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Letter to the Editor: Proposed apartments could be great with some tweaks

Submitted by Bobby Baird
Crookston Times

    Monday night’s Council meeting brought a little reality to everybody with the concerns for downtown Crookston and Crookston as a whole because it affects us all. I grew up here and I can remember when Iwas little all the businesses that were in town. We’ve known for years that the downtown is struggling. It will be struggling even more in the near future because of some of our aging business owners and we know some of our older buildings are difficult to keep up with costs and to keep them up to code.

    I want to thank Craig Tweten for the proposal they brought up about the mixed use building. To make a long story short, it was just a proposal. This proposal was a follow-up from the Downtown Master Plan and yes they did ask the city for some incentives like a TIF. Nothing was set in stone and if we discuss it more we could add things or cut things.  

    At the meeting, we had people that were against this proposal and the Council wanted to hear everybody’s opinions, good or bad. We had three individuals or groups that spoke - Jeff Evers, the DCDP, and Jim Borkowski, that were interested in learning more about downtown housing.

    When you put all this together and the people that are against this, not one of the negative people brought up a solution on how to fix it. Parking was also a concern and I think we can get it figured out. By the way, anyone that wants to start a business or develop in Crookston can look into grants, IRP loans, and TIFS offered by the city and CHEDA.

    Here are some of my thoughts on possible solutions and I hope you bring your thoughts for solutions back to the Council or CHEDA during open forums:

    • Build the apartments - with or without commercial space - and add parking on the north side instead of the Town Square.

    • If we were to consider a commercial space on the first floor, we would like to hear what people - citizens and business owners - want. I’d like to note that we do not want any competition for our local retail businesses.

    • Move the Town Square across the street from the new apartments on the southeast end on city-owned property, make it level, add parking on that side too, and bring the Farmers Market’s red barn there.

    • When Tri-Valley moves to the Fournet, and if the city acquires their old building, we could add at least 70 parking spots plus make that turn on Broadway safer.

    This proposed apartment building could draw people to Crookston that might not have given us a second thought. It might also be the perfect opportunity for someone that might not want to have house maintenance and want a nicer apartment, and that’s why I’m behind this.

    Every time we try to get something going, we get backlash. We’ve paid out thousands of dollars for traffic control studies, housing studies, the master plan, for consultants, and more.

    Any traffic we can bring downtown, whether it’s bicycles, cars, pickups, tour buses, if we can get them to stop any time they’re downtown there’s a good chance they will spend some money. The DCDP had lots of food trucks this summer and from their numbers they’ve served thousands of people downtown during a pandemic.

    Please come forward with possible solutions so that we can move Crookston into the future.

    If we get this going who knows what else could come up. Like the old saying, if you build it they will come.

Bobby Baird

At Large Crookston City Council member