The value of boulevards

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Strolling down a tree-lined street is pretty nice during these sunny summer days. But if you were so fortunate as to live along a manicured boulevard, would you pay extra tax dollars for upkeep of the city’s right-of way?

Residents of 21st Street are apparently for it. The city council voted Tuesday to continue a nearly 100-year-old tax on residents on the boulevard near McKennan Park.

Since 1915, property owners along the boulevard between Phillips and Seventh avenues have been levied a tax that goes toward upkeep of the boulevard. The resolution adopted by the council this week keeps the assessment at 85 cents per foot of property frontage.

That means an average $62 per year for property owners. From the 53 properties on the street, the city collects a total $3,300 per year. There hasn’t been a rate change since 1998.

Councilor Kermit Staggers was the only one to vote against the resolution. He felt it was unfair that these residents were the only in the city that paid such a tax for living on a boulevard. The city does not tax other boulevards such as Eighth Street, East 26th Street or South Minnesota Avenue.

Staggers said he doesn’t want others to be assessed but asked why the city wasn’t consistent with its policy.

Almost 100 years ago, property owners along 21st approached the city and suggested collecting money from neighbors so the city could put more attention into keeping the boulevard beautiful.

Councilor Michelle Erpenbach likes it that way. It’s one of her favorite places to walk, she said.

“It’s not about the street itself, it’s about those medians and how beautiful they really are,” she said. “It is like a park in the middle of the street.”