When are we going to start to listening to citizens?

Bias at the top. I’m a regular user of the Ann Street Bridge. I support the opening proposed by Alderman Straight. And the bridge has been a recent topic here on The Minot Voice. If you want to catch up on the story, here’s everything that’s been published.

Approximately a year ago, when the Phase 1 flood protection designs were about 30% complete, the City of Minot held a public input meeting to talk about the plans and gather feedback. I was at the meeting and a big portion of it was neighborhood residents asking for a second opening closer to the pedestrian bridges.

At the close of that meeting, those in attendance were also asked to provide written comments so engineers could — theoretically — incorporate citizen input into the design as it moved forward.

Except that’s not what happened.

At the close of that meeting, comments from 22 citizens were turned in. Of those comments, the majority (eleven) of them spoke towards moving or adding an access point closer to the walking bridges. Two citizens favored a single opening at Broadway, the rest were unrelated to pedestrian access. You can read the full comments in the PDF embedded below, but I’ve pulled out the ones related to the bridge for you to read easily.

These are the written comments provided to project engineers and City of Minot officials with regards to the Phase 1 flood protection design — at a point when altering the plans was easy and affordable.

Against an Ann Street Bridge Opening

Access points for green space by Broadway is fine. I have had too many drunks on my doorstep. Bonnie, 1st Street NW

I’m definitely in favor of keeping the gateway opening down by Broadway. There is a lot of undesirable, transient-type foot traffic off those bridges late at night. It would be good to direct them toward Broadway rather than our neighborhoods. Bonnie, Main St.

In Favor of Ann Street Access

Can you put an opening at the end of the Ann St. Bridge and Main St.? That is where ti makes sense! Gladys, 1st St. NE

Great design. Floodwall is on the correct side of the street. Some consideration should be given to access closer to the walking bridges. Wade, 2nd Street NE

We need more access to the wet side of the protection area. A single Broadway access point is not enough. A Third Street access point and possibly one in the middle need to be added. Josh, Main Street (this was my comment)

I would like to see the opening in the floodwall moved East — closer to the walking bridges. Leonard, 8th Ave NW.

I feel a second opening near the bridge is necessary. Kids use that bridge to cross the tracks to come to school. No gateway would make them need to go many more blocks to get to and from school. Harry, 4th St. NW

I like the idea of moving access point to Main Street. That would make it in line with the wooden walking bridge. Scott, 1st St. NE

Make a walkway on the Southside of the flood wall from St. Ann Bridge to 3rd Street with access from a stairway. This better utilizes more of the green space and gives pedestrians quicker access to the west. Allan

Move access closer to bridges — lots of kids use the bridge to get to Central high School. Cindy, University Ave W

Move access point closer to the walking bridges, please. Helen, 1st St. NW

You should also put an up and down stairway over the floodwall for another access to the St. Anne Bridge. You should have more than one access to this green space and the bridges. Linda

Take Ann St. Bridge to the top of the wall and then have stairs down the side of the wall. anonymous

Need to have access from Main Street to the St. Ann’s foot bridge. Students at Central Campus us this bridge to get to and from school. We also use this footbridge to walk to and from downtown Minot. Dennis, 1st St. NE

So after reading all that, here’s the question that we should all be asking: What’s the point in having these public meetings if we don’t listen and incorporate what we learn?

And if you want to laugh (instead of cry) a little at all this, check out the clip from Seinfeld below. As you watch, replace “taking the reservation” with “having the public meeting” and “keeping the reservation” with “listening to what people say.”

Now, that’s an admittedly snarky way to make a point. But it doesn’t change the fact that on this issue, we as the City failed to listen to what the citizens were saying. Fortunately, this was caught before it becomes a permanent mistake. And now that we know it’s a problem, we can do better next time.

If you’re interested in reading today’s final commentary on the Ann Street Bridge, check out this post asking the question of accountability in Minot’s flood protection efforts.

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, SavorMinot Advocate. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)

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