Brakes slammed on boardwalk
The Blaine boardwalk project is being put on the shelf while a complicated condemnation proceeding works its way through the courts – or until the property sells.
“It appears because of the number of owners, the fact that they’re in Canada and many have not retained legal counsel, our boardwalk project could be set back significantly,” city manager Gary Tomsic told Blaine city council members at their October 11 meeting. “This could literally delay our project eight or nine months.” Construction on the boardwalk was slated to begin this fall.
City attorney Jon Sitkin said five property owners, members of the Feldstein family, were served with notice of the city’s intent to condemn an easement at the back of property they own on Peace Portal Drive, where the boardwalk would be constructed. The seven other property owners in the block where the boardwalk is planned have agreed to the easement. Isac Feldstein, who has represented the family in dealing with the city, has indicated he will contest the condemnation, Sitkin said. “If he does I’m estimating it will go to trial in the latter part of next year,” he said. He estimated the trial would last several days.
City planning and community development director Terry Galvin said there was another option that could get the boardwalk rolling much sooner. “Jon Sitkin is pointing out a legal projection based on an existing ownership,” he said. “If that ownership changes, and we understand there is a high likelihood it could change as early as next week, that condition will change.” Galvin added that several potential developers had contacted him with interest in Peace Portal Drive property. “Virtually all the interest is predicated on the installation of the boardwalk,” he said.
Sitkin said other property owners who had granted easements to the city were now working on agreements to allow them to access the city boardwalk from their building.
He speculated that while the city was losing time, the Feldsteins could be losing money. “For those who have been willing to negotiate the city may grant access to the boardwalk from a building, but it is under no obligation to do that,” he said. “They’re losing an economic opportunity.”