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Park Board agrees to take another look at Shadow Wood Park venue

The West Fargo Park Board has put a temporary hold on awarding a bid for park amenities, including a small stage amphitheatre, in the Shadow Wood Lakes Park, located on both sides of Fourth Street in the Shadow Wood Development, south of 32nd Avenue.

The action came at a regularly scheduled park board meeting July 6, after residents in the neighborhood presented petitions and raised discussion in opposition to the plan.

The park board had planned to approve bids at the meeting for the $1.1 project that would include 200-seat terraced seating area with stage and canopy, a gazebo, green space, restrooms, barbecue area, as well as two separate playgrounds.

The area of concern for the residents focused on the seating and amphitheater along with the parking lot which would accommodate approximately 100 vehicles.

West Fargo Parks Executive Director Barb Erbstoesser said that a survey had been completed in 2008, asking a wide spread of questions about interests, and an outdoor theatrical stage, i.e. a venue for cultural arts was one of the areas of interest. She noted that such an area would never be used for large outdoor concerts, just smaller family-oriented events, like Penny and Pals, or shows similar in nature for the youngsters.

The Park District received the dedicated area in 2007. Erbstoesser said the intent is to fund the park through the district's general fund, citywide assessments, and special assessments for Section 29, which includes not only Shadow Wood but other developments in that section.

She noted that assessments throughout the district would run $550 over 15 years, or $3.06 a month.

Residents of Shadow Wood presented a petition at the meeting with 95 signatures asking park board members to hold off on the bid approval and allow a little more time for information about the project to be disseminated. There are presently 70 homes constructed in the subdivision and there are remaining lots for sale.

The petition noted the residents concerns regarding safety, traffic and noise control and the special assessments. They also said they were only made aware of the project a short while ago.

The park district said they had published the required notices in reference to the proposal.

The board ultimately voted to wait on awarding the contract until their August 3, meeting so communication could continue between park board officials and residents of Shadow Wood regarding details of the project.

All during the meeting, park district officials emphasized the need for this park to accommodate the interests of all members of the community, with a venue that sets it uniquely apart from others, in turn, offering a greater diversity and variety of activities for all to enjoy.

Hearing resident concern loud and clear, Erbstoesser said, "We are going to go back and do some minor revisions on this. Some of just need to step back and take another look. We just want to get together as a neighborhood, bring some ideas to the table and get the feel of what these residents have for ideas. We will not be doing any major changes, but we may do a little tweaking. Whatever shape or form this takes, we are going to proceed. We need to get this park property developed. My biggest fear is that Fourth Street will be all completed and the park area will not be. It is located on both sides of Fourth Street so it really needs to be done."

If the project is approved this year, it would be finished by Dec. 1, with events beginning in 2013, Erbstoesser said.