He says some streets are in pretty rough shape

    When the frost goes out during each spring thaw around these parts, it’s certainly not unusual for Crookston residents to complain about the resulting pot holes and cracks, dips, bumps – some of them quite cavernous and perilous to navigate – and wonder when in the world they’ll be able to look forward to a smoother ride.

    So it wasn’t out of the norm when Ward 1 Crookston City Council Member Jake Fee last week mentioned some streets in Crookston in particularly rough shape. In fact, when he made his remarks, he made sure to note that he knows it’s spring and that this time of year certain streets get pretty beat up, and that City Public Works crews would certainly be making the rounds with their hot-mix truck to patch some of the trouble spots.

    But Fee took it a step further when he wondered if it wouldn’t be wise for the City to be particularly proactive on the street improvement front by actually issuing bonds to pay for a bunch of projects in 2021.

    “Or am I wanting to spend too much money here?” he wondered.

    Compared to many cities, Crookston residents get a decent deal when it comes to street improvement projects in front of their properties. The City picks up the majority of the cost for reconstruction and bituminous overlay projects, and property owners are assessed for their minority share of the cost via their property taxes for up to a decade. But, still, there’s only so much money in the pot each year, meaning a limited amount of projects can be taken on each summer.

    This year, four street improvement projects are on tap.

    Fee thinks the list going forward maybe needs to be a bit longer.

    “Elm and Central are getting beat up pretty bad. …The Woods Addition, too,” he said. “Some of these, we’re talking about long stretches that are beyond patching.

    “Maybe we bond for it next year to get a lot of these roads fixed up,” Fee continued.

    The City issuing bonds for a significant development project has been mentioned off and on in recent years. A list of potential projects was formulated a couple years ago, with an outdoor swimming pool possibly being the one on the list that generated the most buzz in the community. But issuing bonds to take on more street improvement projects than usual was never a big part of those discussions.

    Interim City Administrator Angel Weasner, in response to Fee’s suggestion, said that in 2021 it will be the City of Crookston’s turn as part of a continuing rotation to receive an allocation of federal dollars to put toward street improvement projects. She said she’s not sure if during a year the City is in line to receive federal street project funds it would also have the ability to issue bonds for street work.

    Public Works Director Pat Kelly, asked by the Times for details on how the federal funding rotation works, said Crookston is part of a four-year rotation with East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls and Bemidji.  

    “It's approximately $800,000 with a $200,000 City match for a project of around $1 million,” Kelly says. “We are proposing some work on the Broadway Bridge and overlaying a number of State Aid streets, some of which were mentioned by Jake.”

    It’s expected the council at an upcoming Ways & Means Committee will discuss the matter further.