Council Member Briggs wonders what can be done about it.

Although there have been various development visions over the years, such as converting it into apartment buildings like McKinley School was, people living in the area surrounding the former Lincoln School continue to be frustrated by the condition of the building itself and its surrounding property.

Ward 3 Crookston City Council Member Clayton Briggs said he continues to field complaint calls from those living near the building. “It’s an ongoing thing; I don’t know what can be done about it,” Briggs said.

Calls have come in about the tall grass and weeds, and in the past calls came in about graffiti on the building. People are concerned about the poor exterior appearance of the building itself, too. A more recent problem, City Building Official Matt Johnson says, involves someone repeatedly punching holes in the side of the building. The area being damaged has been boarded up more than once, he said.

The building is owned by Tony Anderson. Johnson said Anderson owns a concrete company that does most of its work in North Dakota. “They originally were looking at apartments (at the former school), but that hasn’t come to fruition yet,” Johnson said.

Earlier this week, the grass on the property was freshly cut. Johnson said Anderson had had the mowing done. The City, Johnson said, sent out to “long grass” notices to Anderson this year, and had to mow it once in July. When the City has to mow a property owner’s grass, a fee is charged to the property owner and, if not paid, is added to the person’s property tax bill. The more times the City has to do things like mow at a property, the higher the fee assessed gets, Finance Director Angel Weasner said.

Even with a new Property Maintenance Code in place, the City can’t be overly aggressive when addressing a problem property. That’s especially the case when a property owner continues to pay property taxes. It takes seven years for a tax-delinquent property to become a tax-forfeit property, when the county would take over ownership have conceivably have options available to it, such as demolition.