New Roof Approved


The Selectboard approved funding for a new roof for the library at the October 25th meeting.  The work will cover the non-historic portion of the library, over the children’s book stacks and Community Room.

It’s been a long time coming.  The roof has been leaking for several months, causing damage to ceiling tiles and books.

There were three choices for funding:  Take funds dedicated to the Municipal building CIP fund; Take out a low-interest loan; or deficit-spend against the annual budget allocated to the library.

After reviewing estimates and contract options, the Selectboard agreed to borrow funds and award the contract to Burrell Roofing.  (Of three estimates, two were competitively priced.  The lowest bid didn’t include a full 15-year warranty for material, nor did it include the complete replacement of roof flashing.)

Work should be completed by December 1st.

Annual funding for the library’s CIP fund has fluctuated considerably over time.  Town Manager Jeff Schulz said the annual budget for the library’s CIP fund has been “low” for the last 5 years.

Which leads to the question:  Do Northfield voters want leaky roofs or sustainable budgets?  

As a member of the Selectboard, the Economic Development Committee, and the Budget Committee, my vote goes for sustainable budgets.  If you agree, I’ll need your support when the annual budget process begins.



Harwood Strong Boys Soccer Game

Just a quick post to share some pictures from the Marauders vs. Highlanders game this evening.  It’s the first time on the field with Harwood since the October 8th automobile tragedy.  Northfield players are wearing black and gold armbands, Harwood’s school colors.

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Another token of support can be found in the High School hallways.



Water Street Park: Playground or Bridge?


Time is running out for the final decisions in the Water Street Park design — and your voice deserves to be heard.

Here’s a simple question:  What would you like to see for a recreational amenity at the soon-to-be-constructed Water Street Park?  Fill out the poll below!

Maybe you have other thoughts?  Regardless, the question is important.  I’d like to ask you to share this post with all of your friends on Facebook and on your email list.  I’d also like you to share your comments below.

It appears that a natural playground may be the preferred choice — although it’s not clear how many people are involved in this decision.  Current residents of the Water Street neighborhood had a special opportunity to provide input at an event last March.  The next round of feedback took place at Night on the Common.  So if you don’t live along Water Street and were not able to attend the June 19th Night on the Common, your voice may not be heard.  Take two seconds to respond via the poll.

Anecdotally, some folks have asked why we need another playground when the one at Memorial Park is in disrepair.  Personally, my position is that a bridge, which is included in the current draft plan, would be a better option for the following reasons:

  1. An expensive playground would be destroyed in the next flood.
  2. A bridge would coincide with the recent Area Wide Plan proposal for a River Walk on the east side of the river.
  3. The bridge would provide access to a beautiful side of the river with a trail leading south to Norwich University.  The trail already exists as a utility path along a water/sewer line running from Norwich University to the Freightyard Way development area.

But what’s important is your input.  So, what do you think?  There’s not enough funding for both.  If you had to make a choice, would it be a playground or a bridge?  Don’t forget to leave a comment.  And thanks for your time!





It’s been a tough week for our neighbors in the Harwood Union High School district, following the surreal, unthinkable automotive crime on I-89 last weekend.  (We can’t call the incident an “accident”.)  No one can fill the void in the loss of five young Vermonters.  The best that can be done is to pull together as a community.

This week, Harwood’s community extends throughout Central Vermont.  Schools across the region are standing strong with the families of the lost.


As of Wednesday evening, Northfield became one of five schools to deliver condolences in a gift of cards.  Lots of cards.

Students throughout the Middle/High School spent their Homeroom period making and signing cards after holding a moment of silence in solemn respect.  Additionally, one student from every Homeroom joined art teacher, Mr. Howard, to create the banner pictured above.  Today, students began signing the banner.  Next Tuesday, the banner will be hung when Harwood meets Northfield at the Boys Soccer game.  Those attending the game are encouraged to wear black and gold — Harwood’s school colors.

The cards were delivered Wednesday evening.  Next Tuesday, the banner will be hung when Harwood meets Northfield at the Boys Soccer game.  Those attending the game (4pm at Garvey Field) are encouraged to wear black and gold — Harwood’s school colors.

Tomorrow Northfield Middle and High School students will gather in the auditorium and sing “Stand By Me” as another token of sympathy.  The song will be recorded on video and shared with our neighbors over the hill.





Picture of the Week

Howdy, folks!

As you’ve noticed, Nate’s Updates has been pretty quiet this summer.  Let’s just say I’ve been juggling full-time work with a part-time job, plus weekly volunteer work for NCDN and, of course, my duties as a member of the Selectboard and its various committees.

With this in mind, I plan on getting things moving here once again.  So let’s start out with a “Picture of the Week” post.


Yes, it’s almost time to vote.  And, apparently, someone is out stealing candidate signs.  This neighbor near the corner of Routes 12 and 12A responded with an even better sign.  In fact, I think it would be great to see folks put out signs that represent their political values more often.

In the meantime, sign stealers need to understand it’s against the law to enter a private landowners lawn and steal property — no matter what the item may be.  It’s also not in line with our values and traditions.

There’s an old Vermont value that respects property lines.  Some of us who live along a well-traveled highway seem to be treated differently from those on the outskirts of town, so just imagine if, fellow homeowners, someone walked onto your lawn and grabbed some goods.  Not cool, eh?  It’s not a political statement to steal other peoples’ stuff.

But on the upside, here’s to Northfield’s Democratic Spirit!  Don’t let the sign-stealers get you down.

To our neighbors with the sign:  Congratulations!

