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Saturday, October 29, 2011

This Week In Sherburne County History: 1891--Train Accident Kills Five

October 27, 1891—An accident occurred on the Minneapolis and Pacific Railroad when a train ran into the caboose of a leading train, killing five men.  Four of the fatalities were from a Monticello threshing crew.  The lead train was apparently stopped when the second locomotive came upon them.  The collision was so violent one man was thrown through the roof of the caboose and landed on top of an adjoining freight car.
            On November 1, the conductor of the moving train was arrested and charged with criminal negligence for the deaths of the men 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Elk River Preservation Needs Help

Okay, before we begin, let me acknowledge that my standing in the Elk River Preservation discussion is limited.  I do not live in Elk River.  However, as Executive Director of the Sherburne County Hsitorical Society, I do have some interest in this discussion.

The Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Elk River is committing an injustice against the people of Elk River.

Recent news reports in the Star News state the HRA has voted to evict the Elk River Arts Alliance from its building at 720 Main Street. This will begin the process to tear down 716 and 720 Main.  Their justification for this action is the fear the roof may collapse under a heavy snow in the coming winter.  I have been assured this chance is minor.

Well, the suggestion has been made that the HRA is not serving the people of Elk River in a completely unbiased manner.

What the HRA is not saying is that repairs to the building would cost a minimum $75,000.  Tearing down the building would cost a minimum of $95,000.  These numbers, by the way, come from a building consulting firm contracted to the HRA

The HRA is also ignoring the pleas of the Historic Preservation Commission.  The HPC for several months has been urging Housing and Redevelopment to save the buildings.  The HPC position is that the two buildings contribute to the historic character of downtown Elk River.

Furthermore, the HRA refuses to recognize the economic potential of restoring the building.  Leaders of the Historic Preservation movement in the United States estimate that for every dollar invested in preservation and restoration of a building, there is a potential return of more than $20.  In other words, the $75,000 used to save the building could possibly see a return for the city of  $1,650,000.

In defense of the HRA, a plan has been developed to tear down the two buildings to expand the existing parking lot on Main Street.  A number of individuals maintain the lot is full ten days out of the year.  In other words, the HRA wants to tear down two buildings, at a cost of $95,000 for a parking lot that will sit empty 355 days a year.

Suddenly I am thinking of the lyrics: "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Unfortunately, a majority of the members of the HRA are appointed positions.  They answer to no one except the City Council.  Maybe the City Council needs to be made aware of the disservice being committed by their appointed members of the HRA.