WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 15, 2012, 10:11 PM

Thief River Falls debates between increased housing or green space

Thief River Falls, MN (WDAY TV) -- Green space or increased housing? It's a decision Thief River Falls is facing.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ, WDAY

Thief River Falls, MN (WDAY TV) -- Green space or increased housing? It's a decision Thief River Falls is facing.

A developer wants to buy a city park to build a housing development. That has much of the surrounding neighborhood concerned about the city's next move.

Tony Kozojed/Family Ties To Park: "Handed over to the city by my mother in 1966. "

Tony Kozojed is talking about a four acre piece of land his mother gave to Thief River Falls 45 years ago with hopes it would one day be a park. The city did just that, calling it Annie's Park, but now the city maybe changing its mind.

Kozojed: "She would be deeply disappointed, she would be hurt over this transaction. "

A developer wants to buy the land to put up a 24-unit affordable housing complex.

Nordhagen: "Approved this development in theory, so that we could go through the process of getting funding and we never had a great opportunity for people in the neighborhood to come and expressed their concerns."

Nordhagen says the park is one of the least used in town.. and selling it is an option that's not sitting well with neighbors.

Jayson Aarestad: "I have a ten, seven and two year old. We come out here and play ball, frizbie, and power wheels out here. We use it a lot."

The park.. once had a skating rink, ball field, and play ground, but now sits empty.

Kozojed: "Overtime the park became less used partially because of the way that it was kept. "

Nordhagen agrees the city could have done more to keep up the park.. And will listen those living near it.

Steve Nordhagen/Thief River Falls Mayor: "When you go into a neighborhood like that, and there is a city owned park and you are going to make it something different, that is a big deal."

The city council is expected to make a decision about the park's fate at its Tuesday night's council meeting. This week the parks and recreation public safety committee recommended the city revisit the decision on selling the property.