Sidewalks added to Crookston north-end street project; legal notice or public hearing not required

Mike Christopherson

    In an exceedingly rare development, especially considering Crookston’s love/hate but mostly hate relationship with sidewalks, a resident this week complained to the Crookston City Council about a sidewalk being added to his property as part of the reconstruction of Radisson Road, and after some discussion the council ended up adding even more sidewalks to the project.

    And the resident registering the complaint, Kim Goosen, was on board with the decision, agreeing that the addition of new sidewalks to the project on both the north and south sides of Radisson Road, past Hoven Lane Park and past Dairy Queen to University Avenue, would it safer for kids and other pedestrians who frequent the area.

    The council voted in favor of the addition of sidewalks to the project, but at the suggestion of City Attorney Charles “Corky” Reynolds, the approval was contingent on Reynolds determining that the City wasn’t required to send a legal notice to the impacted property owners – two homes that wouldn’t have gotten new sidewalks as part of the project now will get them – or schedule a public hearing to further discuss the matter.

    During this week’s discussion, Reynolds had cautioned the council before their vote, saying there was a possibility a legal notification and public hearing would be required. Public Works Director Pat Kelly countered that in his opinion the addition of the sidewalks would be considered simply a “change order” from the original project specifications, and that no legal notice or hearing would be required. Kelly also noted that the addition of the sidewalks would not increase the assessment to the impacted property owners, since the City assesses various street projects at a fixed rate.

    Kelly subsequently notified the Times on Tuesday, confirming that Reynolds had looked into the matter further and determined the sidewalks could be added to the project without notifying impacted property owners or scheduling a public hearing.

    Not needing to delay by up to two weeks due to legal notices and a hearing is key, Widseth engineer Rich Clauson said because crews will be on-site in the coming days excavating and forming up in advance of concrete crews arriving next week.

    It’s a strange, unusual twist for a street project in Crookston to have sidewalks added instead of subtracted. Many years ago, Kelly put forth a sidewalk plan adding them as various street improvement projects were carried out across town, but immediately impacted residents revolted, and the council at that time backed away from the plan.

    It seemed like more of the same when Goosen started talking at the meeting, but he was the one to suggest first that if the City was going to add a couple sidewalks, it might as well add more to make the busy area safer for kids and pedestrians. “My concern is the safety of the kids,” he said. “We need to keep them off the street.”