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Published March 12, 2009, 12:00 AM

Team recommends $37M floodwall

Residents of south Fargo’s Harwood Groves, Burritt-Kennedy and Lemke subdivisions were told Wednesday that an engineering team will recommend that a $37 million solid floodwall and levee system be built along the Red River to protect their homes from flooding and remove them from the 100-year flood plain.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

Residents of south Fargo’s Harwood Groves, Burritt-Kennedy and Lemke subdivisions were told Wednesday that an engineering team will recommend that a $37 million solid floodwall and levee system be built along the Red River to protect their homes from flooding and remove them from the 100-year flood plain.

Now, residents want to know how much they’ll be reimbursed for the loss of riverfront land or property values.

Technical team members said $15.1 million is in the plan to buy land and pay for lost property values, but they said the City Commission must approve the plan before properties can be evaluated.

“You’re asking us to make a decision without knowing the financial impact. It’s not fair; it’s not reasonable. You certainly wouldn’t sell your home not knowing what you’re getting,” Charley Poynter, 3618 River Drive S., told a group of 80 residents at Discovery Middle School.

“We would like to know what we’re going to get paid” for losing land, said Dr. Mike Traynor, 501 Harwood Drive S.

Another audience member pointed out that owners of 62 homes would average $243,000 in payments under the plan.

“I got to tell you, my property value is going to be decreased,” much more than $243,000, Poynter countered.

The floodwall is part of the $161 million Southside Flood Control Project.

About $1.8 million of its costs will be assessed to residents of the subdivisions. The remaining extraordinary costs, about $35.2 million, are to be split by the state and city.

The solid floodwall was the least favorite option in polls of residents of the subdivisions east of University Drive South and between 32nd Avenue and 40th Avenue South.

The wall would vary in height from a few feet to 12 or more feet, depending on a property’s elevation. It must be built to the 100-year flood level, 39.5 feet, plus 3 feet, to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency rules.

Technical team members said it was the least intrusive option for residents, presented no logistical worries, and was more likely to get FEMA’s OK.

One audience member agreed about trying to keep city workers out of yards, describing how trucks got stuck for nearly two days in her backyard when they tried to test soil stability.

“I tell you what, it was a circus,” she said.

Two other floodwall options, both costing $34.4 million, left more than 60 gated openings from backyards to the river. One option included panels that could be removed after floods to provide better views of the river.

A $7.6 million levee and floodwall along University Drive South was rejected, because it would leave 350 structures worth $100 million open to flooding, team members said.

The area’s residents will have about 10 days to make further comments.

Fargo Senior Engineer April Walker said the City Commission will vote on the issue April 6.


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

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