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

Rob Port is the editor of 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.

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