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City settles claim for road work

West Fargo City Commissioners agreed Monday night to pay a Grand Forks construction firm $71,000 to settle a dispute over work completed for the city in 2003 on 13th Avenue and Sheyenne Street. Opp Construction LLC had filed a lawsuit in Cass County District Court in 2006 claiming the city of West Fargo owed extra fees for work on the two roadways, for which the company had been contracted to complete. Opp officials alleged that even though the project was finished on time, the city owed fees for additional equipment and overtime costs incurred.

City Commissioners opted for mediation on the matter at their first meeting in May, with both sides agreeing to the amount during ensuing talks. Commissioners met in executive session Monday night before voting 5-0 to formalize the settlement agreement.

West Fargo City Commissioners will also be looking into the quelling of excessive train horns for city residents.

This action came after Mark Akers appeared before the commission Monday night with a request for them to investigate the possibility of a railroad quiet zone similar to the one implemented in Fargo and Moorhead recently. He said the noise level of trains blowing their whistles, as well as the frequency, seems to be intensifying and he feels the neighborhood shouldn't have to experience this.

The F-M quiet zone prohibits trains from blowing their horns and whistles in the downtown districts, with added safety features at railroad crossings. The price tag for implementation was in the low millions in both communities.

Akers, who lives on the north side of town, extremely close to the tracks, said his concern is safety and of course the noise that keeps people up at night. "They sit there and sometimes the train isn't even moving and they blow their whistle and then hang on it. I talked to Burlington Northern officials and they told me to come to the commission. They said funding is available. There is a price to pay for everything and this is one of those times."

Gene Rudolph, who lives behind the Harley Davidson shop on West Main Avenue agreed, wondering why the train engineers have to blow the horns the way they do. "They sit behind Monsanto and blow them and the train isn't even moving." He said when they are moving, they start blasting them at Stockyards Corner and keep them going all the way to 9th Street East. "It's a nuisance. Why do they have to blow them that way?" he asked.

Commissioner Brenda Warren said she knew what they were talking about, noting she also lived on the north side and hears the incessant whistle blowing during the night.

As a starting point, Commissioner Mark Simmons suggested dialogue with Burlington Northern officials to see if some of the noise could be eliminated.

Commissioner Bryan Schulz said he lives south of 13th Avenue and can still hear the noise from the trains. He, too, felt that discussion with Burlington Northern would be a good starting point.

Commissioner Warren said she had been in touch with Senator Byron Dorgan's office and officials there are willing to sit down and talk about the issue to see if there can be any resolution.

Akers said he was receptive to the suggested starting points and would be open to further discussion.

In other action, the commission:

-approved first reading for rezoning from agricultural to light commercial and a conditional use permit for Doll's 5th Addition, subject to conditions outlined by the Planning and Zoning Commission in their prior approval. The request was made by Ron Loberg and Al Pritchard. Owners want to expand a golf cart sales and service on the almost 12-acre site located south of Interstate 94 and east of Sheyenne Street, directly south of RJ's Conoco;

-okayed first reading of a rezoning request from agricultural to special single family dwellings for Shadow Wood 2nd Addition, located west of 9th Street East and north of 36th Avenue East. Owners want to subdivide and rezone the property for single family development. Approval was given subject to conditions outlined by the Planning and Zoning Board;

-awarded the contract for Sidewalk Improvement District No. 6045 to Specialized Contracting, Inc., Fargo, with a low bid of $299,901.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place at 5:30 p.m., Monday, June 16, in the Commission Chambers at West Fargo City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.