by Logan Gruber
An alley which runs from Sixth to Seventh Street N., between Second and Third Avenue N., was officially vacated by the city at the Aug. 24 Sauk Rapids City Council meeting with a unanimous vote, giving the land equally to the property owners around it. The city still maintains an easement on the property, allowing for maintenance of private utilities.
City staff has looked at the issue, and they suggested to the council to return the alley to private ownership. A report prepared for the council stated the granite structures, known as the Molehill, at places stick out into the alley and there are many loose granite pieces that could hurt someone.
During a previous meeting, Sauk Rapids Director of Community Development Todd Schultz said in order to return the property to private ownership, the city only needs to prove the property serves no purpose for the city.
“It is a very low standard the city needs to meet to vacate the property,” Schultz noted.
There are a number of undeveloped alleyways in the city, Schultz said, and if the city hasn’t developed them already, it probably won’t.
The alley in question was never developed. It consists of granite slabs running in a single file about one-foot wide. Some of the slabs are loose and at one point run around a large tree.
The property owner who brought the issue to the council, Laure Rosty, also asked if she would be able to remove the granite slabs so people don’t assume it’s an alley or sidewalk. The whole reason Rosty originally asked the council to vacate the alley was due to people walking through the alley and into her and her neighbor’s backyards.
“We’d like to remove the bricks so people don’t still think it’s a walkway,” Rosty said, “but we don’t know if the bricks are on our property now.”
“A surveyor would have to put a pin in [the property],” Sauk Rapids City Attorney Adam Ripple said, meaning the land would need to be measured to find the exact center of the alley before any work could be done.
Rosty said she would be willing to pay to remove the granite bricks, but just needs to make sure they are hers to remove first.
The public hearing and vote on this issue had previously been tabled from the July 27 meeting, so everyone had time to come and speak on the issue.
The only property owners who weren’t completely on board with privatizing the alley were not present at Monday’s meeting. They previously did not have an issue with privatizing the alley as long as they still would have access to their backyard in some way.