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Resident files lawsuit against Edgewood Extension

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Patty Martin, 60, of Marshalltown, has filed a lawsuit against the city to stop the Edgewood Street Extension project from going through her yard.

A Marshalltown resident has filed a lawsuit against the city to stop the development of the Edgewood Extension project.

Patty Martin, 60, has lived at 817 N. Fifth Avenue for 37 years, and has maintained undeveloped property where the Edgewood Street Extension would run as a part of her property. She is seeking an injunction and an order from the court to declare all property hers.

The undeveloped property in question is three parcels of land in the Binford Park addition:

• 817 N. Fifth Avenue

• 819 N. Fifth Avenue

• 901 N. Fifth Avenue

“The city intends to develop the street to run industrial traffic right through Ms. Martin’s front yard,” said Michael Marquess, attorney for Martin. “We attempted to resolve this with the city council previously, but they have turned a deaf ear to Ms. Martin.”

The lawsuit was filed on Monday and Marquess expects the city to be served Thursday.

Patty Martin and her late husband Mike entered into a contract to purchase the 817 and 819 N. Fifth Avenue properties in 1984. The properties had been in the family since at least the 1950s, according to Martin. In 2008, they purchased an undeveloped portion of land to the north at 901 N. Fifth Avenue. In 2012, Mike passed away from cancer.

Martin’s home is located at 817 N. Fifth Avenue and there is a Morton building on the 819 lot.

Since purchasing this land, the Martin family have been the sole caretakers of it.

Martin said she was not contacted when the initial Edgewood Extension plan was announced by the city, even when it was meant to go through her backyard.

“I first read it in the paper,” she said. “They wanted that ‘alleyway’ after me and my husband for all these years maintained it. The city never had any interest in it before.”

After learning about the plans, Martin and her attorney opened a line of communication to discuss Marshalltown buying her out of the land. Marquess said the parties had the land appraised separately, then the city stopped communicating with them.

He could not share the exact value of the land after it was appraised last year but said it was, “Certainly six figures.”

“Earlier this year we just weren’t hearing anything from the city and we were getting nervous that something was going on,” Marquess said. “I reached out to Ms. (Sue) Cahill and didn’t get a response. When she was elected to the state house and Raymond Starks was on the council I reached out to him and didn’t get a response. Then Mike Ladehoff finally got back to me. All he was authorized to tell me was they were no longer going to buy out Patty’s interest.”

Martin and Marquess have discussed the matter with members of the affected neighborhood, even petitioning to halt a rezoning effort by the city in 2019.

“They don’t like it as much as I don’t like it,” Martin said.

The heavy traffic which would pass through the neighborhood — which would include cement trucks and trucks traveling to JBS — have raised enough concern for residents in the area that some have moved away, according to Dwight Martin. Some issues they fear are safety of neighborhood children and the loud noise from the road.

“Two families have up and left. The family across the street that lived in a habitat house said they’re not going to raise their kids in a house with nothing but commercial traffic going by,” he said. “The City of Marshalltown doesn’t care about what goes on, on the northside of town. What it boils down to is ‘We’ll just take what we want and do what we want.’ The city thought they could take advantage of a widowed woman and take what they want”

Dwight Martin explained the makeup of the neighborhood is lower income than other areas of town and also diverse with more minority representation in its population.

Along with the lawsuit, Marquess said an injunction will be filed after the city has been served which will prevent the city from starting any construction until after the case is resolved by the Marshall County District Court.

“We feel like they haven’t worked in good faith with us. They suggested to come back with Patty with the circumstances of a buyout — then they just go communication blackout on us,” Marquess said. “The next thing we know, in July they’re going to push bulldozers through her yard. It’s hard to see the public purpose — the major community benefit in running hog trucks and industrial traffic through this poor lady’s yard at 3 a.m. and to sacrifice the northside neighbors to develop meatpacking. We just want a fair shake.”

The project has been in the works since 2018. The city held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Edgewood Extension in September 2020. Construction on the project has not started because designs are still being created before putting the project out to bid. The proposed street would route truck traffic for the intersection at Third Avenue and Marion Street.

A catalyst to this project being done is the heavy industrial traffic on Third Avenue leading to several fatalities.

The road is partially funded by a $1.6 million grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy grant, which the city received in October 2019.

During the groundbreaking ceremony last September, the city was awarded a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The city will not comment on pending litigation.

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Contact Joe Fisher at

news@timesrepublican.com.

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