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Grand Forks Airport board continues negotiations with landowners

According to Ryan Riesinger, executive director of Grand Forks International Airport, the board decided to hold the special meeting to stick to its timeline of having signed purchase agreements with the landowners in place by the end of May. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Thursday, May 27.

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The Byron L. Dorgan Terminal, shown here in 2015 at the Grand Forks International Airport, saw an increase in passengers in October 2020, but the numbers were down compared to October 2019. John Hageman / Grand Forks Herald

Members of the Grand Forks Airport Authority met in a special session on Friday, May 21, to discuss ongoing negotiations about acquiring land to the west of the airport.

Pursuant to state law, the special meeting was held in executive session, meaning it was closed to the public, to allow board members to consider counter offers to their initial offers of just compensation for three parcels of land. The airport board needs to acquire the land to continue work on its crosswind runway expansion project. The project will allow the airport to have a second runway that is usable by commercial airplanes, should the main runway be closed for repairs.

According to Ryan Riesinger, executive director of Grand Forks International Airport, the board decided to hold the special meeting to stick to its timeline of having signed purchase agreements with the landowners in place by the end of May. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Thursday, May 27.

“We didn't want to wait until the 27th to brief the board because going into Memorial Day weekend, if the board was to approve the plan as we are currently working through, that would only give us about a day or so to try to potentially get things signed and wrapped up,” Riesinger told the Herald the day before the special meeting.

Board members immediately adjourned after leaving Friday’s special meeting, without taking any action. Any vote on decisions made in the meeting will need to take place in next week’s public meeting, though Riesinger didn’t rule out the possibility of needing another executive session, for further deliberation.

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In total, the airport board needs to acquire four parcels of land, three of which are to the west of the airport, and are privately-owned. In April, the board acquired a 32-acre parcel lying to the east of the airport, which was owned by the city of Grand Forks. The board acquired that land at minimal cost.

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