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Published October 29 2013

Forum editorial: Build new school in park

While there appear to be legitimate neighborhood concerns about building a new Fargo elementary school in Ed Clapp Park, the proposal is a good one for several reasons.

The park, which was on the outskirts of the city when it was established, today is an oasis in a bustling urban/suburban district. It is a beautiful open green space that is nearly surrounded by mixed residential and commercial development. Therefore, its value to the residents of the area cannot be underestimated. The issue is whether the park’s amenities will be compromised or eroded by building a school on a tract inside the park’s boundaries.

Situated north of 32nd Avenue South (near the Carlson Library) and west of 27th Street South (near Bethel Church), the park is an ideal location for a school. Population density in the surrounding neighborhoods guarantees a new school will be fully utilized. That factor alone convinced the Fargo School Board that the school should be built on a small portion of the park.

Other factors weighing heavily in favor of the location include:

• It conforms nicely with the city’s determination to “infill” open tracts in the city with appropriate development. For instance, providing street access and utilities to a school in an established neighborhood is less costly than servicing a school in an undeveloped district.

• A school in Clapp Park will indeed be a “neighborhood school,” which is in keeping with school district patrons’ wishes regarding elementary schools. The school will be within walking distance for hundreds of students.

• The park/school concept is not new to Fargo. Kennedy Elementary School on 42nd Street South is a good example. The school is on a tract of land that includes athletic fields and open space. Woodhaven North Park abuts the school property and features walking trails, a small lake and more acres of open space. It is likely users of the park/school land make no distinction about what is school and what is park. It’s a successfully integrated tract of urban public lands.

The new school’s size, street accesses and precise location in the park might have to be adjusted to alleviate neighbors’ concerns. But the overall concept is sound.

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