Original Publication Date: July 18th, 2013
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
Editorial Team, Richland Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
“We can have whatever we want! You want a million dollars – we’ll put that in our offer.” These were the words of the Oxbow Mayor at a public meeting last year. Up to this time he and the City of Oxbow were opponents of the FM Dam and Diversion. He had even appeared in the Fargo media and spoke about the significant money Oxbow had pledged and would contribute to its partner, the Richland Wilkin Joint Powers Authority, to protect his community from being flooded by Fargo’s development plan. Oxbow had earlier partnered with the impacted communities that formed the Joint Powers Authority to oppose the diversion. Now the mayor was touting the benefits of switching sides, explaining how they could name their price for their “modified” loyalty.
The mayor was successful, convincing two other Oxbow City Councilmen to join him to “switch” allegiances. The vote was two for and two against. The mayor then cast the tie breaking vote and Oxbow moved from opponent of the diversion to its #1 cheerleader. The mayor even appeared with Fargo leaders to testify before the ND Legislature against his neighbors and former allies and in support of the project he had recently opposed.
What was the ultimate price for the Oxbow’s change of allegiance? Answer: Fargo’s promise to deliver benefits exceeding $65,000,000.00 which, coincidentally, exceeds one million for every resident that voted for the deal. Perhaps you read the details of the agreement and planned golf course expansion in last weeks’ Forum.
The 65 million will go for the expanded private golf course, additional land for growth, new club house and pool complex all to be encircled by a huge 15 foot high ring dike. The water that Fargo intended to stage on this town will now be pushed east and south, further flooding out residents and farms in Minnesota and Richland County that did not previously have water problems.
A little known but interesting detail concerning this sorry affair is that 40 of the 100 homes in Oxbow will be demolished to construct the ring dike. Only 60 voted for this plan. The 40 homes to be demolished get a buyout either way. There are a total of 190 homes in this soon to be ring diked community. Those in Bakke and Hickson staunchly oppose this deal. After the 20 dissenters from Oxbow are counted the overwhelming majority of residents have rejected this plan. Their vote matters little to Fargo leaders or the Fargo media. The fact that Oxbow presently has a ring dike protecting the community, that 95% of the homes are not currently in the flood plain and that the whole deal is unnecessary also matters little.
“We can have whatever we want!” Looks like he was right. Over one million for every one of the 60 who backed the Oxbow Mayor. This affluent minority will get an expanded private golf course, surrounded by an exclusive new housing development and an unnecessary ring dike – paid for with $65,000,000.00 ND tax dollars and the further sacrifice of rural communities in Minnesota and Richland County.