Forum Editorial: We support Dawson, Deutsch and Hill for Fargo Park Board

The Forum's Editorial Board also recommends voting no on Fargo City Commission term limits ordinance.

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Deciding upon a new master plan for Island Park, a gem in the Fargo Park District, and opening the new Fargo Sports Complex will be among the Fargo Park Board’s priorities in the near term.

It’s an interesting split of priorities: managing an old, traditional park in a way that preserves its heritage and building a major new indoor sports complex that will bring a significant new recreational opportunity.

The friction between those two priorities — protecting and enhancing established parks and neighborhood parks in mature parks while establishing new park and recreational opportunities — form the park’s essential balancing act.

We support three park board candidates to oversee these and other matters involving oversight of Fargo’s parks and recreation programs — a job that entails stewardship of 2,100 acres of land and more than 1,000 programs.

Our choices are Vicki Dawson, the current board president; Joe Deutsch, a 16-year board veteran with an extensive background in parks and recreation; and Aaron Hill, co-founder of Fargo Brewing Company, who is making his first bid to join the board.


Dawson is seeking a second term. In her first term, she was instrumental in resurrecting T-ball and baseball programs, which she points out are affordable and therefore accessible to many.

If re-elected, she would continue to work to provide “affordable and accessible opportunities for all.” She advocates maintaining and enhancing existing parks while adding new parks, facilities and opportunities.

Deutsch’s priorities include completing the Fargo Sports Complex, which recently broke ground on the far south side, and finishing the Island Park master plan in a way that citizens support. The need for a new swimming pool — and where to put it — is the catalyst for the new master plan.

Hill said expanding strategic partnerships will be a key priority if he is elected. The board must seek opportunities to use and repurpose existing infrastructure, he said, especially in mature “core” neighborhoods, while at the same time managing growth to the south and west.

He pledges he would work to engage to meet the needs of the entire community — including arts and cultural opportunities, along with the more traditional athletic programs.

The $77.6 million, 260,000-square-foot Fargo Sports Complex, expected to open in 2024, is one of the district’s biggest projects in memory. Backers are about $12 million short of the goal to pay for half of the project with private donations.

That suggests there could be pressure to increase the district’s property tax mill levy, something the board has signaled could be coming. So the park board must be careful in spending tax dollars, something Dawson, Deutsch and Hill have pledged to do.

Dawson, Deutsch and Hill have the right priorities and experience to lead the Fargo Park District. We support them in the June 14 election.


Vote no on Fargo City Commission term limits ordinance

In seeking to clarify confusion about how long a Fargo city commissioner or mayor can serve, city officials repealed the old ordinance and are putting forward a proposed replacement.

Under the city’s now-repealed ordinance, the mayor and city commissioners were limited to three four-year terms, or 12 years. If a commissioner is elected mayor, he or she would be eligible for one more term, or up to 16 years. The proposed revision, Fargo City Measure 1, would continue that, with what is intended to be clearer language.

We’re not fans of term limits. If happy with an elected official’s performance, voters should be able to vote to keep that official in office. If not, they’ll elect someone else. Term limits are unnecessary. Let voters decide. Vote no on Fargo City Measure 1.

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