Responses to last week's column on the names of Fargo and West Fargo strip malls and other developments were swift and mixed. All came from Fargo residents. Here's a sample.
A caller said, "Right on. I've never seen so many goofy names of apartment buildings and shopping areas, and I've lived in a few cities. Saw one in town-can't remember where-called 'Shore View' or something. You know where the shore was? Along a drainage ditch. Nice view, eh? That's like naming a condo on the Maine seacoast 'Prairie View.'"
My observation: I've been to the rocky coast of Maine. You won't find any prairie views.
An emailer counted off several misnamed places in Fargo-Moorhead, but was most ticked about "Rose Creek," the residential neighborhood in south Fargo. "There are no roses and no creek that I can see. Am I missing something?"
She is missing something. There is a waterway in the neighborhood. Rose Creek (the creek) has been preserved in its natural state as much as flood control works have allowed. Its banks are wooded and thick with ground growth. There's water in the creek, except in dry years. It flows along a walking path, through a golf course, beneath University Drive and into the Red River. I walk there occasionally. It's a beautiful green space in the heart of residential development. Since the creek is right there, "Rose Creek" for the neighborhood is appropriate.
The caller thought he had me. "Think you're smart," he snarled, "you and your tree-huggers complainin' about cuttin' down trees. What about the tree on the sidewalk on the (west) side of The Forum? Right downtown. Didn't hear from you when they cut it down. Ain't you seen it? Nothin' there but a stump and some sprouts. You're doin' that double-standard thing."
Well, no. I noticed the ash was gone. I know why. The tree was dying. Fully a third of its crown did not leaf out this spring. More of its branches were dead every year for the last few years. The tree was the victim of either road salt, winter kill caused by a freeze-thaw cycle from sunlight reflected off the building, or disease. It was probably a combination of all three. The stump shows rot in the core. But unlike clear-cutting a healthy grove, removal of the sidewalk tree was justified.
The caller wanted to make it political. "Just like you libtards to criticize developers because most of them are Republicans. You want to make it look like Republicans don't like trees, and such, like we're greedy, and such. You got no clue what it takes to build things. Not just about trees, and such."
He made my argument. If, as he says, most developers are Republicans, and developers slash and burn trees, then ipso facto, Republicans slash and burn trees. However, it's not true all developers are Republicans, any more than it's true all Republican developers clear-cut trees. It's not about politics. It's about city planning and land use standards that enhance and beautify the urban landscape, not reduce all of it to asphalt and concrete banality.