West Fargo attracting more young familiesWhile 27-year-old Medora Roehl was growing up, this city didn’t have the best reputation. Through Roehl’s eyes, West Fargo was a tiny, working-class suburb — home to hardworking people but not quite the endearing “Leave It To Beaver”-esque community.
By: By Kristen M. Daum, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
WEST FARGO — While 27-year-old Medora Roehl was growing up, this city didn’t have the best reputation.
Through Roehl’s eyes, West Fargo was a tiny, working-class suburb — home to hardworking people but not quite the endearing “Leave It To Beaver”-esque community.
But over the past couple decades, West Fargo’s image has changed as dramatically as the residents living here.
Since 2000 alone, North Dakota’s “city on the grow” has attracted scores of families who’ve sparked the city’s own version of a baby boom.
Children under 5 now represent the largest proportion of West Fargo’s population, according to 2010 demographic profile information released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Among nearly 26,000 residents in the city, about 2,200 — or nearly 9 percent — were under 5 years old.
That amount is double the number of young children West Fargo had just 10 years prior.
West Fargo’s bump in population marks a significantly higher increase across the decade than North Dakota, Cass County and Fargo saw in the number of their youngest residents.
Roehl and her husband Ben, also 27, are among the various young families establishing permanent roots in West Fargo.
But in the Roehls’ case, the roots of their 3-year-old daughter Lydia are merely an extension of their own.
Both Medora and Ben Roehl are lifelong West Fargo residents, and the city’s evolving landscape convinced them to stay in the same community where they were raised.
Medora Roehl said West Fargo’s revamped charm and small-town community mentality enticed her to stay in her hometown.
“It still is a pretty small, tight-knit community even though it’s still hooked to Fargo,” she said adding that the societal changes over the years have made West Fargo “a really exciting place to live.”
There are more activities for children and families, specifically because the parks and schools systems continue to maintain their high-quality, Roehl said —adding that those are factors she believes will benefit Lydia as she grows up.
But while West Fargo leaders have welcomed the recent boost in population, the growth has also created a more dire need for extra space in the city’s schools.
And not everyone agrees that the once-small West Fargo should spend taxpayers’ dollars on more or bigger schools, especially since some facilities won’t be built until they’re absolutely needed, which could take years.
It’s a crossroads West Fargo voters will face May 24 in the election over an $82.5 million bond referendum for the school district.
As West Fargo’s youth population continues to grow, so does its proportion of adults 55 and older.
That increase can be explained by the construction of multiple senior-friendly housing complexes in West Fargo, which offer a variety of medical and social assistance to an aging population.
For example, Moorhead-based Eventide built Sheyenne Crossings in West Fargo nearly six years ago — which offered at least 130 units of senior-citizen housing.
Kristen Daum is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.