F-M diversion litigants meet in St. Paul to talk about project
FARGO — All four parties in a lawsuit involving the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion met Monday, Jan. 29, to discuss a flood-control project that they can live with, and diversion officials say it looks promising so far.
"I felt good," said Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams, chairwoman of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority. "We have a lot of things to talk about yet, but I think it was a good first start. It was well worth going and having that face-to-face."
"We felt the first meeting was very productive," said Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, the past chairman. "We had some good dialogue and listened to what people are concerned about."
Other parties at the meeting at the Department of Natural Resources' St. Paul office were representatives from the DNR, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority.
The Corps is the authority's partner in the $2.2 billion project to protect the metro area. The DNR, which has regulatory powers over flood control projects in Minnesota, and the RWJPA that's representing two upstream counties both sued to stop the project.
The lawsuit is on hold while litigants are in talks.
Except for the Corps, the other parties all had representatives on a task force formed by North Dakota's and Minnesota's governors last year to hammer out some compromises; the Corps was an observer. The task force succeeded in agreeing to some changes but not all of them, leaving plenty for the four parties to hash out.
Mahoney said the four now make up a "policy committee" that he expects will meet often to work on the project. The committee would guide the work of a "technical team" made up of engineers, who will redesign the diversion project, he said.
The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 9, Williams said. She, too, expects frequent meetings.
"We're trying to get this done, right? That means having a lot of good conversations," she said.