Woods Addition homeowner on condition of sidewalks: ‘We gotta be better’

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    Upon first glance of the sidewalk in front of Bob and Lisa Magsams’ Woods Addition home, the condition of which spurred him to address the Crookston City Council last week, one couldn’t help but wonder what’s so bad about the Magsams’ sidewalk?

    But then you notice it. There are two relatively new concrete sidewalk panels, put in by City Public Works personnel after a water line leak in front of the house, and there’s a significant dip in the seam between the two panels. They’ve also sunk so that they don’t line up with the concrete walk that leads to the Magsams’ front door.

    Lisa Magsam operates a home daycare, her husband told the council last week, which means there’s a lot of foot traffic on their sidewalk. “It’s a trip hazard,” Bob said. “If someone falls on your property and you’re doing daycare, you’re scrutinized, you’re guilty until proven different.”

    He said when a recent spring thaw kicked in he had to dig into his boulevard because meltwater pooled in the low spot frequently and then froze overnight, creating another hazard for anyone walking on his sidewalk.

    Magsam told the Times that before he spoke to the council last week, he’d contacted city hall three times about his sidewalk. After his comments to the council, City Administrator Amy Finch said City staff would take a look at the Magsams’ sidewalk, evaluate City sidewalk policy, and get back to him.

    Still, Bob knows his sidewalk isn’t terrible. So he leads a stroll about a half-block up Cromb Street, where several stretches of sidewalk are much worse. He said he appreciated taking a recent, similar stroll in the neighborhood with Ward 4 City Council Member Don Cavalier to get a firsthand look at the poor condition of many sidewalks in the addition. Magsam encouraged other council members to walk the Woods Addition and check out the sidewalks, and other older neighborhoods in town where the sidewalk story is similar.

     “There’s a lot of sidewalks in bad, bad, bad shape,” he said. “We gotta be better. …We have to do better all over town.”

    And Magsam thinks the City can do better by approaching sidewalk maintenance, repair and replacement in a more proactive fashion. The City collects an annual “sidewalk fee” from property owners – $20 a year per parcel, Public Works Director Pat Kelly says – which Magsam thinks should make a more active sidewalk policy a possibility.

    When Magsam encouraged the council to not “leave out” the Woods Addition and other older neighborhoods, he was thinking about more than just sidewalks. Getting to his Cromb Street house means one has to navigate a significant portion of Hunter Street, which is a bumpy, uneven adventure requiring extremely slow vehicle speeds.

    Mention the condition of Hunter to Magsam, and it’s obvious he’s well aware of it and has been for some time.

    “It’s the worst, and (the City) is aware of it,” he said. “It’s sad. They’ll come down here next spring and fill the pot-holes again.”

    The Times contacted Kelly to see if an improvement project on Hunter Street was on the City’s radar, in the form of being included on the City’s three-year street improvement plan. Kelly on Monday said a portion of the street is included in the three-year plan.

Bob Magsam shows a problem spot on his sidewalk in front of his Cromb Street house in the Woods Addition.