the City, we have been able to regrade and seed the south half of the park, build an amphitheater, add paved walkways, and plant 18 maples and oaks donated by Leif Knecht. FWP board member Mary Steen has been documenting the progress over the past two months in this series of photos.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Groundbreaking Celebration Photos

Dozens of park neighbors, along with members of the Friends of Way Park, the Northfield City Council, and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, celebrated the beginning of construction in the south half of the park at a ceremonial groundbreaking. Here are a few photos from the event....

Groundbreaking Celebration Tonight: Rain or Shine!

Please join us at 7:00 this evening in Way Park to celebrate the next phase of development in the south half of the park. In case of rain, bring an umbrella or gather under one of the tents!

Friday, August 26, 2011

A "Way" Forward

Construction begins! (Photo by Matt Rohn)
If you travel on West Second Street, you’ll see heavy equipment moving dirt around the south end of Way Park.

This work will improve the topography, lay paths, prepare rain gardens, and seed grass on a bed of sustaining soil. It marks the next essential step in the realization of the Way Park master plan, making visible years of planning and action by the Friends of Way Park (FWP), the Park & Recreation Advisory Board, City Council, and city staff.

The path to this point has not always been straight or clear, nor have various groups’ interests always been aligned. Hundreds of hours of dialogue, signature-gathering, public meetings, listening, planning, revising and rethinking have been required for the city, parks board and FWP to forge a partnership that has produced a “way” forward in a time of strained budgets.

Lucile and Laura Way first saw the value of a park on Northfield’s west side. Strapped for money in 1933, they made an arrangement for the city to purchase some of the land their family had long farmed, but at a greatly reduced price if it became a park. They knew that children and adults needed a place to be in touch with nature as Northfield expanded west. When the city five years later sought to build a hospital in part of the park, the visionary president of the hospital board, Leal Headley, secured a federal grant not only for the construction of the building but also for landscaping that unified the hospital grounds and the park. He and his wife committed personal funds to support the landscape design.

Through the years there have been many “friends” of Way Park — pulling weeds, sweeping gravel off the playground sidewalk, clearing snow from the skating rink — but the organized Friends of Way Park was formed in 2004 when the city announced that it was moving the hospital.

The first task was to convince the city that the land the hospital had vacated should return to the park the Way family had originally envisioned. As planning for this full Way Park proceeded, FWP raised money, gathered the views of residents, and worked with the parks board, city staff, architects and City Council to accomplish as much as possible with the resources available.

FWP stays attentive to Way Park. It raises money to make sure funds always exist for its development. It has “adopted” Way Park to formalize the informal maintenance already taking place. It sponsors community-building Park events. And its members brainstorm with the city to devise ways to husband limited funds so the park can continue to develop even in hard times — when people need it the most.

A guest column in the Northfield News by Sarah Carlsen, chair of the Friends of Way Park Board.

This month’s construction will produce Way Park’s new foundation. Please join us at the park at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30 for a celebratory groundbreaking ceremony. We acknowledge the people and process that have brought us to this day and pledge to continue the creative collaboration necessary for fulfilling the vision for Way Park.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Midsommar 2011 Photos

The sixth annual Midsommar in Way Park was another smashing success! Thanks to the Sons of Norway, the Northfield Swedish Club, and all the volunteers who made it happen, to the young fiddlers and dancers from the Evergreen School of Performing Arts and the young-at-heart local musicians who made this year's event so special, and to Mark Heiman and Doug Bratland for sharing their photos from the celebration.

More Midsommar photos:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

TONIGHT: Midsommar in Way Park

Celebrate the 6th annual Scandinavian Midsommar in Way Park TONIGHT, Sunday, June 19! Informal picnicking, wreath making, and other family-friendly activities begin at 5:30 p.m. Nordic-style hot dogs and waffles will be available for purchase.

