Lakeville neighborhood fights to get railcars out

LAKEVILLE, Minn. -- For several years, a neighborhood has been fighting a sight it doesn't want to see anymore. Railcars are being stored right off of people's backyards.

Residents believe it puts kids in danger and the sight is an eyesore.

They now have more than 300 signatures on a petition on Change.org (https://www.change.org/p/ban-progressive-rail-s-residential-rail-car-storage-in-lakeville-mn?source_location=minibar) to try and ban the storage of railcars in Lakeville.

"You can see that's our view looking out our back window is just the trains and the graffiti and it's not a very pretty sight," said Trisha Kennedy, showing KARE 11 News her backyard. She said when she moved into the neighborhood eight or nine years ago she was told the railroad wasn't used and likely wouldn't be in the future.

But not long after, railcars showed up in her backyard and while they are moved from time to time along the track, she has stared at cars for most of the past several years.

Kennedy and others are worried about the graffiti that shows up on the cars and the danger to people who climb the cars.

"We have five kids so you worry about them seeing others kids doing things and wanting to do that too," said Kennedy.

Pam Steinhagen told KARE 11 News she is worried that someone will get hurt, esepcially since there is a middle school nearby.

"It shouldn't be like this," said Brian Harrison, who lives across the street from the railroad tracks.

Mayor Doug Anderson says the city has no control over this line which is under federal authority and is operated by Progressive Rail. The company is storing cars for its clients until business picks up.

While Anderson said he sees the value of the rail company and the business it generates for the city, he wants the discussion to continue.

"I'm actively having conversations with the residents as well as Progressive Rail, but this isn't something that's going to change overnight. We need to have the conversations, we need to increase the dialogue and then we need to work together to see if we can find a way to navigate through this so we can get to a solution," said Anderson.

He's hopeful a sit-down discussion can happen between all parties.

In January, the city adopted its 2017 legislative priorities, which includes a position of trying to have Minnesota's lawmakers in Washington D.C. create rules that would prohibit storing railcars within urbanized neighborhoods without the consent of the City of Lakeville.

The owner of Progressive Rail, Dave Fellon, told KARE 11 News, that last week he moved 20 cars out of the area and if the economy and optimism grows in the rail industry, his best guess is that all of the cars could be moved out by fall.

"We want to be a good neighbor," he said.

At the same time, Fellon said he wants to be a good partner for the corporations he works with to store the empty cars.

He said he is responsive to all residents' phone calls and emails and that his teams works to immediately remove graffiti from cars.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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