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Tony Gehrig, Published January 28 2013

Letter: Costly study of tunnel option waste of limited city resources

It is my understanding that the proposed Second Street tunnel project would provide the same protection that a floodwall would, only at a far greater cost, with the added benefits of green space and beautification. The question begs to be asked, why are we so eager to spend more than necessary to meet the same objective: flood protection?

This is an issue because the people of Fargo were motivated in large part by fear to vote in favor of another ½-cent sales tax in order to get the flood protection the city promised. Now, the people are seeing projects that are unnecessarily expensive. It drives me to assume that we are overtaxed considering, that we could, in fact, have the same protection for far less.

Additionally, we are forcing a longtime Fargo business, the Howard Johnson/Sidestreet, to either bend to the whim of the city or be bought out, two unattractive options.

I feel that I might know how the commission may refute my objections. The city needs to invest in the downtown area, and that investment has brought downtown Fargo back from the ashes.

My rebuttal is twofold. One, “investment” by government causes bubbles, and those bubbles tend to burst, at any level. Two, I would rather the city tax less, allowing people to keep more of their money and invest where they see fit, instead of central planners driving economic development. Central planning too often leads, as exemplified in this project, to government excess.

The bottom-line question is this: The people of Fargo voted twice for flood sales tax because they were told by the commission that we did not have enough money for flood protection. With this project, we are spending $88,000 just to see if it might work. And if plausible, we will spend millions more than is necessary for the same objective of flood protection. If we have extra money lying around for this project, instead of a floodwall that would provide the same level of security, why were we being asked to raise taxes over and again? Why should people stand for that kind of spending?

The answer is, we shouldn’t. Build a floodwall, give the people the protection you promised, and eliminate frivolous expenses that do nothing to enhance flood protection.

Gehrig was a candidate for Fargo City Commission in the last municipal election.