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Jeff Kolpack, Published March 17 2010

Flood wall spoils view but protects north Fargo area

A picturesque view of holes six and seven at Fargo’s El Zagal golf course from Vernon and Norine Kramer’s front-yard patio has been replaced by a concrete wall.

Similarly, a view of the Red River and its natural surroundings on the side of their house has been replaced by that same wall.

It’s not the kind of gated community they were hoping for.

“My wife doesn’t like it, but it’s taken care of our flood problems, which is a good deal,” Kramer said, before pausing. “Everybody moved here for the view, and that’s gone.”

The Kramers live on the corner of Elm Street and 15th Avenue North, and last year at about this time, flood-fighting chaos was everywhere. On late Tuesday morning, the only sign of life was Kramer shoveling snow off his patio.

The wall was constructed last summer as part of the $12.4 million Ridgewood Flood Control Project, and Kramer said he feels safe with a flood stage level between 43 and 44 feet. The city says it offers protection in excess of 44 feet. A gap was left for Elm Street that will be closed with waterproof portable panels.

The flood wall was tested last fall, but Craig Michels, who lives one block north from the Kramers on the corner of Elm and 16th Avenue North, said he’s still waiting for the true test before resting easy.

“That’s my big nervousness,” he said, pointing to the gap.

Michels said he would have preferred a clay dike over the concrete walls. To the east, he said residents there joke they now live on Woodless Drive rather than Woodland Drive because of extensive tree removal.

Yet, if floodwater penetrated the neighborhood last year, Michels said he would have had water on his main floor.

“We like the flood wall, and it’s doing a good job,” said City Commissioner Tim Mahoney.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546