WEST FARGO -- The West Fargo Parks District will try again to sell its Beaton Farm property near Sheyenne Street and 19th Avenue West, but it plans to request only residential development be considered and it will maintain the same amount of open green space nearby.
West Fargo Parks Executive Director Barb Erbstoesser said Lot 64, a former farmstead that sits on 3.11 acres, was donated to the district in 2002. An adjacent 2 acres of Lot 63 was bought at the same time by the Park District and zoned for public use. The Park Board would like to sell the farmstead and about 1.22 acres of green space, or open land, just west of the former farmstead.
To the north, there is access to Elmwood Park, and the same amount of open land is owned by the Park District, exactly 1.22 acres, which it plans to maintain. Erbstoesser said at the Park Board meeting on Wednesday, May 8, the land has some thick trees that will be groomed in the area, but the green space will be taken care of.
The Park Board will retain the bike path and at least 60 feet easements around the path.
“I can speak for the board, 60 feet [easements] is the minimum we would go,” Board President Todd Rheault said. “We want to be crystal clear, the bike path will not change there.”
The Park District used the property as storage since 2002 but after reconstruction began on Sheyenne Street and access to the area became limited, it could no longer be used. The limited access and no parking space makes the property unusable as a park, so the Park District would like to sell the property.
“We are looking at selling the land, we are not looking at being the developer,” Erbstoesser said. “We have no buyers; we’ve had some questions about it.”
Nearby resident Katina Behm said removing the green space would go against the Park District’s mission, and she has requested the land not be developed. Other residents who spoke at the Park Board’s Wednesday meeting were concerned that if the land is developed, the city and Park District would grant a developer access points that could cause more traffic to their neighborhood.
The property was recently appraised for $4 to $6 per square foot, which if sold for $6 per square foot could fetch about $813,000.
While most of the roughly dozen residents who attended Wednesday’s Park Board meeting voiced concerns about a future sale, West Fargo resident Peter Hettwer thought the board is doing the right thing for the city as a whole.
“You get the local neighbors who do not want to see it change, but then there is the rest of the community,” Hettwer said. “I see it as fiscally responsible for the rest of the taxpayers. If [the Park District] needed more money, they could keep the property and just tax you guys more.”
Erbstoesser said the money would be used by the Park District for future park projects and updates.
The board plans to appeal to the West Fargo Planning and Zoning Commission to change the land from public to private use, so it can be sold for residential development, at the City Commission’s May 20 meeting.
The Committee denied the Park District’s first request in March because it did not have enough information, city Planning Director Tim Solberg said.