BISMARCK - Organizers are considering a second fundraising campaign to cover landscaping costs at the new Governor’s Residence after closing their initial building campaign $113,000 short of their goal.
When lawmakers decided to OK the construction of the new residence in 2015, they allowed for up to $5 million in spending on the project - $4 million from the Capitol Building Trust Fund and $1 million in private donations.
The Friends of the Governor’s Residence went to work on a capital campaign, beginning in 2015, and raised $887,000, said Treasurer Andrea Nelson. That, together with the $4 million in state money, was enough to cover the building of the new residence and demolition of the former.
“We’re pleased costs came in under budget,” Nelson said, adding the Friends accepted the final donation for the project a couple weeks ago.
In the next six months, Nelson said the organization hopes to have information on the costs and timeframe for adding landscaping to the residence.
The nine-person Capitol Grounds Planning Commission last met a couple months ago, said Director of Facility Management John Boyle. At that meeting, members received three landscaping conceptual drawings for the residence, based on the original Capitol grounds master landscaping plan from 1920.
“It’s a magnificent residence but all they really have over there is grass,” Boyle said. “The house deserves something of that quality of landscaping.”
The Friends also would like to raise funds to move the perimeter fence around the residence. Boyle said the fence had to be placed close to the new residence on the south side while the former residence was still standing. Now that the former residence is gone, the fence could be relocated, but there are costs associated with it.
The former residence had a big backyard for entertaining, with about 25,000 square feet of outdoor space. Moving the fence would create more space for the current first family in the new home, which only has 1,800 square feet of outdoor space.
For the building project itself, Boyle said he thinks the fundraisers "did an outstanding job."
They secured the $500,000 necessary to start construction in September 2016, Boyle said. The next transfer was for $370,000. And finally, Boyle said he had to ask for another $17,000 to complete IT work at the new residence.
“Every time I requested a transfer, it was transferred,” Boyle said.
Rep. Pamela Anderson, D-Fargo, who co-chaired the fundraising efforts with Jim Poolman, said they “had a lot of momentum at the beginning” and she thinks the campaign went well.
“I think I would be optimistic,” she said of the possibility of raising more dollars for landscaping.
Anderson said a lot of students visit the Capitol grounds and having an outdoor space could be a great place for them to dine.
"It’s really pretty in (the residence)," Anderson said. "I think with the landscaping, the citizens of North Dakota will have something to enjoy and be very proud of."
To cover the costs of landscaping, the Friends of the Governor's Residence will likely need legislative approval if it exceeds the $113,000 remaining on the appropriation, according to John Bjornson, Legislative Council director.
At the June meeting of the interim Legislative Procedure and Arrangements Committee, Boyle told the committee there was "some question as to whether there would need to be legislative authority to spend the additional funds" for the landscaping.
Chairman Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, said the spending for the entire project was not to exceed the $5 million appropriated for the project and any additional spending would be subject to legislative appropriation.