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Grand Forks City Council members approve 17-acre land purchase from Fufeng Group for infrastructure projects

The council approved the real estate purchase agreement 6-1, with Rebecca Osowski voting "no."

Grand Forks City Hall
Grand Forks City Hall, 255 N. 4th St. Sam Easter / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – A real estate purchase agreement to buy 17 acres of land from Fufeng Group for a stormwater pond and wastewater lift station was approved by members of City Council Monday, but not without opposition from residents.

The council approved the purchase agreement 6-1 with Rebecca Osowski voting "no."

At last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting, council members reviewed the purchase agreement for Lot 3, Block One Peony First Resubdivision, which is owned by Fufeng Group. The 17 acres of that lot is needed for both a stormwater pond and a wastewater lift station that will serve Fufeng and properties along Highway 81 and 27th Avenue North, along with some of the land also being used by the Engineering Department to stockpile materials for fighting future floods.

The total compensation to be paid to Fufeng for the lot is $282,030.69, with the funding source for the purchase coming from the Flood Protection Capital Project Fund. The most comparable project when the city needed to purchase land for a stormwater pond was the Oscarville project, for which the city paid $20,000 per acre, according to City Attorney Dan Gaustad.

During the citizen comment portion of the meeting Craig Spicer, one of the business owners along Highway 81, voiced his opposition to the stormwater pond. He said it’s not needed.

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“We don’t need a pond for four reasons,” Spicer said. “We’ve got a diversion ditch, we’ve got a coulee, we’ve got a river, we’ve got a road right there that runs through. We’ve never had any water issues from anybody. The only reason why you’re putting the pond in is because Fufeng needs it and they’re probably going to use it and abuse it.”

Council member Ken Vein shared some of his thoughts and concerns he’s voiced over the months about raw water availability in the city, and how he feels it needs more discussion. Vein, who spent 17 years as city engineer and public works director, said he gets questions often about the topic.

“I’ve actually been following the water supply issue since 1995 and have been working on it fairly diligently for all those years,” Vein said.

The studies completed throughout the years looking at water availability are complex, according to Vein.

“To really be able to address it there are hundreds of inputs that are necessary to do the proper evaluation of water supply.”

In addition to the real estate purchase agreement, council members unanimously approved awarding RJ Zavoral & Sons the amount of $1,997,899.20 to include utilizing funds from the State Revolving Fund for constructing the new stormwater pond, temporary outfall pipe and temporary access road to the end of public right of way for the Highway 81 area. RJ Zavoral & Sons was the lowest bidder of the four bids.

READ MORE GRAND FORKS CITY COUNCIL NEWS

In other news Monday, council members:

  • Approved keeping the five current alternatives for the 42nd Street railroad grade separated crossing project. While council members were recommended to reduce the number of alternatives at last week’s meeting, City Engineer Al Grasser said the goal is to get stakeholders to determine which alternative would work the best. In addition to the council’s approval, members heard from a resident about the long wait times at the railroad crossing at 42nd Street and DeMers, and the need for police officers to enforce the city train ordinance and state law that states there’s a 10-minute limit that a train can block an intersection. Osowski said she is concerned about the wait times for emergency personnel. “If an ambulance has to wait longer than 10 minutes to even cross there, that’s sad,” Osowski said.
  • Approved a professional services agreement for architectural/engineering design and construction services for the Bus Maintenance Facility Rehabilitation Project Phase II with JLG Architects, not to exceed a budget amount of $464,828. JLG Architects was selected as the architectural firm to perform the professional services for the Cities Area Transit Bus Maintenance Facility's original project in 2018 and is once again selected to complete Phase II of the project.
Related Topics: GRAND FORKS CITY COUNCIL
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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