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Dave Olson, Published November 21 2012

Sidestreet erects sign opposing buyout; floodwall project's fate not yet decided

FARGO – When the city of Fargo recently unveiled plans to shift Second Street North a bit to the west, officials noted that the Howard Johnson Inn and the attached Sidestreet Grille and Pub could be candidates for acquisition.

Soon after, a message appeared on the Sidestreet’s marquee letting passers-by know that no buyout had been approved.

Both businesses declined to talk about the city’s plans for this story.

However, City Engineer April Walker made it clear that any buyouts would be preceded by discussions between the city and property owners.

“That’s going to be a process,” she said. “It’s going to take some time. We would anticipate that we’d work with property owners and try to acquire the footprint that’s necessary.”

How big that footprint will need to be isn’t clear.

Diversion related

The city says the Second Street project fits into future plans for a diversion and involves construction of a floodwall.

As the plan now sits, the Sidestreet Grille and Pub would be impacted but not the Howard Johnson Inn, according to Walker.

If the floodwall project moves forward, Walker said additional soil testing will be needed.

Depending on what testing may show, acquiring the entire Howard Johnson site may be necessary, but the city is far from making that determination, Walker said.

For one thing, Fargo doesn’t know where it will get the money for the approximately $24 million project.

The city has applied for federal grant funds but doesn’t expect an answer on its request before March.

If the grants are awarded, the city could start construction on the Second Street realignment some time in 2014.

If the federal money isn’t granted, the city would seek to include the work in the proposed Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project, which has yet to receive federal authorization.

“If we don’t get the grant funding to move this forward ahead of the diversion then, we’d be waiting for authorization to move forward with the diversion,” Walker said.

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

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