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Published April 10, 2014, 06:18 PM

Detroit Lakes business owners having to pick up some of the tab of cities road construction project

Detroit Lakes, MN (WDAY TV) - It's a battle between business owners and city officials in Detroit Lakes, all stemming from a few feet underground. Several downtown businesses have basements that extend under city sidewalks.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

Detroit Lakes, MN (WDAY TV) - It's a battle between business owners and city officials in Detroit Lakes, all stemming from a few feet underground.

Several downtown businesses have basements that extend under city sidewalks.

As a street gets ready for road construction, city officials want to fill them in and are leaving business owners to pick up most of the tab.

Roger Price/Price's Fine Jewelry Owner: "This just doesn't seem right."

Buried deep beneath the concrete.

Price: "My property line is right here."

Lies a problem that's just starting to surface.

Price: "I'm representing my family; it's not just about me."

Roger Price is a fifth generation jeweler, his family's shop sits in the heart of downtown, and has been for 70 years.

But its basement.

Price: "They want to put a wall here, a concrete wall."

It's been here for longer, acting as a steam source for the city's power plant 100 years back.

Price: "This basement was built this way and basically they're trying to take away my property and make me pay for taking my property."

Now the city wants Price to pay, to fill it in.

Price: "All of a sudden, out of the blue we just got this letter that, basically just telling us that we were breaking the law and we had to repair everything at our own expense."

Price's basement is one of four here along Washington Avenue that extends about five feet out underground, putting it literally right underneath this sidewalk.

Bob Louiseau/Detroit Lakes City Administrator: "The basements extend under public right of ways."

Sitting in the way of a $2.4 million construction project, its deteriorating ceiling will prevent crews from reconstructing sidewalks, roads, and utility lines.

Louiseau: "We want to make sure that what we’re doing is going to be safe for the long term."

Now city officials have agreed to cover $5,000 in costs for each business, but Price says that may not be enough.

Price: "In my heart, I don't feel like we should be paying anything. We're already losing part of our space."

Louiseau: "We have tried to do what we think is right. We understand that it is a cost they didn't anticipate. But they have also been using a public space for a long time, no charge for it."

Construction should start late August but these basements need to be gone by June.

Other businesses on the block with extended basements include Barbara's Hair-N-Body Care, Ginny's Boutique, and TLC Companies Inc.

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