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Wendy Reuer, Published October 08 2013

Fargo Park Board agrees to lease 155-acre site for new softball complex in north Fargo

FARGO – After years of the Mickelson and Lindenwood Park softball fields being held hostage by annual flooding, the Fargo Park Board on Tuesday approved building a new mega softball complex in north Fargo with a capacity of up to 28 fields.

The board agreed to lease a 155-acre site from the city near city lagoons along Interstate 29 for $100 per year.

David Leker, director of parks for the Park District, said the complex will be built in two to three phases, with the first phase starting as soon as next spring. The initial construction includes 13 fields – nine slow-pitch, four fast-pitch and a championship field for each. In the center of the design is a pavilion for restrooms, management and concessions.

Three more five-field pods can be built on the surrounding three corners of the site in the second or third phases.

The lagoons hold city wastewater in times of flooding. Leker said they are only used a few months each year for runoff and that is well before the softball/baseball seasons.

He said his department’s long-range plan has been to add softball fields, but flooding of the Mickelson complex coupled with a growing demand for softball slow-pitch fields spurred the need at this time.

The city of Fargo has often used the Mickelson Park area to build an emergency levee during major flooding. On Monday, the city started building a permanent levee near Mickelson that eliminated four diamonds.

Leker said residents wanted some type of sports complex to remain at Mickelson, so four diamonds will stay there. A sledding hill similar to the one on Dike West is planned for the new permanent levee and a concessions area may be converted to a warming facility.

“It will open up a lot of green space for kids to play on,” Leker said.

The six softball fields at Lindenwood Park, where flooding is also a concern, will be relocated to the new mega complex. The space in Lindenwood would be converted to open park space, Leker said.

“Flood mitigation is forcing part of this (new) complex,” Park Board member Ron Sorvaag said.

The new complex would also reduce the need to use fields on the North Dakota State University campus near its Technology Park. Leker said NDSU has been looking to expand the technology park, which would mean eliminating the fields.

The initial phase of construction is expected to cost between $6 million and $10 million. The district will use special assessments and its general funds to pay for the complex. Private donations could help fund future phases of construction, or pay off the first phase quickly, Leker said.

The three Park Board members who attended Tuesday’s meeting – Sorvaag, Mary Johnson and Barb Johnson – unanimously passed the lease agreement.

Leker said a request for construction bids will likely be sent out by December.

Another upgrade

Young ballplayers in Fargo will also soon have their own renovated fields for championship games.

The Park District approved an agreement Tuesday with the Babe Ruth Association to adopt and renovate the two fields at Brunsdale Park – also known as Spider Park.

The Babe Ruth Association will spend about $125,000 in field improvements, with the project to begin as early as today.

Park District Executive Director Roger Gress said the parent association will spend its own money on the improvements and to maintain the fields above and beyond what the parks do for a recreational level.

“We would do all of the green maintenance and they would take care of the skin and turf maintenance,” Leker said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530