by Dennis Dalman
It’s one of the saddest sights along roadways: crosses, flowers and memorabilia “planted” in a ditch where a loved one died in an accident.
However, such memorials are also a cause for public safety. That is why the Sartell City Council passed an ordinance at its Dec.9 meeting regarding roadside memorials.
In a memo to the council, city staff stated the following: “The city of Sartell understands the pain caused by these events (deaths and injuries from accidents), and the city recognizes that some people’s grieving could include the placement of memorials near the site. The city of Sartell will be understanding and compassionate since this is a sensitive issue and it (the city) will encourage other ways to memorialize the person(s) rather than a marker along the roadway since the main concern is safety.”
The memo lists many potential safety hazards of roadside memorials. Then it details the newly adopted city guidelines regarding such memorials.
Temporary memorial markers may be placed along city roads and remain for an appropriate time, not to exceed six months.
Memorial markers will be removed if they do not meet safety criteria that include negatively impacting the free flow of traffic; located outside the clear zone but constitute a hazard if hit by either on- or off-roadway vehicles; they interfere with routine maintenance operations.
Any memorial markers removed by city workers will be stored at the public works shop for a maximum of 30 days, during which time they may be retrieved. If not reclaimed in that time, they will be disposed of. The guidelines went into effect Dec. 9 right after the City Council approved them.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.