It’s deeply disappointing that the West Fargo Park Board is blinded by dollar signs. The board is bent on selling a parcel of donated land to convert green space into residential development.
We’re referring, of course, to Beaton Farm, a modest patch of open space near the Sheyenne River and 19th Avenue South, an area that is becoming increasingly congested from development.
Park board members approached the West Fargo Planning and Zoning Commission, asking for the green space to be rezoned from public land to private — a designation that would open the door to selling the land. Fortunately, the planning board didn’t go along, and the park board now plans to appeal that decision to the West Fargo City Commission.
The land in question, a 1.22-acre parcel near the former Beaton farmstead, was recently given an appraised value of $813,000. That’s not exactly a princely sum, but it apparently doesn’t take much to cloud the park board’s thinking.
Park board members have turned a deaf ear to neighbors, who vehemently want the green space to remain green.
We wonder: Why is a group that should be dedicated to maintaining space for recreation — including its quieter forms, such as Frisbee tossing, kite flying, bird watching, or simply ambling around while enjoying nature — so eager to sell out for $813,000?
The Beaton family sold the land to a developer. But the developer was required by city ordinance to set aside part of for use as park space. That’s a wise requirement. It recognizes the vital need for parks as leafy oases from the bustle of urban life.
The West Fargo City Commission should reject the park board’s wrongheaded request and keep this piece of Beaton Farm green.
The circumstances involving a possible sale of softball fields by the Fargo Park Board is quite different.
The Fargo Park Board is considering selling softball fields near 45th Street South, an area that is dominated by commercial real estate development, with little solitude to be had in the dense jumble of strip malls and big box stores.
The softball fields are no longer needed because of a large softball complex on the edge of north Fargo.
For those reasons, we believe it would be appropriate to sell the old softball fields — with the important proviso that the proceeds be used to establish a large, stately park in sprawling south Fargo.
For decades now, growth in Fargo has pushed further south. Some of Fargo’s most inviting new neighborhoods grace the south side, but that part of the city is a park desert, with only scattered small neighborhood parks.
The time has come for south Fargo to have something that will become comparable to the gems of the Fargo park system, Island Park and Lindenwood Park, both located among the city’s oldest and most established neighborhoods.
It’s unfair to the growing population of south Fargo to have to travel to the river corridor to recreate in parks their tax dollars support. The city needs more large, open green spaces connected to trail systems for residents to enjoy quiet forms of recreation.
A new park on Fargo’s extreme southern edge not far from Davies High School has been planned for years. Signs visible to passing motorists on Interstate 29 have marked the site of the future park.
The planned park is evidently years in the future, however. It will take years to establish a proper park on a treeless plain that would be in the same league as Island Park or Lindenwood Park.
But an infusion of money from the sale of the softball fields would accelerate development of the new park, including transplanting mature trees. It’s an idea whose time has come. Inviting parks help define a city. Fargo's park system has a gaping hole to fill.