Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date: July 26th, 2012
Republished with permission from:
Wahpeton Daily News
A candidate for the Minnesota House recently published an article calling for Moorhead, Minn., to “wake up and fight for the city’s future.” He wrote expressing concern about the many Moorhead businesses closing or moving to Fargo. The FM Metro grows at a rate of 266 acres a year, yet Moorhead’s leaders seem intent to not only fail to compete for this growth, but to actively support and fund Fargo’s plan to keep this growth within Fargo’s city limits.
Because most of Moorhead is located on high ground, much higher than the flood plain south of Fargo, Moorhead is the natural choice for flood-free future development: both residential and commercial. The cost of development is cheaper as water is not an issue. Yet Moorhead’s leaders have pledged millions and millions of dollars to help fund Fargo’s Flood Diversion Plan that would dam the area’s rivers, severely impacting southern Clay and Northern Wilkin counties. Fargo’s plan is directed at opening for expansion 40 square miles of Cass County flood plain south of Fargo that presently cannot be developed, or developed only at great expense, as it is under water whenever we have even moderate flooding. Those of us south of the Metro scratch our heads in wonder as to what Moorhead leaders could have been thinking. Even the U.S. Army Corps, in its published materials on the project, points out that additional growth and development in Moorhead is the obvious alternative to this huge diversion project.
Minnesota and the city of Moorhead have and continue to make substantial investment in permanent flood protection for Moorhead’s low-lying areas near the Red River. Those investments will result in permanent flood protection approaching the 500-year flood level set by FEMA. Further, even a cursory review of an elevation map makes it clear: Moorhead does not need this diversion.
The proponents of Fargo’s diversion/dam freely admit that the benefits to Moorhead amount to only about 6 percent of the project. These proponents do not admit however, that the completed diversion will make Moorhead less competitive and its future development less likely. Isn’t it time Moorhead’s elected leaders stood up to Fargo, kept Moorhead’s lunch money and its rightful share of the Metro’s future development?