Ask Your Government: Fargo Sledding Hill Snow Making Is Privately Funded

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Former Forum Communications reporter Teri Finneman had a regular column on her blog called “Ask Your Government” in which she’d respond to questions about the government from readers by obtaining information from the government. It was a column I enjoyed reading, because there are always those facts about government that seem odd or wasteful and perhaps deserve some illumination, both to better inform the public and help keep the government accountable.

Since Ms. Finneman is no longer writing it, I thought maybe I’d take it up with you SAB readers. If you’ve got questions, email them to me at [email protected]. I’ll investigate, and make information requests, and share here on the blog what I find out.

Today a reader emailed to me wondering about a sledding hill the City of Fargo manages near Island Park and the snow-making equipment he saw there. Here’s what he wrote me, along with the picture above:

Drove past the “sledding hill” (West side of the Dike by Island Park) near downtown Fargo and saw some snow making equipment.

I don’t know if the park owns the equipment or rents it but it seems silly to me in NORTH DAKOTA to make snow for a sledding hill.
Look I like taking my kids sledding as much as the next dad and I know we’ve had a couple of winters of limited early snow… but are we really spending money on this?

Thought you’d like to know.

It does seem odd that, here in frozen northern climes of North Dakota, that we’d need snow-making equpiment.

I emailed City of Fargo Communications Manager Karena Carlson about the matter, and she forwarded my request for information on to Fargo Park Board President Joel Vettel. Joel called me and said that the snow-making equipment at the sledding hill was the idea of Fargo City Commissioner Brad Wimmer. He said Fargo has suffered a “brown Christmas” so far this year, that in fact snow has been pretty light in Fargo for the past couple of winters, and Commissioner Wimmer was concerned about whether or not he hill was going to be open for the public.

Commissioner Wimmer went out and raised $5,000 in private dollars to pay for the snow-making equipment at the site, so no tax dollars are being used for it. The only city expenses are an estimated $350 worth of electricity and water to power/feed the equipment.

So, agree with it or disagree, that’s how the snow makers came to be at the Fargo sledding hill.

Again, if you have any other questions about North Dakota government, send them to me at [email protected] and I’ll see what I can find out.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • borborygmi

    There you have it city in conjunction with private funding making things happen.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      That’s a mistake critics of conservatives often make. Conservatives/libertarians are not anarchists. We’re just very suspicious of government, and we believe in the spontaneous order of the free market.

      This sledding hill isn’t very objectionable. There are additional costs. They have a warming house, and they have some staff who works the hill and the warming house, but all in all it’s pretty low cost.

      And the biggest part of the operation, the snow making, is privately funded. You have to wonder if some group or company wouldn’t like to just sponsor the hill and take the cost completely. Seems like a good opportunity.

      There are probably more wasteful areas of government to gripe about than this.

  • LibertyFargo

    Thanks Rob!

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Sure thing.

  • kevindf

    This is how things like the horse park, Bluestem theater and zoo started out. How much are they costing taxpayers now?

    • WOOF

      Horses have their own park ?

      How bout dogs ?

      • kevindf

        I think there’s more than one dog park in Fargo to go along the 60+ regular parks.

        • WOOF

          Thanks K., I’m opening a can of horse.

          • two_amber_lamps

            “Thanks K., I’m opening a can of horse.”

            Must be WOOF feeding time…. Kal-Kan or Alpo?

          • http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/ Proof

            Woof prefers his own brand : Up Chuck Wagon.

          • kevindf

            Woof must have lost big at the track.(:^(

  • JW -American

    Detroit Lakes just Bought or Leased Detroit Mountain… they plan to have the Park board re-open it to skiers, I think next winter, it will be multi purpose for downhill skining tubing, cross counrty skiing and a Snowmoblie trail stop too.

    My guess is they are hoping it will draw folks to town rather than just go to waste as a private Co. cannot afford to pay taxes on the property and run it at a profit.

    • JW-American

      I really should slow down when I type, the spelling police will have a field day with that one..

  • headward

    Raising money without the threats of violence aka taxing the people more. Odd concept. Now only to have them lower their mills.

  • KJUU
  • jimmypop

    GREAT FIRST STEP!!!!! now, we just need to get our gyms (yes, we have public gyms….even thou we have a gym in just about every strip mall metro-wide….) and hockey rinks privately funded next……

  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    Don’t have anyone from Minot help out with that. Minot has a bad record with sledding.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6776151/ns/us_news/t/dozens-kids-injured-sledding-accident/#.UMtE1Hcvyn4

    MINOT, N.D. — Thirty-six
    children were injured in a sledding accident during an all-night New
    Year’s Eve party hosted by a religious organization.

    Three of the children were hospitalized, but all were in stable
    condition Saturday, hospital officials said. The others were treated and
    released.

  • cylde

    I like the private party angle, if the govt. does it, they will hire staff to operate every year no matter how much snow there is or how many people use the slopes.

  • Lynn Bergman

    It is the POLICY that should be objectionable to taxpayers when the amount appears small. If the POLICY is challenged on all such ventures, much larger “crony capitalism” may well be prevented. That way, “good” people are not rendered “bad” by “government provided” opportunities that, in extreme cases and more increasingly (as state revenues skyrocket) lead to suicides.

    By pointing out small murky “arrangements” we ultimately prevent future suicides.

    Think Dickinson State and North Dakota financial management employees that represent the “tip” of the suicide iceberg.

    Yes, too much government can encourage good people to do bad things.

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