"The Singing Strings," a youth fiddling group from the Evergreen School of Performing Arts in Edina, will perform at 6:30, followed by a midsommar processional and raising of the maypole at 7. The event continues with songs and dances, games, and more live Nordic music by Hütenänny and friends.

The event is hosted by the Friends of Way Park, Northfield Swedish Club, and Sons of Norway. Bring your lawn chair, grab your family and friends, and join us in the park!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Annual Meeting: Monday, June 13

The Friends of Way Park 2011 Annual Meeting will be next Monday, June 13 at the meeting room of the Northfield Public Library.

Please join us to thank our outgoing board members--Chris Ennis, Judy Covey and Jim Holden--and to vote for the 2011-12 slate, including new members Mary Emery and Anne Berry. We will also have on display the most recent landscape architects' plan for the development of the south end of the Park and we'll provide an update on that project. We hope will much of it will take shape yet this summer!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Way Park Open House: Thursday, May 5

This Thursday, May 5th, the city will be hosting an open house on the final plan for the south end of Way Park. The open house will be at St. John's Lutheran Church from 7-9 pm. Postcards were sent to homes only within 300 feet of the park, so many interested residents may not be aware of the meeting.

A representative from van der Zalm + associates, the landscape design firm responsible for the current plan, will be presenting the final plan along with city staff. The plan will then be presented to the Park and Recreation Board (PRAB) at their next meeting on May 19th. We are hopeful that the PRAB will approve the plan without major changes so it can go out for bids in early June. The current schedule has the grading/seeding and trail work planned for August or September of this year.

This phase of Way Park development is foundational for future phases of the master plan to be implemented. We need good soil and final grading to plant the planned rain gardens and trees, and to make the south end of the park more useful and accessible for all ages. With the $80,000 committed to this project by the park board, along with over $30,000 raised in charitable donations to FWP, we hope to complete as much of the south end as possible this year.

You can view the most recent concept plan at this link, and we will add a link to the updated plan as soon as it is available.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Bach, Benefit, (Dessert) Bonanza

Close to 150 Northfielders enjoyed a wonderful Benefit Concert for Way Park Saturday evening, April 2. Andrea Een (violin and viola), Dana Maeda (oboe), and Theo Wee (piano and organ) performed a program of Bach that included ensemble pieces as well as solos, and concluded with all three performers in the Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor.

At the reception that followed, concert-goers were treated to an impressive array of home-baked cakes. They also had an opportunity to examine the current design for Way Park produced by the landscape design firm van der Zalm + associates hired by the Northfield City Council. The plan, focused on the undeveloped south end of the park, features an ampitheater, a path joining St. Olaf Ave. and Second Street, two rain gardens, an oak grove, and benches. Look for an Open House in May to see the final plans.

The Bach Benefit Concert raised $3000 plus an additional $2500 in a match announced at the beginning of the concert, bringing the park improvement fund of Friends of Way Park to more than $35,000. The current City Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) budget contains a total of $80,000 for this phase of the project.

How much of the landscape design can be accomplished in the immediate future remains uncertain, but it will have to start with grading, soil improvement, and seeding. When those costs are known, the City and Friends of Way Park will work out an agreement for sharing costs, and we will know how much of the rest of the plan can be implemented this year.

To request email updates on Phase I progress, please send a note to Friends of Way Park hope that we can count on your continued, generous support.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Phase I Concept Plan

The landscape architecture firm van der Zalm + Associates has been contracted by the city to design Phase I of the Way Park Master Plan, which includes grading and trails, rain gardens, and amphitheater seating. You can view the latest concept plan by clicking on the image and visit the van der Zalm website to leave comments and recommendations.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bach Benefit Concert: Saturday, April 2

The Friends of Way Park invite you to a special benefit concert for Way Park on Saturday, April 2nd at First United Church of Christ, 300 Union Street in Northfield. The music of Johann Sebastian Bach will be performed by St. Olaf music faculty Andrea Een, violin and viola, Dana Maeda, oboe, and St. Olaf Music Professor Emerita, Theo Wee, organ and piano. Doors will open at 7pm, with music beginning at 7:30. A dessert reception will follow the concert.

