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Published June 04 2010

4 vying for West Fargo Park Board seats

As West Fargo’s growth continues to blossom, park board candidates said there’s an urgency to move forward with a new city pool and other facilities, while also maintaining a sense of community within the parks system.

Voters will choose among four candidates Tuesday to fill the three open seats on the West Fargo Park Board. Jeff McCracken challenges incumbents Sharon Odegaard, Ken Zetocha and Denise Johnson.

A new pool or expanded aquatic center to serve West Fargo tops the list of needs, the park board candidates said.

The popular Veterans Memorial Pool, 131 6th Ave. E., was constructed more than 60 years ago, “and I think we’re on our last leg, so that’s got to be our first major, major project,” said Zetocha, who’s seeking a third term on the board.

Zetocha estimated it could cost about $4 million to $6 million to construct a new aquatic facility.

The current park board is still studying how to pursue the project and obtain the necessary funding, but they said time is running out.

“We know that if we don’t get moving one of these days, there’s going to be nowhere for those kids to swim, which would just be sad,” said Odegaard, who has served on the board since 1994.

Also of high priority is ensuring the city’s park facilities meet residents’ needs and connect with current and future developments, especially in West Fargo’s booming southside.

“Our greatest challenge in the past several years has been the rapid growth of residential areas,” said Johnson, who was first elected to the park board in 1990. “Serving our residents with activities, recreational programs and development of new park areas has required a fast-paced approach.”

Recently, new baseball fields at Rendezvous Park and a new soccer complex on the west side have been constructed, as youth participation in those sports multiply.

“As West Fargo continues to grow, we will need more parks and facilities,” said McCracken, who said he could bring “a fresh voice” to the board if elected.

McCracken said he wants to see further collaboration with West Fargo schools to promote community programs and activities.

“The park board needs to keep an open mind and be fair to all sports it supports,” he said.

Odegaard said partnerships and cooperation with neighboring cities or private groups, such as developers, are key to success with parks projects.

“The citizens don’t care one lick which park district they fall into. They care that they have the facilities and the programs they want,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541