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Helmut Schmidt, Published February 26 2013

Fargo School Board OKs lease of land near Bluestem

FARGO – The Fargo School Board wasted little time Tuesday in approving a lease for 32.9 acres of land to the west and south of the Bluestem Center for the Arts in south Moorhead.

The board voted 6-0 to go ahead with the lease, which calls for the district to pay $1 a year to the city of Moorhead for the land.

Some of the land will be used for Trollwood Performing Arts School programs, while most will be for overflow parking by guests attending events at the Bluestem Center’s amphitheater.

The term of the lease is for two years, renewable for five years and every five years thereafter. The district also agreed to pay $328,168.79 in special assessments through 2029 (for a lift station, utilities and building 50th Avenue South). The 2013 special assessment payment would be $25,320.89, dropping to $13,287.25 by 2029 if no other work is done.

The land is part of 48.9 acres originally purchased by the Bluestem organization in a contract for deed. But the district opted not to take on the contract as the Bluestem fundraising group dissolves.

“Fargo Public Schools is not interested in assuming the contract for deed on the property nor are we interested in future ownership of property in Moorhead, MN.,” said a memo from Superintendent Jeff Schatz and Business Manager Broc Lietz to the board.

The remaining 16 acres of land is retained by the City of Moorhead.

Fargo School District already rents 17.8 acres of land for the amphitheater. Marcil Center and parking for the district’s Trollwood Performing Arts School shows and other events.

Rent for that property is also $1 per year. Through 2029, the district is obligated to pay $571,643.38 in special assessments for that land. The 2013 payment is $44,106.94, which drops to $23,145.20 by 2029.

A vote on the lease for the 32.9 acres was delayed a few times by the Moorhead City Council. But it was finally approved by that group Monday night.

Talks on the lease have gone on since November, but it hasn’t been a greatly frustrating issue for school board members, board President Jim Johnson said.

“That’s the nature of two public bodies” doing their work, he said.

Johnson said most of a nine-member Bluestem Facility Inter-Governmental Communications and Advisory Committee have been chosen.

Johnson chose Paul Meyers and Dinah Goldenberg as the school board representatives, with Rebecca Sundet-Schoenwald, assistant to the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Minnesota State University Moorhead, agreeing to be the board’s choice as an at-large representative for the arts community.

Johnson said he was told by Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland that City Council members Mike Hulett and Heidi Durand would be part of the group. Johnson did not know if Voxland had yet chosen an arts representative.

The remaining board members are Schatz, Moorhead City Manager Michael Redlinger and Trollwood Executive Director Kathy Anderson.

School board members Rusty Papachek, John Strand and Kris Wallman were absent.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583