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Caged in by construction, residents voice concerns of safety

“You look around us… we are literally fenced in.”
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 4:25 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Fargo residents are speaking out after their downtown homes have been blocked in by city and apartment construction, saying it’s gone far beyond inconvenience.

“Is this annoying? Being caged in? Absolutely, but when the safety of our families are at risk, that’s another problem.” said Crystal Johnson.

Johnson and her neighbor, Tara Schmidt, lost street access to their homes when the city began construction on 11th St. N in May.

“In the beginning the alley was open, we have our driveway back there so it didn’t really bother us too much.” said Schmidt.

But on July 19 apartment construction behind their homes tore up the entrance to their alley, meaning the families no longer have direct access to their homes on either side.

“We are used to be inconvenienced.. that’s life.” said Johnson. “This is a safety issue now.”

Johnson is worried about the limited access first responders would have to her home if a fire or medical emergency were to happen.

“You look around us… we are literally fenced in.” said Johnson.

Schmidt is worried about how far away she has to park and walk to get home.

“I don’t feel comfortable having to truck my kids around down the streets of Broadway to get to my home when we have sufficient parking in the back.” said Schmidt.

Both women say they have struggled to get straight answers from both the city and the Kilbourne Group, the group behind the apartment construction. City engineer Kevin Gorder said he understands the inconvenience it poses on the families, but they are working to speed up both projects as well as working with first responders to ensure they have direct access to the homes.

Schmidt says she just wishes one of the projects could have waited until the other was complete.

“When it comes to the safety of my family, that’s where we draw the line.” said Schmidt.

City engineers say the alley should be open by July 31st, and 11th St. N is set to be complete by mid August.

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