September 14, 2006 at 8:08 a.m.
The “improvements” had the unintended result of triggering years of anxiety for the family living in the house situated in the center of the top of the “T.” Last week though, the County Board took a step that might bring some resolution to the Glynn family’s limbo.
If you often drive County 14 out of Lindstrom, you may have noticed squad cars and emergency rigs in the Brian and Heidi Glynn’s front yard. Their home, where Brian lived as a youth, is about one stride off the edge of #14.
There’s a busy intersection here at the “T” because the other county road (#19) serves as a parallel route to Highway 8. New housing developments have come in over the years in this area, and #14 is the main drag between Lindstrom and North Branch.
At least two times a year (the Glynn’s count is 38 accidents in 18 years) a vehicle ends up blowing through the stop sign directly across from their home. They’ve had cars and trucks strike their garage or hit a parked vehicle or just sail into the yard. A natural gas line was snapped by a stop sign runner.
Heidi Glynn says this happens at all hours and it’s not just under-the-influence drivers who blow the stop sign in the wee hours. The accidents have been caused by sudden medical conditions like a stroke and near heart attack; mechanical problems with vehicles, and drivers who are drugged, daydreaming and even sleeping. Heidi recalls one incident in particular. She was waiting with her son for the morning school bus when he dashed back into the house to retrieve a book. A car blasted through the exact spot where her son had been standing seconds earlier. The latest incident on August 14 wrecked her car parked in the driveway.
The Glynns’ three children are their main concern. There is a pre-schooler, a second grader and one in high school. The couple literally fears for the children when they leave the house.
Brian maintains the county created this problem when the county road was rebuilt and the #19 route was directly aligned across from the Glynn’s. In a vain attempt to make their home safer the driveway was moved over at the family’s own cost to breakup the sightline.
Brian mentioned that the county at one time put up an oversized stop/warning sign but people still missed it. The county did install rumble strips (eastbound approach on #19) but the grooves have been paved over. “The house was there first,” he added, “then the road was put in.”
The county told the Glynns it won’t erect a barrier because then whoever blows the stop will be subjected to more serious injury, with the barrier creating costly litigation issues.
County Engineer Bill Malin inherited this situation. Last week Malin got County Board permission to begin to bring this to resolution.
Malin (say mah-leen) explained that future County Road 14 widening and stormwater projects are in the Capital Improvement Plan. The plan serves as the foundation for how the county can spend CIP bond proceeds.
Malin wants to begin negotiating with the Glynns for acquisition of the home using the bond proceeds that are supposed to go toward acquisitions. The stormwater pond in any future design for #14 could go on the Glynn parcel.
Malin said roadwork isn’t planned until 2008 but he needs at least one year lead time to get the ball rolling on complicated property acquisition issues.
The commissioners voted to give Malin the authority to negotiate with the Glynns, and come back with a recommendation. The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Ben Montzka opposing. Montzka felt this is unplanned expense and the budget won’t allow for this now.
The Glynns say if not now, when?
Several years ago their greenhouse addition fell into disrepair and they wanted to restore that side of the house. They tried to get permission (building permit) but were informed the value of the house couldn’t be enhanced as the county planned to buy the property and improvements will jack up the price.
The Glynns can’t sell the house for a decent price because they’d have to disclose the pending roadwork affecting the property.
And, besides, Heidi said they wouldn’t feel right selling to some other family placing them in the same dangerous situation and bureaucratic nightmare.
The Glynns asked to have the issue on last week’s County Board agenda to get this out in the public, so people could better understand what they’ve been going through.
County Engineer Malin will work through a right-of-way negotiator and bring a potential purchase offer back to the County Board to act on.
“We’re just hoping this all works out okay,” said Heidi.