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PR Poppycock from Pawluk

Fargo Land Grab

Last Natural Flood Plain Buffer Adjacent to Fargo, ND
Looking North along I-29
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Ken Pawluk’s February 23rd, 2013 letter to the editor, as Cass County commissioner and a member of the FM Diversion Board of Authority, represents the trite poppycock the Diversion Authority and Cass County are willing to pander to the peanut gallery in yet another feigned attempt to whitewash the imperial actions of Fargo, Cass County and the Diversion Authority.

Aside from a completely myopic presentation of Ken Pawluk’s personal opinion…, the twisting of half-truths as absolutes is more akin to the bought and paid for rhetoric that is the truly disingenuous weapon in the Imperial Fargo/Cass/Diversion Authority PR arsenal.

Excerpt from Feb 23rd, 2013:
“Ken Pawluk: Letter to the Editor”

As I think of this region’s need for the F-M Area Diversion Project, I am reminded that the Cass County Emergency Operations Center has been activated four times in the past decade for long, grueling bouts of flood response duty. Today, we have a plan in the diversion project that takes more than 92 percent of Cass County residents out of the floodplain.


Ken Pawluk attempts to be reflective and conversational…, yet he completely ignores the fact that over the past decade these long grueling bouts of flood response duty directly correlate to Fargo’s methodical destruction of the last natural flood plain adjacent to Fargo.

The flood crest in 2009 would have been significantly lower had Fargo not displaced water from the natural flood plain buffer to make room for Fargo Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney’s home and others.

I’ll get to the nonsense behind the 92 percent statistic later…

Excerpt from Feb 23rd, 2013:
“Ken Pawluk: Letter to the Editor”

The contention that the diversion is “Fargo’s plan” is misleading. This project benefits the vast majority of Cass County. Once the diversion is built, the Cass County cities of Oxbow, Briarwood, Wild Rice, Horace, West Fargo, Reiles Acres and Harwood will no longer be threatened with flooding from the Sheyenne, Maple, Rush and Red rivers. But we aren’t stopping there.


Where to begin… Oxbow, Briarwood and Wild Rice are not directly threatened by the Sheyenne, Maple and Rush rivers. How thoughtful of Ken to leave out Frontier and Prairie Rose.

This is “Fargo’s plan” for future development. As is stated clearly on page 298 of the FMM Feasibility VE Study Comments. VIEW REPORT Nothing more than a land grab for Fargo and this a yet another attempt to cover up the rapacious nature of their actions.

The proposed Fargo Dam and FM Diversion does not benefit the vast majority of Cass County. Cass County represents 1,768 square miles of cities, towns and farmland. Fargo represents approximately 48.82 square miles of that 1,768 total area.

Aside from Fargo building itself into a corner and being unwilling to condemn the property necessary (internally) through Fargo to accommodate the superfluous protection they are seeking…, end running West Fargo and Horace doesn’t preclude that West Fargo and Horace needed additional protection on top of the West Fargo Diversion that serves Horace, Eagle Run, Osgood and West Fargo adequately.

Even more telling is the fact that Ken Pawluk completely left out Moorhead, MN. The other alleged major entity in the Diversion Authorities Joint Powers Agreement. Of course, Fargo, Cass County and the Diversion Authority never anticipated that Moorhead would pull themselves up by their bootstraps and build adequate flood protection…, rather than contrive ways and waste millions in tax dollars to create development plans for the last natural flood plain buffer adjacent to Fargo.

Excerpt from Feb 23rd, 2013:
“Ken Pawluk: Letter to the Editor”

The communities directly south of Fargo, where studies have shown we must build a water retention area for the diversion project to work at maximum effectiveness, have been offered 500-year flood protection – the best in the Red River Valley. Not only does this kind of protection facilitate the continued livelihood of a community, it has proved to restore property values in areas where the threat of flooding has driven values down. The offer from the Diversion Authority to build this protection also shows an investment in the health of the Kindred School District by preserving and protecting future funding for the district.


Obviously Ken Pawluk does not understand the fundamental difference between “offer” and “ultimatum”.

There has been no “offer” of 500 year flood protection. In reality, there is an “ultimatum” on the table to study a ring-dike option…, which is nothing more than, “take it or leave it and wait years for a buyout”, PR metaphors.

Where is the real protection in relying on pumps during heavy summer rainfall events?

Will flood insurance cover properties within the ring-dike if damages are result of the man-made flood outside the ring dike?

What is most appalling is the conjecture that property values will be restored by a proposal that has never been done to this magnitude in the Red River Valley. Equally appalling is the speculation that property values fell as a result of flooding. When in reality the proposed Fargo Dam and FM Diversion are the true metric of causality.

Excerpt from Feb 23rd, 2013:
“Ken Pawluk: Letter to the Editor”

The majority of those living in Oxbow see how this will benefit their community and have signed on. We hope Hickson and Bakke will join us in protecting their communities from flooding and to help mitigate the effects from building the needed retention area.


The retention area is not “needed”…, it is desired by Fargo for Fargo’s land grab of the last natural flood plain. As for Ken’s speculation of those that have “seen the light”…, nothing more than words from Ken’s lips with a wisp of Fargo’s Kool-Aid on his breath.

Fargo, Cass County and the Diversion Authority completely ignored the FACT that the majority of property owners in Bakke and Hickson DO NOT WANT a ring dike. Even worse is the hap-hazard way that Oxbow gathered their data to offer the illusion of community wide support.

