Original Publication Date: August 29th, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Mark Askegaard, Comstock area farmer and board member of the Mndak Upstream Coalition.
A quilt hangs on the wall of the Hickson community center. The quilt bears the names of the families who founded the community. Two years ago the chief engineer for Fargo’s Diversion Authority stood in front of this quilt and informed the people of this community that their homes and property would be sacrificed for Fargo’s project. Two weeks ago another Army Corps engineer stood before a similar quilt in Comstock, MN, and delivered the same message: your community doesn’t count.
The current Diversion Authority presentation has been refined and re-worked. Though similar to the Hickson meeting in that no significant information was conveyed – gone was the directness. The new presentation was all about getting the community to “buy in.” Questions posed by Comstock residents were met with a polished, practiced response: “that’s why we need your input; we need you to help us;” or “you can have a say in what we do;” and “this is a negotiation.”
Underlying the new friendly and inviting tone was the same old message: Comstock has to sacrifice for Fargo. Though in no danger of flooding, Fargo’s Diversion Authority has designed a ring dike for Comstock. The ring dike is necessary only because Fargo intends to dam the Red and flood the area with 200,000 acre feet of water. New and different however, was the suggestion that Comstock has a choice and that its residents were being invited to participate in the process. They are welcome to participate in details that have nothing to do with whether their community will be flooded or why there must be a ring dike. Rather, the Army Corps is interested in their opinions and suggestions as to what type of grass should be planted on the dikes or where within the ring dike will the Army Corps locate their sewage lagoon.
A false choice is again being served up: “cooperate with the ring dike details or we’ll build it without your cooperation.” You can bet any cooperation by Comstock will be spun by Fargo’s Diversion team as an endorsement of the whole project. Comstock does have a choice. Join us: the Mndak Upstream Coalition, the Richland Wilkin Joint Powers Authority and the people of your community already fighting to stop this unnecessary overblown project. Fargo can have reasonable permanent flood protection without destroying your community and the farms of the people named on your quilt. Join us for a steak in Christine on September 22 and bring your checkbooks. You need not cooperate or be manipulated by the sponsors of a project that brings nothing but harm to Minnesota communities.