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Property owners speak out against sidewalks, noting economic hardship, property loss

Keep the money in the streets, not in the sidewalks. That was the consensus from many in attendance at Monday night's Brainerd City Council meeting.

A public hearing opened the floor up to residents of several different improvement projects, with Quince Street, Eighth Avenue Northeast, 15th and 16th Avenue Southeast property owners voicing the majority of opposition for proposed sidewalks to be put in place along with street resurfacing.

“The sidewalks being proposed would be two blocks of sidewalks going nowhere,” said Lucinda Zeien-Cartwright, who lives on the 1100 block of Quince Street. “I have a lot to lose if a sidewalk goes in, it would come through my existing driveway, leaving me to park my car on the sidewalk if it's put in. And I have landscaping that will be lost, too.

“We don't have that many pedestrians out there anyway that a sidewalk would be necessary to put in.”

The loss of yard was a concern for many residents in other areas of the community as well.

“I am opposed to the sidewalks, not the street resurfacing,” said Bridget Walters, speaking on the project for Quince Street, whose mother Jan also shared her concerns. “I will be losing a large chunk of my yard, along with a very old tree. That's something I can't replace, not in my lifetime.

“I don’t think that this would be money well spent for the city or for anyone else on that block, especially with it being a low-income block and few pedestrians in the area anyway.”

Money for sidewalk placement remained a concern for all the residents, many of whom stated that at this time where there is an economic hardship and property value loss, a yearly payment towards the city would be increasingly difficult.

Council President Mary Koep thanked each individual on speaking and said “these projects are something that we need to hear from and consider the public’s opinion instead of just adopting and passing resolutions.”

Koep recommended holding any movement on the street improvements, saying “if we hold it for two weeks there would not be another public hearing, at that time there will be motions on action and would not be a second public hearing.”

Council member Bob Olson moved to hold any motions by the council on the 2012 street improvements until the April 16 council meeting, which was opposed and failed by a 5-2 vote with council member Bonnie Cumberland and Koep voting in favor of the hold.

The council approved adoption of the resolution ordering improvements and preparation of plans and specifications for street resurfacing on 12th Avenue Northeast between L and O Street with a 5-2 vote. Koep and council member Kevin Goedker voted against. Also approved was street reconstruction on Ninth Avenue Northeast between F Street and H Street.

The outpouring of residents’ opinion for the resurfacing to Quince Street, including sidewalk between Southeast 11th Street and Southeast 12th Street and the reconstruction of Quince Street between Southeast 12th Street and Southeast 13th Street, had them leaving with smiling faces, as the motion failed 1-6, with Kelly Bevans voting in favor of the improvement to include sidewalks. Instead, council approved the changes to Quince Street in the same locations, excluding Portland, with no sidewalks.