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Published December 11 2012

Forum editorial: Sliding hill snow idea just right

Every once in a while, an idea comes along that shows local government in its best light. Fargo City Commissioner Brad Wimmer’s initiative to make snow at the Dike West sledding hill is just such an idea. It’s timely, eminently doable and clearly needed.

Wimmer went to work to locate nearby and available snow-making equipment. He generated enough enthusiasm about the proposal to raise $6,000 from private sources to pay the cost of renting equipment and paying for water. He talked with city and park district commissioners to get their support.

Most importantly, Wimmer and others who worked with him understood the vagaries of Fargo’s winter weather. Some years the snow is hip-deep. Other years, such as the winter of 2011-12, are warm (by Red River Valley standards), and so lacking in snow that the sledding hill at Dike West goes bare. So why not put snow-making equipment to work? Snowless might be the condition some years, but it always will be cold enough to make snow with a machine.

The snow-making plan is the kind of cooperative effort that local governments can do well. Wimmer saw a way to not only make full use of the park district’s most popular sledding hill but also to serve the winter recreational desires of thousands of children and their families. It doesn’t get any better than that when it comes to responsive local leadership.

One caveat: Why should the park district pay for city water? The water belongs to all the taxpayers of Fargo, and that includes residents of the park district. Yes, water is a commodity that the city manages and treats at some cost. But in this situation – where the water is being used for the general public good – there should be no direct cost to the park district. After all, park district residents already pay indirectly via city and park taxes. If the water for snow-making was not an expense, Wimmer would not have had to raise private money (likely from people who pay water bills and local taxes).

That being said, making snow at the hill is a great idea. The kids will love it. And whatever Ol’ Man Winter serves up they will be able to use the hill.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.