As part of that, Stassen says, the City could handle snow removal on downtown sidewalks; he suggests that the DCDP discuss the possibilities

    Although only one is budgeted for 2019, the Crookston City Council, at a Ways & Means Committee meeting Monday evening, approved the purchase of a second lawn mower/snowblower for the Parks & Recreation Department.

    They approved the additional expense mostly because of significant discounts Parks & Rec Director Scott Riopelle said are available until the end of January, but also because of a potentially bigger reason: The purchase of the second piece of equipment might open the door for the City to handle snow-removal on all downtown sidewalks, with downtown property owners somehow paying for the service or being otherwise assessed, potentially through the establishment of a new downtown business district.

    City Administrator Shannon Stassen, in referring to the option of purchasing the second mower/blower now in order to take advantage of a 20 percent discount on the price, also mentioned to council members in Monday’s committee meeting memo the possibility of establishing the business improvement district.

    With the Parks & Rec Department currently being one mower short in its fleet, Stassen indicates in the memo the second mower/blower would return the department’s fleet to full strength, and would also position the department well to address downtown sidewalk removal “if that is part of a future plan.” That future plan, Stassen went on to indicate, would “entail some sort of fee to property owners” that could be part of a business improvement district if downtown property owners “saw value” in the establishment of such a district.

    Asked by downtown business owner, outspoken downtown sidewalk critic and Ward 2 Council Member Steve Erickson how all of that might shake out, Stassen said he thinks the topic is “perfect” for the Downtown Crookston Development Partnership to “explore.”

    Clearly, Stassen continued, there are many details that need to be hashed out, like how much property owners would pay as part of belonging to a business improvement district, or simply for snow removal. Another issue to iron out would be how much snow after a snow event would trigger snow removal from downtown sidewalks by the City, he added.

    “There are a lot of pieces out there we could look at,” Stassen said. “I’m not recommending it, I’m just saying it’s worth looking at. It’s just a thought that’s been suggested. There are other things business improvement districts do as well. It’s a pretty deep discussion to have, and this would be a tremendous service to offer.”

    Erickson suggested it might be preferred over spending seven figures to replace the current brick paver sidewalks downtown.

    As for the mowers/blowers themselves, they are both John Deere model 1575 TerrainCut, and each costs $43,717. In addition to mowing, each will have a blower attachment and a sweeper attachment. The money for the second one will come from City reserves.

    Riopelle said a current mower with an 11-foot cutting span will be replaced by the two new six-foot span mowers, which, he said, give the City more flexibility on where they’ll be used and how they’ll be used, whether it’s clearing snow at Crookston Sports Center and potentially downtown, or cutting the 40 acres of grass at Highland Park.

    At Large Council Member Bobby Baird spoke in favor of buying the second mower/blower now in order to take advantage of the discount.

    “Discounts are a pretty big thing right now,” he said. “Our mowers take a heck of a beating and we have a lot of grass to cut.”

    Riopelle expects it to take around six weeks for the new mowers/blowers to be delivered.