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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 13 2010

Buyout homes move: Levee to be built in Moorhead neighborhood

Jerry and Jackie Nicholson filled their home with love.

Now that 2419 is moving from its lot on Moorhead’s Rivershore Drive, they hope that when it gets to its destination, it’s filled with another family’s love.

“It isn’t just a building, and it isn’t just the land you’re on; it’s the heart of your family. Our homes were the heart of that neighborhood,” Jackie Nicholson said Friday. “It was really a bittersweet ending.”

The Nicholson home is the first of about 17 in the area bought out in this southside neighborhood after last spring’s flood.

Those homes will be removed or demolished to make way for a levee to protect the rest of the homes on that vulnerable stretch of the Red River, said Assistant Moorhead City Engineer Tom Trowbridge.

Some of the trees are surrounded by orange poly construction barriers, and surveying stakes dot front lawns as Moore Engineering crews from West Fargo survey the best spots to build a dike.

A geotechnical analysis is still being completed.

Next will come design and layouts, Trowbridge said. There likely will be an informational meeting in late January with neighborhood residents so they can see the design and make suggestions, he said.

Construction may start in May or June and be finished over the summer.

Barbara Sipson, who lived with her husband, Roger, at 2503 Rivershore Drive, said they never lost a flood fight but had decided enough was enough.

She’s happy their home may get a second life, but seeing the first empty socket of a basement was a shock.

“I think that’s the difficult part,” Sipson said.

On the east side of the street, Eric Glatt looked out his front door at the Nich­ol­sons’ former place up on road wheels.

“It’s going to be a lot quieter around here,” Glatt mused. “It’s a shame. We lost some nice neighbors. It will definitely change the look around here.”

The Nicholsons said their former home is supposed to go to the Alexandria, Minn., area.

Trowbridge said selling the homes stretches buyout dollars. The $5,000 from a sale may be used to demolish and fill the basement, but that beats paying $15,000 to $25,000 for demolition alone, he said.

Trowbridge said he wants residents to know the city will try to save as many of the huge, old-growth trees in the neighborhood as possible.

Some trees north of 24th Avenue South may have to be removed for levee and riverbank stability concerns, he said.

The Nicholsons have moved to 401 37th Ave. S. in Moorhead. Now, it’s their neighbor’s property that abuts the Red.

Despite that, Jerry Nicholson’s thought is that he doesn’t have to sandbag his old place again.

“We’re happy that someone can live in it again. That’s what we’re happy about. And our house was one of the first ones bought,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583