Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date:
December 27th, 2012
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Author: Craig Hertsgaard, Walcott Township Supervisor, member Richland Wilkin JPA
Can you see the neighbors? That was the question we’d ask when there was a snowstorm. If you couldn’t see the outline of their trees or their yard light at night, it wasn’t safe to drive. The neighbors were the ones you wondered about if the power went out. They had the graduation parties you attended at the end of May. The neighbors were the ones you worried about when the ambulance went by.
A group of us were visiting in Christine one night. The discussion was about the yard lights from the homes and farms along I-29 south of Fargo. We talked about how sad it would be if those lights went out because of Fargo’s misguided plan to build a dam and reservoir south of town. Those neighbors would have to be removed so Fargo can build new developments in the current floodplain.
Early in the diversion planning process, Fargo and Cass County leaders pledged to make their neighbors “whole” in their plan to flood the area south of town. As property values fell in the dam’s shadow, the pledges slipped away. Last week, the Diversion Authority told the Kindred School District, they wouldn’t pay for lost tax revenue caused by Fargo’s threats to force water south of town. They said the rest of Kindred’s taxpayers should foot the bill. That doesn’t seem very neighborly. But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. The Army Corps said they could protect Fargo and Moorhead by taking only 30 square miles out of the floodplain. Fargo decided to grab more than twice as much land, so they would have more place to develop down the road. Those people south of town will lose their neighborhood, and pick up the tab besides.
I wonder if the people who moved to Fargo from rural North Dakota and Minnesota have been told what’s happening. Do they still wonder if they can see the neighbors? Do they worry when they see the ambulance go by? On these clear cold nights, the stars seem only inches beyond our reach, and our neighbor’s yard lights, a few feet away. We’re not going to give up on our neighbors.