$97,000 for 4 acres of under-utilized city green-space to build $3,000,000 worth of badly needed and affordable town-homes in one of the most under-developed neighborhoods in Thief River Falls and … and it is a land transaction that puts all 4 acres back on the tax rolls.
What could be wrong with this picture? Nothing – until you realize the land was originally donated to the city in good faith by a local educator who felt it would be a beautiful place for children to play.
Florentine Hance Kozojed, a former school teacher, donated Annie Street Park, just off South St. Paul – land that had been in her family for generations – to the city for one dollar in 1966. This week the Thief River Falls City Council passed a resolution of support that would allow developers to apply for tax credits and TIFF financing to purchase and develop Annie Street Park as River Pointe Town Homes, affordable multi-family rental housing.
Community Development Director, Micheal Moore, told the Council Tuesday the resolution was conditional, the matter has not yet had a hearing before the Planning Commission – the entire issue pushed by a June 12th deadline for Federal Funding. The resolution passing on a 4 to 2 vote with Aldermen Floyd Erickson and Ken Schmalz opposed.
Florence’s son, Tony Kozojed, told the Council Tuesday he has no trouble with the developer, the same company that built Roseau Court, a new town home complex in Roseau. But Kozojed says the city needs green space – to fly kites, play flag football, practice soccer and walk the dog. He says there is no park that offers those options with the same accessibility of Annie Park – and he said once the green space is gone – it is gone forever.
The $97,000 paid to the city for the site would go directly to the Thief River Falls Park Department; funding that could go a long way to create a lasting and better used tribute to Florence that would also enhance the current city park system.