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East Grand Forks City Council continues discussion on what infrastructure project will use federal funds

Council members have narrowed their decision to three options.

East Grand Forks City Hall
East Grand Forks City Hall. File photo Brandi Jewett/ Grand Forks Herald
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EAST GRAND FORKS – A decision has not yet been made on what infrastructure project East Grand Forks City Council members might pursue with $860,000 in federal “subtarget” funds.

Two weeks ago, council members were presented with a couple of options . Two of those projects have been discussed in detail: a potential roundabout at the intersection of Bygland Road and Rhinehart Drive or rebuilding a segment of 10th Street. Both projects, however, have hit snags that could put them past the 2023 deadline to utilize those funds.

During a July 12 work session, council members Clarence Vetter and Marc DeMers expressed interest in still pursuing a roundabout, though doing so would mean council members would need to take action to override the veto Mayor Steve Gander made last year on the project. In order to do so, one of the council members on the prevailing side would need to make a motion to reconsider and six members would need to vote to override.

During Tuesday’s work session, council members shared their thoughts on the roundabout, determining that not enough council members would be able to override the veto to move the project forward.

Along with needing that veto to be overridden, an unknown within the project is property acquisition, in conjunction with access negotiations with nearby Orton’s convenience store. There is also the possibility for the need to acquire additional property that wasn’t included in the appraisal that’s been prepared due to the potential of restricted movements for long vehicles.

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Vetter said work on acquiring the land and designing the roundabout should have been done years ago.

“You had eight years to design this and get everything all in place,” Vetter said, “to buy the land that you need, to design it, to move any utilities.”

The second option is to select an alternative project or a combination of alternative projects provided to council members by City Engineer Steve Emery and Public Works Director Jason Stordahl.

Or, council members could take no action and not utilize the federal subtarget funding. The funding from the next cycle, in 2026, is committed to go toward refurbishing the Point Bridge.

Several council members agreed that choosing an alternative or alternatives would be the best option to use the funds, though the selection of alternative projects would require the council to request the Metropolitan Planning Organization to amend the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, a process that will take a couple of months.

“Going forward I think this is going to be our best route of using this money and I think we need to move forward with it,” Councilman Mark Olstad said. “I think we need to look at getting the approval as soon as we can so they can start the process.”

READ MORE EAST GRAND FORKS CITY NEWS
Also during Tuesday's meeting, Mayor Steve Gander offered words of support for Grand Forks city leaders after their decision to move away from the proposed Fufeng corn mill.

In other news Tuesday, council members:

  • Reviewed estimates for an outdoor basketball court at DanMor Park on Morgan Place Southeast. Two quotes were received with the low bidder being Cariveau Concrete Construction, in the amount of $19,012.50. The other bidder was Opp Construction, in the amount of $31,460. Council members were presented a quote from BSN Sports for the basketball hoop in the amount of $3,630.95. Parks and Recreation Director Reid Huttunen said the quote from Cariveau Concrete Construction is anticipated to slightly rise as the company will need to use a different type of concrete than quoted.
  • Considered hiring incentives for the East Grand Forks Police Department. The EGFPD currently has two open police officer positions. City Administrator David Murphy said police officer shortages are an issue across the state of Minnesota. With the shortages, this is creating a high degree of competition for qualified candidates, leading many cities to begin offering incentives to entice qualified applicants. Some of the hiring incentives include hiring bonuses, retention bonuses to keep current officers from moving to other departments, and relocation bonuses to entice candidates to apply from other parts of the state. Murphy is looking to develop a hiring incentive plan for council review.
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 701-780-1267 or MArbegast@gfherald.com.

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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More than a year after it was first announced, the council on Monday voted 5-0 to move away from the Fufeng project. Council members Kyle Kvamme and Tricia Lunski did not attend the meeting.
The meeting was streamed online on Monday
After the public input portion of the meeting, the council officially moved to abandon the Fufeng project.