Minn. says, 'Don't forget about us'WASHINGTON – Minnesota leaders’ resounding message here Tuesday: Don’t forget about us.
By: Kelly Smith, INFORUM
WASHINGTON – Minnesota leaders’ resounding message here Tuesday: Don’t forget about us.
“Our mission ... today is to make very clear that there is a Minnesota side of this, and that we want to make sure we look at this as a whole and not just with one county,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar,
D-Minn., told fellow Minnesota leaders Tuesday morning during a meeting of elected leaders from the local to the federal levels.
While they expressed they support flood protection plans for the Fargo-Moorhead metro area, Minnesota leaders want flood projects pending from the 1997 flood in several Minnesota communities to be completed first. Even during a later joint meeting focused on finding a consensus between Minnesota and North Dakota elected leaders, Minnesota leaders voiced strong support for their side of the river.
“The message is, we’re happy to help North Dakota, help Fargo-Moorhead, but we need to understand what effect that project they’re looking at has on our side of the river,” Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said. “We need to learn a lot more about what they’re doing. Moorhead hasn’t been too involved.”
“We’ve got communities that have been waiting since ’97 (to receive funding),” Peterson continued, adding that he’s taken calls from concerned people from places like Georgetown and Kragnes over funding Fargo-Moorhead flood protection plans. He said that some say 80 percent of Fargo’s southside protection plan will benefit Fargo.
“That’s fine,” he said. “But there’s some question over who’s going to pay for what.”
When Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D. dropped in on the Minnesota meeting, he defended North Dakota, saying that the cost-benefit will be equitable.
“We’re not conspiring on our side of the river,” he said. “We’re in this together. Let’s seize the moment and get on track with a plan again.”
“I’m just saying these things come up,” Peterson answered.
Minnesota communities still need funding to finish flood-related projects – such as Breckenridge, which needs $5 million; Roseau, which needs $12 million; and Ada, which needs about $6 million.
“Ada is one of the communities that was devastated by the ’97 flood that has no permanent protection as of yet, and we hope to get there,” Ada Mayor Jim Ellefson said.
“We’re far from being done,” added Breckenridge Mayor Cliff Barth, explaining they just need federal appropriations. “We’re shovel-ready.”
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Peterson said. “But I really feel like we may be at a place where we can have some opportunities here.”
Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki contributed to this report.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 5515