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Dave Olson, Published October 31 2012

Fargo unveils concepts for flood wall, levee work

FARGO – City officials unveiled several flood mitigation concepts Wednesday, including a proposal to reroute a portion of Second Street North and a plan to build a new levee in the area of Mickelson Field near 11th Avenue North and Elm Street.

The latter would mean eliminating some Little League fields at the Mickelson complex, which often floods in the spring, while offering more protection for softball diamonds.

The proposed dike would not provide additional protection for the Jack Williams baseball stadium, officials said.

The concepts were presented during an informational meeting updating city commissioners on a variety of flood mitigation efforts, including the timing of future home buyouts, and on plans to upgrade levees near Fargo’s water treatment plant.

Seeking grants

The Second Street plan would shift Second Street to the west between First and Fifth avenues north, which would provide room to build a flood wall between Second Street and the Red River.

The project, anticipated to cost about $24 million, would require acquiring some properties, including the Howard Johnson Inn and a building located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Second Street North that was once home to a Shakey’s Pizza parlor.

The concept proposed for Mickelson Field is estimated to cost about $3.7 million.

Fargo is applying for federal grants that would cover 75 percent of the cost of the Second Street and Mickelson projects.

If the grants are awarded, the city could start construction sometime in 2014. If the federal money doesn’t come, the city will seek to include the work in the proposed Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project, which has yet to receive final federal approval.

Upgrades, buyouts

Also Wednesday, city officials discussed improvements they say need to be made to existing levees at two spots along Fourth Street South in the area of Fargo’s water treatment plant.

One location is at 10th Avenue and one is between 11th and 12th avenues.

The project at 10th Avenue would cost about $270,000 and require a buyout of one home.

The work at 12th Avenue would cost $1.2 million and require buying three homes.

On the subject of buyouts, commissioners gave informal approval to a schedule covering the next several years, starting with what is known as Phase I, which involves 52 properties. These properties are on Oak Creek Drive, River Drive and Hackberry Drive South.

Officials expect the city to make offers to those homeowners over the last nine months of 2013.

Under Fargo’s voluntary buyout program, homeowners are offered 110 percent of the assessed value of their houses.

Commissioners also heard a report on buyouts completed since 2009.

The report shows that 82 homes have been purchased since 2009 and of those:

• 32 homeowners took advantage of a special assessment credit offered by the city as an incentive to purchase a different house in Fargo.

• 11 homeowners bought different houses in Fargo but did not take advantage of the credit.

• 11 homeowners moved to apartments.

• Nine homeowners settled somewhere within the area, but not in Fargo.

The report also said that of the 82 home buyouts, three homeowners moved out of the area, the whereabouts of seven were unknown and nine of the 82 properties were likely rental properties.

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