WOODBURY, Minn. -- The road construction along Commonwealth Avenue isn't a measure of progress to Tom Erickson, who has owned his home in the Woodbury subdivision for 20 years.
He's plotted out how much lawn he could lose – 12 feet - after the city of Woodbury plans to build a multi-use 8 foot wide trail through his driveway and front yard, using a right-of-way easement agreement.
“That is just really shocking to hear that they can just take your property,” said Erickson. “I thought this was a government by the people for the people, and if you are going to do your job, at least look at how you affect people and their houses.”
The city plans to build a link between two pathways near Red Rock Elementary, to give kids a safer walk to school.
“I have yet to put a sidewalk or trail that didn't have mixed reaction,” said John Bradford, Woodbury city engineer and deputy director of engineering and public works.
Bradford said the width of the path was based on what can be easily plowed by city crews.
“To provide a safe and passable walk for students to have that plowed by parks department make sure it's clear and available for students on their way to school,” said Bradford.
Homeowner Kraig Klund lobbied for a narrower 8 foot wide trail instead of 10 feet, and the city says listened, reducing it.
“My voice was heard, I showed up I went to 2-3 meetings and not many of my neighbors were there, government works better for those people who show up, definitely,” said Klund.
Erickson said he couldn't make public hearings on the project because of work travel, so he later petitioned for standard sized sidewalk or an alternate route behind homes on the school property.
Erickson says his family will lose parking space on the street, and the trail will also lower his property value.
“I'd like to have a class action attorney look at this to hold someone accountable, legally, they have the right to the easement, but I think in a jury of my peers, if everyone came out and looked at this, they would agree with me there are many other options that are less intrusive,” said Erickson.
A front yard fight has become an uphill path from where he stands. He says the city is unresponsive to his ideas. Officials told Erickson the time for protests has passed.
The project has gone through the public hearing process and has been approved by the City Council.
Construction is expected to begin in July and last six weeks.
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