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Riverdale fence controversy taken to Iowa Court of Appeals

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 6:51 PM CST
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RIVERDALE, Iowa (KWQC) - The Iowa Court of Appeals Wednesday heard arguments in a lawsuit over a chain link fence obstructing a bike pathway in Riverdale.

A district court judge in 2020 ruled in favor of the city, which constructed the fence. The filers of the suit, the Quad Cities Bicycle Club and Cornbelt Running Club, claim the fence to be a nuisance and took the ruling to the appellate court for an appeal.

The decision on whether the chain link fence is considered to be legally a nuisance all comes down to what the court will deem the slab of concrete it obstructs.

The slab was once used by pedestrians and cyclists to connect the Duck Creek and Mississippi River Trails on South Kensington Road. The fence that now obstructs that connection was constructed in June 2020 by the city after residents of Haven’s Acres neighborhood, where the connector is located, complained that cyclists were causing problems.

In Wednesday’s hearings, Attorney John Flynn, who represents the QC Bike Club and Cornbelt Running Club, said that the slab is a publicly accessible street, otherwise a continuance of South Kensington Street, and that the chain link fence the city put up is therefore lawfully considered a nuisance.

Attorney Paul Macek, who represents Riverdale, argued that the concrete slab is not a street, but a pathway and that the original construction of it in 2010 was due to an agreement between the city and Arconic. He stated in the hearing that it was “never intended to be a sidewalk,” and that users of the trail “began to use a shortcut that it wasn’t designed for.”

“What we need to look at is where this case went wrong,” said Flynn during his rebuttal, “I think Judge Latham’s decision has a critical mistake in it...he referred to a street from side to side but omitted that the law requires it to be from end to end...this fence blocks the street’s right of way between end to end.”

The hearing ended with judges saying they would consider the evidence and make a decision at a later date.

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