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Scott Dahms, Fargo, Published May 12 2013

Letter: School is vital to preservation of vibrant, older neighborhood

Five years ago, my wife and I bought the purple bed and breakfast at the corner of Eighth Street and Fifth Avenue South in Fargo. It took quite a bit of convincing on my part because of the work involved, but she finally gave in, and we were soon the proud owners of what some might refer to as a “money pit.”

We saw the potential of bringing back the glory of a once beautiful structure and knew it would be no easy task. As we were just starting a family, I knew that this was a great place to live because as a child I biked, skateboarded, learned to swim and formed my personality in this neighborhood.

Even though we were excited with our move, we also knew that it wouldn’t be easy. As a couple who believes in the idea of community and the neighborhoods that create those communities, we also know that it takes a lot of work and financial resources to keep up the one we chose for our family. It’s a commitment we’ve made to preserve this area and the history associated with it.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to clean the paint off my hands before I crawled into bed after midnight, and our kitchen remodel was truly a testament of the love and patience we have with each other. It’s been hard work, but I never once wanted to live in another part of town.

Being part of what makes up a community and thus these neighborhoods takes work and, unfortunately, money. If these older neighborhoods lose the draw to them (i.e., schools) by people who have the energy and commitment to fix them up, we then have to deal with a city that will rot from the inside out like Fargo was doing only a short 15 years ago.

We lose the sense of community that we all are drawn to, such as the gratification of walking over to the school playground on a Saturday morning to discover others playing, or the excitement we as parents have knowing that our kids have others in the neighborhood to play with, developing lifelong friendships.

We knew moving into this neighborhood that we wouldn’t always be able to afford the “best and brightest” when it came to this house. I don’t know where we’d be living right now had we based our decision solely on dollar signs, but I’m extremely grateful that my wife and I didn’t go down that road. We only ask the Fargo School Board to do the same.

Our neighborhood schools work in more ways than most will ever know.