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Heidi Shaffer, Published July 07 2010

Buyout reaction mixed in Fargo’s Belmont Park

Belmont Park residents had mixed feelings Tuesday as city officials discuss how to increase flood protection along the Red River.

The neighborhood near the water treatment plant on Fourth Street South and 13th Avenue is a top priority for city engineers trying to raise permanent protection in vital areas, Fargo’s Senior Engineer April Walker said at a special meeting Tuesday with residents and city commissioners.

The city is working on at least 30 projects that will bring protection up to 44 feet, a level engineers say is necessary to avoid flood fights requiring thousands of sandbags and volunteers, Walker said.

“We’re ready for something more permanent,” Walker said.

City Engineer Mark Bitt-ner said the projects are needed because a diversion project is at least a decade away and may not protect neighborhoods like Belmont Park in a 500-year flood event.

Sixteen homes along South River Road have been on and off buyout lists since the 2009 flood, and the City Commission wants feedback from residents before deciding on what type of project to pursue, Commissioner Brad Wimmer said.

A few homes in the area were previously bought out, but some residents say they don’t want to leave the historic neighborhood.

“We want to stay,” said Sherri Stern, whose husband has owned their home for 25 years.

Other neighbors have grown tired of fighting floods each year and want answers so they can move forward.

“It’s just hard to live in limbo,” said Marjorie Schlossman, who lives along South River Road.

A survey will go out to the neighborhood with questions about what projects are most preferred.

Wimmer and Commissioner Tim Mahoney will bring comments from the surveys and Tuesday’s meeting back to the commission to decide what course of action the city will take in Belmont Park, Wimmer said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511