Quanrud wonders if City is spending its money wisely on ‘all these paths’

    In the wake of a couple mini-firestorms that erupted in July over, first, the construction of a grant-funded multi-use path on Fairfax Avenue that cuts through a couple of residential front yards, and, then, a multi-use path proposed in a draft of a “Downtown Master Plan” that would have cut through small backyards along the Red Lake River in Sampson’s Addition, Crookston City Council members Monday evening discussed a 2018 Parks & Recreation budget that includes $100,000 for more multi-use trails.

    But these would be placed on the “wet” side of the City’s certified levee system, and not on private property or in people’s yards.

    Specifically, the path proposed in the budget would impact two houses remaining on Pleasant Avenue after the neighborhood’s flood control project, and some houses on Nelson Street.

    “We’ve got some door-knocking to do, but it’s nothing like Mill Street,” City Administrator Shannon Stassen said, referring to the Mill Street property owners who reacted strongly to the possibility of having a multi-use path in their backyard only a few feet from their homes.

    Parks & Recreation Director Scott Riopelle added that as the path would meander on the wet side of the levee, at some locations it would be down close to the river and far away from anyone’s backyard. “I think you’d be able to make quite a bit of noise and no one would even hear you,” he said.

    For years, whether it was the City’s old dikes or the current levee system, homeowners have taken issue with people walking on the tops of the levees and in the process compromising their privacy. Riopelle said the thinking is that a trail on the wet side of the levee will alleviate that concern.

Misplaced investment?

    Stassen noted that $100,000 in the 2018 budget would only get a trail started, and that further investment would be necessary in future years if the trail is to continue to grow.

    To that, At Large Council Member Bob Quanrud wondered if the City could invest its dollars in wiser fashion.

    “We’re doing so much with these paths but we have sidewalks,” he said. “Good god, people grew up with sidewalks for years and now we’ve got to do all these paths. It’s a lot of money, guys.”

    Mayor Wayne Melbye added that it would probably be cheaper for the City to simply handle sidewalk snow removal for citizens that have sidewalks. “I’m serious, but that’s for another day,” he said.