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Published October 14 2013

Forum editorial: Oxbow ring dike a winner

The real estate market has staged an impressive comeback in Oxbow now that a cloud of uncertainty has been lifted. The flood-prone community south of Fargo agreed last summer to a protective ring dike, with plans to start construction next year. The fruits of that wise decision now are visible in the revived housing market in upscale Oxbow. Homes are selling in an area where even home appraisals were unavailable for several years because of nagging uncertainties about impacts from the flood diversion project.

We hope the naysayers in Hickson and Bakke subdivision, areas also within the ring dike, are paying close attention. The Flood Diversion Authority unanimously recommended that the Corps of Engineers build the ring dike if the 36-mile, $1.8 billion diversion channel is authorized and built. The ring levee project means relocating some homes, moving the city’s golf course, and elevating part of County Road 81.

The $65 million ring dike is proceeding even though the proposed diversion still is seeking authorization and funding. When the authority decided to go ahead with the ring dike, diversion leaders rightly pointed out that the move gave certainty, by defining which properties will be offered buyouts, and which will be protected.

It’s a significant gesture of goodwill to demonstrate – tangibly – that areas impacted by the flood protection project will be mitigated, and a reminder that the project will benefit areas outside Fargo-Moorhead. The levee will require the buyout of 42 homes for placement of its eastern edge.

“I think this says that we think enough of the people south of us that we’re willing to put them first,” Darrell Vanyon, Diversion Authority chairman said earlier. More work needs to be done as the authority and corps strive to minimize impacts, and communicate those impacts to affected property owners. But the sale of homes in Oxbow is a sign that the project will accommodate upstream neighbors. Plans call for the ring dike to be completed by 2016 – long before Fargo-Moorhead will be protected by a diversion.

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