Fargo’s odor problem

fargo-well.jpgA methane well at the Fargo landfill. (Photo courtesy the City of Fargo.)

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reports this morning on a stinky problem: The city’s landfill has lately been, shall we say, more odorous than usual:

“We kind of get used to it,” said Paul Hanson, the Fargo landfill supervisor. “So when we can tell it’s stronger than normal, then you know it’s pretty bad.”

The city isn’t sure what the precise cause of the new stench is, but the likely culprit is wet weather this summer and fall, Hanson said.

Heavy rains washed away some of the landfill’s dirt cover at 45th Street and Seventh Avenue North, exposing decomposing garbage and the smelly gases that come with it, he said.

The money line, for me anyway, is when the landfill supervisor says “Our biggest problem is that the city grew around us.” If you’ve ever been to Fargo, you know it is not the most vertical of cities. 2,631 people per square mile in Fargo compared to 28,852 per square mile in NYC, according to US Census data.

The story as to why Fargo built out instead of up is similar to many American cities: cheap land. In the late 1960s, an urban renewal project in Fargo failed when a developer (who, ironically, was one of the original promoters of Fargo urban renewal), announced plans to build a shopping mall on the outskirts of town. The Forum dubbed it the “$15 million Bazaar on the Prairie.”

The mall now anchors Fargo’s retail industry, which attracts many Canadians and has turned the city into something of a regional shopping hub. New schools, restaurants and homes followed the trend out of building out of the old neighborhoods.

Let’s just hope shoppers remember to plug their noses, in certain parts of town anyway, on their way to the mall.

  • David G

    The story behind Fargo’s outward growth is a actually a bit more complex. It grew out, but pretty much in only one direction: Southward.

    The river blocks it from growing east, as well as limiting a lot of growth to the north, and West Fargo pretty much limits its ability to grow west.

  • Zebulun

    The wastewater treatment plant in North Fargo doesn’t smell too good either, but if you follow Broadway far enough, you will have the pleasure of driving right by it.