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'Defiant garden' to take over Moorhead power plant site

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The Moorhead city power plant will soon be coming down.

What may spring up in its place became clearer after a Moorhead Public Service Commission vote Tuesday.

Forum Press reports commissioners unanimously approved a plan for a garden space on the old utility building's site.

The project is billed as a "defiant garden." The plan, according to documents given to Moorhead Public Service commissioners, "seeks to recreate an environment that serves as an homage to the power plant while also acknowledging the important role it played in the development of Moorhead."

It features an "earthen" amphitheater on side, a "Legacy Garden" comprised of plants donated by residents of Woodlawn Park, Moorhead residents, and those recently displaced. There will be a digital element as well that allows people in the park to hear the plant's stories about who donated it. A collection of salvaged power plant machinery will be displayed throughout the space as sculptures.

You can see the full picture-heavy design proposal here.

The Plains Art Museum and Concordia College would maintain the space, Forum reports.

In an earlier piece, Museum Director and CEO Colleen Sheehy told Forum Press it should start to take shape this summer, after the power plant is torn down.

“It is one of the most beautiful places in our metro area,” Sheehy told the site. “There are beautiful sunsets you can watch from that site, right on the river, and it connects to the walking paths and the biking paths.”

The museum received $50,000 in grant funding for the project two years ago, its website says.

Forum reports a proposal for a solar panel garden at the site was well-received but not approved. The commissioners thought the city might want to use the space for something else, Forum says, so suggested the solar panels be put in another location. The City Council will discuss it in the coming weeks.

The power plant has towered over the Red River of the North since 1895, the Moorhead Public Service website says.

According to WDAY, it hasn't been operational in two decades. The station says the community had hoped to turn the old building into a public space – but a 2012 report found 20 percent of the site was sagging into the river.

Photographer Shane Reetz recently put together a photo gallery of the inoperable plant.

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