The Brainerd City Council declined to reconsider a road vacation decision requested by the BNSF Railway but did offer the railroad a carrot for the future.
BNSF Railway requested the city reconsider its decision against a street vacation of Front Street. The continuation of Front Street was planned and platted but never constructed in northeast Brainerd. The platted road extends into the rail yard.
The issue of the street vacation came to the council previously when Crow Wing Recycling proposed leasing land from BNSF Railway so it could use a rail spur to load scrap material into train cars for transport.
BNSF reported since its tracks cross a portion of the unconstructed street, it would still like the vacation.
Regarding the Crow Wing Recycling project, two neighbors and two other residents, who do not live next to the area, said it would be a detriment despite being behind a 3-foot berm and 6-foot fence and despite information from the business owner that none of the trucks working there would have back-up beepers to cause a noise intrusion for neighbors. The council voted to table the request in May to determine if there were other areas the business could locate.
In the end, Crow Wing Recycling withdrew its conditional use application with the city.
In an email to the city, BNSF said the vacation request was not to allow Crow Wing Recycling on the site, but vacating the road made sense without that project.
“There is no street there so it makes sense to vacate it,” BNSF stated.
Monday, council member Kelly Bevans asked city engineer Jeff Hulsether for a recommendation on the street, saying it appears the city has some use for that corridor and has used it for snow storage. Hulsether said his recommendation is for the council to stand by its previous action.
The segment in question is 300 feet long by 80 feet wide on the property’s east side, which has been used for snow storage, Hulsether said.
Tom Fitzpatrick said the proper course would be for the council to rescind its previous motion. The council declined to do that. And the issue appeared to be over. But Bevans brought it back to the council a few moments later suggesting another option.
The city previously asked for maintenance of a railroad siding by the Northern Pacific Center, which the city reported is in a state of disrepair.
Bevans said the city has an incredible advantage to having the railroad and perhaps something could be worked out with Front Street if BNSF would repair the siding so it could be used as an additional economic development tool.
“This is a railroad town,” Bevans said. “This is how it was founded.”
Bevans suggested the city report its decision on the road vacation request but not just with a negative answer but add the city is anxiously awaiting a response to the siding repair. Maybe then, Bevans said, the city will see how much BNSF wants that piece of Front Street.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.