Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Original Publication Date: March 30th, 2017
Wahpeton Daily News
Republished with permission from:
JPA Editorial Team
Standing up to a bully is hard. There are always consequences for doing so; you might take a beating or be excluded from the popular crowd. Employees who stand up to an abusive employer might lose a promotion or even their job. Politicians risk votes and even the loss of their office for taking a principled stand. One thing is certain though: in hindsight we never regret acting with honor and courage and the bully’s penalty never has quite the sting we feared at the time it was threatened.
Old Highway 81 divides Hickson and Bakke Subdivision from the private golf course community of Oxbow. There are a total of 176 residences in this community: 59 in Bakke Subdivision, 15 in Hickson and 102 in Oxbow. All three communities were united in their opposition to Fargo’s plan to flood their community behind the Diversion dam, but Oxbow’s leaders switched sides – for a price. Now the old highway divides bullies from those who are standing up to them.
The penalties and benefits from Hickson-Bakke’s principled stand are obvious. On their side the streets are gravel and there are no curbs or sidewalks. The Oxbow side exhibits paved roads through an undeveloped field, concrete golf paths meander through the newly constructed private golf course and a brand new 10 million dollar club house complex stands on an artificial incline. The members of the Oxbow Country Club recently voted to exclude the public and their less fortunate non-member neighbors from across the road. The Oxbow side also features some 40 freshly completed mansions built with the proceeds of obscene taxpayer funded buyouts that at times exceeded 500% of the assessed value.
Over ninety million tax dollars that were intended to be spent to provide Fargo with permanent flood protection have been handed over to the Oxbow folks. This is the price some Oxbow leaders exacted to switch sides, deserting Bakke, Hickson, Pleasant Township and their rural neighbors who had united to defend their community. When offered curb and gutter with hints of other inducements to switch sides, the folks on the west side of Old 81 said no. We would encourage readers to take a drive and view this area – you can clearly see the winners and the losers.
Not content with what they already have, Oxbow’s lawyer stood up in Federal Court last month and argued that Oxbow is the victim. Apparently the federal injunction that stopped the construction on the ring dike is making it difficult for the private Oxbow Country Club to finish their golf course re-design. We suspect the injunction also slowed the flow of public funds. Arguing that Oxbow is in danger of flooding, they want the injunction lifted so the Diversion Authority can complete the 20 foot high ring dike around not only Oxbow but Bakke and Hickson as well, against their wishes and without their vote.
Bakke has never flooded, Hickson has never flooded, Oxbow completed flood protection in 2011 that provided “near 500 year protection” according to its current Mayor. FEMA shows that there are only 4 flood insurance policies issued for Oxbow.
Last week Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp posed for photographs with the Diversion Authority gang in Washington to show their support for this boondoggle. Why aren’t they standing up for the principled people in Bakke – Hickson who refused to sell out?