I often wonder what I get out of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion? It seems all I get, is to see the concern and uncertainty in the faces of my neighbors and friends. The anger in their voices. It’s whereever I go – church, school, any community event – it seems it’s always there.
Being a resident of Hickson and the Bakke Addition, we seem to be the forgotten group. When talk of the diversion started, with Oxbow, we had a united front against it. Everyone remembers Mayor Nyhoff saying they had adequate flood protection with their dikes. But it must have changed. Fargo representatives were at these meetings, asking what we needed and trying to bribe us with what they would do for us – curb and gutter, sewer and water. Just name it and they would do it. The new golf course, country club and home buyouts must have been too good for Oxbow to refuse. The honey buyout deals given to those well connected makes you wonder. Money just begets money.
Yet the business owners and farmers in the area are told they must sacrifice for the greater good of Fargo. So what if your business is ruined by having no customers? Farmers are being told they will have to put up with water on their fields for two or three extra weeks. It doesn’t matter that some of these are the fourth or fifth generations to farm the land. There are people who have lived there for 70 or 80 years and it just doesn’t matter to the Diversion Authority. There are cemeteries filled with family members and friends that will be covered with water, but that shouldn’t be a problem.
Fargo has a problem and they just want to make it someone else’s issue. The lack of past leadership and planning has put them in this current situation. Floods are nothing new to the area. I remember hearing and seeing about the flood of 1969 on TV as a child. I have lived in the Fargo-Moorhead area since 1975, so I have seen flooding since then. But Fargo has just let people keep building homes where it floods. Where is the planning and foresight in that? My neighbor, who was born in the early 1900s and raised in the Hickson area, told me of earlier floods in the area and how bad they were. The reason the area Oxbow sits now was not developed before is because it flooded. It was basically just pasture and field with a few buildings on it.
Was building there going to stop the flooding?
I don’t think so.
People who knew the area built where it didn’t flood. Now Oxbow and Fargo have the same problem I like to refer to it as the Forrest Gump Syndrome. Stupid is, stupid does. Just let people build where there is danger of flooding and we’ll deal with it later.
There seems to be no one to complain to who will listen except my local township board and they are in the same boat as me. The county commissioners have aligned themselves with the Diversion Authority. My state representatives are afraid to talk about the diversion, I think, fearing the backlash from Fargo. Then there is Heitkamp and Hoeven. I don’t consider myself tied to either party. I vote for who I think will represent me the best and I voted for these two. Fool me twice shame on me. I know they represent the people of Fargo, too, but if there was a $2 billion project being done in an area I represented I would go out and talk to the people it impacted and help. Not in a public forum meeting where I was being handled by the Authority. No it would be door-to-door. I might not like what I hear but I’d get more than one side of it.
Finally, who are the people on the Diversion Authority Board and how did they get there? Did we vote them in? If so, I guess I missed that election. Did they get on it by knowing the right people? If they weren’t elected to it, can they spend my tax money? Maybe they couldn’t make it doing what job they did before so they had to turn to politics. I’m sorry, I know there are good politicians too, but I can’t seem to find them on this board. Everything they do seems suspect – the buyouts, the pay offs, the awarding of the Oxbow dike contract in the afternoon and equipment showing up in the middle of the night. The terminating of Cass County 25 without letting the people who use it know about it. We may be small in Hickson, but if we even vacate an alley in town, a meeting is held with all party’s present. They have done other things I didn’t think were right. Maybe the people of Fargo and Cass County need to look at who represents them and the debt the present leaders are saddling future generations with.
Hickson resident since 1983