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City of Grand Forks, UND looking to connect with residents of University Avenue Corridor

Complications due to the coronavirus pandemic caused the project, which aims to improve the traffic artery linking downtown Grand Forks and UND, to be put on the back burner.

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In this file photo, diners participate in the "longest table" event on University Avenue. Grand Forks community development staff , along with a UND professor, say they are preparing to reach out to area residents about the University Avenue Corridor project.
Submitted

GRAND FORKS — A long-awaited plan to make improvements to the so-called University Avenue corridor might soon see some fresh momentum.

Complications due to the coronavirus pandemic caused the project, which aims to improve the traffic artery linking downtown Grand Forks and UND, to be put on the back burner. Now, however, efforts are underway to conduct community outreach to residents along the corridor, which is bookended by two development projects — the Memorial Stadium Village at UND and Franklin on Fourth, at the former Lyons Garage and Auto Supply site downtown.

A study, funded by the Knight Foundation to the tune of $100,000, was conducted by JLG Architects in conjunction with the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Region. In 2019, residents along the corridor were asked to weigh in on what improvements they would like to see. Results from the study were released in March 2021 and found that residents believe the University Avenue corridor is worthy of public investment, and that a number of safety and aesthetic improvements should be undertaken.

Since then however, little if any progress has been made, giving the appearance that the project has fizzled out. City officials say that isn’t the case.

“I would say momentum, rather than petering out, is actually picking back up,” said Andrew Conlon, community development planner.

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Conlon said the city is working with the Community Foundation, and is in the early stages of preparing outreach to corridor residents. Conlon said it is important to hear from residents about what undertakings should be prioritized. The idea for 2022 is to use the JLG study as a springboard to reinvigorate some of the projects in the study, though other ideas may come to the forefront.

“I wouldn't say it has to be like a recipe or a playbook, where we're limited to only what's in the study, but it's certainly a good starting point,” Conlon said.

Assisting in that outreach is Renee Cardarelle, a visiting professor of political science and public administration at UND, along with four graduate students. Cardarelle said she was recruited for the project because she has experience in community organizing.

What form that community outreach will look like — whether it'll be in the form of a public forum or survey — is not exactly clear. Cardarelle said more information about her role, and that of the graduate students, will soon be forthcoming.

The JLG study highlighted several ideas, including:

  • Connecting bike paths to existing infrastructure.
  • Removing center-of-street boundaries.
  • Enhancing corridor safety through lighting projects.
  • Maintaining established trees.
  • Prioritizing pedestrian enhancements for neighborhood schools.
  • Keeping University Park as a community hub.
  • Improving bus shelters along the corridor.

More than 1,200 people responded to the survey with 84% saying they believe the corridor is important to the community.

More from Adam Kurtz
Board members voted unanimously in favor of removing the testing requirement for admission at their regular monthly meeting on Thursday, May 26. The policy will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2023.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at akurtz@gfherald.com, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

Desk: 701-780-1110
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