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Steve Gehrtz, Published August 26 2012

Letter: Editorial a disservice; Forum should apologize

After reading the editorial that The Forum published Wednesday, Aug. 22, regarding the City of Moorhead, as a member of the City Council I felt compelled to defend our business owners and residents from the inaccuracies stated in the Forum’s opinion. This editorial is based on misinformation that could have been easily verified if they would have cared to take the time.

Moorhead has an active street and pavement management plan that they work on each year. These repairs are planned out for a minimum of five years. The city engineering and public works staff works very hard at making sure our streets are maintained.

• The Minnesota Department of Transportation owns a large portion of Main Avenue. MnDOT chose to bid the project well after the start of the construction season and only received one bid, and that was more than double the amount of the engineer’s estimate for the work. Moorhead Public Service did a fabulous job of getting their water main work completed ahead of the DOT schedule. Bids were opened only a couple of weeks prior to the start date of the MnDOT work. The Forum does an injustice to infer that the delay was the fault of the city.

• The rail crossing signal work was supposed to be part of the pavement work that the MNDOT was going to complete. The railroad has control over a number of the signals, and the city has little input on how they are controlled. Moorhead continues to work with the rail system to create an improved traffic flow.

• The City of Moorhead is actively trying to work with the state to pass legislation that will level the playing field when it comes to the business and restaurant climate with our neighboring communities. For The Forum to insinuate that “business flight to Fargo is endemic” is a disservice to the business owners who have invested in our community.

• The City Council recently made large strides in correcting the parking issues that have plagued the two college campuses, Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia College. This has been an ongoing concern for a number of years and the current council has taken steps to correct it starting in mid-August of this year.

• I would venture to guess that all cities have rundown buildings and weeds that need to be addressed. This is a point of concern of the City Council, and we continue to work with the private property owners to keep their properties from falling into disrepair. We still need to respect the fact that these properties are privately owned and work with the owners of the properties and businesses.

Moorhead in recent years has worked on serious issues that are important to our city. One that seems to not get much press is the fact that the city of Moorhead has done a fabulous job of protecting itself from the flood issues that have plagued our community in the recent years. Within the next 12 months, Moorhead will be protected to a river level of 42.5 feet with 1.5 to 2 feet of freeboard. Residents of Moorhead will not be required to purchase flood insurance in the annual amount of $400 to $2,500 due to the diligent efforts of the state, our staff and our residents’ efforts. Businesses and homeowners can be assured in the unfortunate chance that our community is faced with another record flood event, they will be able to stay open for business or stay in their homes without fear of damage from floodwaters.

As a member of the council, I am disappointed by the statements in the editorial. They have done a great disservice to the residents and businesses that call the city of Moorhead home. I think they owe us all an apology.

Gerhtz is a Moorhead city councilman