The price for the concert is a suggested donation of $15 ($10 for students, and $5 for children 12 and under). All donations will help fund the implementation of park improvements to realize the Way Park master plan.

The featured work will be the "Concerto in C minor for Oboe and Violin," BWV 1060, a reconstruction of a lost concerto by Bach for two keyboards. The concert will open with the "Violin and Keyboard Sonata No. 3 in E-major," BWV 1016 and continue with Suite No. 1 in G major for Solo Cello, performed on viola. The first half will close with two organ pieces, one of which is based on the famous Preludium for Violin Solo from the Partita No. 3 in E major. Two fine instruments belonging to the UCC church will be used: the Boesendorfer grand piano and the Johnson organ from the 1880's which was moved from a church in Buffalo, N.Y. and refurbished and installed at the church a few years ago.

This will be a family-friendly event appropriate for children five years and above to benefit one of the most well-used and beloved parks in Northfield. Planning is actively underway to integrate the two halves of Way Park, which are at last joined together. (Prior to last summer's street work, First Street had bisected the land; now the landscape is one contiguous plat of land with parking cul-de-sacs on both ends of 1st St.) A map of the Master Plan will be displayed at the church for those interested in the next phase of development.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Beginnings in the Park

As the snow recedes and a new season arrives, we are more hopeful than ever that by Fall 2011 we will see a graded and seeded south end of Way Park, the beginnings of a rain garden, and possibly additional plantings!

The Northfield City Council recently approved hiring a landscape design firm, van der Zalm + associates, and on February 28 the firm presented their initial design at an Open House to obtain public input. Friends of Way Park Board members in attendance were favorably impressed with the receptiveness of the designers to citizens' ideas and with their thoughtful adaptation of the Spencer Jones Master Plan. The firm, whose head offices are in British Columbia, has recently opened an office in Minneapolis, and is eager to establish itself in Minnesota.

The landscape architects will refine their design, and, once engineers can extract soil borings, will cost out the project. It will probably be sometime in April before the City and Friends of Way Park will have the information enabling them to work out an agreement for sharing costs and initiating the project. The current City Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) budget contains a total of $80,000 for this phase of the project, and FWP has at least $30,000.

Other features of the Park plan, such as paths leading from St. Olaf Ave. to Second Street, will likely need additional funding to accomplish. Friends of Way Park continues to seek donations and will be doing more fundraising in the months ahead. We hope that we can count on your continued, generous support in making the Park plan come to life.

If you would like to receive email updates on Phase I progress, please send a note to

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Canceled due to good weather!

This week's extreme warm-up has forced us to cancel Saturday's scheduled "Full Moon Fire & Skate." Stay tuned for more news and upcoming events in your Park For All Seasons (except for abrubptly-changing ones).

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Full Moon Fire & Skate: CANCELED!

[Update: Please do NOT...] Gather together your friends and neighbors and head to Way Park on Saturday, February 19 for the Full Moon Fire & Skate! The event will [NOT] take place from 5:30-7 pm (weather permitting) and will [NOT] feature refreshments (hot cocoa, popcorn, popcorn balls, and cider) and a variety of winter activities. There will [NOT] be music, firepits, and luminarias, with skating routine demonstrations at 6 o'clock. Bring your snowshoes, skates, and skis, and join us for [some other] lovely winter's night in the park!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Winter in the Park

This has been a great winter for skating on the Way Park rink. It is busy after school and at night, on vacation days and weekends, with parents and kids playing pick-up hockey games, tykes pushing chairs for balance, teens practicing figure eights, grandparents on foot escorting beginning skaters, and college students arriving to play broomball.

Friendly cooperation (hockey games are often restricted to one end of the rink) keeps the various skaters safe. The city regularly floods the rink after clearing the most recent snow, which at times this winter has made piles high enough that from across the park skaters appear as heads and shoulders floating through the air.