Who pays for historic stair repair in St. Paul?

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 30, 2011 - 3:59 PM

A 1901 pact is unclear about who is responsible for upkeep to the Walnut Street Stairway: The city of St. Paul or the property owners?

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spendmoreDec. 29, 11 9:00 PM

A century ago, the property owner gave the city an easement but agreed to foot the bill for the stairs. - Since the city stiffed them on repairs in the past, maybe it's time to take the land back, remove the stairs and be done with it once and for all.

noggnbloggnDec. 29, 11 9:29 PM

spendmore: You took the words right out of my mouth. I find it interesting that so much effort, handwringing, and expense is devoted to something Man has been trying to defy since the beginning of time: the force of gravity. We design, test, re-engineer, approve by committee, then finance, and build something that we think will be permanent, only to find that it is not. Time is the constant, weather does its mischief, and still our efforts come crumbling down. Entire industries are devoted to this pursuit (plastic surgery, Maiden-form undergarments, aviation engineering, etc.), and one cannot escape the fact that sooner or later, gravity always wins.

dustballDec. 29, 11 9:36 PM

Public walkway and use = public money to repair it. If I had stairs used by the general public on my private land, I sure won't be paying to fix it. An easement means you have permission to use my land but I have no obligation to pay for maintaining and repairing what you put on that easement.

taftjDec. 29, 11 9:43 PM

tough call - I know the area, it's a public path, I bet the homeowners have never even really walked on it..but at the same time, don't minneapolis residents have to pay a fee when the sidewalks fronting their house get redone?...

crock2Dec. 29, 11 9:48 PM

Simple solution. Who has been using the stairs for the past 100 years -- (a) the general public, or (b) only the property owners? If a, the city pays. If b, the property owners pay. It's absolutely as simple as that!!!

davehougDec. 29, 1110:20 PM

When cities were small and young, a relatively few citizens got together and built many wonderful public buildings. Now with many many more citizens it is a constant struggle to merely repair the roofs. Sad to say, have the council decide if the stairs are used enough to justify $1 Million spent. That money will have to be taken from other worthy projects. It is never 'free'.

xyzzy72Dec. 29, 1110:34 PM

Some of the comments are focusing on the staircase, but I'll bet the retaining wall is the bulk of the expense. That's where it gets dicey.

cheeznriceDec. 29, 1110:35 PM

These people or the Wilfs, hey, let's bail out more millionaires with our tax dollars!

jessy09Dec. 30, 11 5:51 AM

I don't know - but it's fun to watch and puts bread on lots of lawyers' tables.

somedude2Dec. 30, 11 7:31 AM

In the deal with the Hills, the city allowed them to use what was platted to become Walnut Street between the two houses. In exchange, Hill allowed a public easement on Louis Hill's property and paid to build a stairway as a public thoroughfare. To me it seems as though the Hills kept a road from being built betwen the two houses on public property by offering to pay for the sidewalk as long as the city gave the property to them. It is a tough one folks, but I think paying for the sidewalk would be better than have a road go through. Plus without the road there, they have never been assessed road improvement costs. Have the city lay the sidewalk and let the home owner worry about the retaining wall and privacy.


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