While construction is in full swing, Horace hopes to keep the small town character

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HORACE – When Horace Mayor Kory Peterson asked residents at a series of town halls about five years ago to describe the town’s identity, the most common response was “sleepy.”

But the dormitory community south of Fargo and West Fargo is no longer very sleepy, as rapid growth continues to bring the three cities closer together.

John Maness, a sales manager who moved to Horace in mid-August and has already joined the volunteer fire department, said he wanted to live in a community with a small town feel with lower taxes and less traffic.

The development of Lost River in Horace is seen on Wednesday, September 29, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

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Some who have lived in the city much longer than Maness no longer quite see it that way.

Tim and Marie Hestdalen, who have lived in Horace for 21 years, said the small town atmosphere is fading as the town expands.

Both coming from small towns, they chose Horace for his size and short distance from their work in Fargo.

For most of their 21 years in Horace, the city hasn’t changed much, but now they are feeling the growing pains of a growing community. Home values ​​and property taxes rise, and traffic deteriorates.

Peterson, who also moved to the city in 2000 for its sleepy atmosphere, said the goal of city leaders was to retain “a small town flair,” but growth presents a challenge.

Since 2010, the city’s population has grown from 2,430 to 3,178, according to the latest estimate, although based on construction figures, local authorities believe that number could increase significantly for 2021. The US Census Bureau n official figures for cities under 5,000 have yet to be released.

City administrator Brent Holper described the growth in Horace as a “fire hose.”

“Every day something changes,” he said in an interview with the city offices, which will soon see an expansion.

The site takes off

Horace sees around 260 homes built this year, which is similar to Fargo’s numbers. This follows 86 new homes in 2020 and 41 in 2019. City officials expect the construction boom to continue.

With an average of about three people in each of those homes, Holper estimates that another 750 people are moving to the city this year alone, increasing the population from the current figure of 3,178 to almost 4,000 in just one year.

“I tell residents if you think this year is crazy, wait until next year,” Peterson said.

With most of the city out of the floodplain, some developers appear to be focusing on the area until the Fargo-Moorhead diversion project is complete, Holper said. Once the diversion is built, new construction will likely slow down in Horace and resume in southeast Fargo, he added.

Subdivisions are under construction extending in all directions within the city limits, which stretch from 52nd Avenue to the border with West Fargo and Fargo to the south, near County Road 16. Construction also extends east and west, west of Interstate 29 and across the Sheyenne River.

New schools

The mayor said the two new schools in the north of the city, Heritage Middle School and Horace High School, are behind much of the development.

The schools are designed to accommodate 2,700 students, but so far Heritage has 465 students in grades six to eight. The 225 first and second year students attend classes at Heritage until the end of high school.

Both schools are part of the West Fargo School District. Spokeswoman Heather Leas said there was no specific date for Horace High School to open, but the most recent estimate was for staff to start moving in at the end of October.

The construction of the new Horace high school will continue on Wednesday, September 29, 2021. David Samson / Le Forum

The construction of the new Horace high school will continue on Wednesday, September 29, 2021. David Samson / Le Forum

Current juniors and seniors in the Horace area or southern West Fargo district stay in West Fargo high schools so as not to alienate them from their classmates. But next year, current sophomores will become juniors and stay in the Horace building. The following year, all classes will attend school.

In addition to the two new school buildings, Horace Elementary School is also undergoing a $ 6.8 million renovation that will add 10 new classrooms to the north, allowing the school to offer four sections in each year instead of two. . The primary school will then be able to accommodate up to 550 students.

Horace has long been a part of the West Fargo School District and his old school, part of which is now a senior citizen’s center, was closed in 1968.

The Hestdalens, despite some of their concerns about the city’s growth, said they believe the schools are a positive development because they allow students to be closer to their homes.

Their children attended Horace Elementary School, but then moved to West Fargo for middle and high school.

Peterson said schools are critical to the city’s goal of building a community that retains “the small town vibe,” as activities such as group concerts and sporting events could bring old and new together. residents.

Horace is also trying to keep his small town feel by restarting the Bean Days Festival, hosting holiday events for families, and decorating lamp posts with American flags from Labor Day to Veterans Day.

Look ahead

Construction of new homes continues at a rapid pace in Horace.  David Samson / The Forum

Construction of new homes continues at a rapid pace in Horace. David Samson / The Forum

As the city prepares for its 150th anniversary in 2023, Peterson and Holper are excited about the future.

In addition to schools and housing, the new Visto industrial park on the southern outskirts of the city brings hope of creating more jobs in the city. The development currently has around 10 small businesses and has the potential to attract small-scale manufacturing or technology companies.

Commercial ventures are likely next, including the possibility of a grocery store, Peterson said, adding that a developer told him that “roofs” or houses were the key to this type of development.

The Horace City Commission also approved ordinances setting out regulations for the new development, such as requiring developers to plant trees and include other design elements to make neighborhoods more attractive.

The city’s parks are also under development and the Horace Park District, with its elected officials, is working on many improvements.


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