We have a suggestion for the city of Sioux City.
End the squabble with local resident Brad Lepper by paying the man $34,000 for land of his City Hall wants to complete a stretch of recreational trail along the Big Sioux River.
As detailed in a Dec. 28 Journal story, the city is using the power of eminent domain to acquire land owned by Lepper in the 800 block of Bruner Avenue for the second phase of the trail. This .75-mile segment of trail will run from the Riverside Pool to Florence Avenue.
The city offered Lepper just under $16,500 for the land. The Woodbury County Compensation Commission said a fair purchase price for the land is $34,000. Lepper is willing to accept the $34,000, but the city appealed the commission decision to Woodbury County District Court.
We don't believe this is necessary - or necessarily prudent.
First, we see no reason to play hardball with Lepper, who strikes us as a reasonable individual. Second, we like trails, but we won't argue with anyone who suggests a healthy debate can be had about whether forcing a resident to sell land for a trail is proper use of eminent domain law. Third, the city in the end could spend more for total land acquisition and legal costs than $34,000 by dragging this out in court.
We see no value for anyone in a protracted battle.
In our view, the city's best move is to pay Lepper the fair purchase price as determined by the commission and move on.