FARGO — Following recent fires, the city of Fargo has quickly upped the momentum to take action at the former Mid America Steel site.
So far, residents who offered input via email and at open houses favor using at least part of the land for the public.
Suggestions included a botanical garden, park, sculpture garden, concert site and art center. The latest, and perhaps most unique, idea was an indoor skateboarding facility, said consultant Scott Harmstead of SRF Consulting of Fargo, who is working on developing the plan.
Harmstead presented six options to a crowd of about 30 residents Thursday night, June 10, at the Fargo Civic Center. The parcel has about nine acres available for development in four parcels, he said, adding comments from the public will be accepted until June 21.
All of the options call for a park or another public use on about 4 acres close to the river. An earthen flood dike or wall will be constructed on the site as part of the city's flood protection.
The prime site for development is about 4 acres closer to NP Avenue and Second Street, where the options include commercial, residential, entertainment or mixed-use structures. Another suggestion for that parcel was a performing arts center.
Two smaller parcels of about 1.5 acres each are on the south end of the site next to Main Avenue and south of the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks that split the site. The options are many there, too, although the site may be difficult to develop because of the tracks, railroad bridge and busy avenue.
A veterans group suggested a parking area to provide access to the Veterans Memorial Bridge and the river.
Harmstead said he would present a plan with the options and input from the public to the Fargo City Commission in July, when a decision may be made.
The plan will also call for removal of any contamination on the site, although the problems aren't expected to be major as environmental studies were conducted starting in 2019. There may be some chemicals still in the soil, but in 2019 it was confirmed that hazardous chemicals and nonbuildng materials pertaining to steel manufacturing were fully removed as agreed to in a purchase agreement between Mid America and the city.
Fargo purchased the land for flood protection in 2016 and leased it back to Mid America Steel through fall 2019, when the company moved to northwest Fargo.
On Monday, the City Commission is expected to approve the final contract of $307,600 with a Minnesota firm that will demolish the 10 buildings currently on the site and flatten the site for development, a process that gained momentum after two apparent arson fires on the site.
Former City Commissioner Tony Grindberg was at the meeting Thursday and described the "premier location" as a historical gem, as it was one of the first sites developed in the city.
Grindberg favors a public use for the property, possibly with mixed-use buildings. He said he sees the site as a link to Moorhead and suggested the land could be leased for any project to ensure it's preserved.
Residents can offer comments to Harmstead to include in his plan by June 21 at email@example.com or by calling at 701-354-2405.