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Published July 04, 2009, 12:00 AM

Costs add up for Fargo parks

City still repairing damage from second round of flooding
After a second round of Red River flooding, the Fargo Park District hopes to repair its parks and golf courses without tapping into its rainy day fund for flood recovery.

By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM

After a second round of Red River flooding, the Fargo Park District hopes to repair its parks and golf courses without tapping into its rainy day fund for flood recovery.

The July Fourth weekend is typically the busiest camping weekend of the year at Lindenwood Park, but flooding has taken the lower 26 camper stalls along the river out of service, leaving 21 spots in the upper campground.

That means less revenue for the Fargo Park District, which also has missed out on revenue at flood-damaged Edgewood and Rose Creek golf courses.

Jim Larson, the district’s finance director, estimates revenue lost from the record spring flood and the flooding that ended last week will total $450,000.

“The golfers have really supported our courses,” he said. “That revenue loss could be more significant if not for that.”

The loss comes on top of about $600,000 the district spent on contractors, supplies and labor during the spring flood. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover a “significant” portion of those costs, but it’s not known yet how much, Larson said.

About $425,000 of the $600,000 was spent at Rose Creek Golf Course to remove temporary dikes and repair irrigation and drainage systems and cart paths damaged during dike construction, he said.

While the cost may seem high, Larson said it’s the equivalent of one home on the golf course.

“It played a significant role in the protection of south Fargo,” he said.

The district sets aside $40,000 a year for flood-related costs into a fund that carries over if the money isn’t spent.

It also has a $350,000 emergency fund to offset flood-related expenses and revenue losses. However, it’s never been used, and Larson said the district doesn’t plan on touching it this year.

“We think we can make enough other adjustments without impacting our ability to provide other services, and just do some deferrals of expenses,” he said.

Spring and summer flooding is always a possibility, but the district doesn’t entertain the thought of not repairing parks and golf courses for the last three or four snow-free months of the year, Executive Director Roger Gress said.

“Certainly, we watch that,” he said of the river level. However, parks and recreation are quality-of-life issues, he said.

“So, it’s really important that we get things seeded, we get them back up and running. If we lose them to a flood, boom, move on,” he said, adding that the river usually doesn’t flood in July.

Edgewood was expected to have all 18 holes open Saturday, with some tee box adjustments.

Lindenwood and Oak Grove will be reseeded, and the Frisbee golf course in Oak Grove should reopen by late July or early August, said Dave Leker, the district’s director of parks.

The pedestrian bridge connecting Lindenwood to Moorhead’s Gooseberry Park doesn’t appear to be damaged by river debris, and officials hope it will settle back onto its abutments, Leker said. If not, cranes will have to reset the bridge at a cost of about $2,000, he said.

Moorhead’s parks system sustained more than $100,000 in damages and repairs from spring flooding, city Operations Director Chad Martin said. The lower Gooseberry shelter was completely underwater and has been braced due to structural weakening, he said.

Moorhead officials hadn’t reseeded Gooseberry before the most recent flood but will do so now, he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528