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Dave Olson, Published June 29 2010

Moorhead OKs building track named for soldier

The Moorhead City Council on Monday gave the go-ahead for the building of a running track that will be named in honor of a Moorhead soldier who was killed in Iraq in 2007.

The Andrew P. Nelson Memorial track is planned for Townsite Park, not far from St. Joseph’s Catholic School, where Nelson attended class as a boy growing up in Moorhead.

The Friends of Andrew Nelson Committee asked the city for permission to build the track using privately raised funds, and the city has agreed to assume ownership and maintenance of the track.

Organizers hope to complete the track by the end of August.

Supporters have collected more than $41,000 of the $45,000 needed to construct the track and are confident they will reach their goal, said Julie Goehring, a member of the Friends of Andrew Nelson Committee whose son knew Nelson since kindergarten.

The 600-foot-long track will be made of asphalt.

In addition to maintaining the track, the city will make a number of improvements to the park, including a half-court basketball court and several benches.

Before the idea for a running track, supporters of a memorial for Nelson had suggested renaming Townsite Park in his honor.

The proposal lost steam after city officials said such an effort would likely be a lengthy process and require many steps.

Goehring told the council Monday that the running track “is something Andrew really would have liked.”

Council member Mark Altenburg said the track was an example of what can happen in the city when private groups bring ideas forward.

“This is a great project,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555