The September 23rd 2011 Civil Works Review Board cites a Phase 1 analyses, completed in June 2005, showed that distributed flood storage upstream of Fargo-Moorhead could provide significant economic benefits, but additional study of environmental benefits is needed to justify a Federal project. Yet the Phase 1b and Phase 2 have been on hold since…?

How is possible for the USACE to have considered “all alternatives” when Phase 1 shows distributed flood storage upstream of Fargo-Moorhead could provide significant economic benefits, …yet has never been completed?

Collin C. Peterson directly asked Colonel Christensen questions regarding distributed flood storage upstream during the May 27th, 2009 Senate Hearing 111-417, who admitted that distributed flood storage upstream is viable, however, the cost benefit ratio is low.

Which also lends more evidence to Fargo’s land grab of the last natural flood plain as a basis for manipulating cost benefit ratios.

Excerpt from Feb 23rd, 2013:
“Ken Pawluk: Letter to the Editor”

Many, many discussions have been held with communities to the south of Fargo. Hundreds of people from the Oxbow, Hickson and Bakke areas have attended several public meetings to learn about the diversion project. Dozens of one-on-one meetings have been held with landowners, and more of those meetings are being scheduled. The landowners who have attended these meetings are getting the real story of the Diversion Project, and are getting their individual and personal questions answered.


There is no more “real story” than what is already evident to property owners in Bakke, Hickson and Oxbow.

The story is simple.

Fargo hired the USACE to design a project that will foster development of the last natural flood plain adjacent to Fargo at the expense of upstream interest and future development of the northern Richland and Wilkin counties.

Cass County is negligent is preserving the last natural flood plain an ensuring that state law regarding flood plain development has and will be continue to be observed.

Cass County is engaged in purchasing land for a project that benefits Fargo…, yet is unwilling to provide adequate buyouts to Pleasant Township in its entirety which will be destroyed as a result of the proposed Fargo Dam and Diversion.

If property owners and residents in Pleasant Township don’t “acquiesce” they will be continue to be harassed and oppressed.

Excerpt from Feb 23rd, 2013:
“Ken Pawluk: Letter to the Editor”

The project protects the region. It protects 92 percent of Cass County residents.


The proposed project is for Fargo’s primary benefit. Any secondary and redundant benefits offered to Horace and West Fargo are a result of the project intentionally end-running those communities.

97.2 percent of Cass County land properties will not be directly protected by the proposed Fargo Dam and FM Diversion. Even if you include West Fargo and Horace, who already have adequate flood protection, 96.2 percent of Cass County land properties will not be directly protected by the proposed Fargo Dam and FM Diversion.

Excerpt from Feb 23rd, 2013:
“Ken Pawluk: Letter to the Editor”

It protects the local economy, which generates $4.35 billion in annual non-farming wages and more than $2.77 billion in annual taxable sales, along with $14 billion in property value.


Nothing more than rhetoric spewed to solicit sympathy for decades of poor city and county planning.

If Fargo’s local economy is as robust as Ken Pawluk implies, then Fargo should pay for the proposed dam and diversion on their own without state and federal funds.

Is it the remainder of Cass County, State of North Dakota or United States taxpayers fault that Fargo methodically develops a flood prone flood plain?

Excerpt from Feb 23rd, 2013:
“Ken Pawluk: Letter to the Editor”

The diversion project protects all of our futures.


No…, is does not.

It protects Fargo’s ability to grow into the last natural flood plain (depicted above) for the next 50-60 years. Any suggested ancillary economic benefit is at the direct detriment to surrounding communities.

If Fargo were to cease development of the last natural flood plain…, then businesses and homeowners would naturally look to West Fargo, Moorhead…or other outlying communities not prone to flooding.

Either way, the economic health of the region would continue to prosper.


Should Fargo be allowed to develop the last natural flood plain adjacent to the city at the expense of taxpayers and upstream community interests?

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3 Responses to “ PR Poppycock from Pawluk ”

  1. I’ve been waiting for this after reading Pawluk’s letter.

    The one sided argument is getting old, as is skewing the numbers for the biggest impact.

    I had a “one on one” meeting, (once again, misleading math, mine was one on four) and I don’t count “We don’t have an answer for that yet” and “We haven’t looked into that yet” being valid answers to my questions.

  2. We had a one on one meeting as well and the only “real story” that surfaced was they have little to no clue about how they plan on addressing the multitude of problems presented by the ring dike proposal.

    Half of Bakke drains southwest, however, that water will somehow magically migrate north and east to the proposed holding pond?

    The most insulting comment/question that came out of our one on one was that the statement: “why would you be opposed to a ring dike, when you get to basically ride on the coat-tails of Oxbow and get 500 year flood protection.”

    Really…, going there…? Assuming that people automatically want a ring dike because the other threat they’ve created is worse?

    The only other take-away from the one on one meeting was the underlying elephant of who is actually going to fund the ring-dike.

    We were told the Diversion Authority could set up a special assessment district. I asked what part of Fargo would accept an assessment district for a Bakke, Hickson and Oxbow ring dike?

    We were told verbatim: “the properties receiving the benefit would be assessed.”


    So how about that “real story” now Commissioner Pawluk?

  3. The “Offer for 500 year flood protection.”.

    In my “one on one”, I was asked “Would you prefer a ring dyke or a buyout?”

    I answered ” I don”t want either one.”

    Their response, ” Unfortunately, that is not an option.”

    A generous offer, no doubt.

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