*Update:  As Bill mentions below, suggesting a political party is being targeted may show bias — so I deleted that part.  The signs stolen from the property above were, in fact,  in support of Democratic party candidates.  Maybe there are signs of other party candidates (R, P, G, Independent) being stolen as well.

Thanks, Bill!


Northfield in Pictures

Northfield is beautiful.  It’s easy to forget to look at our rounded hills when driving to work.  It’s easy to miss the classic New England look of South Main Street behind all the telephone poles and wires.  And as some of us grow older, we may forget Northfield’s outstanding outdoor experience from the tops of Paine to Scragg Mountains, and the length of our streams and river.

And most importantly, we don’t often see our smiling faces captured in photographs.  We don’t often see ourselves in close-up as individuals of a larger community.

When I started taking pictures in the late spring, my purpose was to gather photographs to use on a website, brochures, or other material to help promote Northfield.  It was just one part of my work with the Northfield Community Development Network, in our mission to revitalize our economic vitality.  2015 was a tough year for Northfield and the NCDN was determined to start a long, sustained effort, working behind the scenes, to turn our fortunes around.

My work taking pictures began with the donation of a high-quality camera.  George and Mary Doud, owners of Doud Studio Arts, presented the camera saying, “For the cause.”  I had met George and Mary in April when they advertised a free lilac bush on Front Porch Forum.  We became friends immediately and have since enjoyed many cups of coffee and equally stimulating conversation.  Then came the donation — a true gift for myself and NCDN as we began our work in finding a new brand and marketing vision for the town we love.

So, in presenting some photos, I’d like to offer gratitude to the Douds, whose contribution is a vital tool for the betterment of Northfield.  Soon, NCDN will begin a fundraising campaign to help pay for some of the necessities required for marketing, promotion and economic development.  We don’t expect cameras or other expensive equipment.  What we’re looking for are contributions donors may afford.  We’re not looking for a handout.  We’re looking for buy-in.  Economic development requires investments.  The question will be, once we start our campaign, “How can you support Northfield’s economic vitality?”

And so, with this long introduction, I’d like to present Northfield in Pictures.  Click on the arrows at the top of the picture, then scroll through by clicking on the arrows at the bottom of the pictures.  Or just use your arrow keys on your keyboard.




Selectboard to Discuss Goals for 2017/18

In follow up to my note last week, the Selectboard will be meeting Tuesday night to discuss goals for the next budget year.  The public is welcome, although there’s no public discussion scheduled.  Input will be allowed per the Chair’s discretion.  

This is an important meeting because the discussion may involve which services to cut and which to expand.  

If you can’t attend the meeting, please look for follow-up information.  I’ll do my best to share what I’ve learned — but please help me inform others if you can.  

I’d like to share my recommendations to the Chair in anticipation for the meeting.  You can download and print my recommendations here:  Municipal Goals

For simplicity, I’ve created a long-term/short-term chart.  More detailed information follows.


Municipal Goals



Input on Municipal Goals & Objectives for the Town of Northfield

August 30, 2016.  Retreat Meeting of the Selectboard

Nathan Freeman


Goals Statement

Northfield’s goal is to earn a reputation as a great place to live, work and relax.  Northfield strives to be the first choice in Central Vermont when people consider buying a home, starting a business or finding a school for their children.  

Community & Economic Revitalization

o   In follow-up to the VDAT and Brownfield studies, hire a Community & Economic Development employee to initiate implementation of study recommendations. 

  • Funds for new-hire to be allocated from the Town’s Economic Development Fund with future funds provided by municipal grants won by Economic Development employee, or via a contractual partnership with a private non-profit partner.

o   Apply for Village Center Designation to support infrastructure development and business tax incentives in the Falls neighborhood area.

o   Form a contractual relationship with a community development corporation to act as a public engagement, grant-applicant partner.

o   Ensure Zoning Bylaws are streamlined to provide for new development opportunities, such as those suggested in the Town’s Brownfields Conceptual Plan.  Apply for Municipal Planning grant to hire an expert consultant to update Bylaws to modern standards.

New Housing Initiative

o   Apply for Neighborhood Areas program (1/4-mile buffer around Village Center Designated areas) to provide tax incentives for housing development.

o   Pass a Housing Tax Stabilization to support non-industrial/commercial property development.  (Simple majority to pass.)


o   Construct Dog River Greenway foot/bike path as shown on Brownfield Program Conceptual Plan.

o   Review Road Surface Management System to assess the following:

  • Funding Capacity vs. Implementation Capability
  • Determine a funding strategy based on feasible implementation vs. per-year allotments

o   Apply for FY2018 Better Roads Program Category B grant to help pay for rock-lined ditching.

o   Apply for a VTrans Bicycle & Pedestrian Program grant to construct new sidewalks extending from the Falls to the Norwich Apartments

o   Based on RSMS review, formulate a “Big Dig” initiative with a long-term purpose to reduce wear and tear on roads and highways from winter frost. 

  • Prioritize on current traffic usage vs. historical paving/maintenance schedule
  • Dig to lowest frost-line levels and build new roadbeds to maximize drainage.
  • Use VTrans best practices

Municipal Workplace Professional Development

o   Encourage municipal staff and elected officials to attend VLCT professional development workshops relevant to their service throughout the FY year.  When appropriate, hire VLCT to provide on-site workshops.

o   Identify similar Vermont communities and initiate a Mutual Municipal Partnership program with a purpose to provide networking and education for town employees and officials with peers in other communities with similar challenges and goals.